Wildlife Inspiration: Wolf Mountain Nature Center

Inspiration, Travel

IMG_3478Anyone who follows this site knows that I am inspired by nature and, more specifically, wildlife. I love animals.

This weekend I decided to go out with Andy and members of his family to find some wildlife inspiration, spending time exploring one of Central New York’s wildlife gems: the Wolf Mountain Nature Center.

Currently home to 13 wolves (plus two new pups!), four coyotes and handful of arctic foxes, I can’t say enough great things about this organization. The grounds are beautiful, hidden atop a picturesque hill in CNY, the staff is overwhelmingly friendly and their mission is honorable and strong, focused on protecting wolves and teaching visitors the beauty of wildlife and the importance of conserving it.

Our group spent a solid two hours exploring the grounds, walking to each enclosure where we were introduced to residents and given new tidbits of information by the awaiting staff members. Aside from learning a lot about the organization, its residents and the wild canine species, the best (although admittedly surprising) part of the visit was how friendly the wildlife was.

With most of the animals being born at the Center, they are all used to human contact, a trait that is critical in regard to medical treatment. Although you won’t get to pet a wolf on your visit, you will definitely get to see them up close and personal as they come up to the fences to check you out.

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Inspired by these encounters, I’m already in the midst of planning my next visit to the Mountain! There’s nothing quite like seeing the beauty of a wild animal, content in a humane and conservation-focused environment to warm your heart and inspire you in the best of ways.

If you’re an animal-lover such as myself, then Wolf Mountain is a resounding must-visit. To learn more about the Center and its residents click here.

My First Venture to Twin Falls and Chobani Idaho

Travel

Working on Chobani’s communications team, I knew it was only a matter of time before I found myself venturing to sunny Twin Falls, Idaho to visit our second hometown location and the largest yogurt plant in the world.

Having gone to school 10 minutes down the road from our original plant (and trust me, 10 minutes is NOTHING in Central New York), I am immensely familiar with our CNY plant and corporate headquarters. This week, after a year of employment, I finally had the chance to travel across the country to Idaho which is, by the way, beautiful!

Two out of three flights ✅ Next stop: Twin Falls, Idaho! 🥔

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I had a great time touring the plant and admiring the great differences between our two locations. Plus, there’s nothing quite like donning a lab coat first thing in the morning!

🥄Spent the morning touring the world's largest yogurt plant #CHOteam #itsalabcoatkindofmorning

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Let me begin this post by saying that Idaho is beautiful, or dare I say GORGEous. While this was a business trip, my co-workers and I still managed to squeeze in some time for some sight- seeing.

Shoshone Falls

Located a matter of minutes from the Chobani plant, this waterfall location was absolutely breathtaking. If you’re in the area, word of the Idaho streets is that this is the year to visit this location due to the gushing nature of the usually sparse water flow. Apparently it was a good winter for this waterfall.

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The Perrine Bridge

So apparently there are many people that actually jump off this bridge…I am not one of those people. I was quite content viewing the bridge from afar and then later walking under it and admiring it from the scenic overlook.

 

We also ate at a number of restaurants during our stay. The tourist favorite? Elevation 486. Not only is the food interesting (I had quail by the way – first time for everything!) but the view is breathtaking. If you are ever to find yourself in Twin Falls Idaho, this hot-spot eatery is an absolute must.


I’m very fortunate to have a job that allows me to travel to new and interesting locales. That being said, I’m happy as always to be back in New York!

A Brief Jaunt To Los Angeles: Highlights

Travel

Last week I took a last-minute, whirlwind business trip to Los Angeles. Although there wasn’t much time for activities outside of work, there were (thankfully) brief amounts of time to take in a few sites and enjoy some of the local eats.

These were some of the highlights from my trip:

Hollywood Walk of Fame:

If you’re staying as close to Hollywood as I was, seeing this iconic site is kind of a must. Although it was raining (and evening) by the time my colleagues and I were finally able to take the walk, it was still well worth the time. Some of my favorite stars included Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball and Walt Disney of course!

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Thai Food:

Living where I do, I’ve never actually had the opportunity to try Thai food. An avid watcher of The Big Bang Theory, I was under the impression that this cultural cuisine was pretty mainstream in California – and I wasn’t disappointed!  I’m happy to report that my rice bowl with chicken and peanut sauce was DELICIOUS! (And so was the Thai beer).

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Thai beer? First time for everything. #wheninla #lalaland

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L.A. Live:

We decided to spend our last evening in La La Land at cultural hotspot L.A. Live, eating some more good food and, admittedly, looking for celebrities. If you’re looking for some class and Mediterranean eats for an affordable price, definitely check out Cleo.

It was also really cool seeing the Staples Center a few days proceeding the GRAMMYs.

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Despite being fast-paced with a business focus, it was still a fun trip and a destination that I would definitely recommend. With its beautiful weather, immense variety of food and long-standing reputation as the ultimate hub of the entertainment industry, there is something magical about L.A.

