Saturday, December 31, 2011

On the Road to Cooperstown…(Part 3)

Continuing with our late summer road trip…

Just south of US 20 on New York Hwy. 166, we came across another little town with an interesting past…
The village of Cherry Valley New York was established in 1740 by John Lindesay and it was initially named Lindesay’s Bush.  During the American Revolution, 47 residents were slaughtered by a British and Iroquois raiding party in what is now referred to as the Cherry Valley Massacre.

This is the Cherry Valley Museum.  It’s located at 49 Main Street in the village.  The museum is packed with early Americana, ranging from Victorian furniture to housewares, toys and clothing.  There are also artifacts from the Cherry Valley Massacre, historic portraits, a Civil War flag carried by the NY State 76th Volunteers in 1862, fire equipment and much, much more.  This compact museum is quite a bargain…no crowds, lots of interesting artifacts and admission is $5.00 for an adult, $4.50 for seniors…and children are free with an adult.

The current population of Cherry Valley is about 550.  At one point, it was a growing enterprise but after the railroad pulled out, the New York Thruway was completed, and a bypass was built just north of town for US 20, the town has been sliding into a long decline.
Cherry Valley has many old homes and a lot of interesting architecture.  The town looks much like it did in the 19th century.  For that reason, and because of its isolation, Cherry Valley has a long history as an artist and writer’s community.  Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg used to visit here to escape city life.  Ginsberg purchased a farm nearby.  Willa Cather wrote “O Pioneers” while living in the village.  It became a haven and destination point for many of the major players from the “Beat” scene.  This included William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, Herbert Huncke, Ray Bremser, Anne Waldman, Robert Creely, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Harry Smith…  Just ‘Google’ any of these names for more information about them…

Its hard to believe but this is the former Delaware & Hudson Railroad freight depot.  The Cherry Valley Branch began as the Cherry Valley & Sprakers Railroad.  After several mergers and buy outs, D & H bought the line in 1908.  The last train from Cherry Valley departed on August 17, 1956.  At least the basic structure has been put to good use…

Poet Charles Plymell still lives in Cherry Valley as does jazz pianist Paul Bley, artist and writer Jack Walls, artists Richard Saba and Mark Mastroianni, film maker James Rasin and novelist Dana Spiotta.  Andy Warhol superstar and transgender pioneer Candy Darling is buried in the Cherry Valley Cemetary.
One final item of interest… With the assistance of his cousin, Judge James Otis Morse and Amos L. Swan, both of whom lived in Cherry Valley, it was here that Samuel F.B. Morse developed the first working telegraph machine.  Was Cherry Valley the birthplace of the Information Superhighway?!
For additional details about Cherry Valley and its history, just click on the following website:

Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!!
Wishing Everyone a Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Thursday, December 29, 2011

On the Road to Cooperstown…(Part 2)

Our late summer road trip continued…

Vestiges of the past, whether they’re old buildings or towns, are usually very interesting and sometimes they are quite sad… Our drive from Rensselaer NY to Cooperstown NY on US 20 took us by one such town, whose glory is long past but which is struggling to recover…

This is the former Imperial Baths spa in Sharon Springs New York.  It was built in 1927. 

The population of Sharon Springs in 2000 was 547 and as of 2011, it was 519.  If it wasn’t for the old dilapidated or ruined buildings that are still standing, it would be hard to believe that this little town once had 60 hotels and rooming houses that accommodated over 10,000 visitors each summer.
Back in the 19th century, Sharon Springs was a highly fashionable spa, thanks to its plentiful sulfur, magnesium and chalybeate springs.

This is a postcard of the Imperial Baths, (shown in the previous photo), back in the days when it was still operational.  At its peak, this spa could provide up to 5,000 ‘treatments’ per day.  As recently as 2001, the Imperial Baths was still open for spa treatments and massage services. 

