This time, we headed through New Lebanon and into the back roads of upstate New York. It's really lovely here at this time of year. Small farms and quaint old villages are dotted with stacks of pumpkins and gourds and baskets of apples. Trees just starting to turn colors shade lovely old farmhouses, whitewashed churches, and stately stone libraries. We hit no traffic anywhere, not even turning off the highway and onto the ramp for the Crossroads Mall just outside of Albany.
Lauren took us a bit further down Wolf Road to the Colonie Center, the other major mall in the area. Remodeling back in the early 2010's made it gorgeous inside and out. The outside includes Art-Deco details around the entrance to Regal Cinema. Inside, there's wrought-iron railings, wide skylights, and soft chairs surrounding a massive fireplace.
There must be a lot of families with small kids in the Albany area, because we ran into a ton of toy stores today. Our first two stops of the day were Heroes Hideout and Go! Calendars and Toys, which are across from each other at Colonie. Heroes specializes in more collectible toys than Go; otherwise, they're pretty similar. I didn't find anything, but Lauren bought a calendar for work from Go.
Colonie Center has a lot of big box stores as anchors. I checked out Barnes & Noble while Lauren went across the way to Boscov's. I didn't find anything at Boscov's after I joined her, but I did find the next book in that Key West mystery series, A Deadly Feast. We poked around FYE, but theirs doesn't have a big selection of DVDs and CDs, so we were in and out. They have a very small arcade, but we decided to save our money for later. Their LL Bean is huge, but their wares are still too expensive for my budget. Lauren picked up a lovely black vest for work at Macy's. I got a maroon t-shirt with a pretty fall flower print.
After we left LL Bean, Lauren took us a little further down Wolf Road for lunch. Ted's Fish Fry is a local fast food franchise that specializes in crispy fried seafood and chicken. They're also extremely popular, even with a remodeled vintage Pizza Hut next door. Lauren helped an older lady inside, and we joined a long line. Lauren got three fish tacos. I had a scallop roll (fried scallops in a hot dog bun), a huge container of cole slaw, and sweet potato fries. It took forever for me to get the fries because the kids behind the counter misheard me and thought I didn't want them. When I did finally get them, I shared them and the cole slaw with Lauren.
After we got a bit turned around, thanks to a slight miscalculation by Lauren's GPS, we pulled into Crossgates Mall at about 1:30. Crossgates is about two decades younger than Colonie, and while it's not as pretty, it's much bigger. Since we parked at its back entrance, we started at JC Penney. Lauren found two blouses. I picked up a yellow polo shirt for $7 to replace the yellow t-shirt I got bleach on a few weeks ago.
(As we stood in line, we had to listen to an annoying woman pushing a stroller complain about how she wasn't moving fast enough and oh, why did they come to a mall without an elevator, and what was wrong with the store and the lady and why would she pack a dress in a bag and not on a hanger? The cashier said after she left that they were rude, and she was very right. If the woman didn't have the time to shop, or was busy with her baby, neither she nor her mother should have been shopping, period. And they certainly should have been nicer to the cashier. It's not her fault they're dragging a stroller around a major mall.)
Next up, we strolled across the mall to hit Dave & Buster's. This is pretty much the same thing as Round 1 with no bowling alley and fewer crane games. The games they do have give you more tickets, though, and the cranes are easier to manipulate. We spent the next hour running from giant Pac Man to skee ball to video bowling to huge pirate's wheels you spun yourself to get tickets.
Not only did we get more tickets, but we both had tickets leftover from last year. Lauren won a big stuffed sloth wearing a purple hoodie. I wanted a llama with rainbow fur, but she wouldn't fit into my luggage. I settled for a glittery unicorn with an electric blue mane I named Celeste and saved the rest of my tickets for next time. I also won a cobalt blue sea horse out of the crane game I named Mermista. (Lauren didn't get anything out of the cranes but a couple of rubber duckies.)
We walked around the mall for a couple of hours after leaving Dave & Buster's. Lauren didn't get anything at their FYE, but I picked up the 1974 The Little Prince musical with Gene Wilder and Bob Fosse and the original 1956 Honeymooners with Jackie Gleason. (Found the latter marked at $24.99; it came up to $19.99.) Lauren bought a pair of half-plaid, half-black pants with a chain on them from Hot Topic. I looked at Sailor Moon t-shirts, but didn't buy any. Lauren saw an awesome set at the Lego Store to recreate an Atari 2600, complete with games and game holder and a little space to build a tiny arcade. She ordered it online on the spot. We were in and out of Rack Room Shoes, DSW Shoes, Spirit of Halloween, Heroes Hideout, and Jay St. Video Games.
Had dinner at 110 Grill, a simple but elegant bar and restaurant. They were pretty expensive, so we stuck to sandwiches. I had a juicy and messy turkey burger with Swiss cheese, avocado, and more sweet potato fries. Lauren went with a "steak and cheese" sandwich with broccoli. Our sandwiches were tasty, and the waitress was a doll.
Lauren quickly stopped at another Ted's Fish Fry (this one with a bar) to buy her parents more chowder. She took us home after that, past the glittering skyline of downtown Albany and across darkened towns and highways. We noticed it rained a bit around Schodeck. It had been on-and-off cloudy all day, sometimes heavily, but they never burst until it showered a little as we drove across the border into Massachusetts. What little rain we got vanished by the time we pulled into Lauren's garage.
After we showed Mr. and Mrs. Miller our finds and I hit the shower, we played one final game of Super Mario Party. If you win the first three games in regular Party mode, you unlock Kamek's Tantalizing Tower. This is an all-gold board with a twist. Instead of Toadette moving the star constantly, she stays at the top of the tower. At the beginning of each round, and if you hit a space on the tower, you change how much her two (later in the game, three) stars will cost.
To my shock, I actually won. Lauren barely came in second. She's still better at the minigames, but I bought three stars on one of my last turns.
Finished the night on YouTube with a second-season episode of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Captain Gregg worries he's "Medium Well Done" when a touring medium (Shirley Booth) visits Gulf Cottage. Mrs. Muir wants a story, but Claymore wants his ancestor out of the house, so he can raise the rent. He's thrilled when she holds a seance to find out more about the ghost...but the captain isn't going to be pushed out so easily!
And that's the end of my vacation. I go home tomorrow. Oh, and I need to call Jessa on Thursday. Jess texted me earlier about having to change my phone lines. I suspect our shared phone lines are at an end. I should have changed my phone line ages ago.