Friday, December 2, 2016

Boston Pops Holiday Concert Review (without giving any surprises away)

View from our seats
It's midnight and I have been home from seeing the Boston Pops Holiday Concert for about 45 minutes. It was too much fun to want to go to bed. Seeing Keith Lockhart and the Pops has been on my bucket list for years. I decided to buy tickets whether Laurie wanted to go or not. Luckily, she did want to go. Seeing Keith Lockhart before he either retires or moves on is something I am glad I got the opportunity to do. If I never saw him, I would have been disappointed with myself

Before I go on with how my night went, here is the important information. Ticket prices range from $39-143. We got second balcony seats pretty close to the stage fir $49. If you take public transportation, the E-Train of the green line drops you off at "Symphony" . The venue is a mere few steps from the train stop. Cameras are not allowed during the concert. I took all of my pictures when there wasn't any music going on. The only time I took out my camera during music was when Santa came out and sang. Most people obeyed the no camera policy. I saw a few people snapping pics from my balcony seat including a woman in the
front row. No one said anything to her.

Obviously, our seats were on the lower end of the cost spectrum. We could not see the entire
orchestra, but we were close and I could see the Maestro very well. The show started at eight. Including the intermission it lasted almost exactly two hours. Most people were dressed fairly nice. Some people were in ties and dresses. Most people seemed to be in button down shirts without ties and sweaters. I wore black pants and a blue button down, I wasn't over or under dressed.

I don't want to ruin it for anyone who might go so I'll be kind of vague. I think listening to the Christmas music is more fun if you don't know what to expect. The first half of the concert is slower. The tone of the songs is more religious. There is one slow song that would be kind of boring, but it is played with visuals on a huge screen. The music is set to the visual and it is (I hate to exaggerate and say breath taking, but awesome doesn't cut it)

The second half is more upbeat. There are more Christmas Carols to sing along with. As I mentioned the fat man in the red suit comes out for a few songs. I'd feel like this is ruining the surprise, but it says it on the website when you go buy tickets. By far I enjoyed the second half more than the first.

I was surprised at the amount of young people there. I bet over half the audience was under thirty five. Of course there were multiple families with kids. However I saw plenty of young couples in their very early twenties on dates. I thought that was kind of neat that it wasn't just old people enjoying the arts and the holidays.  Symphony Hall is decorated beautifully for the holidays. I saw multiple couples taking pictures of themselves near lights and green garland.

I checked the website for one of the upcoming shows. There were still tickets available. If you like Christmas and live music then I suspect the Pops might be something you will enjoy. For me this was the first time ever going to Symphony Hall or seeing the Pops. I might not have enjoyed it nearly as much if I went to a typical classical music concert. Listening and singing along with carols that I know was a really fun experience.
The Choir

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sea Run White Perch

I started my winter fishing Saturday night. Fishing was tough only landing two stripers the size of hatchery trout. I gave it a go again tonight. I didn't land any stripers (this is  a bad sign) but I did land one of my favorite fish... Sea Run White Perch. Certainly nothing to write home about (yes, I see the irony of that phrase) but a cool memory none the less

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Festival of Trees

When Laurie came over after work, I was in the mood to do something. I didn't want to sit in my house all day and watch football. Problem was, other than go for a walk in the woods, I didn't have any ideas. To my surprise, Laurie came up with an idea for something she wanted to do fairly quickly.
Disney themed tree

She suggested we go to the "Festival of Trees" at the Easton Country Club in Easton, MA. Basically, there are a bunch of Christmas trees decorated, most are themed (such as Disney, Charlie Brown, angels, etc) They are artificial trees. The festival is indoors. The admission is seven dollars. You can buy raffle tickets to win the trees. I think the drawing is December 12. Many of the trees are "decorated" with gift certificates or toys. The tree donated by a gym had gift certificates for Whole foods and for free classes. Not to mention the "ornaments" were jump rope, water bottle and other exercise equipment.

There are about 30-40 trees ( I didn't count). You can check it out by googling the Festival of Trees at the Easton Country Club. The trees will be there a couple more weeks. Since it was indoors in the function room, when we went at 3:30 today (Sunday) it was crowded, but not unbearable. We walked around a couple times and went back to look at Laurie's favorites. It wasn't a bad way to kill an afternoon waiting for the Patriots game

Enjoying the Holidays Outside the Box

Last year I wrote a blog post giving advice for enjoying the holidays. Don't worry, I wasn't telling you that my way is the right way. On the contrary, my advice is to make the season as enjoyable as you can doing the things you enjoy and weeding out the ones you don't. If you want to read it here is the link.

