Sunday, July 29, 2012

Spirit Of Buffalo - Evening Cruise

Living in Buffalo, we only have a few short months of boating season. Last month I had the chance to boat around the Niagara River on a friend's boat, and I had an absolutely wonderful time. Getting a beautiful panoramic view of the Buffalo skyline, and listening to a live band  (playing the weekly Thursdays at the Harbor series) was the perfect was to unwind after my "busy season" at work was complete. Driving home that night, I told my boyfriend we needed to do that again soon.

The chance to do it again came about a month later, on a different boat,
The Spirit of Buffalo. The Spirit of Buffalo is run by Buffalo Sailing Adventures, a family owned and operated company since 2008. The Spirit of Buffalo, built in 1992, is a 73 foot sailboat located in the Erie Canal Harbor, Central Wharf right next to the Naval Park. The gorgeous ship has maroon colored sails and is a beautiful green color. If officially began sailing in Buffalo in 2009. 

The company offers day and evening cruises as well as educational programs and pirate cruises. You can get married aboard the ship, and it holds about 40 people per sail. The typical cruise rate is around $28, but they offer additional options including a wine night and dinner packages that cost a little more. Kids are $18. They do bring water, pop and alcohol on board that you can purchase during the cruise as well.

Our cruise was scheduled to take off at 6pm, and we hopped on board and were on our way on time. Our cruise director for the night, Richie, was a lot of fun, and happily answered all the questions we had about sailing throughout the ride. I was even more excited we decided to check it out when I learned that Richie and his family are from Tonawanda, and he is a fellow Kenmore East alum! The entire staff on board was interactive and accommodating and always pointed out "fun facts" along the way. They were great with kids too, and Jacob didn't have a problem chatting away with them! 

It was a windy evening in Buffalo last Monday night (July 23rd) and we were told this was the fastest ride of the year. We were cranking along the river, so much so, that at one point the gigantic sail, ripped (this isn't something that typically happens). The crew handled it flawlessly. Once we hopped off the ship, Richie grabbed a knife and ripped off pieces of the sail that was damaged and gave us all a piece to have as a souvenir. Luckily for Richie and his family they had just purchased a new sail, and were planning on putting it up shortly. 

The $28 cost was worth the two hours I got to spend staring at all the beautiful sights Buffalo has to offer, and spending some more time teaching a seven year old about Buffalo. It is a great option for friends getting together for a night out, for visiting family members and for a birthday celebration. Make sure you bring your camera to snap some pictures, and if you are sailing on a later cruise (8-10pm sunset cruise) a light jacket or sweatshirt! 

I was never really into boating, but after spending a couple hours aboard The Spirit of Buffalo I found a new appreciation for the world of sailing and learned so much. If you are looking for another fun option during the rest of this beautiful Buffalo summer, consider purchasing a ticket on The Spirit of Buffalo! Happy sailing!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Camping in Allegany State Park

NOTE: The following post isn’t exactly Lovin’ On Buffalo. I spent a few days camping in Allegany State Park in early July (a fairly short drive from Buffalo, about 75 minutes away). I devoted a lot of time to writing when we weren’t eating smores or hiking through the park, so I decided a blog about my very first camping adventure would be a good laugh for you all to read, and a good chronicle for me to look back on. If you are an experienced camper you probably won’t find my tips very useful, but for the newbie out there, take note! Enjoy!  

I always said I’d try anything once, so when my boyfriend Geoffrey (an Eagle Scout and experienced camper) asked if I wanted to join him and his son Jacob on their summer camping trip to Allegany State Park, I said sure. The outdoors, or more accurately, the thought of sleeping on the ground surrounded by bugs and potentially bears, never really thrilled me. Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking over an open fire and hiking through a beautiful park, but getting to crawl into my bed after doing those things would be my first choice. Still, at the very least, “camping in a tent” would be something I could cross of my bucket list. 

We set our trip for Sunday, July 8th – Tuesday, July 10th, which seemed like more than enough time to me, although Geoffrey would have preferred a full week. When I told my family and friends I was going camping there response was literally all the same, “YOU??”

July 8th came quickly, as summer days in Buffalo always seem to fly by. When we arrived to the campsite we unloaded the car and started setting up the tent. Within two minutes of setting up the tent a bug crawled onto my leg, some odd looking big black bug, which caused me to scream like a little girl and run around the campsite like I was on fire. I dove for the bug spray and was covered, probably more than I needed to be, in seconds. We finished setting up the tent, and I felt a little better. The bugs were staying away from me and we began searching for dead/down tree branches to get our fire going. While Geoffrey did most of the heavy lifting, I worked hard with a pocket knife chopping off tree branches. “If only my family/friends could see me now” I told the boys. 

