A Family Roadtrip to Lake George, New York

KITC would like to welcome back, guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel.  During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival.  During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.  

Our son, David, thought Six Flags Great Escape would have to be our next travel destination after seeing the names of a few of the rides.  Roller coasters with monikers like The Steamin’ Demon and The Comet would appeal to almost any nine year old.

With our holiday plans set, we loaded up the car and started making our way to Lake George, New York, home to Six Flags.   Along the route, I wanted to make a pit stop at the Wild Center. Set in the Adirondack forest, the Wild Center is perhaps the best natural history attraction we have ever visited.   There are plenty of interactive exhibits but the most unique feature is the outdoors Wild Walk.  The pathway is elevated nine metres above the ground.  From this perspective, you can see the canopy of the Adirondack forest for kilometres.

Wild Center Adirondack NY

David loved the walk, especially the net that resembled a spider’s web.  David jumped up and down testing its strength. He also enjoyed swinging on the suspension bridges and just generally, making his parents nervous!

After finishing up the Wild Walk, we hit the road and pulled into Six Flags Great Escape Lodge.  The following day, David woke up at the crack of dawn as if it were Christmas and his birthday combined.  We had a quick breakfast and were almost the first people through the gates. The first ride David wanted to check out was a twelve storey mega-coaster called Flashback.  David queued up for the ride and sat down as my wife, Sandy and I held our collective breaths. The ride delivered all the thrills as promised and at the end, David had a look of pure elation. The rest of the morning pretty well followed the same routine with David trying the rides with maximum scare value and Sandy and I trying not to be helicopter parents.

Roller coaster Six Flags Great Escape Lodge

By the afternoon, I had worked up enough courage to try out the a few of the family rides.  I thought I was up to trying the Canyon Blaster coaster and the Raging River whitewater river rafting adventure.  After trying both, it made me yearn for the days when David was three or four and the merry-go-round was a big adventure.  I must give Sandy full credit for having the nerves to try out the Comet wooden roller coaster with David. Part of the famous coaster was built in 1927.  

Six Flags wooden roller coaster

There was plenty of entertainment to keep us busy in between rides including a 50’s musical revue and high-flying divers.  

A full day of rides had made us tired.   After a bite in Lake George, we headed back and checked out the indoor water park at the Great Escape Lodge.   I had a perfect view of David trying out the water slides while I sat in the hot tub.

The following day, we wanted to see more of Lake George.  The town has been a mecca of tourism for a long time. It is easy to understand why with the lakeside location and the surrounding Adirondack mountains.  We started the morning by driving up Prospect Mountain and were treated to a panoramic view of the region. Making our way back into town, we took a stroll along the beautiful lakeside boardwalk.  David saw the Minnie-Ha-Ha Paddlewheeler on Lake George so we decided to check it out.  We took a beautiful one hour cruise on the lake as we learned fascinating information about the area.

Minnie-Ha-Ha Paddlewheeler on Lake George

We finished our day with an activity that made me feel more like we were in Texas than New York State.  We made our way to the Painted Pony Championship rodeo located about ten kilometres outside Lake George.   During the summer season, they hold a full rodeo three times a week.  Of course, nothing goes better with a rodeo than a Texas BBQ. We pulled up to the Painted Pony with the smell of bbq in the air.  I am glad to say that the ribs and chicken tasted as good as they smelled. After eating enough to last us two days, we headed to the rodeo grandstands.  Along the way, I checked the license plates to make sure they read New York state and not Oklahoma or Texas. The rodeo was as good as anything I have ever seen.  We watched bareback bronco riding, bull riding and steer wrestling amongst other events. With our best yee-haw, we finished our time at the rodeo and went back to the lodge.

Painted Pony Championship rodeo

The following day,  we followed the Hudson River all the way to Peekskill New York.  Even though Peekskill is one hour from New York City, it feels like it is a world away.  The charming town has a compact downtown with a number of funky restaurants. We obviously decided to try the tacos.   They were almost as good as Sandy’s, who is from Mexico City. We ended our time in Peekskill taking a boat cruise on the Hudson River.  We knew we were in good hands with Captain Mary Driscoll who had spent eleven years in the United States Coast Guard Reserve and twenty-five years as a ship captain.  She provided us with a lot of information about the Hudson River and surrounding area. Cruising peacefully down a river seemed the perfect way to end our trip after our adrenaline filled roller coaster rides and rodeos.  