After a seven-hour delay, I've never been so happy to be home.

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Reviewing Colgate University’s Newly-Constructed 1965 Arena

Review, Travel

The hockey program at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY received a major facelift this October with the opening of its new 1965 arena. With its predecessor, Starr Rink, having been constructed in 1959, the new facility was a long time coming.

Having attended the men’s game against Boston University this past weekend (and too many to count at the old rink), here are my thoughts:

IMPROVEMENTS

Seating: Compared to the unpadded benches of the old rink, the ticket-designated fold-down seats of the new space are a major improvement. Not to mention there are now cup holders, conveniently placed on the back of the seat ahead.

img_0779Traffic Flow: With plenty of space now above the seats and around the perimeter of the rink, guests no longer have to worry about people walking in front of them. This was a major problem at the old rink, as most of the student viewers would show up late, walking in front of guests late in the first period.

Improved traffic flow also means that spectators no longer have to wait for a break in play before being able to return to their seats following a bathroom or concession break.

Upgraded Concession: Aside from an improved menu, the new arena features not one but TWO new concession stands. This translates to better food for a shorter wait.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

Ticket Price: Despite the generous 22 million dollar donation by the class of 1965, ticket prices have literally doubled since last year. Also, unlike the old rink that featured free parking, parking near the new facility now costs an additional $5.00.

Still no bar! I had heard rumors that the new rink would feature a bar and was really excited to attend this year’s games because of it (Andy is the hockey enthusiast, not I). So you can imagine my disappointment upon finding the menu still devoid of alcohol.img_0778

The Horn: This is less of a disappointment and more of an actual problem. Unlike the rest of the new facility which elevates the spectator experience, the new horn is so loud that it causes discomfort. You know something is too loud when you see numerous grown adults holding their hands over their ears as they anticipate the home team’s entrance onto the ice.

Despite the few disappointments, it is undeniable that the new facility is a major improvement to the hockey program and university as a whole. While the increased ticket price may result in our attending less games, at least those we do attend will be a much-improved experience!

CNY’s Ultimate Fall Destination 

Review, Travel

Undoubtedly, the best time to visit Central New York is in the fall. Our region is known for its picturesque orange and red foliage, pumpkin patches and various apple orchards. One of the best known fall destinations is the Fly Creek Cider Mill in Fly Creek, NY.img_0269

Dating back to the 1800s, the owners have kept up tradition, continuing to make cider (both regular and hard) the old-fashioned way. Having gained an immense amount of popularity in the area, the tourist attraction offers much more than just cider and donuts:img_0254

Food Samples: Recently remodeled, the inside of the Mill is the main attraction, with the store offering a plethora of different jams, sauces, pastry mixes, dips and more. While there is plenty to buy, the best part is getting to taste much of what the store has to offer!img_0255

Wine Tasting: the store offers its own miniature winery, allowing customers to sample all of the different apple wines and apple ciders they make on site. While their classic apple cider is delicious and festive, splurge a little on the Apple Frost wine if you are looking to treat yourself.

Snack Shack: If you’re not full from your round of tasting, feel free to stop by the Mill’s snack shop where you can purchase fall-themed delights such as mac-n-cheese, sausage and sauerkraut, rich soups in bread bowls or one of their famous apple cider slushies.

Visit the Upstairs Museum: The renovation didn’t just bring better lighting to the store, it also brought a charming miniature museum to the second story. Read more about the evolution of apple parers and the cider-making process.

img_0251Gift Shop: Accompanying the mini-museum on the second floor is the Mill’s gift shop, a quaint country-style selection of seasonal décor. The store offers décor for most holidays, including St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween, and offers the most in regard to Christmas.

img_0246Feed the Fowl: Grab a handful of feed out of the dispenser for a meager .25 cents and enjoy feeding a diverse grouping of ducks, geese and chickens.

Tips:

  • Arrive early: The mill is very busy, especially during the Fall season. Arrive in the morning to avoid traffic and having to wait in line outside.
    • Side note: Consider attending during the off-season.
  • Set up a rewards card: Unlike other stores that charge you for membership or act as a credit card, the Fly Creek card does nothing but reward you for your purchases. You earn points for your purchases (which never expire by the way) and after having spent a designated amount, you will receive a $25.00 gift card in the mail!
  • Bring a Cooler: This way, if you purchase dips, cheeses or other refrigerated items, you won’t feel rushed to get home.
  • Don’t forget your free tote: If you spend $50.00 or more (which frankly, isn’t difficult to do) you receive a free tote with your purchase. Make sure you grab one on your way out, located by the registers.

Great New York State Fair Musts

Festivity, Review, Travel

When you are a New Yorker, attending the Great New York State Fair in Syracuse, NY  is a near-obligatory yearly outing. A celebration of agriculture, food, music and all things New York, there are a few sights and eats that you won’t want to miss.