During its heyday, Sharon Springs hosted members of the Vanderbilt family, a number of South American Ambassadors and a number of rich overseas clients.  Oscar Wilde gave a lecture at the now-demolished Pavilion Hotel back in 1882.

This is the pavilion that belonged to the White Sulphur Springs Spa.  We found it sadly attractive. 

The town of New Sharon was originally named New Dorlach.  Its current name was derived from the hometown of the first Colonial settlers, Sharon CT, and the important springs in the village.  Development of the town into a mineral water spa began in 1925 when a boarding house was built near the springs.  By 1841, the town had become world famous as the social elite came ‘to take the waters’.  Huge and magnificent hotels and fabulous parks graced the village landscape. 

Here’s an old postcard showing the White Sulphur Springs Spa with the pavilion shown in the previous photo. 

Sharon Springs lost the ‘fashionable social register clientele’ to the new horse racing attractions of Saratoga Springs New York.  The good news for this town was that wealthy Jewish families of German origin were unwelcome at Saratoga due to the social bias of the time.  Consequently, they filled the void at Sharon Springs, making the town and spas a refuge of their own.

This is part of the lower bath which belonged to the Pavilion Hotel.  It was built in 1876…with the arcaded entryway being added in the 1930’s.  The old baths was divided into 2 parts.  It had 52 suites for men and 40 for women.  Each ‘suite’ came with a ‘modern’ slate tub for soaking. 

This small pavilion is part of the White Sulphur Springs Spa.  However, this is also a source for one of the springs and, back in the day, a dipper was kept here so that visitors could sample the water.  It was supposed to be good for cronic skin ailments.  To view a much more complete series of photos and additional information about the town and spas, go to

Given the ghostly appearance of the spring shown above as well as the decay evidident in parts of town, it seems appropriate that almost all of the 1970's cult horror movie classic, “I Drink Your Blood” was filmed on location in Sharon Springs.

This is the old Hotel Roseboro.  This is an official description of the Hotel from relatively recent times.  The Wasserman Family - Hosts. Modern, comfortable, delightful, reasonable and friendly! Elevator service; fireproofed with automatic sprinklers; dietary laws strictly observed; superb American style cuisine; famous for super-cleanliness; our spotless double kitchen the showplace of the mountains; just five hours from New York on Route 20 or Thruway Exit 29; forty-five miles west of Albany; in a setting of unparalleled scenic splendor and beneficial climate; our White Sulphur Springs are famous for treatment of rheumatic, arthritic, nervous and skin disorders; fully equipped bathhouses, attendants, physicians on premises.”

From what we could ascertain, this big old hotel is being worked on but is currently in use only for weddings, a restaurant and some retail space.  It is home to Mercantile, the retail store for Beekman 1802.  A lifestyle brand, Beekman 1802 was founded in Sharon Springs in 2008 by Dr. Brent Ridge and author Josh Kilmer-Purcell.  For more information, go to

Even more stunning is the shuttered hulk of the 150 room Hotel Adler.  We didn’t take any photos of this hotel…must have been down another road just outside of town.  Check out these additonal photos…this huge old hotel was the last big hotel built in Sharon Springs…back in 1927, and it was just abandoned in 2004.  Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City, bused tables at the Hotel Adler back in 1946.

There is hope in Sharon Springs!  A Korean investment group purchased the Adler Hotel and several additional properties.  To date, nothing substantial has resulted from this purchase other than a couple of different plans…but there is the possibility that this resort town will make a comeback.

Pictured above, the American Hotel on Main Street was a collapsing, abandoned building in 1996 when it was purchased.  This 1847 structure has now been converted into a functioning hotel and upscale restaurant.  Have a look at the official website to see what this classy hotel has to offer: 
The American Hotel plus “The Fabulous Beekman Brothers” business and their reality series on the Planet Green cable network with guest appearances by Martha Stewart and other celebrities…combined with other restored bed and breakfast operations, stores and restaurants as well as being featured on shows with Rachel Ray and Charles Kuralt…should bode well for the future of Sharon Springs.  Only time will tell…but for now it an interesting dicotomy…both a decaying and yet promising place… No matter what, it is a curious place, a time capsule that is definitely worth visiting. 
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Birthday Celebration!

