Niagara Falls, One of the Seven Wonders of the World?

This was always a popular post, and it is a gorgeous place to visit. I hope to go there again, but I’d love to go in the winter months and see it frozen!! I cannot imagine what that must be like!!
Live well my friends, and make it a great day!!

Kartwheels in the Kitchen

According to our tour guide and the IMAX Theater,  I just saw the 7th wonder of the world~ which hundreds of thousands of millions and gazillions of people already experienced!  But I am still in awe of the beauty and power of the Niagara Falls! So I’m thinking I might need to see the other six!!

The Seven Wonders of the World are……………….ummm which list do you want look at?  There are the 7 Ancient Wonders, the 7 Modern Wonders, the 7 Man-made Wonders, the  7 Natural Wonders, and a few other Wonder Lists!!  And I didn’t see Niagara Falls on any of them!!!  What the heck!!!   Didn’t anyone tell Canada??  Do they even know??

I don’t want to dispute any list, or any country that thinks they are on the list so I’ll just move on…

My girlfriend and I did a bus trip to Ontario, Canada to see…

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Niagara Falls, One of the Seven Wonders of the World?

According to our tour guide and the IMAX Theater,  I just saw the 7th wonder of the world~ which hundreds of thousands of millions and gazillions of people already experienced!  But I am still in awe of the beauty and power of the Niagara Falls! So I’m thinking I might need to see the other six!!

The Seven Wonders of the World are……………….ummm which list do you want look at?  There are the 7 Ancient Wonders, the 7 Modern Wonders, the 7 Man-made Wonders, the  7 Natural Wonders, and a few other Wonder Lists!!  And I didn’t see Niagara Falls on any of them!!!  What the heck!!!   Didn’t anyone tell Canada??  Do they even know??

I don’t want to dispute any list, or any country that thinks they are on the list so I’ll just move on…

My girlfriend and I did a bus trip to Ontario, Canada to see the falls.  Traveling by bus is a great way to travel, you can just sit there and be lazy.  You can read, nap, chat away the hours, or watch the world as you pass by.  But, you are also stuck on a bus with a lot of other chatty people.  Luckily though, there were only 14 total on this trip which was perfect!  We got to know each other and had lots of fun!  And an added plus, they napped when we napped and chatted when we chatted and nobody was noisy at all.  Whew!

The good thing about traveling on a bus trip is that your trip is completely planned for you.  We didn’t have to plan anything; we only had to worry about making sure we got up and on the bus at the appropriate time (and remembered to change out of our jammies).

The bad thing about traveling on a bus trip is that your trip is completely planned for you.  We saw some things that we wanted to do but couldn’t, like walk behind the falls; and also saw some things that we would not have chosen to do BUT we did know this when we signed up.  For instance, we saw an IMAX movie of the falls that was really not interesting, I could have googled that info, or the bus line could have bought the DVD and showed it to us on the drive up.

 

Upon our arrival in Niagara, and the trip thru Canadian Customs with a few rude customs agents, we went to the Skylon Towers for a dinner buffet.  It wasn’t too bad, considering I am not a fan of buffet style meals.  They had an observation deck that I wanted to up to but it wasn’t on our itinerary so after our meal we were back on the bus to our hotel.  The evening was to then be spent on our own.  Naturally I wanted to walk down to the falls.  It was amazing!  Pictures just don’t capture the natural beauty and power of the falls.  We eventually wandered into a restaurant/bar across the street from the falls, and waited for darkness to fall so we could witness the lights on the falls at night.  Gorgeous!

 Unfortunately, I did not have my tripod with me so my night shots didn’t turn out so good.

The next day was breakfast at the hotel and back on the bus for our 3 hour tour!  Yes some of us did sing the little tune to “Gilligan’s Island”.   We had a tour guide that did a great job informing us on the power plants that once occupied the area, we saw a beautiful seminary, and a convent that now sit empty.  I wanted to get off the bus and take pictures because the buildings were beautiful! We went to Table Rock to watch the falls from above. We saw a floral clock that completely bored me to tears. 

And then we went to the “Locks”; a ship had just come in and they were filling up one of the locks but we only had 15 minutes to spend there and we were off again.  We drove past the butterfly conservatory; I would have LOVED going in there too!

