09 May 2012

Rain, Obama, the stores, and blog friends

It rained all day yesterday. It didn't matter. Yesterday was our main shopping day. We headed out before 9 a.m. and got back "home" at 4 p.m. Lunch in a wings joint was included.

President Obama visited Albany yesterday. He made a speech at the State University of New York's Albany campus, just a few miles from here. We had to be careful about choosing a route for our shopping that wouldn't put us in the area of street closures required to let the Obama motorcade get to and from the airport. We didn't see the president, but it was nice of him to drop by.

Old and new in Albany NY

We saw miles of parking lots with standing water on them, however, and we had to tread carefully so as to keep the only pairs of shoes we brought with us from getting wet. We had to make a dash for it to get from the car to a sheltered spot or the front door of a store. The main things we shop for are drugstore items and clothes that are much less expensive in the U.S. than in France.

Monday was gorgeous and people were
sitting outside at lunchtime

And remember, around Saint-Aignan, there aren't that many shopping venues. We don't have a mall, and the countryside isn't littered with strip malls. We don't have any stores that would be the equivalents of Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Marshall's, Radio Shack, J.C. Penney's, or Target.

The old Palace Theatre in Albany — upcoming shows
will feature big names like Johnny Mathis,
Bonnie Raitt, and Gordon Lightfoot

We also don't have traffic, because the population density is so low. We don't often drive 40 km, as we did yesterday, just to shop in a specific store or have lunch is a specific restaurant — though once in a while we drive down to Loches or up to Blois or over to Romorantin to do some special shopping. The roads are narrow two-lane tracks, not the wide multi-lane expressways you can take to zip from one part to another of the N.Y. State Capital District.

Albany architecture details

I just looked up the Town of Bethlehem on Wikipedia. Bethlehem is where we are staying, just south of Albany, with old friends. It turns out that the town is spread out over 128 sq. km and has a population of just under 35,000. Now the city of San Franciso, where we used to live, has an area of 122 sq. km, and a population of 800,000. Paris covers the same surface area, with a population of more than two million.

Big freeways run along the Hudson River at Albany

It's not exactly lonely out here south of Albany, but you see the difference. But get this: the administrative unit called the Canton de Saint-Aignan sits on 326 sq. km, and the total population is 17,000. So 2½ times the area of Bethelehem NY, and half the population. We Saint-Aignanais are not swarming like ants, that's for sure.

Noticed this plate on a car in Albany the other day

Anyway, here we are for another 48 hours before we drive up to Montréal to spend the weekend visiting people we know or will be glad to get to know up there. It's all because of blogs. In fact, last night we had dinner with a group of people in a Mexican restaurant over in Troy NY, on the other side of the Hudson River and little north of Albany. We met some of these people through their and our blogs. A good time was had by all, I think.


  1. Ken

    rain , rain , rain here also and it may be for the whole week.

    As far as the Québec plate, quite a few people cross the border to go shopping just south of Albany before hitting NYC.

  2. Another store I find very good, for clothing and housewares: TJMax also known as Homegoods. They deal and sell overstock of many well-known branded merchandise. Very good prices.

    Enjoy your trip north!

    Mary in Oregon

  3. Great photos - glad to hear you are having a good time.

  4. " upcoming shows
    will feature big names like Johnny Mathis,
    Bonnie Raitt, and Gordon Lightfoot" Those guys were big names a long, long time ago. They are rarely heard from these days. Quebecers are all over the place now that the Canadian dollar is stronger than the US dollar.

  5. Starman, Bonnie Raitt is heard from quite a bit these days :) In fact, she has a new album out -- 19th album.

    Mary, I love HomeGoods!

    Ken, it's so much fun knowing you're enjoying a U.S. visit!

  6. The Beaver, please order some sun for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. But even if it rains, I'm sure we are going to have a good time in Montréal.

    Mary, I'll have to check out TJMax. I've never been inside one of their stores.

    Starman, well, it is Albany, not New York City. But Mathis and Lightfoot probably have a good following. Not to mention Raitt, as Judy says.

  7. Ken

    You may be out of luck on Friday but partly cloudy on the WE with high of 70 and 68 F respectively . Friday cooler with a chance of rain

    Keeping our fingers crossed :-)

    The candidate running for the GOP rep Michele Bachmann has taken the Swiss citizenship ( so she has dual nationalities- Swiss ban k a/c anyone??)

  8. Lovely photos Ken. Are you both missing "home"yet?


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