Break for Cheese at the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company

Old Chatham Sheepherding Company
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Old Chatham Sheepherding CompanyNew York’s Hudson Valley was in its glory this weekend with gorgeous blue skies, postcard worthy fall foliage, and the overall old school charm that makes this area a perfect afternoon trip from the Capital District.  We made our way to Kinderhook to get our fill of pumpkins at Samascott Orchards.  It’s worth the drive out to Samascott as the crowds are fewer than farms closer to Albany and the selection of pumpkins is always excellent.  But given the day was so beautiful and the kids were in good spirits (always helps), we drove another 20 minutes to the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company to take in the sheep and take home a little of the Hudson Valley with and the famous Black Sheep Cheese!

The award-winning Black Sheep Cheese label in known across the country with cheeses and yogurts produced entirely of sheep’s milk.  The dairy products produced by the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company have a unique creaminess to them and with one bite you’ll notice the texture and taste as being different from cow and goat milk products.  Black Sheep Cheese also has cheeses made with a combination of cow and sheep’s milk.  You can purchase yogurt and cheeses by the wedge, block, half-wheel, and whole wheel at a self-serve cheese shop that basically consists of an upright fridge and an honor system pay box.

Black Sheep Cheese
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A Family Day Trip to New York’s Bear Mountain State Park

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Introducing our Wandering Working Mom’s new guest blogger, Michele Williams.  Michele is a full-time working mom of two outgoing and adventurous boys with an equally fun loving husband. Michele and her family enjoys local adventures and festivals throughout their home base in the Hudson Valley, with the occasional excursion throughout upstate or central New York.  She embraces why this blog was created and views every outing as an opportunity to grow as a family.

My husband and I always enjoy visiting Bear Mountain State Park. As parents of two outgoing, adventurous, and carefree boys, ages 4 and 2, it is the perfect “staycation” getaway where we can swim, have a picnic lunch, enjoy a carousel ride, and visit animals. How could anyone ask for more on a beautiful summer day? With so much to do at the park, it can be a long day for the little ones; so we decided that our most recent day trip would be spent visiting the zoo and enjoying a picnic lunch where the boys could simply PLAY!

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Bear Mountain State Park is about 90 minutes north of New York City and costs $8 per vehicle to enter. A family visit to Bear Mountain State Park is very affordable as there is no admission cost to enter the Trailside Museum and Zoo, however, a suggested donation of $1 per person is recommended.

We packed all of the necessary essentials for our adventure – double stroller, sunblock, hats, and a cooler with drinks, lunch and plenty of snacks. We have learned that regardless of the day of the week, it is best to arrive early, especially if you want to enjoy the park without navigating your stroller through the crowds and sharing the exhibits with others.

We made our way through the zoo visiting all of the animals, but stopping for an extra-long visit with the red fox, bears, and coyotes – Luna and Loki, who recently moved to their new home at the zoo…a larger space for them to run and play.
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The Half Moon in Albany

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A sure sign of Fall in Albany, New York is the multi-week visit by the replica of Henry Hudson’s famed ship, the Half Moon.  The Half Moon sailed from the Netherlands to the New World in 1609 and you when you see the small size of this ship you instantly become more impressed with this feat (if you weren’t already).  The replica Half Moon is operated by the New Netherland Museum.  This year, the celebration included a very family friendly Early Albany Festival complete with Dutch colonialist re-enactors, colonial toys to dabble in, and a rare chance to see the Half Moon at sea.  Members of the Stockbridge-Munsee band of Indians (Mohican) also participated in the day’s events with various demonstrations.  The Early Albany Festival was held at Albany’s Corning Preserve with stunning Fall foliage as the backdrop.

Albany - Half Moon

Albany - Half Moon

Albany - Half Moon

Albany is so seeped in Dutch history and I’m always thrilled when events like this come to town to take the opportunity to education my kids about this city’s roots.  The day included several hands-on stations so this kids could feel, see, and hear the culture that once called the land around Albany home.

The Festival was only one day but the Half Moon will remain in Albany from September 20 through October 12 and open for tours.

Although we haven’t had a chance to explore the ship yet, my friends at Albany Kid wrote a post a few years back about their enriching experience.  Plan ahead, and make some time to visit the Half Moon while it’s docked in Albany!

Visiting Boston’s U.S.S. Constitution Museum with Kids

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Charlestown is the Boston neighborhood adjacent to the famous North End and an affordable family destination for those looking for kid-friendly historical sites.  Our “must-see” spot during a weekend getaway to Boston was the U.S.S. Constitution Museum in Charlestown and to explore the famous ship, Old Ironsides docked in front of the museum.  The U.S.S. Constitution is famous for its role in its 15 battles fought during the War of 1812 and outlasting many ships of its time.

USS Constitution Museum

The main museum is two-floors of hands-on activities and tons of historical placards and information to keep the young and young at heart enthralled.  One of the reasons this museum has been on my bucket list is because it took part in the Family Learning Project and developed new exhibits and techniques for inter-generational visitors. To me, this is the heart of family travel and no easy task to take a wealth of history and develop exhibit space to please all ages.  The U.S.S. Constitution Museum did not disappoint on these endeavors and is wonderful way for a family to spend an afternoon.

USS Constitution Museum

The second floor is big enough to please all ages but just the right size to let little historians explore on their own.