For more information about Lake George, check out, www.visitlakegeorge.com   See www.visitwestchesterny.com for more information about the Hudson River area north of New York City.  

Special thanks to Lake George Tourism for providing David for assistance with some attractions for the purpose of this article; all views are his own.

Packing Tips for Sleepaway Camp

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I'm on year four of packing my kids for sleepaway camp and every year I learn something new that helps with making the process go a little more smoothly - for both the parents AND the kids. So, I thought I would share some of those tips with you and save you some of the trial and errors we've gone through.

1. Labels - lots of labels

It takes a LOT of labels to label everything for summer camp. I often under estimate how many we'll need or forget to order them until the last minute.

I love Mabel's Labels because they ship really quickly and they have a camp specific kit that makes it easier for me to know what I need. I go through a lot of their little labels on clothes (and stopped bothering to label their socks) and put multiple big labels on the really valuable things (like life jackets!).

I also just order our last name since a lot of the stuff passes from kid to kid and when I'm lucky, some of the things are already labeled when I go through it the next year!

While I am sometimes tempted to not label everything, the camp my kids go to do the entire cabin's laundry in one go, once a week, so having names on things is an easy way for everyone to get their own stuff back.

2. Send the old stuff

These kids are going to get DIRTY and stinky and wreck a lot of the clothing that gets sent to camp. Send the old crappy clothing and don't worry about trying to get them all kinds of new stuff.

Along this same note... be prepared that some things won't make it home - the brand new water shoes and lifejacket that disappeared are ultimately a small price to pay for the amazing experience of camp! :)

3. Plastic bins and plastic drawer systems

I've been using the bins for three years and only just discovered the drawer systems so haven't implemented it yet, but will definitely be doing this next year.

Plastic bins are a great way to store all the non-clothing stuff and get it to and from camp easily. I've found that some of the cabins have shelving and storage and some don't, so having an easy way to separate the clothing from the other things the kids will need is a handy and easy way to pack.

I recently discovered something other parents do and plan to try it next year: buy plastic drawer systems and essentially deliver your children to camp with a dresser and their clothing already organized! 

4. Make sure your kids know what's theirs

The first year my child tried to use shampoo as insect repellant for a week (WHAT?!) because he never took the time to read the bottle carefully and last year one of my kids thought he didn't have a toiletries bag because he didn't recognize the one on his shelf with all of his stuff (that was also full of his stuff) so BORROWED toiletries all week. 

Make sure your kids know what they have with them, even if you're only finalizing all the packing late the night before you leave, or all your time and effort may go to waste if they don't even realize all the amazing stuff you packed them is theirs!

5. Get your kids involved in the packing

My kids each get a copy of the packing list and they are responsible for getting me everything they're bringing in one spot, creating a shopping list for what they're missing and labelling the items. Packing kids up for camp is a big job and I get them as involved as possible. See note above for what happens when they aren't involved in every single step! ;)

I keep learning more every year but hopefully these tips will help make packing your kids up for sleepaway camp a bit easier!

Summer Vacation Reads from the Ottawa Public Library

The Ottawa Public Library is back to share some of their favourite books for children with us. This month’s post is by Kristina Roudiy, Children’s Program Assistant at the Ottawa Public Library.

Clicking on the title will hyperlink you to the OPL Catalogue page where you can see if the book is available at your local branch, or you can put it on hold and then pick it up at your home branch when it is ready for you!

Picture book : And then Then comes Comes Summer / Tom Brenner 

For the whole family. This picture book, with colourful acrylic paint illustrations and great vocabulary, is a celebration of the Summer summer season and of all its outdoor fun : biking, trips to the lake, ice cream treats, games of hide-and-seek, lemonade stand, bugs, fireworks, and more!

 

Picture book : How to code a sandcastle / Josh Funk

For ages 4-6. Pearl is spending her Summer summer at the beach. Her attempts to build a sandcastle have, so far, been unsuccessful, so she decides to involve her robot Pascal, giving him step-by-step instructions. Unfortunately, the incoming tide gets in the way of their perfect castle... but all the better chance for the pair to repeat the sequences and to end up building a whole kingdom instead! A smart introduction to coding and programming basics, through a funny story.

Chapter book : Amelia Bedelia Makes a Splash / Herman Parish

For ages 6-9. In this 11th book in the series, Amelia finds herself attending an all-girls camp that her mother also used to go to. Even though the camp is old-fashioned and can't compete with the computer camp that her cousin Jason is attending on the other side of the lake, Amelia is determined to have a good time. She will take on the challenge of swimming in freezing water and learn survival skills! Amelia Bedelia's adventures will surely appeal to fans of "Judy Moody" and "Ivy & Bean.".