December is Laurie’s Birthday month…that’s right…month…not just a day!  She receives something north of 25 birthday cards every year, whereas I get about 4.  Hmmm… I must be doing something wrong.

In any case, you all know the saying… “A Happy Wife = A Happy Life”.  To that I say Amen!  Well, one of Laurie’s favorite foods…perhaps her very favorite food…was our dining goal on her actual birthday.

So it was off to Bonefish Grill in Turkey Creek on the west side of Knoxville Tennessee.  As recently as 10 or 15 years ago, many of my former associates and friends would attest that I wouldn’t be caught dead in a national restaurant chain.  Well, time changes everything!  In this case, I must say that Bonefish Grill is one of those national chains that you can count on… The service is competent and consistent and the food is very good as well as being reasonably priced.

Laurie started out her birthday dinner with a luscious cocktail!  She had an Ocean Trust Mango Martini.  It was $7.90 with $1.00 going to the Ocean Trust for their work at preserving the oceans of the world. (Check them out at: I had a glass of  Mark West Chardonnay. ($7.50)

Then we went for our favorite appetizer…the “Bang Bang Shrimp”. ($8.30) This mound of spicy shrimp went fast!  It’s a great start to any meal…

Then came a side Caesar Salad for each of us. ($2.90 as a side salad) This was a palate cleanser following the spicy shrimp appetizer!

Then on to Laurie’s favorite entrée!  Twin Lobster Tails split and ready to eat…accompanied with potatoes au gratin, spaghetti squash and a nice ramekin full of cream butter with lemon over a flame. ($27.00) It’s a good thing that Laurie doesn’t have a chance to trade me in for a life time supply of lobster tails… If that were possible, I might be at some personal risk!

My entrée was the Spinach Bacon Gorgonzola Atlantic Salmon. ($15.90) I also had the spaghetti squash with the au gratin potatoes!  The combination of flavors was just terrific!!  I would order this entrée again in a flash…very, very good!

Because it was Laurie’s birthday, the waiter brought us a complementary dessert…the Macadamia Nut Brownie. (Normally $5.80) This flourless brownie comes with raspbery sauce, whipped cream and vanilla ice cream on the side.  This is an excellent dessert!

Bonefish Grill in Turkey Creek/Knoxville Tennessee is located at 11395 Parkside Drive.  Phone: 865-966-9777.  Website: 

Well, as I mentioned, Laurie’s birthday goes on for at least a full month… Our friend Karen baked this birthday cake for Laurie just a couple of days after our trip to Bonefish Grill.  Laurie was very surprised and happy!

Here’s the birthday girl with her cake.  We were at Joel and Holly’s home playing Sequence with Karen and her husband Charlie.  As you can see, Laurie didn’t like the attention she was getting! (FYI…If you’re wondering how old she is…forgetaboutit!!)

If you thought that the cake at our friend’s home was the end of Laurie’s birthday celebration, you were wrong!  A few days after that, we had a wine tasting at our house… Dawn Marie sent Mama Laurie a very fine bottle of 2005 Duckhorn ‘Estate Grown’ Cabernet Savignon from Candlestick Vineyards in Napa Valley…along with a beautiful decanter.  That wine was the big hit of the evening! (Note: As usual, she took this photo) Happy Birthday Laurie!

That’s about it for now… Just click on any photo to enlarge it.
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2010 vs. Christmas 2011...

We hope that your Christmas Day is full of joy and happiness!  Our Christmas Season has been greatly enhanced, this year vs. last year.  We moved from the Chicago suburbs to East Tennessee partially due to the mild, relatively snow free winters…

Well, 2010 was one for the record books…at least by East Tennessee standards!