This year, I spent quite a bit of time looking up Christmas and Holiday things to do. I've already gone to three church bazaars. Laurie and I have a few special things planned. Unfortunately, unlike my outdoor hobbies (hiking, fishing, camping, photography), most Christmas stuff is not free. Of course some things are like light displays, but our Friday nights will be inside venues. These are a few things we are doing or have done. Maybe, something on my list will be something you may want to go to. That is the whole point of the blog, right? To inspire others.

Dec 2  Boston Pops

 Laurie and I are going to do something that has been on my bucket list for years. We are going to a Boston Pops Holiday Concert at Symphony Hall in Boston. The Pops have shows running almost every day in Dec. We got middle priced tickets. I'm really looking forward to Keith Lockhart and the Pops playing carols.

Dec 9 A Christmas Carol

There are multiple places to see the Dickens classic. I opened up a newspaper to the "Events Calander" and it had no less than four places within an hour drive. Laurie has had this on her bucket list. We are going to the show at the Stadium Theater in Woonsocket.Ticket prices are $ 21/26 The most famous showing in my area is at Trinity Rep in Providence. I like the Stadium Theater. We got third row seats for twenty six dollars. How can you go wrong?

Dec 16 Jackie

Not really holiday related but the movie Jackie about Jackie Kennedy opens on this date. We will be going to see it at the little Dedham Community Theater. I'm sure there will be hot chocolate at some point as we drive there. Since I am such a fan of JFK, this is like a present to myself.

Best Christmas Pagent Ever

The Attleboro Community Theater has multiple plays a year. Last year I took DJ's sisters to see "Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" This year their December play (running Fri,Sat, Sun Dec2-18) is the "Best Christmas Pagent Ever".  We don't have tickets yet, but I will be taking Amber and Laurie. My friend Clay Groves who lives in North Conway, NH is actually in this same play at his local playhouse up north.

A Carol's Christmas and Cup of Cheer both at the Arctic Playhouse

Both of these Christmas themed events take place at the Arctic in Warwick, RI. The tickets are super cheap. A Carol's Christmas is about Charles Dickens friendship with a woman named Carol. Cup of Cheer, from what I can tell is more short skits, singing, and hot chocolate. Seems like it will be a lot of fun.
Laurie with a homemade apple pie
she made a few years ago


Laurie and I put one day aside for baking during the season. She bakes cookies for work (and us) while I make chocolate creme pies for work (and us). Although it can get a little monotonous, the thought of people appreciating them is worth it. I have other friends that make homemade candy, homemade fudge, and pecan pies.

Christmas Displays

At least twice we will go to LaSalette to see the huge display of lights and drink hot chocolate.

Christmas Movies

When Laurie comes over on Christmas Eve we watch a favorite Christmas movie. This year we are watching one we have not seen in thirty years a Walt Disney classic "Babes in Toyland" starring Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello. Instead of watching one we know every line to, this time I'm looking forward to it.

Other Fun Christmas things we have done in the past

Old Sturbridge Village Christmas by Candlelight
Carolers at Sturbridge Village

During December Old Sturbridge Village is not open the standard 9-5 hours. Instead it opens up Friday-Sunday in the evening for Christmas by Candlelight. We went last year and had a blast. I got to eat chestnuts roasted on an  open fire and spicy ginger candy. There are multiple things going on each hour from poetry readings, concerts to horse drawn carriage rides. We had a great time. You can check out their website
or my blog post from the day

Jordan's Furniture Enchanted Village

The Jordan's in Avon becomes a Winter Wonderland during the holidays. There is an Enchanted Village which are classic scenes from years of old with old tyme statues. There is also a Laser Light Show set to music. There is an indoor skating rink that is not made of ice and lastly a Polar Express ride that is in 4 D. It is a good time, but it is crowded.

Holiday Pops

This year I'm going to see Keith and the pops, but last year I went to another Pops concert at the Stadium Theater. Same idea I'm sure Christmas songs. I really liked it.

So there you have it, my Christmas Season along with other ideas from the past. of course, the holiday ideas are endless. Some people like going to The Nutcracker the opera is DEFINITELY not my thing. There are multiple playhouses in many cities. I chose the ones I'm going to because they are close, inexpensive, and I like the venues. Food is a big part of the holidays, hot chocolate, baked goods, and eggnog have a place. Hopefully I've given at least one person some new ideas. Be creative, the season is awesome no matter what holiday you celebrate, go enjoy it. You know what happens after the holiday season?