Once we got the fire going we began to prepare our dinner. I was pretty excited about the menu we planned out for the trip, and our first meal was most intriguing of all: the foil dinner. Here are the ingredients: Ground beef, carrots, onion, potatoes & onion soup mix. Combine all the ingredients in a long piece of foil (individual ones for each person) and then fold them up and throw in the hot coals. They take about 40-45 minutes to cook, depending on how much ground beef you put in each one. After about ten minutes or so we were able to smell them, and they smelled delicious. Once they were ready, they didn’t disappoint! They were filled with flavor and cooked perfectly. We all enjoyed them and I found myself wondering why we don’t make foil dinners at home! After dinner was over we cleaned up, played a game of Scrabble and enjoyed the sights and sounds around us. We enjoyed smores and then began to pack things up for the night. I made it through Day 1! The real test though, would be sleeping in the tent.

If you are looking for a tent, ours (Coleman ARA six person dome tent) is really nice. If the tent says it is a six person tent, it really means a three person tent, unless you are with six of your closest friends. The three of us were comfortable inside our tent with some room for our clothes and toys we brought along, but I can’t imagine fitting six people in the tent. 

We had a bet on who would be the first to fall asleep in the tent, and the boys both said it would be me. I wasn’t surprised when Geoffrey fell asleep first, followed soon after by Jacob. I knew I’d have a hard time falling asleep and every sound would make me wonder what was crawling around the outside of our tent. After some tossing and turning I did fall asleep and before I knew it, it was morning. 

Day 2 brought a morning family nature hike with Adele, one of the park rangers. I was surprised and thrilled by the number of activities the park scheduled. I highly recommend checking a few out if you go camping. The family nature hike was great. We were fortunate that Adele was also very knowledgeable in edible plants so we learned a lot about the different plants too. 

We walked around the gorgeous lodge and gift shop area and then spent time walking around the lake. We stopped near the beach and enjoyed some ice cream and spent a while fishing (the fishing here isn’t so great). We enjoyed a great steak dinner and some more smores and just sat by the campfire and read and enjoyed our surroundings. Before we knew it we were losing daylight and we packed it up for the night. I can’t say I slept any better the second night, but it was cooler! 

The following morning we took a fun creek walk and explored the small stream behind our campsite. It was a fun and active morning, and before I knew it we were packing up the car and heading back to Buffalo. 

Allegany State Park is a great option for families to visit. While I can’t say I loved camping, I did like it, and plan on returning to the park next summer. We really enjoyed our campsite in Red House! E35 was the perfect size for us and was close to the bathrooms and water stations. The price was perfect for our budget too!

The campsite allowed for some “luxury” in camping – each site had electrical hookups, but for the most part you were “with nature”. We didn’t use our electrical hookups for anything, but many families around us had campers and were using them. There was also a General Store just around the corner from our campsite that had food, beer, clothing, fire wood and more. 

If you are looking for a short getaway this summer, consider giving camping a try. I’m glad I did, and I’m looking forward to adding it to the summer itinerary for years to come! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dana Saylor & Old Time Roots

I'm a history nerd. One of those real annoying ones who has a comment to make whenever something historical can be brought up. On a recent trip to DC with my boyfriend, his six year old son, and family, I often gave long explanations on the history of monuments and little known facts about Presidents. I expected a captivated audience, because who doesn't want to know who James Kilroy was during World War II? However, I quickly was talking to the back of a six year old's head as he thought to himself, "here she goes again" and ran off in the other direction. 

Fast forward a few weeks later; I'm sitting at my desk in my office at work when I receive a phone call from Dana Saylor, a local historian  and genealogist wanting to visit the archives at St. Mary's School for the Deaf to research for a client. She came in to meet with me a week or so later, and I was absolutely fascinated by what she did for a living. 

After that initial meeting with Dana I often thought about what she did and how important it is to this area. There are so many things that impress me about Buffalo, but I love how important tradition and "roots" are to the people of this area. 

I contacted Dana, and asked her if we could chat some more about her business Old Time Roots. Old Time Roots is a small business based out of Buffalo that helps clients go back in time and learn about the history of their family or property. Old Time Roots offers professional genealogy research as well as property research. Once a consultation appointment is set up with clients, Dana can determine how much time she will need to research, and can price quote based on the depth of the project. She typically charges around $25 per hour for her services, but package deals can be worked out during the consultation appointment. 

Dana, who grew up in Sterling, NY, studied Studio Art and Art History at Oswego College and graduated in 2001. While studying art history, some of the classes had to do with architecture, and Dana really enjoyed learning about the history behind buildings. After graduating she really wanted to learn more about "where she came from" and traveled to Italy to do some research. After finding out so much on her family and enjoying what she did, she decided to start up the business Old Time Roots in 2009. 

