Christopher Cross and Water Sports?

Well, not really but maybe? While listening to the radio the song Sailing played and an idea was floated! Its summer and what could be more fun for a date, with your significant other or the family than sailing lessons! No hidden sailor inside, how about Kayaking? They are closer, more fun, and more affordable than you may think.

If that is the case where can you go to take lessons? Glad you asked. If you consider sailing there are a couple things you should know. First there are two certifications offered the US Sailing or American Sailing Association Certification. Both have courses for beginners through advanced certifications. Note that not all sailing schools have programs for kids. Some schools offer programs specifically for women and couples. Now for the good stuff.

 In Connecticut there are some twenty different schools to choose from. First up is the Sound Sailing Center in Norwalk, CT. They feature very hands on instruction from beginning to end at whatever level of certification you choose. This school was started in 1994; they claim to be the largest school in CT.

If you prefer a more northern destination then check out the Stonington Harbor Yacht Club in Stonington, CT. SHYC happens to offer classes for kids as well.

Are you more interested in Kayaking? There are so many places you can kayak from rivers and lakes to the shoreline, here are two to get you started. First there is Collinsville Canoe & Kayak in Collinsville, CT. Not only do they offer rentals but also classes for kids, women, group, and tours.

Another choice would be Clarke Outdoors located West Cornwall, CT. They too offer classes for kayaking, canoeing, tours, and white water rafting. While there are more to choose from all of them offer all the supplies you need for a fun, exciting, and adventurous day!

So, if you’ve done the cookouts, the picnics, and have the tee-shirt then try something different. It is a fore gone conclusion you will have a memorable day but whatever you do not sit around and let summer pass you by while you’re on the couch!  If you want to know more about these places follow the links of interest below.

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Listening to paint dry!

Yes, everyone knows the winter is officially over and just as soon as this seemingly relentless rain is done we will get on with the business of spring and summer. But, just what will you do, how long before the sudden rush of warm weather fades and the questions start to rise what do you want to do today, this weekend, tonight?

 Funny how that happens don’t you think? Okay, many of you may be saying at this point are you kidding? Everyone has been waiting all winter for the long warm days there is no way we will run out of things to do especially after this past winter. Well, frequently people find themselves one way or another asking that very question, what do you want to do?

 Some may be fortunate to have big summer vacation plans; hopefully that lasts the summer, but more likely two to four weeks tops. Yes, there are the picnics, cookouts, pizza with friends etc. And, those mundane household chores like staining the deck, gardening, cutting the grass, and painting always seem to get put off until summer. Well, take heart you don’t have to just sit around listening to the paint dry! It is summer and you should be out there!  And, to help here are some things you may want to consider besides the prohibitive price of go go juice (gas)! 

Let’s start with the Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, June 11th – 25th. The mission of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas is to create a festival in New Haven with world-class artists, thinkers and leaders, attracting and engaging a broad and diverse audience celebrating and building community. And, New Haven plays host to the Festival which presents a series of unforgettable concerts, art activities, and opportunities for creative play, many of them for free.

How about a little Bluegrass? Ever been to a Bluegrass Festival or even listened? It’s live and it is fun. Moreover, if you go you are bound to hear something you will like that will broaden your horizon. The Blue Grass Festival at Strawberry Park in Preston runs from June 2nd – 5th. Strawberry Park is an award-winning 160 acre campground nestled in the heart of beautiful southeastern Connecticut, just minutes from Mystic Seaport and plays host to this really fun festival. They have over twenty bands that will be providing the as well as instrumental, vocal & songwriting workshops featuring the performing artists.

 Afraid that won’t get your tail feathers shaking then how about this. Not a week after Blue Grass comes the Cajun/Zydeco Festival at the same location. That line-up features a mix of Cajun & Zydeco dance bands, as well as some honky-tonk & swing.  Six bands will be making the migration north from the southern bayous, with additional regional performers from throughout the northeast.  This is the 15th annual festival and they will serve up music, food, and dancing and they have plenty of room for your dancing on two large dance floors and instructor to boot!