January- A big pile of SUCK!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Outdoor Things I am Thankful For 2016

Pure Joy
Every year for Thanksgiving I do a post of things I am thankful for that have happened over the last
year. It is a fun way to look back at memories I have made. The list is always outdoor related. This year I did more hiking than I have done in a decade. Also, this was by far the best year I have had fishing in saltwater in years.
So without further ado...

1. I am thankful that blues and stripers stayed around in the Providence area all summer. It made work days that much better knowing I could catch stripers and blues almost every night.

2. I am thankful I got to go on a vacation this year. Laurie and I had so much fun. South Dakota (specifically the Badlands and Custer State Park) have so many large mammals. That area is special.

3. I am very thankful the buffalo that was walking towards us on the trail in Wind Cave NP did not charge. This is also true for the other half dozen big males that we had no choice but be too close to. This was probably the only time in 2016 I was in any actual danger.

4. I am thankful for the number of times I got to New Hampshire this year. I hiked nine 4000 footers along with many smaller hikes. I could go on and on about New Hampshire but the best way I can describe it is: I always know I love New Hampshire but until I am there I forget how much I miss it.

5. I am thankful to have Laurie and Dave as best friends.

6. I am thankful for days off from work in May. This year I fished after work, but birded on days off. Usually I'd be fishing in the evening anyway.

7. I am thankful Eric keeps inviting me on his boat even though I can almost never go. The reason for this is, I know my days off weeks in advance, I always have some crazy adventure planned. Eric can't plan boat trips until a day or two before the trip because they are weather (wind and wave) dependent. I still appreciate the invites

8. I am thankful for the one week of albies in September. I caught nine on my best day. Love them.
This pronghorn was running straight at me on a
South Dakota trail oblivious to my presence. When I realized it
was going to keep running I made a noise. It stopped instantly.
It stared at me for over a minute then bounded left off the trail.
That's a memory!!!

9.  I am thankful for small theaters with cheap ticket prices.

10.  I am thankful for Plum Island and Charlestown Mudflats, two of my favorite places to go birding.

11. I am thankful for the number of birds I've seen this year. I destroyed my old record and saw a bunch of lifers.

12. I am thankful for how good fall fishing was at the ocean this year. My best day was 78 fish! I only stopped because my thumbs were bleeding from catching so many, it was painful. But I had multiple twenty fish days. This was by far the best fall I have ever had.

13. On the same lines I am thankful for the Gorilla Bluefish that made Narragansett home for a month. I met many of them. I caught at least ten blues this year that were larger than my previous personal best. Fishing was that good.

14. I am thankful my kid has such a sense of adventure. Although my brain wishes he was finishing up college instead of tramping the American West, my heart says I wish I was him.

15. I am thankful for snowshoes.

16. Mounts Garfiled, Avalon, Isolation, Sugarloaf, Welch Dickey, South Kinsman views. Also Lonesome Lake and the big ledge on North Kinsman are special places

17. All the deer at Sachuest. If you want to take your kid to see guaranteed deer take them to Sachuest National Wildlife Refuge an hour before dark. A bad day is ten and they are not afraid of you.

18. I am thankful for non chain restaurants. This year on our few times we went out to eat Laurie and I went to greasy spoons like Iggys and KC's Burger Joint. Other places include The Lodge in Lincoln and Spumonis in South Attleboro. See future reviews.

19. I am thankful for the big beaches at Napatree and Race Point. One of my yearly highlights was
seeing whales off shore from the Race. Its one thing to see them paying sixty dollars to be with two hundred people on a boat, but it is much more wild to see them from a wind swept shore in March by yourself with the whales 150 yards out. Pure Magic

20. I say it every year but I am proud to live in the greatest country in the world. I'm glad the election is over. The politicians on both sides suck but I still believe the average American is a good person. I think our diverse landscape is the most amazing on Earth. Despite our terrible options for president  I am still proud to call this great country home

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Arctic Playhouse

This weekend I went to the Arctic Playhouse and saw the play "Matt and Ben". The play was about how Matt Damon and Ben Affleck came up with the screenplay for Good Will Hunting. It was extremely funny. The play was co-written by Mindy Kaling from "The Office 'and "The Mindy Project". Cost was fifteen dollars and the play two person play lasted just over an hour. Matt and Ben were actually played by women, it was interesting.

Unfortunately, the play was only for this weekend. I admit, it does you no good for me to write a review of a play/concert/ or one time sporting event after it is over. That said, I was really impressed by the little playhouse. The Arctic is in Warwick about 3.5 miles from I-295. I couldn't give you directions because Laurie googled it, and I just turned when she told me to turn.