  This is at the Whirlpool where 3 rivers meet, I would have loved to take a ride over the whirlpool!!

Next was lunch on our own after which we hopped on “Maid of the Mist” and headed into the mist of the falls, or rain as we later discovered. 

We were all covered in blue plastic disposable raincoats which thankfully kept my clothes and my camera dry, the rest of me was soaked!  What a great adventure to be down in the powerful spray of the falls!

After we dried in the sun for a few minutes we were back on the bus and went to Niagara on the Lake. 

A beautiful quaint little town on Lake Ontario, I had planned on dipping my toes in the lake but we never made it  L .  So, any of you that are planning on going, let me tell you that the town is nice and the shops are unusual boutiques’, most of which cater to a higher end of shopping, had I known I definitely would have declined that visit and chosen the walk behind the falls. 

Three of us almost got stuck in Niagara on the Lake.  We waited and waited….and started to cry….and waited for the shuttle bus to come pick us up to take us back to our bus but it never arrived.  Thankfully a local told us the shuttles stop running at 6pm.  It was then 6:25 and we had to be back at our bus by 6:30.  We cried louder and wanted our Mommies!  It would have been polite for the shuttle driver to tell us the curfew time when he dropped us off.  Would have been nice for OUR bus driver to know that too!  We eventually stopped crying and walked the few blocks out of town to the tour bus location.  We were applauded by everyone else for finally arriving!  I asked them if they were worried about us and they said NO!  Geesh!  Doesn’t anybody love me?

Back on the bus and to the hotel for the night.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret….shhh, you can’t whisper a word to anyone else….we smuggled wine into the country!!!! HA!  So being the rebels that we are, we sat on the balcony of our hotel room and drank our smuggled wine for everyone to see!!  Okay,  just kidding, sort of.  We did bring wine in and my friend declared it.  But how she declared the wine was funny.  The customs agent (who’s personality was equal to a bear with a diaper rash and heartburn) asked her how much wine she is declaring, and my friend used her hands to describe the height of the box and said “about that much”.  Yea yea yea it was box wine!!!  Get over it!  Then she pulled out her metal nail file and proceeded to file her nails!  Umm Janie dear, isn’t that considered a weapon these days!!!

Oh!  I almost forgot!  There was a tightrope walker that walked from the Skylon Tower to one of the hotels.  He just zipped along like it was nothing!

The next morning…….found a Perkins for breakfast (yuck that was bad!) and back on the bus for the IMAX theater.  Again, I knew this was on the itinerary and I was okay it clearly BUT I didn’t realize how lame the movie was going to be.  We learned about the Indian legend to the maid in the mist, heard about some of the daredevils and that was it.  I don’t recommend wasting your time or money on that experience!

Back on the bus for the ride home….and the 1-1/2 hour wait to get thru US customs.  Good to know our country is safe!  They did the mirror under the bus, walked thru our bus and checked out each one of us. Had no wine to declare this time and Janie kept her weapon safely tucked in her purse.   Not sure how I would have explained to her husband that she was arrested for possession of a weapon…..

Adorable friend, fantastic trip and weather, spectacular place to visit and I am so thankful that I was able to go.  But there is no place like home Toto!

Riding Horses on the Battlefield in Gettysburg, PA

Wow it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything!  Yes Debbie, I’m posting now!  And it’s about my experience touring the Battlefield at Gettysburg by horseback.

I haven’t been on a horse in probably 20 years, and that was a short ride in Mexico.  That is the extent of my horse riding.  As a little girl, like most little girls, I dreamed of owning horses.  I read any novel that pertained to horses.   In my youth, I used to walk or ride my bike to a nearby horse farm every weekend to feed them apples or just pet them!  I’d walk thru the stables and pretend they were mine.  Seriously, I begged my parents for a horse!  By the time I was a teenager, I could draw them too.  

So off to Gettysburg I go with two girlfriends.  One of which has experience with horses and has told me repeatedly I will be sore….yea yea yea I know, so I tuck some pain relievers in my purse.

We arrived early and had the pleasure of talking to the owner about her horses.  She has had horses since she was 8 years and has been doing tours for the past 30 years.  I am in awe!!!