 Now if you live “out” west don’t feel like we don’t love you too, below are links to these festivals and one that covers the entire state.  Not to mention, we are just getting started and will have lots more for you to keep yourself busy this summer. If you do go, not that we don’t love you but please bring your better half!

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A Spring Fling (for skiers)

Having been a ski fanatic for 26 years (yes, I started late), one of the highlights of the season is spring skiing. For those that haven’t tried, it is a chance to shed those bulky clothes, biting cold, and bask in the warm sun while doing what we find exhilarating and fun, SKIING! While just about any mountain hosts (albeit short) spring skiing, some are better than others but one is considered by many to be the holy grail in the North East. Tuckerman’s Ravine  located on the southeast face of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire.

Each year a multitude of people flock to Tucks in late March to test their skill and metal against the mountain that offers skiing in raw form. Tuck however, does not offer any modern conveniences (no lifts, no grooming), if you want some of this you will have to earn it the old fashioned way. Getting to the top or any point in between requires up to a three mile hike and a great deal of skill and smarts to get down unscathed. Foretold is forewarned is what I’ve been told and is apropos for “Tucks” as it is not for the faint of heart. If you’re not in shape for Tucks you may fare better squaring off with a now aging Mike Tyson. At least that will be over in a second, Tucks will have you much longer than that!

Tucks extreme skiing offers some out of control runs. At 4,500 ft above sea level most of the trails from the top are in the area of 40 degrees or above. If you don’t ski, look at a steep staircase that’s about 38 degrees then imagine snow and ice, add another 10 degrees, and sliding down that on skis. Having been on top contemplating a 55degree trail commonsense strongly insisted something a little more sane.  No matter what you pick your poison. So if it’s not the very top you can start somewhere in the middle. But no matter what you choose remember, you will be hiking up to your starting point.

If you are sane you may choose the lower part of the mountain for sledding or tubing which in and of itself is exhilarating. And, will leave you screaming with laughter and giddy for days after you’re adventure to the real “Beast in the East”. Moreover, “you” will have earned the badge of honor having climbed Mt. Washington not your car!

Want more information follow these links:

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Beer! and wine…

Okay, wait don’t take the heading the wrong way this is really about where to find both in goodly amounts and quality.  As a fan of both, and not really sure if there is an overall favorite,  scouting about for either or both is a favorite pastime. As such here are three, yes count them, three places to let you know about. 

If you happen to be a fan of wine (you know who you are) and you find yourself in the downtown New Haven area then you have to stop into Kelly’s Gastro Pub, located at 196 Crown St. They serve good food but more than that they have a great atmosphere. That is if you like to sit, have a bite, a cocktail,  or both, and carry on a conversation without yelling to be heard. There is a nice cozy fireplace and a favorite…a nice couch with comfy chairs on the side for good measure. Best of all, they don’t serve wine in those tiny glasses filled near the top, all to make it appear its a good pour. No, they serve their wine in a nice sized glass with a good healthy pour. If you go make sure to check out their specials of the week they have been known  to have some winners on that list.  Are you getting thirsty?

Now, if you’re in the same area, right up the street there is Cask Republic located on 179 Crown Street. If you are a fan of beer they certainly can help elevate your palate to a new level as they offer 53 draught lines, cask beers, gravity pin casks , and 80 plus bottled beers. Wondering what the difference is between cask beer and gravity pin?  Let’s try this explanation. Both are casks and are traditional vessels for dispensing beer or ale. However, while casks come in varying sizes pin casks only hold 4.5 UK gallons (yes U.K.) and are often found in smaller micro brew establishments. Moreover, pin casks are usually gravity driven which means no pumps (hand or gas powered). Another thing to note about cask beer… there are no phony tricks like color changing labels or shivering near frost bitten people to let you know when your beer is at optimal drinking temperature. And, just an FYI, cask beer should be refreshingly cool when quaffed, but one thing… it most certainly shouldn’t be is chilly.  Hey, look at that a beer lesson!

