Going out of Business!

As a kid in high school, I loved reading through the catalogs that came in the mail. Biking catalogs were a favorite. Bike Nashbar and Performance Bicycle I remember. Campmor was another with all kinds of cool outdoorsy gear. But one of the most interesting that came in our mailbox was the Hidalgo Sunglasses catalog. It was printed on cheap newsprint, in black and white, but came loaded with interesting information about sunglasses, and prescription glasses as well. It had actual size pictures of the frames, so you could cut them out and try them on for size. Of course, back then I couldn’t afford anything in the catalog, but I learned a lot by reading it.

Since the dawn of the web, I’ve kept looking for Hidalgo on the web, but they were very late to the game. They did finally arrive, however, in more of a “Web 1.0” style than the “2.0” that was gaining traction. It still looks rather dated, but is full of good information and you can still actually download the entire old fashioned catalog as a PDF. According to the Wayback Machine, they first had a web site around 2001, but it was just a handful of static pages until 2010, when you could finally order from it!

I just visited again today, mostly to find the right URL to pass along to a friend, and discovered that Hidalgo is going out of business. Now I have to decide whether to buy a pair of sunglasses from them before they go out of business…

A Very Placid Day

Today we spend largely in the Lake Placid area, after an excellent breakfast at the ADK Cafe on Rt. 73 where Emma had the best French Toast she’s ever had, made with homemade bread. From there, it was just a few miles up the road to Lake Placid, and on the way we stopped at one of the Olympic Training Centers to look into letting the kids have a bobsled run (with trained driver and brakeman). They were a bit busy, but we bought tickets for later in the day for Emma and Tyler, as Clara wasn’t interested. We then drove up into the little resort town, with a very brief stop at the ski jumping area, but you had to pay to drive closer, and we had a pretty good view from the road, and nobody was particularly interested in taking the elevator up to look down the jump and ride back down the elevator. We did see a few kids coming down into the parking lot on luges, which was presumably something else you could pay to do. In the town, it started to rain, and in fact it even hailed a bit! We parked and walked; had some ice cream, then split into two groups for the rest of the afternoon while the weather continued to rain on and off. Clara and Tom stayed in town, checking out all the little shops, while Susan, Emma, and Tyler went back to the bobsled area. Emma and Tyler had an excellent run on the bobsled, though apparently their run was at the height of the rain. Emma is pretty convinced at this point that its her pants that are cursed, bringing on downpours while she’s outdoors and unable to shelter. After we met up again, we drove back down the mountain and to the next town over, and had a nice dinner at the Noon Mark Diner.

Keene to get back to the U.S. of A.

Today was largely a travel day, but we did start the day with fresh from the boulangerie croissants, etc. On our way out of town, we stopped at one final attraction, St. Joseph’s Oratory on Mount Royal. It really is an amazing shrine, and many people were passing through at the same time as us. Many healings there have been attributed to Frère André, who has since been canonized.

Our visit to Montreal would have been incomplete without having eaten crepes, so we went to La Bulle au Carré for lunch,IMG_1157.JPG and had some savory crepes as well as some chocolate crepes for dessert. In addition to the food, they had a foosball table, books, and other time passers. With that accomplished, we did get back on the road to NY. One thing we were pleased to have accomplished was not using the car during our stay in Montreal. We walked (a lot), and took the Metro (some), and even biked once (well, some of us). Our lodging was ideal for this, located within walking distance of a number of Metro stops, and much of what we wanted to see.

The drive to Keene, NY, was about as uneventful as possible, and included another delightfully easy border crossing, though as per usual, the U.S. border agent was more stern than his Canadian counterpart.

We made one sightseeing stop on the way into Keene, at AuSable Chasm. It is mostly a tourist trap, and you have to pay to walk near it. But you can at least see what spectacle there is from the nearby bridge, so we did that.


Last Full Day in Montreal

Today’s forecast looked pretty good in the morning, with an increased chance of rain in the afternoon, so we decided to head over to the Botanical Gardens early, and make our way over to the BioSphere later, since we’d be mostly inside. The gardens were lovely




20140805-232017-84017391.jpg and we got to see many styles of garden, but still felt like we barely scratched the surface.