She very cleverly matched all of us up with a horse.  Mine was a spirited little thing called “Pebbles” that the owner deemed a “Princess”.  What struck me as funny was there was a time in school where my friends called me Pebbles.  Pebbles also like to eat any grass vines or anything green that she got close too.  It was a chore to keep her on the trail!  Every time I went to snap a picture, she knew it, and wandered to the side of the trail.  I fell in love with her instantly!

I had to laugh at myself when the owner told me to bring Pebbles to stand beside her.  I said yea okay and how do I manage that!  I learned quickly but I still didn’t have the hang of it! 

The tour was fabulous, how many times have I stood somewhere along the roads around the battlefield and gazed out and imagined what the war would have been like.  Now here I was, on  a horse on the battlefield.

Our tour guide was very knowledgeable.  During one of her detailed events of the war, she began to tell us at approximately 1pm the cannon fire started; in the distance, reenactors were demonstrating cannon fire and at that exact moment the sound of a cannon echoed across the battlefield.  Got the horses attention too!

At our first stop for a history lesson, my knees and  legs were killing me.  Like really really get me off this thing killing me.  I silently signaled for the owner to come over, she adjusted the stirrups and I secretly thanked God for reminding me to take a pain reliever before we started the ride. 

By the time we got to the third stop for a history lesson, I was dying right there on that horse.  My backside hurt and my knees were screaming at me, all I wanted to do was get off the horse and stretch but I knew there would be no way for me to get back on without the step stool that the owner so kindly left us use when we started.  As bad as that sounds, I really LOVED being on Pebbles, it was so much fun!

So we make it back to the campground and I told the owner she would most likely need a very large shoehorn to pry my ass off the saddle because I was positive I was not going to able to swing my leg around!!!  But I did, with her instructions and me being oh so very careful.  A man near me asked for the shoehorn to be passed to him as well.  My lovely girlfriends managed to just hop on down all by themselves but the look on Ellen’s face pretty much summed up what I was already feeling, pain!   I didn’t realize I had butt-bones until then!!!!

So, did I enjoy myself and would I do it again??? You better believe I will!!!  I can’t wait!  But first there are some other things to do, like white water rafting 🙂

A Slow Train to Mystic

Off to CT for another visit.  Started at the Lancaster train station, really old building being renovated.  They have a lot to do yet!!  Had a connection in Philly this time, not NY.  I  STILL FEAR the escalator.  Seriously.  I  have lingering images of tumbling down the up escalator, people screaming, arms trying to grab me,  EWWW I have to stop!!! 

Loved the train station at Philly tho.  Lots of shops, food vendors, policemen and drug sniffing dogs!!  Grabbed a chi latte and did a little people watching. 

Arrived in Mystic, the weather was perfect and my Aunt was waiting for me!  She whisked me off to lunch at the little place called Abbott’s, in Noank, CT.  Now, it sort of looks like a little dive and you know places like that usually have the best food!   Only my friends that live in Hanover or have lived here will know what I am about to describe.  Friends, York Street Treat, okay?  Imagine that little dumpy “walk up to order your food” kind of place by the water and selling seafood.  Yep, awesome.  Then you grab your food, go find a picnic table by the water and your worries just fade away along with your stress.

Then she whisked me off to Saltwater Winery.  It’s a renovated airplane hangar.  And stupidly I did not take any pictures inside the building.  We grabbed our bottle and glasses and went outside. 

I walked around the grape vines taking pictures, but not inside mind you!  The wine was just incredible!

The following day we went to Old Lyme to visit the Florence Griswold Museum.  This was a house that artists once would visit, pay to stay there, and they just went out onto the grounds and painted.  It is absolutely a beautiful house. 

The small barn behind the house has been turned into a cafe.  You could order your food and go sit at some very quaint tables and chairs or do what my Aunt and Idid…grab a picnic blanket and head out onto the lawn!

Another small building was turned into an educational center for kids.  They have art classes for the little kiddies.  While we were there they posted their art work on the outside of the building and they had painted beautiful paper parasols.

 And a huge museum with 3 galleries is down by the lake.  We walked the beautiful gardens, admiring all the flowers and plants. 