Lastly, but certainly not least…there is Jake’s Martini Bar and that, is located at 179 Center Street Wallingford, CT. Yes, I know it may be a little drive from where you are but, it is well worth the drive. They have a nice selection of beer, not huge, but nicely diverse as is their wine selection and well some very interesting martini’s.  Now if you go be forewarned it only says Jake’s on the front, maybe they ran out of room and couldn’t fit Martini Bar, who knows. But, go you should and certainly try one or both of these appetizers; Sea scallops wrapped with bacon with a wasabi dipping sauce oh was that good or steak tips perfectly cooked to order with a horseradish dipping sauce. As if that’s not enough they have a big ole room in the back with live bands! If your lucky you might catch the calypso band, quite groovy!  

Hey, if you know of someplace that’s deserving of a mention don’t hide it!

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Adventure, Music and the Newest and Youngest Fan

Each time a performer takes to the stage it is most often an adventure. Mind you adventure can be defined as an exciting or unusual experience; it may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome. When performing to be sure the outcome in many cases is uncertain. Sure a musician, (such as myself) hopes for a display of appreciation normally through polite clapping for the effort made to entertain. However, there is a difference when your audience understands what it is you attempting to say musically and that, can come in many forms.

Such was the case last Thursday evening at Lorenzo’s of West Haven, CT. Taking the stage in a noisy room where people were socializing with friends and family over dinner or a cocktail. It seemed it was going to be difficult to blend in so that the music was present and comfortably audible but not overpowering.  It began nicely and after each song there was the show of appreciation. That is until Jeremiah walked up to the makeshift stage. You see he is four maybe five years old and he was enamored with the saxophone! There he stood frozen mesmerized by the shiny instrument and its sound.

It became clear that many people in the audience were aware of his presence too. To make his point (he was enjoying the music) he walked into the dining room and wrestled a chair, as tall as he was, to the front of the stage and sat right down to listen to more. Well, that seemed to seal the fate of the evening for all as everyone now wanted to know who was this little guy and moreover they were really listening! Little Jeremiah also placed a tip in the tip jar (surely from his mom) and promptly made clear what songs he wanted to hear next.

As stated earlier every time a performer takes to that stage it is an adventure and what an adventure that night. A roomful of people and a musician brought to new height on the shoulders of one so young. Jeremiah, thank you for bringing all of us closer that wonderful evening.

 Now, if you want to experience the fun and excitement of live music check out one of these well established eateries that host live music. As previously mentioned Lorenzo’s of in West Haven, CT., not only offers music but their food is great. The Original Antonio’s in Woodbridge  is a cozy restaurant with outstanding food and the wait staff and owner pride themselves on 1st class service. 39 Elm Street West Haven, CT (203) 932-5846 208 Amity Rd Woodbridge, CT (203) 397-8882

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Snow in Connecticut! (the drought is over)

Well, it wasn’t really a drought it was spring then came summer then finally fall. Now that its winter again Snow is the word of everyday.  For instance did it snow last night? Will it snow today or tonight? Did they get good snow on the mountain? Yes, these are the questions  those of us with an affinity for the freezing white powdery stuff always ask. And, now the frenzy begins. Whether you are sledding, cross-country or downhill skiing, boarding, snow shoeing, or on snowmobiles it is time you dust off your sense of adventure and your equipment and get it on! 

 Yes, we all know we were hit with a pretty good storm. No, it was not record-breaking (not even close) but it did manage to get the blood pumping for some slippery excitement. I’ll spare you the boring details of the storm reported by every news channel in the area constantly for the past two days. It was if we had never seen snow before. While watching a special public address in NYC the questioned was asked (by a reporter) “I saw a plow that had become stuck, is this normal? What could have caused that to happen?” Really? Really? It’s because of the SNOW I wanted to yell. 