Dana loves a new challenge and says the most satisfying part of the job is finding out that piece of information her clients have been looking for. Putting together the pieces for her clients can be difficult, and there can be many roadblocks, but Dana is very creative in finding answers. 

"Clients should hire me because I love history. I live for research and finding out information about this area. While I love researching online and using the newest technology, I am well versed in traditional research methods so my clients get the best of both worlds. I am dedicated to each "mystery" I am trying to solve. " Dana told me.

I could tell the passion in Dana's voice as we spoke and was thrilled to see another Buffalonian deeply rooted in this area. While Dana didn't grow up in Buffalo, within a few months of moving here she found a great community of people and felt like she had lived here her whole life. Dana and her husband are also artists, and Buffalo is a great spot for artists to independently work and be successful. 

As is the case with most of the people I interview, we quickly start talking about the city and when I asked Dana what her favorite thing about Buffalo is, the answer was easy, "The people! The people in Buffalo make it all come to life here. They are so open hearted and willing to help. I'm always blown away by how incredible the people are here. It makes my work so much easier and enjoyable!" 

As I wrapped up my interview with Dana, I asked her how one would get started if they wanted to begin property research or diving into their family history. Her suggestions included checking out your attic or basement for old photos or documents you may have tucked away in a box. Many pieces to the puzzle could be sitting in your home, or could be discovered by chatting with some of your relatives, or even neighbors. 

Once you start to find some of the pieces (or if you aren't sure where to start), 
you can contact Dana at (315) 525-7474. Her website is and you can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Dana inside Thin Ice on Elmwood

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Taste Of Buffalo 2012 - Krystal's Picks

The Taste of Buffalo is one of those staple summer events that many Buffalonians look forward to each year. This two day event brings together over 50 restaurants, a handful of local wineries and vendors from throughout WNY to put on the largest two day food festival in the United States.

We decided to hit it up right when it opened on Saturday, July 7th at 11am. My boyfriend and I each bought $20 worth of tickets, and off we went. 

With $40 worth of sampling to do, we were able to taste so many different items. Out of everything we tried, there were only a few misses among so many outstanding items. The best part about The Taste of Buffalo is that it always gives me a handful of new restaurants to try out! 

I won't go into the details of every item we tried, but here are my top five picks from the festival, with a few other honorable mention items to follow. 

The Cheesy Chick's Lucky 7 Sandwich - It was the first item we tried for the day, and besides the fact that it was the biggest "bang for the buck" in terms of ticket cost and what we got, it was absolutely delicious. The sandwich is a combination of seven different meats and cheeses with onion, garlic and spices on Italian bread. It was absolutely outstanding, and set the bar high for the rest of the day! 

Papaya's Koren BBQ Short Ribs - This was one of the last items we had and it was cooked perfectly. The ribs were tender and full of flavor. I was at Papaya for the first time a few weeks back, and I'm already looking forward to getting back there. 

Garris Bar-B-Que's Catfish Nuggets - While I thought they could have used some kind of sauce to dip them in, the catfish nuggets were one of the items I was looking forward to trying and they didn't disappoint. They were crispy and the fish was delicious. I need to check out the restaurant on William Street soon!

Carmine's Seafood Stuffed Mushrooms with a Lobster Sauce - These mushrooms were huge and packed with flavor. The lobster sauce to finish it off was delicious. I have never checked out Carmine's before, but am looking forward to getting there soon. 

Eddie Ryan's Pot Roast Sandwich & Reuben - Both were delicious and both were incredibly flavorful. Good reubens are hard to find, but this is one place you need to check out! I kept asking myself why I haven't been there before, but quickly realized I hardly ever get out to Lancaster. Now I have a reason to! 

Honorable Mention Items:

- Krazy Corn from Lloyd's Taco Truck - Where the heck has this stuff been all my life and how in all the times I've checked out Lloyd's did I not get this? So beyond delicious. 

- Fat Bob's Mac & Cheese - This is one item I get every year and it always makes me happy. In my opinion, they have the best mac and cheese in Buffalo. The rest of their menu is great too! 

- Turkey Slider from Dinosaur BBQ - All I have to say is, DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET THESE PEOPLE TO BUFFALO! I have heard there are more serious talks to bring them to Buffalo, and I know I'm not the only one happy about this. 

If you missed out on this year's Taste of Buffalo, you need to make sure it gets put on the calendar for next year, NOW! Out of towners, this is the perfect weekend to make a trip to Buffalo. It is truly a community event that is filled with so much Buffalove!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Shakespeare in the Park - Something for Everyone

I owe a lot to my high school English teachers. They sparked my passion for writing. They gave me creative projects and provided great advice that have shaped my career and drive to blog and work in communications. They led me through countless books that I still re-read from time to time and enjoy. They turned me into a bookworm as there’s rarely a time where I’m not in the middle of a book.