We strolled up to the side porch, and all I could think about was grabbing a bottle of wine and parking myself right there to relax for the day.  But instead we went into the house.  Several of the rooms are decorated to the period style of the house.  And art is hanging everywhere.

The following day was much warmer but it didn’t stop us from going to te art festival downtown Mystic, we walked the entire festival and looked at everything.  I saw tons of beautiful artwork, different ways to paint, artistic expressions, and chatted to a photographer, a fellow “Nikonian” as he put it.  I did not purchase any canvases but I did buy a pair a handmade silver earrings with a pau shell.  I think I have worn them everyday since.  Aunty and I grabbed some sandwiches and soda’s, found a spot on the lawn and enjoyed the shade….

Sunday was a prayer service.   Just a private prayer service among friends for the last 25 years.  Had to be one of the most moving services I have been to.  Then it was home to relax for the day, and watch it rain.   Actually it poured all day.  And pack.  My time with my Aunt was coming to a close.  Monday morning I caught the train to come back home to PA.  No drug sniffing dogs in Philly this time.  But the title “A Slow Train to Mystic” popped in my head as a great book title!  Wonder what sort of adventure and romance I can find on the train??!!!

It was a wonderful trip, and I am ready to go back for another escape.  Maybe at Christmas, Mystic at Christmas has to beautiful!

Cheers!

The Annual New York Christmas Shopping Trip

This week was my annual New York City shopping trip with my bestest friend Julie.  The day starts out with her stopping for our coffee and picking me up.  Yanno, it really can’t get better than that, curbside pick up with coffee.  Thanks Jules!  The morning then proceeded to making fun of people.  Now, I usually don’t pay attention to the people surrounding me, at least not in a poking fun at kind of way.

Not like Julie does anyway.

Okay okay, maybe I do.

Except for the first vision.  Old guy in skinny jeans (insert shudder) with women’s white tennis shoes (eye’s squinted and shuddering).  Then there was the poor soul that sat behind us blowing “B’s” out his lips.  You know, the kind of sound little boys make when they’re running their race cars on the floor?  Yea, that sound.  At any given moment, not snoring, just blowing B’s. 

Enough chuckling at other folks, I promise.

The bus pulls out of our little town by 5 am and pulls into a breakfast stop just before 7am.  For some reason I decided to take a picture of the paper placemat, but not my food.  I dove into that like a starved animal!

Sleepily we drag our butts off the bus out into the cold, bone chilling weather and run for the restaurant.  Yummie menu…belgian waffles, pancakes, french toast, eggs and bacon and hot coffee.  No we did not order all of this, just the eggs and bacon but it sure was tempting to not order everything just to keep our tummies full for the long ride to New York.

We laughed some more, napped a little bit and then New York! YAY!  Get me off this bus!!!  Last year we had our entire day mapped out.  We each made a list of where we wanted to go complete  with the address so that we could have all of our destinations organized.  This year we had no plan.  Zippo.  Except for the Rockefeller tree and Sephora of course.  This year we just wandered.  And oh what fun it was to just have no plan except to just take our time and enjoy the day and the city.  We started at Macy’s

We walked past a Payless Shoe store and decided to see if they had the same shoe’s that they did back home.  We couldn’t get past the hat section!  I have been bugging Jules to try on a style of a hat that I think she would look adorable in, she wouldn’t hear it.  Until this moment.  I tried the hat on and loved it, so it inspired her.  And she loved.  And she looked adorable.  I knew she would.  When will she learn to listen to me?

We hit Sephora’s.  We could get lost in this place testing all the shadows, perfume, so much fun.  Julie asks me to help her find a lip gloss, I picked one for her, she loved it.  So did I.  Now we have matching hats and lip color!!

Time to eat!  Yea we were hungry again.  I took us down this side street thinking it would be full of pubs and restaurants.  It was, but it was all Asian, not what Julie and I were wanting.  We circled around and ate at the restaurant at the Empire State Building.  Delicious menu.  It was our first cocktail of the day, well mine anyway.

We ordered a plate full of nachos and a chicken quesadilla.  I got her to try the guacamole, she liked it!  See Jules you DO need to listen to me more often! 