My apologies, I digress. What you really want to know is that Mount Southington,  Mohawk Mountain, and Ski Sundown are all open and ready for you to rip it up! C’mon times a wasting and you know the weatherman says it will be near 50 degrees and rainy come the weekend! report stated as of noon Monday they have 7 lifts open, 11 out of 14 trails open and skiing on a base of 22 – 27”.  Adult lift tickets are $52/$32 for full day or night skiing while juniors under 13 years old  are $42/$32. as of 8:15am Monday they are sporting 9 trails and 4 lifts for your skiing or boarding pleasure all atop a 27 to 31” base with a surface of packed powder! Adult tickets are $52/$45 day and evening while juniors (5-15yrs) are $44/$37. stated Monday they have 15 trails and 5 lifts filled with the slippery stuff of 35 to 55” base and their terrain park is open to boot! Lift tickets will run you $54/$35 for adults and $46/$31 for juniors and of course that’s for day and evening respectively.

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Clearing out the wine cellar (Drunk every week)

1997 seemed to be (at least to me) one of those years when just about anyone anywhere making wine was having a banner year. All the right conditions came together around the world and descended upon vineyards, the results were pretty amazing. From the smallest runs to the largest, all were putting out pretty delicious bottles of wine. This also seemed to be the time when smaller producers were making a real name for themselves, like Oregon and Washington State. Both of which have been making good wines for years and everyone was just getting to know them.

I went to one wine tasting at the Wine Thief on Whitney Ave hosted by owner Karl Ronne. We fell into a conversation about the year and wines that I liked. I wasn’t a stranger to grape but what was on the menu was really outstanding. So much so I began thinking I might want to start a wine cellar because these wines were really good, as such, the endeavor began. My basement was seven feet below ground and in one room the ambient temperature was 55 degrees. That room also housed the sump pump which always had water and was great for humidity. According to the experts (mostly Karl) that was a perfect place to start. After many conversations with the very knowledgeable people at Wine Thief about what to cellar I started building.

It is widely held that selecting wines begins with the basics red or white, which to select and for how long. Whites maybe three years while reds can go for decades, both however depend on the quality of wine. So how do you choose? The aging suggestions for common types of wine include Beaujolais – 0 to 3 years, Bordeaux red – 5 to 20, Vintage Bordeaux white – 4 to 10, Cabernet Sauvignon – 5 to 15, Vintage Champagne – 5 to 10 years. Another suggestion you can find on line compares the life of cellaring a wine with the cost of the bottle. Yes, the more expensive the longer it should last. I spoke with Karl about this suggestion and he seemed to agree in principal but strongly suggested consulting a professional before making selections. There is also a wealth of information on the internet today.

 In the end, added to the cellar were quite a number of varietals and cases. Over the years it was fun to open them and compare the tasting notes from the previous bottle. What I found earlier this year was that time was running out for the surviving bottles. They were not only turning that lovely tawny color, some were beginning to break down. A couple were not drinkable. So again, a call to Karl who seemed pleased that I was still caring for the cellar and wine. He gave me this sage advice, it’s time to start drinking and have fun. He also explained this about cellaring wine “wine in the bottle continually changes to become something else, in terms of taste. It may get better or not depending on what you like”. That help reset my expectations and so, every week, out comes a bottle or two or three, clearing out the wine cellar. It was a great deal of fun to find the bottles, it was also a lot of fun to build the racks and all of that, though it is a little melancholy consuming the last of those bottles. Yet, it is still great fun experiencing what else these wines have become.

Now this could be an adventure if you’re so inclined. You can go to your wine shop or give The Wine Thief a call and have a conversation and pick up a few bottles, learn more about wine, have friends over and have fun. Or, here are a couple places that allow you to bring the wine of your choice. They include:

 Jenelle’s (203) 624-2233

 Both are in New Haven, CT or go to to find places near you.

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