This was our home as it appeared around Christmas 2010.  We had snow on the ground…actually had to shovel once…and it didn’t melt off for about 3 or 4 days! (Yes, we did bring a shovel with us when we moved down here from Chicago…) 

While snow can be pretty in small and short lived doses, the whole scenario can also be gray and gloomy as shown above…

This is what our home looks like as of Christmas week in 2011!  This is the kind of winter we were looking forward to…warm enough to grill with a long sleeve shirt on…or to play golf if one was so moved. 

We just wanted to share… Life is good!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all...

Just click on any photo to enlarge it…

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your Christmas Holidays with us!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve and All is Well!

All is well in our home this year, and we hope that all is well in yours!  We’ve  decorated our home, done a little baking, attended a local church choir’s Christmas musical presentation, delivered Christmas presents to our grandchildren, shared a bit of Christmas cheer with some neighbors and we’re ready for Christmas Day!

Here’s our Christmas tree as viewed from the second floor of our home.  We’ve been collectors for years…and we have many, many Christmas ornaments.  They’ve been purchased for us by friends and relatives and we’ve bought quite a few on our many road trips.  One of them was made by our ‘little boy’, back when he was just 9 years old!  Several have been handed down through the family, including one beaded angel that dates back to the Civil War.

Another collection is focused on Santa Claus, in particular, miniaturized scenes  such as this one with Santa and his sleigh, (plus his bag), full of toys.  I collected a number of these back in my days with Montgomery Ward.  The company would hold an annual arts and crafts show and one of our company's officers envisioned and built these masterpieces just to unwind over the summer!

Here’s Santa with snowshoe's & pole's, escorted by a friendly black bear! He's wandering through the Smoky Mountains with his pack of toys to deliver to good little boys & girls!

I would never have the patience (or the imagination) needed to envision and then build these Christmas collectables… I would just go bonkers!  First you have to acquire or construct all of these bits and pieces and then you have to have a vision of what you want to create.  Finally, bit by bit, you have to assemble this miniature scene…ensuring that it really looks good and will stay together.

This is yet another Santa and his sleigh…with lots and lots of toys!  The artist who created these scenes actually wrapped the tiny packages in these various tableaus. 

This is one of Laurie’s favorites…Santa being pulled through the snow by a big St. Bernard!  As indicated by his scarf, he’s moving along at a brisk pace…such is the magic of Christmas…

Finally, this is one of our favorite Santa collectables… One challenge I had when these Christmas minatures were displayed for sale was that the executive who built them reported to another serious collector, her boss, who was a senior officer of the company!  That put me at a serious disadvantage when these pieces went up for sale…he had the first look and just a bit more pull...  But once, just once, I did manage to get the jump on her boss and the horse and sleigh are the result… Fortunately, it was a friendly competition, as her boss saved my bacon on more than one occasion.  We’ll have to compare our Christmas collections some day!   

Laurie and I wish each and everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by and sharing the Holidays with us… HO! HO! HO!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, December 23, 2011

On the Road to Cooperstown…(Part 1)

Continuing with our late summer road trip…

From Rensselaer and the Albany New York area, we headed west along US Highway 20 towards the intersection with NY Route 80 south to Cooperstown.  As usual, we found plenty to look at along the way…

Near Duanesville NY, we were startled to see this E8 EMD diesel locomotive just sitting on a section of track along the highway.  It turns out that this locomotive is just part of an effort to create a tourist attraction, the Canal Street Station  Railroad Village.