The Gardens are also right across he street from the main stadium from the 1976 Olympics, so we got to see the outskirts of that as well

After an unintentionally expensive lunch, we went to the BioSphere, which had interesting exhibits about the environment and our effect on it. We got to see a presentation on cyclones, which used Katrina and Hyaiyan to highlight their destructiveness. Emma had just lived through Rammasun while visiting there and saw some of the devastation that Haiyan wrought up close. Another exhibit showcased artistic ways of turning refuse into dresses. Here’s an example

Once we had finished at the BioSphere, we split into two groups. Susan and Tyler took the Metro back to the Old Port where they rented a bicycle car

and on the walk home from there, they came upon (but did not fall into) a Burning Ring of Fire

20140806-083901-31141677.jpg. Meanwhile, the girls and I rented Bixi bikes and rode to the Old Port. Along the way, while we were riding across a bridge, the skies opened up on us like never before. Emma and Clara had puddles in their shoes. But we did get something out of it


Trip Tech

I used to have a Linksys Travel Router that I’d bring with me on trips. It was one I’d bought on eBay and had loaded special 3rd party firmware (dd-wrt) onto it. But it became unreliable. So naturally, I bought another one. But this time I decided not to complicate my life by changing the firmware on it.

Well, this is now the first trip where I’m wanting to use it, and I was immediately reminded why I’d bothered with the alternative firmware in the first place: the original Linksys firmware had a nifty feature that let the router connect to one wifi network, but then offer a different one for its clients. That means that you don’t have to start connecting to new wifi nets on all your devices. Only the router needs to connect to the new one, and everything else connects to it. Problem is, the Linksys firmware only let you connect to open networks. So at some point I’ll have to invest the hours and anxiety to see if I can put better firmware on it.

Our apartment was not advertised as having internet access, so I was anticipating having to find the occasional coffee shop (*not* hard to find here!) to stop in at and catch up on email, etc. Thankfully, it was just an oversight in the listing, because our phones, set to Airplane mode, are basically glorified iPods here in Canada, unless we want to pay roaming charges. Going without makes you realize how much we take for granted, and also how possible it is to do without.

Night Lights

So tonight, after dinner, we took another walk through parts of Old Montreal, for the light show. Apparently, there’s been an ongoing effort to add lighting effects to many old buildings to showcase some of their architectural details. The highlight of the tour is certainly Notre Dame Cathedral.


A Full Day of Montreal

When we woke up this morning, and started planning our day, it was drizzly, and the forecast called for possible rain until mid afternoon. So we planned more of an indoorsy day, including the Underground City and a Metro trip out to the BioSphere but by the time we were ready to go, the rain had stopped and the sky was blue.

So, we changed plans somewhat, and walked some distance in the Underground City,20140804-195234-71554705.jpg then hopped on the Metro to get back close to Old Montreal. We spent a good part of the morning walking around the Old City, enjoying the geography, architecture, historic sites, 20140804-194306-70986440.jpgand the artists on Place Jacques Cartier. 20140804-194306-70986136.jpgWe ended up eating lunch at a restaurant where the rest of the family ate lunch last time they were in Montreal, then we walked down to the Old Port and enjoyed more little shops, etc. Afterwards, we wound our way back through the Old Port,20140804-194305-70985752.jpg found an ice cream shop on a side street en route to Notre Dame, where we stopped to take photos.20140804-194305-70985385.jpg Then back to our cozy apartment where we cooked a simple dinner of pasta and Caesar Salad.





Zip, Basin, Montreal!

We started our day, as planned, with an early departure from our lodge, and headed out for our big adventure of the day — “ziplining” at Alpine Adventures, but before that we did make a stop for breakfast at the White Mountain Bagel Co. We noticed that some of the tour guides from Alpine Adventures were also getting breakfast there, so we felt as though we had made a good choice. On the ZipLine tour, we were told to leave all our valuables in our car, so we didn’t actually take a camera with us. We also didn’t quite want to splurge on the GoPro camera rental to record our adventure for posterity. So you’ll have to take our word for it that it was fun, and not at all like the SouthPark episode.


