Why No Posts Lately

Clearly, I have not been posting here on popOmatic in a while. The reason is that I’ve been focusing on my other site, ColumbiaCountyCurrent.com. It’s a blog about the county where I live and work – Columbia County, NY.

For those that don’t know, Columbia County starts a couple hours north of New York City, and works it’s way up along the Hudson river, as it approaches Albany. The county is bordered on one side by the river, and the other side by a small corner of Connecticut, and then the Berkshires region of Massachusetts.

Anyway, I’m not abandoning popOmatic, and plan to get back to regular posting soon. In the meantime, check out ColumbiaCountyCurrent.com, or my Instagram @JeffmMcKinney.

National Parks Free This Weekend

NPFNPF-P60197_14X48_v5.inddTechnically, the last day of summer for 2016 is September 21. That’s the day before the first day of autumn (September 22). However, here in the USA, Labor Day is the traditional end of summer, and the day is quickly approaching. What better way to celebrate the penultimate weekend of summer than visiting one of our nation’s National Parks? To sweeten the deal, this weekend (August 26 to 28, 2016) all the National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone!

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2016 marks the 100 year anniversary of the National Park Service. In fact, the actual birthday for the Park Service is August 25.  To celebrate this centennial, the Parks Service is hosting 16 free admission days throughout the year, and August 25 to 28 is the latest batch. These free admission days provide a great opportunity to visit a new park, or check in on an old favorite.



National parks are commonly referred to as  “America’s Best Idea”, and there are more than 400 parks available to everyone, every day. The fee waiver includes entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise.

There are currently  124 national parks that usually charge an entrance fee. The others are always free. While these free days are great, National Parks are always an economical trip, with entrance fees that range from $3 to $30 (you probably can’t even but a single lunch at a theme park for less than $30). Fourth grade students can get a free annual pass through the Every Kid in a Park program, and active duty military and citizens with a permanent disability can also get free passes.

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The National Park Service makes it easy to find a park in your area, or on your vacation route. The park service’s website, nps.gov, has a Find A Park page, where you can use a drop down menu of every park listed alphabetically, or select a state on the map for more info on the parks in that state.

Are you into movies, games, fun and the occasional 140-character rant? Then follow me on Twitter, @JeffMMcKinney.

Road Trip – Nantucket Island, MA

Nantucket Island, MA

Occasionally… ok, rarely, I leave my TV, movies, and house to hit the road for some travel.  My latest trip was to Nantucket Island, which is off the coast of, but part of, Massachusetts.

Getting There:

From my area in Upstate NY, it’s about a 3.5 hour drive to Hyannis, MA, where you can catch a ferry. There’s the traditional ferry, which is a large boat with multiple decks, a cafeteria, and plenty of comfy seating. That boat takes a little over two hours, and is my preferred way to go. If you are in a rush, and want something a little faster, check out the fast ferry, which leaves from the same port. This is a smaller boat, and generally more crowded, but cuts the travel time down to one hour.

The traditional ferry at the Hyannis port

Both ferries take the same route, which brings you past the Nantucket lighthouse, and into the harbor.

Nantucket Harbor lighthouse
Nantucket Harbor lighthouse

On The Island:

Once on shore, you will be in the island’s historic town, which is like traveling back in time, but with modern shops, art galleries, restaurants, and bars. There are also walking tours of the historic town, and a night time ghost tour. The small town also has a movie theater, a museum, and a beautiful library in the historic Atheneum building, which are always nice for a rainy day.

Natucket Main st
Nantucket’s Main Street


The Nantucket Atheneum library

You can spend plenty of time, and money, shopping in town, but the real drawl of the island are the beaches that surround it. Pick up a free map on the ferry, which shows the locations of beaches, and bike trails to reach them. Each beach is a little different. The closer to town the beach is, the more crowded it might get. If you head out to Madaket, end your day with a sunset viewing drink at Millies. In Siasconset, look for The Summer House Bistro below the cliff.




Here are a few helpful tips for your visit.

1. You don’t need a car on Nantucket, in fact, bike’s are a much better way to get around, and see the island. You’ll find bike rentals on the island, on the road leading from the ferry, into town. There is plenty of parking in Hyannis, and the ferry provides free shuttle service to/from the outlying lots.

2. The traditional ferry is $37.00 for an adult round trip ticket. No reservations required, unless you want to bring your car to the island.

The fast ferry is $69.00 for one adult round trip. Reservations are recommended.

For more information or to book a fast ferry reservation, visit The Steamship Authority site, by clicking here.

3. Plan to spend at least a weekend, which is still not enough time. There are B&Bs, and hotels on the island, plus a large offering of vacation rental homes. Rentals tend to rent on a weekly basis (Saturday to Saturday).

4. Nantucket is expensive, so save up before you set sail.


*All photographs taken by Jeff McKinney

Are you into movies, games, fun and the occasional 140-character rant? Then follow me on Twitter, @JeffMMcKinney.

More Winter Fun

I just had a pants-crapping drive from my home on the side of a mountain to the Amtrak station in Hudson, NY. After a tense drive that included sliding through an intersection, I missed my train and had to repeat that drive back to the home front. I should have turned around three hours ago when I stepped onto the driveway, slipped, landed on my butt and then flew into a snow bank.

Heat Wave

One of my least favorite aspects of life in NYC was the summer. We didn’t need a heat wave to make life uncomfortable – all that concrete and glass could easily turn a typical hot day into a sweaty mess, especially if your day began by waiting 10 minutes on a subway platform. Gross.

Even though I’m just a few hours north of the city now, the weather is dynamically different. One thing is for sure, if it’s hotter than hell up here, it must be ungodly hot in the city right now.

So for all my friends sweating in NYC, here’s a little ditty from Marilyn Monroe, Heat Wave!