The Arctic is a small theater. There was probably only 40 seats total. It is a small room with a stage. I absolutely love small settings like that. We were only fifteen feet from the stage and the worst seat in the house is probably only twenty five feet.
The set was "Ben Afflecks" apartment

Just past where you buy the tickets were cups of free popcorn and cookies. Laurie also asked if we could buy drinks and we got a couple tiny waters also free. There is a donation box next to the food where we put a couple dollars in. The cookies and popcorn made the cozy atmosphere even better.
There are other upcoming performances related to the holiday season. This is the website to their events page. Laurie and I are planning on going to Cup of Cheer in December.

I really enjoy seeing plays. However I'm not a fan of paying huge ticket prices for PPAC and Broadway type shows. I loved that the tickets were so affordable. The actors were acting for the joy of it. If you want to take in a play in an intimate setting, I highly recommend you check out the Arctic. A bonus would be, if you are hungry Boneheads Wing Bar is right next door with at least 40 flavors of wings.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Day in Hyannis

JFK Museum
I signed up for a winter birding boat trip out of Hyannis that was scheduled to go out today Nov 19. On the ship's itinerary was to leave at 7 am. I really didn't want to get up at 5 am, drive 90 minutes, take Dramamine, enjoy an eight hour boat trip, then drive home.

So I rented a hotel only a mile away from the port.  I went on Happily, the motels down the Cape are pretty cheap this time of year. We stayed at the Yarmouth Resort. Although the rooms were a bit old (still had a box television) it was fine with me. There was an indoor pool and a hot tub, which sealed the deal on why I chose this motel.

Laurie would not have enjoyed the pelagic birding. However since I was going down anyway, I asked her if she'd like to go down the Cape on Friday. When we checked out, she could go home and I'd be on the boat. I didn't need to ask twice. She was more than happy to take a day out of work.
Bobby, Ted, Jack

I am not one to spend the day just sitting by the pool, so I looked up area attractions and off we went. Since I was going on the boat Saturday and Laurie home, we took two cars. We met at the Herring Run at the Cape Cod Canal. I got to the Big Ditch a half hour before her. I was hoping to run into a late season blitz. I tried fishing at the Maritime Academy and the Herring Run. I didn't have any luck. On the bright side, their were Common Eiders on the shoreline, the closest I have ever been to them.

Laurie walked down to the the water and got me then we drove to Hyannis. Our first fun destination was the JFK Museum. JFK is by far my favorite presidential hero. I couldn't wait to go into the museum. I knew their wasn't any memorabilia, just photographs and videos.

The downstairs to the museum is another museum, the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame. Since I go to a few games during the year of America's premier college summer league, I knew it would be interesting. Like the real Hall in Cooperstown, there are plaques. There was quite a bit of memorabilia such as signed bats and balls. Photos of various teams throughout the years. It is a bit of information overload. I only read the plaques of players I had heard of. A ten dollar admission will get you into both museums.
If you listen to sports radio you are
familiar with Angry Lou

After we got out of the museums, we went to Veterans Memorial Park. There is a monument dedicated to JFK and another for the Korean War Veterans. We stayed there for a few minutes.

We drove back to the municipal parking lot behind the JFK Museum where we left Laurie's car and parked mine. We got lunch at "the Little Sandwich Shop". We got a small burger and split a BBQ chicken quesadilla.  It was good. Then we walked up the street where Laurie got a coffee at a cupcake shop and we had a cupcake for desert. If there was one down side to Hyannis, apparently heroin is an epidemic. This was in the public bathroom behind the JFK Museum.
I am fairly certain diabetics are not shooting
insulin in the public bathroom

At this point it was 2 pm and we were running out of things to do. We drove over to the motel and asked it we could check in early. That wasn't a problem. After we brought in our bag of clothes we went for a swim. The pool was nice as was the hot tub. We killed as much time as we could until supper time.

At supper time we went to a restaurant Laurie had picked out called Longfellow Pub. The place is very small. Half of it is a bar while the other half of maybe eight tables is a dining area. I liked the small atmosphere. Supposedly they have the best prime rib on the Cape. The King cut with salad and rice was $17. which I think is reasonable for prime rib. That is what I ordered. It was very good. The best prime rib I have ever had was at the Lodge in Lincoln, RI, so if that was a 10, then this one was a close 9. I was full and it was flavorful. Laurie got steak tips that were cooked in a Teriyaki sauce.

There wasn't anyone in the pool either time
we went for a swim. A bonus of going during the
off season.
We went for another swim and went to bed. However we stayed up later than I originally planned. Why you ask? Because my pelagic boat trip got cancelled due to the high winds and big waves.Even the rain date of Sunday was cancelled. I'm glad I had a fun Friday because if I booked the motel and only just went down for the night, that would have sucked.
Korean War Memorial