This 1952 E8 EMD locomotive has been ‘restored’ externally and the inside of this unit is being transformed into a 1950’s malt shop.  This passenger locomotive was built by the Electro Motor Diesel Division of the General Motors Corporation.  It weighed 138 tons and it had 2 twin V-12 2400 HP diesel engines.  It served the Pennsylvania, (locomotive #5762), or Penn Central railroad, (locomotive #4262), until 1973.  It was retired in 1977 after serving with META in a commuter train capacity. (locomotive #4264) The unit has been externally refurbished in the style of New York Central Railroad's passenger locomotives and has been renumbered once again...(#4297)
So…everything must have been closed on the day we passed the Canal Street Station Railroad Village.  The only thing we really noted was the locomotive…

This is a photo of the Canal Street Station Railroad Village that I ‘borrowed’ from a facebook page…check out related information at  This photo was taken this past fall, about a month after we’d passed through. 

Canal Street Station is apparently a work in progress.  The intent is to build a reconstructed 1920’s to 1940’s American railroad village representing the “Great American Dream”.  The village relives a common sight during the turn of the century when horse drawn wagons and push carts were still used to distribute produce and farm goods to market.  Originally conceived Joseph J. Merli, (, and friends in 1990, Canal Street Village now has a General Store, the locomotive and a 1940 Silk City Diner in addition to railway buildings, rolling stock and early delivery vehicles.
Festivals, a weekly farmer’s market and various fund raising events are scheduled for the village.  For more information about the Canal Street Station Railroad Village, just go to  
You just never know what you’ll run across when you drive America’s byways!
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Downtown Grill and Brewery

Once a month or so, we accompany a local group and we visit a restaurant in our area of East Tennessee.  Sometimes the locales are fancy and sometimes they’re easy going and laid back.  This latest experience relates to the laid back category…

In this instance, we drove into downtown Knoxville to partake in a dining and social experience at the Downtown Grill and Brewery.  This restaurant and brewery is only a block from the Tennessee Theatre and about the same distance from Knoxville’s Market Square. 

Downtown Grill and Brewery is located in the 107 year old Woodruff Building.  There are rumors of a curse on the property… It’s referred to as The White Mule Curse and it refers to the death of a gypsy’s white mule adjacent to the building.  Fire leveled the structure, actually the entire block, back in 1897.  Then, in 1904, an explosion leveled the second iteration of this structure.  This is the third building in this spot. 

In addition to outside dining, the Downtown Grill offers a main floor dining room surrounding the large bar and the brewing vats, as well as a mezzanine area with dining toward the front and pool tables with a second bar in the back.

Laurie started out with a side Caesar Salad, which she rated as quite satisfactory.  Greek and House side salads were also available…

Service was a little confused and uneven, partially due to the size of our party and the fact that over 60 people were spread out at tables ranging from 8 to 4 persons per table.  It’s always difficult to evaluate ‘normal’ service, or food for that matter, when a large group like ours is all eating at the same time.

OK, I ordered the Seasoned Mesquite Grilled Pork Chops ($12.95).  I should have known better!  Laurie warned me of the likelihood that the chops would be overcooked.  So, I told the waiter that I didn’t want the pork chops over cooked...That I would like there to be a little pink in the middle.  He assured me that he would pass my request onto the chef/cook…

Well, the message was either ignored or it never made it to the broiler cook.  The chops were indeed dry and overcooked. (It happens to me 80% of the time when I order pork chops… I should just give it up!)  The potatoes were OK and the veggies were cooked just right!
Other items on the menu include: Sandwiches ($7.95 - $8.95; 4 entrée salads ($9.95 - $15.45); 2 steaks ($13.95 - $15.95); 6 pasta dishes ($8.95 - $11.95); Salmon, Tuna and Swordfish at Market Price and; 5 specialty pizzas ($7.95 - $10.95). If you’re still hungry, there are 6 desserts to chose from…($4.95 - $5.25)

As usual, Laurie made the right dinner choice!  She ordered the Mesquite-Grilled Delmonico Ribeye Steak ($15.95). She liked her skin-on mashed potatoes as well as her medium rare steak!  Given the price, I was pleasantly pleased with the size of her entrée.  I’d expected a smaller or thinner cut of beef.