We continued down Broadway and ended up in Madison Square Park.

We eventually wandered into Union Square.  At this point we are in the “locals” section of the city.  And all along our walk we were popping in and out of the stores.  Union Square had this amazing little outdoor farmers market thing going on.  They were selling fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, baked goods, Christmas trees and wreaths.  It was incredible. I had to buy some of the local buckwheat honey, YUM!

Then it was back uptown to the New York Public Library.  If you have never been there you must go.  Stunning.

Behind the library there are very quaint little tent-shops filled with wonderful gift idea’s, for yourself or to give.  They have their own skating rink.

And their own tree.

Then we got to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Plaza to see the tree.  I just love St. Pat’s.

Remember the Dean & Deluca coffee shop that you’d get to see outside the Today show?  It’s not there!!!  We stood on corner puzzled, knowing that it should have been there when this NYC fireman approached us looking for donations for their soup kitchens. He started the conversation asking if we were the Sports Illustrated magazine models.  I told Julie we’d be recognized!!!  Hysterical laughing aside, we donated, so see, even though we laugh at people we still care!!!  Anyway, Dean & Deluca, luckily for us the little shop around the corner is still there.  So we did get our coffee and cookie break.

We shopped more and surprisingly needed more food. After our bellies were stuffed with crusty bread and onion soup we boarded the bus to head home.  Thing is, when you arrive in NYC to spend the day, you must pay attention to what the bus driver tells you.  Such as the bus number and the time and place for pick up.  We waited for 30 minutes for two ladies to return.  They never did, so we left.  Seriously!  We left them behind to fend for themselves in the big apple.  I really do hope they are well and made it home safely.  Can you imagine??

Last year we ended up in a section of NYC that we really shouldn’t have been in.  Julie told me not to make eye contact with anyone, no problem, I was too busy trying to look like I belonged in this bad section.  Yanno, kinda like mess with me and your dead kinda look?  Not so sure I pulled it off but no one bothered us.  Two years ago it was crazy cold and it snowed as we left the city.  A very heavy snow.  The ride home was awful, accidents everywhere. 

Do any of you dare run the streets in NYC with Julie and me?

Merry Christmas!

Stompin’ Grapes!!!!

I LOVE LUCY STYLE!!!   My favorite winery had a fun day of stompin grapes the old-fashioned way!  I love visiting our local wineries!

Everyone took their turn crawling into the big plastic tubs full of grapes that the winery provided.  Adults and kids alike shared stompin fun.

Except me, I’m still really achy from that blasted fall down the up escalator, I didn’t trust myself.  More like, I didn’t want to embarrass myself any further.  But I did find a huge tub of grapes that looked absolutely delicious!

Back in the day, grapes were macerated by hand or foot, which releases the juice for fermentation.  Grapes were dumped into a large stone tank where the workers crushed the fruit on the rough floor.  

It was believed that the warmth from the treaders legs helped to warm the crushed grapes and made the fermentation more successful.

This was also known as a celebration of the completion of a harvest.  And we celebrated!!

Modern vineyards use machinery such as destemmers and grape crushers that shake the grapes loose from the stem and then crush the berries.

The reds result from the mixture of skins, seeds and juice and is fermented with yeast to extract the color, flavors and tannin.  Once fermented to the desired  alcohol level, it is pressed to separate the young wine from the solids and moved to a barrel to age.

 

An afternoon with great friends, wonderful wine, and a beautiful view (minus all the wind that day), just doesn’t get any better!

Ahhh, red wine, my favorite food in the whole world…

Final Destination, Mystic, CT

Time to leave Boston and head on over to my aunt and uncle in Mystic, CT.  I love CT!  Haven’t been there in years and I’m very anxious to see the area again and visit with my family.    

So I’m waiting at the track for my train.  I met this incredibly sweet retired couple from Scotland that was visiting the states.  They too were traveling by train, must be how come I met them at the train station, their destination was Boston, NY and DC.  Their words of wisdom to me were “You Americans take so much for granted.”  And I whole heartedly agreed!

Busy busy Boston train station!

Then a pigeon wandered around.  I think he lost his ticket and was in a panic.