  1. The Butter Sculpture: What has grown to be one of the most well-known and revered traditions of the NYS Fair, the annual butter sculpture is always an impressive feat. The 2016 sculpture is Olympic themed, supporting Team USA through the depiction of three athletic figures.
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Butter Sculpture 2016

 

2.Wine Slushies: If you like wine, then you will like wine slushies. Don’t worry about missing this fair-eat as there are at least 10 different vendors that offer this summer delicacy. Find several at the Taste NY Wine, Beer & Spirits Village.

Enjoying my first #wine🍷 slushie at the #greatnewyorkstatefair

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3. NYS Animals: From Peacocks to Angora rabbits, the various barns provide much in regard to local agriculture and domestic animals. For those New Yorkers that don’t have the pleasure of living in the country, this can be a great learning experience and, also, an excuse to gawk at  baby pigs…

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4. Fried Dough: A fair wouldn’t be a fair without fried dough. You can find this summer treat practically anywhere you look at the NYS celebration.

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5. History of the Great New York State Fair Exhibit: Located adjacent to the Dairy Cow building, this exhibit provides an interesting and well-designed history of the event, including information on previous locations and famous fairgoers. There are also replicas of past butter sculptures and 2016 fair model, a three dimensional map for those who may need extra help finding their way around.

Additional Offerings:

  • Rides (Ferris wheel, rollercoaster, etc.)
  • The Iroquois Village
  • Toyota Coliseum
  • DEC aquarium
  • Science and Industry Building
  • Infinite amounts of delicious foods

The fair lasts until September 5 so be sure to catch it before it disappears for another year!

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Craft Beer Interprets “Game of Thrones”

Inspiration, Travel

Game of Thrones comes back tomorrow and many of us cannot contain our excitement! Although yes, it’s a bummer that the show will be spoiling the books, I know that my personal disappointment is trumped by the idea of finally having some new plot development.

In celebration of this coming weekend, I thought I would share my thoughts and experiences pertaining to Ommegang Brewery, the official brewer of the Game of Thrones beers. Located nearby in Cooperstown, NY, Ommegang is a producer of quality craft beers and makes for a great outing destination. Andy and I have been there twice, once by ourselves last Spring and again just recently with his father.

Great time today at @breweryommegang with Andy and his dad!

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On any given day they offer tours of the brewery as well as tastings. Tastings are only $5.00 per person and allow for tasters to sample six different brews. This is a pretty good deal considering the amount of beer they give you and the fact that you get to keep your tasting glass (photo featured above).

The tour is also worth taking, as they bring you within the brewery and explain the methods behind their processes.

Because Game of Thrones is coming back tomorrow, I encourage the rest of you GOT fans out there to check out the different beers that are featured in Ommegang’s themed selection. The titles are:

  1. Take the Black Stout, served best on long winter nights
  2. Iron Throne (A drink for Kings!)
  3. Fire and Blood for members of House Targaryen
  4. Vhalar Morghulis, because all beer must be drunk.
  5. Three-Eyed Raven (Disclaimer: you will not be granted the green sight)

And as of most recently:

6. The Seven Kingdoms (Why didn’t they make a sixth variety before releasing this one? No matter, it’s delicious!)

IMG951224So while I’m not encouraging binge drinking, I am saying: “Less than 48 hours before season 6!” Get excited.

(Side note: I do not work for Ommegang, I am purely a fan of its products and a Song of Ice and Fire enthusiast).

Happy Birthday Andy! (Exploring Skaneateles)

Festivity, Food, Travel

I am a firm believer that every birthday, no matter how “unexciting” the age reached, is worth celebrating  and should be fun and inspirational. After all, every birthday marks another year on this earth.

To celebrate Andy’s birthday (which is today) he and I decided to spend Saturday in Skaneateles, NY, taking in the sites and exploring a town yet unknown to us.

Below is a recap of the awesome day we had with information on the given venues:

WINERY Our first stop, and one of our main destinations, was Anyela’s Winery. Overlooking a beautiful view of the finger lakes region, I would highly recommend this destination to anyone. The staff was friendly, the ambiance was refined and the wine was delicious. A basic tasting was only $5.00 so if you are in the area, why not?

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PUB After visiting Anyela’s, we felt like having another drink. Doing a quick Google search, the Lakeside Pub sounded promising. Making our way along one of the main streets in the town, we followed the crowd and found ourselves in what is apparently the hot spot of Skaneateles.

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BURGERS Lastly, we visited Johnny Angels Heavenly Hamburgers for lunch. A burger joint with a price range similar to that of Five Guys Burgers and Fries the burgers were absolutely delicious. Andy ordered the Angel burger…

hamburger

 

and I got the Poached egg burger…

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Even if you’re not a carnivore, the menu boasted a wide variety of salads and gourmet sandwiches.

If you are ever in the area, this is only a handful of noteworthy locations in this beautiful town. I know that we will definitely be returning in the near future to explore the rest of what this location has to offer!