There are no less than 14 appetizers on the menu at Downtown Grill and Brewery… That shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given the fact that selling the home brew, their craft brewed beers, is a key business goal.   Nothing like appetizers with a few beers!  Try a little New World Porter, or Downtown Nut Brown, and how about White Mule Ale!  
Laurie and I will return to the Downtown Grill and Brewery to try the food and the service again.  The next time it will be on our own or with a couple of our beer 'affectionado' family members.  The place has character, the prices are right and it’s very popular.  Maybe I’ll go for the steak this time…
Downtown Grill and Brewery is open from 11 AM – Midnight Sunday through Thursday and from 11 AM – 3 AM Friday and Saturday.  The address is 424 South Gay Street in Knoxville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-633-8111.  Website:
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dining Out in Rensselaer New York

Late summer road trip continued…

As we worked our way south along the Hudson River after departing the Adirondack Mountains, I reserved a room at a Holiday Inn in Rensselaer New York.  Then I did some research in order to find an interesting place with good food for our dinner that evening.
I hoped that my dining choice would be far better than our room at the Holiday Inn!  Our sink had a leaky faucet, the clock didn’t work, the tub didn’t drain, the door covering the air conditioning controls fell off and the “Do Not Disturb” sign was missing.  So much for a 3 star rating… 
When my travel books and listings don’t provide a good lead, I usually just go to and check out the first 2 or 3 ranked restaurants in the area or town… In this case, I chose the top ranked restaurant in Rensselaer.

Yup…This is it!  Trip Advisor’s #1 ranked restaurant in town… At first glance, Casey’s Restaurant looks more like a dive or a corner bar that serves food…

Casey’s opened back in 1995.  The building itself had been a restaurant for over 100 years.  It’s located just a short drive from downtown Albany.

There are two sections in the restaurant where one can dine.  This was a weekday but the place was packed.  The parking lot was full and we had to resort to finding a spot for our car on the street.  With no reservations, we were lucky to get a table in the bar area.  While the main dining area of Casey’s was more calm and dignified, this setting suited us just fine.  It resembled one of our favorite dining environments…a Wisconsin Dinner Club.

Laurie had a house salad with her meal… It was OK and they certainly didn’t skimp on the salad dressing.

It was a rainy cloudy day so I felt like something warm and comforting.  So, I ordered the Tomato rosé marina soup.  I didn’t care for it…but I have to admit that I have enough food dislikes and quirks with my taste buds that it’s not fair for me to accurately rate this soup.  In this case, the texture bothered me.  Laurie thought that it was just fine…

There were 9 different appetizers on the menu, starting at $8.95.  We weren’t that hungry but the Seafood Platter sounded pretty good…with fried calamari, clams casino, scallops and shrimp, both wrapped in bacon…supported with lemons, tartar and cocktail sauce. ($13.95)  Two other soups were available as well, French Onion and New England Clam Chowder. ($3.75 for a bowl)

The waitress brought us a loaf of bread with some oil for dipping along with butter if that was our preference.  The bread was pretty good…

Since I’ve mentioned the waitress, I might as well comment on her.  She was not attentive, a little rude, forgetful, and she lacked any evident people skills.  While we had problems with her, our issues were nothing compared to the couple sitting next to us.  She had gotten their food order totally wrong…and she didn’t work very hard to correct the situation.  We’re sure that she was a regular waitress…maybe she had a long hard day…or she had personal problems…but she was ‘the’ problem with our dining experience at Casey’s.