 

Graphic novel : Mighty Jack / Ben Hatke

For ages 9-12. This is volume 1... theThe sequel is called "Mighty Jack and the Goblin King." In this modern-day reimagining of "Jack and the Beanstalk,", Jack is the oldest child of a divorced single mom doing her best to keep the family fed. Contrary to most children, Jack does not look forward to Summer summertime, because that's when he has to look after his autistic sister, Maddy, while their mother juggles two jobs. Maddy never speaks...that is, until the day they visit a flea market and she insists on buying some mysterious seeds. What starts as a normal garden behind the house quickly grows into a wild, magical jungle with biting pumpkins and... a dragon! Soon, Jack has to involve their home-schooled neighbour Lilly, whose sword-wielding hobby might come in handy.

Chapter book : Dingus / Andrew Larson

For middle-grade readers. Soon-to-be-6th-grader Henry lives with his stay-at-home father and his toddler brother Sam. When school ends, Henry's best friend Max goes away to chess camp, while Henry stays home for a "staycation.". Henry thinks his Summer summer vacation will be quite boring, until he finds out that he gets to dog-sit his grandfather's dog daily. But will Henry manage not to make a fool (or dingus) of himself? A believable story about growing up and becoming responsible... a fun Summer summer read.

Graphic novel : The Time Museum / Matthew Loux

For ages 10-13. In this graphic novel packed with time-travel adventures and goofiness, we meet Delia Bean, a girl who loves science and history. When Uncle Lyndon invites Delia's family over for a Summer summer visit, she discovers that he's actually a curator at the Earth Time Museum and that she could apply for a prestigious Summer job there if she wins the internship competition. Little does she know that she will get to meet to young people from all of human history, including a girl from 23rd-century Japan and a boy from the Roman era, and will have to defend the Time Museum itself!

Ottawa and Area Farmers' Markets

For as many Saturdays as we can during the summer months, my family and I head to the Carp Farmer’s Market for fresh vegetables, meats and to walk around to take a look at all the artisans and treats. I love that more and more Farmer’s Markets are popping up throughout Ottawa and area, so thought I would create a list of some (click on the name to be redirected to the market website for more information. If you have a local farmers' market to add, please leave a comment and let us know.

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Almonte Farmers’ Market
Located in the parking lot of the Almonte Public Library (beside the Beer Store), this market is open Saturdays from 8:30am to 12:30pm from May to October.

Beechwood Farmers’ Market (Vanier / New Edinburgh)
Located at 43 Cecile Street, behind the Beechwood Fire Hall in Optimist Park, the Beechwood Market. They are proud to have a great selection from local producers, organic producers, bakers, crafters and more. This market is open Saturdays 9 am to 2pm until October 27, 2017.

Carleton Place Farmers’ Market
Located at Market Square (corner of Beckwith and Lake Avenue), this covered market is open Saturdays 8:30 am to 12:30 pm until fall.

Carp Farmers’ Market
Located at the Carp Fairgrounds, about 10km from the Carp Road exit on the 417. Open Saturdays 8 am to 1 pm starting in May through to October. They also have an Easter Market, Christmas Market as well as their popular Garlic Festival in August.

Cumberland Farmers’ Market
Located at the R.J. Kennedy Community Centre on 1115 Dunning Road (Cumberland Arena), between Orleans and Rockland. Open Saturdays 8am to 1pm from June and into the fall. This market also hosts the Spring Market in April, the Harvest Market in late September and the Christmas Market in December.

Kanata Farmers’ Market
Open every Saturday from May to October, the Kanata Farmers’ Market is located at 420 Hazeldean Road, in the parking lot in front of Shoppers Drug Mart. Open Saturdays 9am to 3pm from May to October. You will find baked goods, fruits and vegetables, honey and garlic – and much more at this west end market.

Kemptville Farmers’ Market
Located at 200 Sanders Street at the B & H parking lot in Kemptville (just south of Ottawa). Sunday from 12 noon to 4pm from May to October. The Kemptville Market has a Christmas in July market on July 22nd that will feature gift ideas for Christmas – and Santa will even make a visit!

Log Farm
Located at 670 Cedarview Road (between Hunt Club and Fallowfield roads). Open Saturdays from 9am to 2pm from May until October. This market has a wide variety of vendors including meats, fruits and vegetables and desserts!

