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A Very Hammy Day with the Family

I am proud to say that the very first college that my grandparents EVER visited or saw was my very own.

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This is a historical moment in their lives! My grandparents had never seen or stepped on an American campus before. So the fact that they got to tour Hamilton College this visit meant a lot to me.

And I am not bragging at all when I say that Hamilton is a BEEYOOTIFUL campus. Seriously, it is, especially when it’s not covered in snow (but honestly, all that white makes the school quite stunning). The grass was green, the flowers were blooming, and everything was lush and full of the growth.

But before we could embark on our Hamilton adventure, we stopped by one of the local restaurants for lunch. Nola’s is probably the nicest restaurant in the tiny village of Clinton, and I’ve been waiting for a good reason to go there.

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So a family vacation to my school? Yeah, that’ll do.

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Located in the town square in “downtown” Clinton, Nola’s serves seasonal and local New American food, with a different special everyday (you gotta check out their Facebook page to be in the know!).

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They’ve also got a bar where they serve various wines and beers, several of them made right in the Mohawk Valley.

A bottle of which my dad felt most obligated to try.

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Saranac Brewery is located right in Utica, only a 20-minute drive from my school. They make a series of core beers that they offer year-round and seasonal beers that change with well, the season. They’re really popular around the area and if you’re 21 and over, you can take the brewery tour and sample their beer, but since I’m a long 3 years from reaching that age, my dad settled with trying the Saranac Pale Ale at Nola’s this time around.

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It’s so cool how beer can be every bit as artisanal as wine; Nola’s was also serving the Pomegranate Wheat beer, but my dad settled with this one. He said it was COMPLETELY different from the Japanese beer he usually drinks; a lot heavier and a thicker mouthfeel.

Now Nola’s lunch menu consists mainly of soups, salads and sandwiches, and you can get a combo with a half sandwich and a cup of soup or a small salad. And as basic and average as that sounds, they do soups and sandwiches (we didn’t try any salads) WELL. There’s a reason this place is so popular around here!

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My mom got the Tuna Deli Sandwich with the Soup of the Day, which was a Roasted Red Pepper and Crab Bisque. The soup was on the thin side, but with an amazing, fresh tomatoey-ness and crab flavor. My entire family all loved the soup, even though there weren’t any actual chunks of crab meat in it. My mom also liked her tuna sandwich, although she didn’t rave about it.

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My grandma also got the soup-sandwich combo, except she chose the Grilled Cheese and Ham Deli Sandwich. She said it was good, and really filling, which I guess is a compliment for a half-sandwich… right?

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My grandpa and my dad got the same thing – the Sirloin Steak Sandwich with roasted garlic cream cheese, sautéed onion, and blue cheese. The only difference was that my grandpa got the combo, so his portion was smaller and came with a bowl of soup.

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Both my grandpa and my dad LOVED this sandwich. My dad kept mentioning what an awesome idea it was to eat at Nola’s that day. The only thing my dad didn’t like about the sandwich was the cheese – he thought it was a little funky, although my grandpa didn’t seem to have a problem with it. Still, he finished all of his meat, saying it was SO delicious and tender.

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Nola’s has a few vegetarian options on there menu, and I chose the most classic one: the Veggie Wrap with sautéed spinach, onion, mushroom, red peppers, and tomatoes with chevre. Yeah, yeah it’s the most generic and stereotypical veg meal, but I’ve been on a goat cheese kick lately, and I was craving this. I thought the portion was pretty small, but it was actually really filling; chock full o’ well-seasoned veggies and delicious goat cheese, I savored every bite. My only quip was that the vegetables let out a lot of liquid, resulting in some juice running down my hands, but that’s to be expected.

Another little thing that made the Nola’s experience so good for us was that each dish came with its each little pile of HOME-FRIED potato chips! Unbelievably crunchy, these were a whole lot heartier and yummier than chips-in-a-bag. They were a little underseasoned, but a quick dab of ketchup remedied that.

I was kind of looking forward to dessert, but my dad asked for the check before the waitress gave us the dessert menu (now I won’t ever know if they even HAVE a dessert menu!). So in the end, we left without a sweet, last bite, but regardless our stomachs were extremely happy when we walked out. I think my dad is looking forward to coming here  and trying out the dinner menu the next time he drives me up to Hamilton.

After our meal, we drove up the hill for a personal tour led by yours truly. Here are a few happy pictures from our campus walk.

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There was some dorm-viewing.

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Some teaching.

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Some learning.

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And some rock-swinging.

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Later on, Hamilton gear was purchased.

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And the Glen was explored.

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It was awesome because:

1) We all got some quality family time.

2) It was cooler up north in central NY than in Jersey (this was the 100° F day last week).

3) I found out that school in the summer isn’t that bad after all! :D

These pictures are nowhere near doing justice to the beautiful school that is Hamilton College. My grandparents were in awe of the campus, constantly commenting on how big it was and how many trees there were, how nice the facilities were. This almost makes me want to go back to school…

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