Laurie ordered the Lobster Ravioli Shrimp Scampi.  This was described as fresh pasta stuffed with Maine lobster meat and ricotta cheese, in shrimp scampi sauce with oven roasted tomatoes ($20.95) Laurie gave it a thumbs up but it didn’t compare to the Lobster Ravioli in cream sauce that she orders when we go to Willie’s Italian Restaurant in Seymour Tennessee. ($10.95 but without the 4 shrimp)

A total of 7 pasta offerings are available ranging in price from $15.95 to $22.95.  Casey’s also offers a couple of steaks, ($18.95 to $23.95), Calves Liver, ($15.95) and   4 chicken entrees. ($18.95 to $19.95)

For my entrée, I ordered the New England Baked Haddock. ($18.95) This is described as fresh haddock, slow baked with garlic butter and white wine, then topped with toasted New England style breadcrumbs.  It was very nice… With drinks, tax and a minimal tip, we spent $60.00 for dinner.

A total of 5 non-pasta seafood entrees are available ranging in price from $18.95 to $21.95.  We were too full for dessert but there are 9 options listed on the menu ranging from $4.95 to $5.95.

We would recommend Casey’s to fellow travelers… It has a laid back old time atmosphere and a nice selection of food to chose from.  Just keep your fingers crossed that you aren’t ‘served’ by the same waitress that we were!

Casey’s Restaurant is a little hard to find but that’s what a GPS unit is good for… Casey’s is open for dinner 7 days a week and it’s open for lunch Monday through Friday.  The restaurant is located at 77 – 79 Washington Avenue in Rensselaer New York.  Phone: 518-463-3318.  Website:

Just click on any photo to enlarge it…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ships and Boats – Lake George NY

Ships, boats, trains, planes, automobiles…these are all favorite topics for me.  In this case, we drove into the town of Lake George New York, just cruising and looking around.  Then…Wow!  Look at That!!

The following 5 photos all show tour boats…really great looking little ships in a couple of instances…that provide tourists with various sightseeing and social experiences on Lake George. 
Only one of these ships/boats is really old…and only one of these ships is actually steam powered.  Without reading what I’ve written following each of the photos, can you identify both the oldest tour ship plus the only genuine steam powered ship?  Hint…You’re looking for 2 different ships…

This is the Lac du Sacrement, which was named after the original name of the lake, The Lake of the Blessed Sacrament.  This 190’ ship sails for the Lake George Steamship Line, a company that has operated on the lake every year except 1949, starting back in 1817.  She was launched in nineteen hundred and eighty nine. 

The ship was built in the style of the old Hudson River day vessels, such as the Peter Stuyvesant.  She specializes in Luncheon, Brunch and Dinner cruises that range in length from 2 to 2 ½ hours.

This is the Mohican, another tour boat or ship operated by the Lake George Steamship Line.  She has a steel hull and is 117’ long.  She specializes in the 4.5 hour Discovery Cruise, covering the entire length of the lake.  The Mohican was built in nineteen hundred and seven, which means that she’s been in service on the lake for one hundred and four years.

During World War II, this ship was the only tour boat operating on the lake.  She was converted from coal and steam to diesel in nineteen hundred forty six and the steel superstructure replaced wood and canvas in nineteen hundred sixty seven.  The Mohican is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.

The Adirondack is the largest ship or tour boat operated by Lake George Shoreline Cruises.  She’s 115’ long, can carry a maximum of 400 passengers and she can seat 200 guests at one time for a fine dining experience.  The Adirondack’s cruises range from 2 hours to 2 ½ hours in duration.  She was built in two thousand four and her design was patterned after the late 19th century touring ships.

This is the Minne-ha-ha…to translate, ‘laughing waters’.  She specializes in short 1 hour family focused tours.  This authentic paddlewheel steamboat belongs to the Lake George Steamship Line.  Her engine room is enclosed in glass so that the passengers can view the workings of the Minne-ha-ha’s power plant.  She was built in nineteen hundred sixty nine and has been in service for over forty two years.

Our photo of the Horicon was too blurry to publish, so I went on-line and borrowed a picture from the official Lake George Shoreline Cruises website.  This boat is 85’ long.  The Horicon has a capacity for 150 passengers…or 80 for dinner. The superstructure is unusual in that it was primarily built from mahogany, teak and yellow pine.  The Horicon was launched in nineteen hundred and eighty eight.  She is the 4th vessel on the lake that uses the name “Horicon”.