When this train stopped, the conductor jumped out I asked him if it was my train.  His rude response was “NO ma’am, this is NOT Amtrak.”  Well thank you very much buster and you go on and have yourself a super sweet day.

The train ride into CT was beautiful but it was raining steadily!  Saw lots of water and boats anchored out.  I loved anchoring out in lonely little coves when I lived on a boat.

It was pouring by the time I got off the train.  We went to this cute little place to eat, it was called The Mystic Market Place…… I think.  The deli/market shelves were full of products you just can’t buy at the regular grocery store.  I could have packed a suitcase with all sorts of yummy items!

We spent the day catching up and relaxing.  But the rest of the trip was busy!

We started the next day with a stroll down by the docks looking for some fresh fish.

Not this fish!!!

Then we hit the streets of Mystic.  I love the old seaport town!  The homes are beautiful.  The air is crisp and clear.  And there is water.  Sea water.  Sea water immediately relaxes me.  Maybe I should have put some in a bottle and brought it home…

Ran into this little cutie at the coffee shop.

Then we attempted to go to Stonington beach.  Just a small beach but nonetheless, a beach.  The last time I went to this beach it was for a picnic.  The storm that ensued was one of the worst lightning storms I have ever seen.  And now, here I am again, sitting in the car looking at the beach and still not able to enjoy it.  No storms today, but the winds had kicked up and were throwing waves against the rocks so hard that just attempting to get out of the car would have caused me considerable harm….I would have been soaked and possibly blown across the sandy parking area and tossed over the other cliff.  We decided to try the beach another day.

We went to the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Museum.  Wow.  We spent all afternoon learning about the indian tribe, in fact we closed the place but we still needed more time to finish everything.  Here’s a little info about what I learned:

It was rumored that the Pequot indians were not a very nice bunch, in fact, rather mean.  Dutch traders began a prosperous with the tribe in the early 1600’s.   A little later the English made their way to trade with the Pequots as well.  An english man made his way to the New England area and began to kidnap the women and children selling them into slavery.  He was quickly eliminated by the indians.  Englishmen returned looking for the heads of the indians that killed the man.  Eventually the english and the Mohegan indians attacked the Pequots practically wiping out the tribe.  Those that survived were sent into slavery, some to white men and some to other indian tribes.   In the early 1900’s there were about 66 Pequots left.  66.  Awful.   Those of you that are interested in more, google it, lots to learn, a few twists on the story depending on the website you visit but you will still get the history.

So the remaining Pequots did their thing with the federal government, got a huge piece of land, and those that could prove they  were at least 1/16th Pequot were allowed to live there.  They have a huge hotel and casino and the museum of course and this tower with views that were gorgeous.

On the drive back home we passed the eastern Pequots.  They could not prove their 1/16th and now live in poverty~shacks and run down trailers.  Sad.

The following day we hit some wineries.  My love of wine was probably home-grown within my own blood line.  My grandfather made his own wine, it just comes naturally I guess!  

Yummy wines!

We also visited a cider mill.  I have to tell you they make the very best apple cider I have EVER tasted!  We watched their entire process of making the cider. 

Had to have an apple doughnut of course and we took home apple dumplings and cider for dessert. 

We drank fresh cider as we strolled around their adorable little store.

I finally got to Stonington Beach and wiggled my toes in the sand.  Still kinda breezy but I still was in the sand!!

And then it was over.  I was back at the Mystic train station.  Saying my goodbye’s, fighting the tears, shouting I love you both before I disappeared in the train.  *insert hysterical sobbing

I just loved traveling by train to the New England area.  It’s been wonderful vacationing, sight-seeing and learning some of the history of the new England states.  I did however, end my lovely trip with a little dance on the escalator. The day I was returning home,  I did a little tumble back down the up escalator, thanks to the wheel of my suitcase getting caught.   I have the bruises to prove that a quick visit to Penn Station can be damaging to one’s ego.  Seriously though, I was in shock, the last thing I cared about was what people thought.  It was horrific.  I thought I was gonna get sucked into the New York escalator system for lunch, chewed up and spit out.  I thought I would end up making the 5 o’clock news.  I also ended up with sore muscles.  And a damaged camera.

Bruises and ouchies aside, I can’t wait to go back to New England!