With a suggested family donation of $15-20, the U.S.S. Constitution Museum is very affordable, especially in a pricey city like Boston.  If driving, you can park in the Nautical parking lot across the street and have your parking ticket validated at the museum for up to 4 hours of FREE parking (another added bonus).  Parking in Boston can be insanely expensive so take advantage of this spot!

USS Constitution

We were traveling with kids ages 3, 4, and 6. Allow yourself two to three hours to visit which is enough time to keep the kids interested and allows parents to also experience a great museum.


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Chillax at the Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont

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What is Chillax?  Chillax at the Stowe Mountain Lodge is designed to introduce children to the spa through touch, feel, smell, and lots of giggles during a fun 30 minute session! My 7 year old daughter can tell you all about it since she got to experience this unique, kid-friendly spa treatment during a long summer weekend in Stowe, Vermont.

Now my little one was a little apprehensive at first, but it was more from not knowing what to expect at a day spa. She was greeted by a super friendly spa attendant from the Spa and Wellness Center who clearly had experience working with kids and the much needed patience bug to handle the goofiness. The kids (each session can take up to four kids) were led into a separate bright, airy room lined with comfy overstuffed Papasan chairs. Chillax doesn’t include spa robes so the kids stay in their regular clothes during the session. Parents can actually keep an eye on their kids from outside the room as the space is lined with windows to the outside. But I would recommend staying out of view so the kids can fully immerse themselves in the experience.

Stowe Mountain Lodget

What to Expect During Chillax

Chocolate! Yes the kids’ faces were covered in a coconut oil and cocoa powder mix complete with cucumbers for the eyes. My daughter dipped the cucumbers on her chocolate covered face and ate them instead! Paraffin treatments were applied to the hands and feet and silly head scratchers were used as well. The 7 year old opinion on Chillax was “When can I go to the spa again?”. Chillax costs $25 for 30 minutes which won’t break the bank but will add a little luxury to your vacation at Stowe!

We may have created a little diva, but this mama also had the opportunity to get a quick 30 minute targeted massage while she was Chillaxing! This mommy-daughter splurge was a fun way to spend part of a morning before going on a hike on Mount Mansfield.  Just one of the many things to experience at the Stowe Mountain Lodge.

Disclosure: the Stowe Mountain Lodge provided complimentary treatments for my daughter and I during our stay as part of my visit through Ski Vermont’s All Mountain Mamas but as always, my opinions are all my own.

Camping in the Adirondacks – Rollins Pond Campground

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This was our last hurrah of the summer and the plan was a long weekend with friends camping in the Adirondacks at Rollins Pond Campground. Rollins Pond is located about 20 minutes north of Tupper Lake in the central-western part of New York’s Adirondack State Park.  It seemed fitting that our last “vacation” of the summer be in the Adirondacks – the place where the word “vacation” first became popular.  The wealthy of New York City would “vacate” the sweltering city during the summer months to the Adirondacks and so the term vacation became common lingo.

The “pond” in Rollins Pond is part of a series of interconnecting waterways and an absolute haven for canoers and kayakers.

Rollins Pond

View from the beach area of our campsite at Rollins Pond Campground.

The campground is operated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and is a simple, but large campground where most sites are directly on the lake.  What I loved most about Rollins Pond was that it was pretty remote and motorized boat craft was prohibited – nature at it’s finest without all of the noise.  In order to get to the campground you actually have to drive through the Fish Creek Campground which is much larger and includes more play areas, an amphitheater, and is the meeting area for most of the crafts and activities for both campgrounds.

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Kids roaming the beach first thing in the morning.

Back to Rollins Pond  campground….

Just about all of the sites have direct access to the pond.  Our two sites were probably some of the few that had a wooded area separating the pond from the site.  At first we were sort of bummed that we couldn’t see the water from our site, but then the kids (and the kids from the neighboring sites) turned the woods into their own playground complete with tree root bridges, creeks, and tree stumps that served various functions throughout the weekend.   Our kids barely played with the toys we brought and stayed, how it should be for kids while camping, completely filthy in the woods.

Rollins Pond

Rollins Pond is nature’s family-friendly playground!

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Adirondack Hiking with Kids – Panther Mountain

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We spent the weekend camping at the serenely beautiful Rollins Pond campground in the central Adirondacks.  Our goal was to find a kid-friendly hike where we could take four kids ages 3 to 7 hiking without complete meltdowns or ending with tired parents carrying them.  Plus, the trail needed to be within the Saranac Region of the park and close to our campground as we were starting out a little late in the day.  Panther Mountain was ideal!  With a length of .6 miles to the summit you can complete the entire trail within an hour.  The trail starts with some steep climbs along side hemlocks and birches but eventually becomes less rigorous as you reach the top.   It took us about 25 minutes to reach the summit with little to no complaining from the troops.

Panther Mountain

These kids were awesome during the initial steep climbs on Panther Mountain

You can’t help but be in awe at the sweeping views of Panther Pond and the High Peaks region when standing at the summit. The rocky ledge is a great flat area to rest before heading back and given the short length of the trail, there’s no need to rush down.

Panther Mountain

This guy was super proud to hike his first mountain!

The story goes that the mountain’s namesake came from the large numbers of panthers, cougars, and mountain lions that roamed the Adirondacks in the early 19th century. There haven’t been sightings of these animals in the Adirondacks in a very long time but the name still remains.

The trail-head is located on Route 3 about 15 miles from Saranac Lake with ample parking across the street.  Panther Mountain is an excellent hike for families and this was the first time my kids fully hiked a mountain.  They were pretty proud of their accomplishments and slept well that night!