The Lake George Steamship Company is located at 57 Beach Road in the town of Lake George.  Phone: 518-668-5777.  Website: 
Lake George Shoreline Cruises is also located in the town of Lake George at 5 Kurosaka Lane.  Phone: 518-668-3882.  Website:
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Best Pizza in East Tennessee!?

Laurie and I have been living here in East Tennessee for over 2 years now and there are a few food items and/or restaurant offerings that we were used to that have been very hard to find in this area. 
In no particular order, the hard to find food items are: a really great grilled cheeseburger (Ruby Tuesday’s Prime Burger is the best so far but it’s not cooked on a flat top grill); gyros; a good hot pastrami (Jason’s Deli is the best to date); a great basic breakfast (bacon or sausage and eggs over easy with hash browns and toast); blade cut lamb chops, (Once in a while, Food Lion offers something resembling what we’re used to), and; good thin crust pizza.  
When friends suggested that we pile into an SUV and head over to Oak Ridge to sample what is reputed to be the best thin crust pizza in East Tennessee, we were more than ready to go!  Maybe we could cross one food ‘need’ off our list…

This is Big Ed’s Pizza in Oak Ridge Tennessee.  This pizza joint was opened by Big Ed Neusel back in 1970 and although Big Ed himself passed on in 1998, the operation carries on under Ed’s son David’s leadership.

I like the front of this place…the 50’s look with the painted picture of “Big Ed” in the front window and the State Farm Insurance Agent’s office that’s stuck in the corner of the building…literally surrounded by Big Ed’s.

This is a glimpse of the pizza assembly line at Big Ed’s.  They were pumping out the pizzas…one after another!  Big Ed’s is a big time food landmark for the locals in and around Oak Ridge.


Here we are...thanks to a member of our little group, for once Laurie is in a photo! 

This photo also gives the reader a view of the inside of Big Ed’s.  We arrived early but everyone we’ve talked to about this pizza joint, has told us that the lines during the evening prime time can be intimidating.


This was our exploratory dining party.  It was Charlie's birthday and you get "a free" Big Ed's T-shirt if you celebrate your birthday there!  From the left we have Karen, Charlie, Holly, Joel (in front) and yours truly. 


So here’s what we came for…what’s really important.  The table ordered 3 different pizzas.  This was the large cheese pizza…


This is the large cheese, sausage and olives pizza.  Pizzas are offered in the 10”, 12” and 14” versions.  Prices seemed reasonable to us… A 14” with cheese and one topping cost $14.03.  A 14” with cheese and two toppings cost $15.76.  A 14” with cheese and three toppings cost $17.49.


Laurie and I ordered our usual…a large pizza with cheese, sausage and pepperoni.  While I would have liked a little more flavor in the sausage, this was indeed the best pizza we’ve had in East Tennessee!  Everyone in our group liked their pizzas…a lot! 
There were only 2 ‘negative’ issues, which we knew about in advance, but which based on some on-line reviews, seem to bother a number of people.  See that tiny cheap flimsy paper plate?  Well it comes with equally cheap and flimsy plastic forks…all the better to eat your pizza with!  Many regular customers consider these little quirks as part of what makes Big Ed’s the special joint that it is!  We planned ahead and packed our own sturdy paper plates and some flatware.  No big deal...
Big Ed’s is open from 11 AM to 11:30 PM, Monday through Saturday.  They do serve beer…$2.20 per mug or $11.00 for a pitcher.  Big Ed’s is located at 101 Broadway Avenue in Oakridge Tennessee.  Phone: 865-482-4885.  While Big Ed’s does not have a website per se, they can be found on the Internet at
If anyone knows of a better pizza place in East Tennessee, just let me know!
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave