Barns, beer and (sun)bathing

I think we can all agree that Summer 2020 is a season unlike any we’ve ever experienced. Everything else aside, the weather has been particularly intense with sunshine and humidity making for hot days and muggy nights. My house gets a lot of sun and it challenges me in my attempts to moderate the temperature to something comfortable.

I toy with fans, drapes, blinds and 3 air conditioners to  achieve a moderate 74 and eventually get there. After a couple of days of nonstop ac, I need fresh air and if it’s too still too hot to open the windows, all one can do is get outside.

Last weekend, I escaped Albany Covid County and enjoyed some time outdoors having socially distanced fun. I understand that my willingness to socialize during a pandemic might be perceived as irresponsible, however, I’m pretty aware of the risks and wash my hands incessantly and wear my mask consistently when I am unable to maintain a six foot distance. None of us are getting today back again to do over, so we should all try to do our best to live it while we have it. Just my personal philosophy.

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image: June Farms Instagram

When it’s about living your best life, you know you’re at June Farms. From the moment you’re greeted as you turn onto the gravel path,* you’re pulled up that driveway magnetically. It’s just beautiful. Last Friday night when I was there the place was busy, but not uncomfortably so. Everyone in motion had a mask and seating was appropriately distanced and available in numerous outdoor locations, in addition to the interior of the large Pony Barn. I thoroughly enjoyed my Moscow Mule and walked with friends to the farthest (and new this year) satellite bar, The Coop, where we sat for awhile watching happy dogs play and grownups relax. It’s very civilized and lovely and I can’t wait to get back.

Saturday I found myself in Greene County, my stomping grounds as a young(er) librarian in the late 90s. I’ve always believed that the area had genuine potential with a proximity even closer to transportation and NYC than Albany and much has been written recently about the real estate boom in Catskill. Covid, if anything, has only increased the appeal due to the affordability of property and potential opportunities in business and the arts. It’s kind of cool.. you know, like a cool cat.

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Image: Crossroads Brewery Instagram

But, I was actually in Athens, though, and not Catskill, on this particular afternoon. I met a friend at the riverfront park where went to shoot the breeze, and try to catch one, as we sat in the grass by the Hudson. We watched a surprising number of kayakers and folks on SUPS, along with jet skiers and boaters, all enjoying the river. It was nice, but the conversation and heat were thirst inducing. Fortunately the original Crossroads Brewing location was two short blocks away. We grabbed an elevated deuce outdoors by the windows and ordered a couple of beers and a hummus plate. Perfect. My Hoppy Wheat beer was just what I wanted and wonderfully refreshing. My only possible complaint was that Athens wasn’t in Greece, where I actually had planned to be on that very day. For the 30 minute drive south, though, it provided an excellent consolation.

Sunday morning I made it to Saratoga’s crown jewel – Saratoga State ParkI know many consider the racetrack by that name, but I’m not a gambler and dying horses distress me. For me, the magnificence of the park, and all it offers, beats the track any day of the week. My specific destination was Victoria Pool, a place so special that I’m willing to drive 30 minutes on Sunday morning to wait in line to get a spot on its pristine deck.

When I learned a few weeks ago that the park’s pools were open, I knew I wanted to get there. The last two weeks, I’ve managed to arrive early enough to grab enough poolside real estate for 3 or 4 to comfortable sit in brought from home chairs and be far enough from others for comfort. The park is limiting capacity to 184 entries and on weekends they generally fill up by 11:00, at which point it becomes a waiting game to snag the spot of a departing guest.

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Image: Pinterest

I do not consider myself a pool person necessarily, but I can easily spend 6 hours at this pool and enjoy every moment. Except, for that errant screaming toddler last week, that is. You know, I kind of hate myself for even writing about the pool because it is just so pleasant and I don’t want it to be any more challenging to get in. Let’s forget I mentioned it, ok? Focus on the screaming kid and try to avoid it. SCREAMING KID!

So, three days, three counties, three very different, but equally enjoyable experiences. Stay healthy and feel free to share any outdoor spots where you’ve had a fun and comfortable time.

*If you’re one of those people who question the kid collecting the $5 per car parking fee, I think you look familiar as one of those people who also want to know why it costs money to get into the North Albany Oktoberfest. I’ll answer both of your questions right now – because sh*t ain’t free. Period.

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