I can't say though, that my high school teachers got me excited about Shakespeare. They tried, but I didn't really "get" Shakespeare, or enjoy his works until I started attending performances at Shakespeare in Delaware Park.

I stumbled upon a performance years ago when I was enjoying a picnic at Hoyt Lake, and was so impressed by the whole "package" Shakespeare in the Park offers to patrons.

First you have the backdrop: Performances take place in Delaware Park right next to Hoyt Lake, behind the Delaware Park Rose Garden, surrounded by trees. Everyone brings blankets and/or camping chairs. Then you have a simple but important stage that helps guide you through the performance. As for the performance itself, the directing and acting is among some of the best I've seen on any level, and they find a way to take something hard to understand (to many, myself included) very enjoyable and easy to follow along with.

Alright, so theatre isn’t your thing? For many this is true, but Shakespeare in the Park is about more than theatre. It’s a night to bring friends/family together. Bring snacks or a whole meal if you want, and beverages (wine is my choice) to enjoy in one of the most beautiful areas around Buffalo. Above that, attending a performance is about supporting the arts in the Buffalo area. It’s FREE, and while they do walk around asking for donations at intermission, I can almost guarantee you will find yourself reaching into your pocket to throw something in!

It also makes for the perfect date night – get there at least an hour early and enjoy food and drinks while chatting, then enjoy the performance.

This past Sunday I saw the performance of Richard III and it was outstanding. The play is one of Shakespeare’s longest works. I thought the interpretation of this, at often times bizarre play, was outstanding. Kudos to legendary director Saul Elkin for his directing and staging of the performance. Richard III was one work I had never read, or even knew much about, so while I came in with nothing to judge it by, I thought so many scenes were staged and acted perfectly. Stand out roles for me were the lead, Richard III played by Tim Newell and Queen Margaret played by Lisa Vitrano.

The production of Richard III runs until July 15th, so get out soon and catch it. They will be following it up with performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” beginning July 26th and running through August 19th.   I can't wait to get back there for this performance! 

Bravo to the cast and crew involved with Shakespeare in the Park this summer. You continue to impress me and leave me wishing there were more than two shows a summer! Thank you for giving me a new appreciation for Shakespeare. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dug's Dive

Last Thursday we were invited to spend the evening boating around the Harbor with some friends. They were docked at the Small Boat Harbor right near Dug's Dive, so my boyfriend and I decided to get dinner there before we sailed away. 

I'd be lying if I said this was my first time at Dug's Dive. At the end of last summer, when I spent an afternoon at Tifft Nature Preserve, I grabbed lunch there. I honestly wasn't impressed and really didn't think I'd make my way back again. However, since I knew we were going to be right there, I decided to give them one more try, and I'm glad I did!

Dug's Dive has seating outside and inside but when we arrived there was a wait for outside seating so we grabbed a table inside, since we had plans after. There are a decent number of tables both inside and out and almost all tables have some view of the waterfront.

I went back and forth on two menu items (the shrimp scampi and the fried chicken dinner) but finally settled on the fried chicken dinner. My boyfriend ordered the calamari, a Casear salad and tried the grilled potato salad. The fried chicken dinner came with four pieces of fried chicken (they were each pretty small), coleslaw, corn on the cob and sweet potato fries. 

Unlike my first time out there, the food this time around was good. I’m not one to order fried chicken often, but I really enjoyed the meal. The chicken, while it seemed like there was a little more “fried” than chicken, was crispy and full of flavor. The sweet potato fries were a great treat and had just the right amount of butter to top them off. The coleslaw was flavorful (and I’m a hard one to please when it comes to coleslaw). The corn was cooked perfectly and was just the right amount of sweet. The meal cost $14, and I felt it was very reasonable for what I received. My boyfriend’s choices all panned out well too and he was happy with his selections.

Our service was great, and the atmosphere inside was perfect for a beautiful summer night in Buffalo. The d├ęcor has a nautical feel to it, and the large bar is a great place to grab a drink after work. It would be a fun place to spend with a date, and is a good place for families too!

Dug’s Dive also offers a small to-go ice cream shop so you can cool off and then sit by the docks and watch the boats come in and out!

If you are in the area, or are looking for a place to eat “on the water”, check out Dug’s Dive. They are located at 1111 Fuhrmann Boulevard in Buffalo. Dug’s Dive is part of the Curtain Family restaurants (which includes The Steer and Lake Effect Diner on Main Street in Buffalo).

For other reviews on Dug's Dive, click below:
Dug's Dive on Urbanspoon