Metcalfe Farmers' Market
Located at the Metcalfe Fairgrounds, southeast of Ottawa. Open Saturdays 9am to 1pm from May to the fall. This market has 25 years experience of promoting and selling locally produced products.

North Gower Farmers’ Market
Known for “country flavour in the city” this market is located at 2397 Roger Stevens Drive, just west of North Gower. Look for the big red barn. Open Saturdays from 8:30am to 1pm from May to the beginning of October.

Old Chelsea Market
Located in the heart of the village at 212 Old Chelsea Rd (the grounds at St. Stephen’s Church), this outdoor market features homemade, original, home grown produce and products, including certified organics. The Old Chelsea Market is open on Thursdays from 4pm to 8pm from the end of May to mid-October.

Old Aylmer Market (Marché Vieux Aylmer)
This market is located in the Memorial Park at the corner of Broad and Main Street. It’s open every Sunday from the beginning of June to the end of September from 10am to 3pm and features a variety of locally produced produce as well as almonds and nuts, honey and homemade items, including Alpaca products.

Ottawa East’s Farmers’ Market
Located at 210 Main Street every Saturday from 9am to 3pm from June to October, this market connects local producers within 160 km with the community, including organic goods. There is also face painters, kid’s crafts and more!

Orléans Market
Open Thursdays from May to October from 12 to 6pm, this market is located at the Ray Friel Centre and features the best in local food!

Ottawa Farmers’ Market (Lansdowne Park)
Located at Lansdowne Park in Aberdeen Square every Sunday from 10am to 3pm, the Ottawa Farmers’ Market features local farmers, artisans and artists as well as arts and crafts.

Ottawa Organic Farmers' Market
The Ottawa Organic Farmers' Market runs year-round on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm and features Certified Organic meat, bread, vegetables, fruits, olive oil and much more! Located at 1644 Bank Street (near Heron).

Riverside South
One of the newest farmers' markets in Ottawa, the Riverside South market operates June through October on Sundays from 10am to 2pm. This market is located at the OC Transpo Riverview Park and Ride – right near Summerhill Park!

Stittsville Farmers’ Market @The Barn
This cute little market is located in an old barn and is open Sundays 10am to 2pm at Village Square Park at the corner of Stittsville Main and Abbott. Vendors are cash only and include homemade bread, fruits, vegetables and more!

Westboro Farmers' Market
The Westboro Farmers' Market is located in the Byron Linear Park between Golden, Bryon, and Richmond Avenues. The market runs from May to October – every Saturday from 9:30am to 3pm and hosts over 50 local farmers, producers, bakers, and more!

Wakefield Market
Open Saturdays, 9am to 1pm from May to October, at the Centre Wakefield La Pêche, 38 Chemin de la Vallée de Wakefield this market has everything you need to fill your pantry. This market also features artwork and other unique vendors.

Summer Fairs in the Ottawa Area

One thing my family looks forward to during the summer are all the community and small town fairs that happen each year in Ottawa and the surrounding areas. With that in mind here is a list of where and when you can plan on heading out for some cotton candy, demolition derbies, carousels, concerts, live entertainment, and more!

Summer Fairs in the Ottawa area.png

July 13-15: Almonte Fair
Highlights include: Chili cook off, Zip-E the clown and Team T&J

July 27-29: Beachburg Fair
Demolition Derby, DJ Dancy Party, Buck-a-Roo Breakfast, and an ATV Poker Run

August 9-12: Navan Fair
Concerts with George Canyon, Chad Brownlee and more, PC Superdogs, Little Ray’s Reptiles and more!

August 9-12: Arnprior Fair
Miniature horse show, agricultural showcases, midway and more!

August 17-26: The Capital Fair
Monster Truck Show, Youth Talent search, birds of prey show, Soper Creek Wildlife

August 24-26: Chesterville Fair 
Homecrafts, Agiculture and Family Fun!

September 6-9: Russell Fair
Classic Auto & Bike Show, Craft and Merchant Market, Strongman Competition, Sheep shoes

September 13-16: Richmond Fair 
Emerson Drive concert, demolition derby, agricultural showcase

September 20-23: Carp Fair 
Superdogs “Canadogs,” agriculture shows, family circle tent, antiques area

September 27-30: Metcalfe Fair
Agriculture exhibitions, heavy horse pull, demolition derby, truck pull