After our adventure, we drove back up I-93 to the Basin. The kids had a blast here; the fun rivaled that of ziplining in fact. As a parent, it was a little more nerve wracking watching them walk across the fast moving stream, on slippery rocks, etc. I tried to always remain downstream, just in case. An interesting contrast to the ziplining which might well have more inherent danger, but which is offset by the professional guides and abundant safety equipment. In any case, we all managed to survive yet again.


After that, we got back on I-93N and finally, finally drove further north than our lodge. We’d managed to spend a lot of time driving south on I-93 from our lodging, then heading back north to it. This is what comes of a trip with planned lodging and spontaneous activities. Or one possible outcome, anyway. We had a good stretch of driving left to get to Montreal, so we planned to have lunch in St. Johnsbury, where I-93 and I-91 meet. We found a nondescript Chinese restaurant there, and had a mediocre lunch. We fueled up the car, confirmed our lodging, and headed up I-91 for the remainder of the U.S. portion of the driving. The border crossing couldn’t have been easier, and we made it to our rental apartment at about 5:30.

This was a bit of an experiment — we arranged some of our stays through Airbnb where we get to rent people’s apartments (or homes) for short term stays. So our accommodations in Montreal are cute — we’re in a small, garden level apartment a couple of blocks from Old Montreal (in Chinatown, I guess).

After getting settled, we walked a couple of blocks to the big IGA supermarket and bought some groceries so we could have a couple of breakfasts in the apartment, as well as one dinner. After that, we walked through the Place des Arts where there was some indigenous festival going on, with live music, and native arts being demonstrated, etc. From there we walked a bit more to find dinner at a local pizza restaurant, Il Focolaio. This was a lovely restaurant, and we got to eat at a table (actually, three adjacent tables that couldn’t be pushed together because they’re screwed to the flooring 🙂 ) outdoors, and it was a perfect night for it. An older, apparently Italian couple came and sat at the table next to us a bit later, and as if to demonstrate for us the cosmopolitan feel of the city, our waiter, whose parents were apparently from Italy, started chatting with them in Italian.


Rock Hounds

While the highlight of the day could arguably have been breakfast at Munroe’s Family Restaurant, which was awesome, probably a stronger case could be made for our next stop, which was Ruggle’s Mine.

Visiting old mines and quarries is a favorite activity of ours on vacation, and Ruggles was a pretty good example. It had a nice gift shop, complete with two elderly (or at least exceedingly calm) German Shepherds. The mine was mostly out in the open, though there were nooks and crannies to explore.


After that, we headed in the general direction of our lodge, and since it was late for lunch and early for dinner, we stopped for ice cream. While there, Emma happened upon a pamphlet about the 81st Annual League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair. We initially thought it was in the same general direction as the Lodge, but later discovered out error. After a half hour drive, we arrived as cars were streaming out at 4:45. Turned out they close down at 5:00. We checked things out briefly as the artists were packing up.

With a two hour drive ahead of us, we decided to break it up with dinner, and stopped at the Route 104 Diner Everyone enjoyed their meal, and we then finished our trek back to the lodge, arriving somewhat earlier than our first night.

Some frisbee on the front lawn was followed by showers for all, and packing up so we’ll be ready for an early exit in the morning.


We begin our NorthEast Road Trip with a couple of nights in New Hampshire. We left after a full day of work on Friday, hitting the road just before 5:00 to join the other crazy people in the mad rush North out of The City. Shortly after, we realized that 40% of us lacked sneakers, so we stopped in Concord for shoe shopping and dinner. The LL Bean Outlet looked potentially promising but didn’t pan out. EMS had a small and expensive collection, with nothing really kid appropriate. Fortunately we found a Payless nearby and all three kids found footwear they could live with.

We passed by a Boloco just off the highway, and we’re planning to eat there but getting to Payless took us a bit away, and we happened upon a cute burrito joint in downtown, Dos Amigos, and ate there. Great atmosphere and very good burritos. An auspicious beginning to the trip. We then drove the remaining hour and a quarter to our lodging at Carlson’s Lodge, and were greeted, even at our late arrival time of 10:00, by a friendly, 14 year old dog. We got settled quickly and went right to sleep.