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Category Archives: Summer Fun

A Look Back at 2016

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It’s time for my favorite post of the year! A look back at the past year. I really enjoyed reading the 2015 look back just now (that stuff was so long ago!)
2015 began with a bang for us-I got a job and returned to work. I can’t believe we’re coming up on a year anniversary of my first day! Obviously it’s been an adjustment in many ways for all of us (including the dog), but overall I’m so happy to be back in the field and very happy where I am. Not surprisingly, many of my hobbies took a hit from this, especially photography and sewing. I thought I’d make it up in the summer, but I didn’t.

In the spring Clark graduated from Cub Scouts and achieved the Arrow of Light. This was a big deal ceremony and we were very proud of him and happy for him. After so many years with the Cub Scout families and events it was a change for all of us to say goodbye to all of it.img_5945 Clark joined a new Boy Scout troop and has liked it very much. It began with going away to camp when summer began and continued in the fall with a few camping trips, some of which Paul went on. The best was a trip to Harpers Ferry W VA. A cool thing their troop does is have their own patch for the Appalachian Trail. You get a pin for each state you hike 6 miles of the trail in and spend a night in. In December both Paul and Clark received the patch with their first three pins on it. So far he has achieved Tenderfoot rank, which I wrote about here because of the embroidery aspect of it.
Meanwhile, Tabby and I continue along in Brownies. I’m happy that I was able to continue on being her leader, as I really enjoy our group of girls. Our troop attended our first “Camporee” and had a great time. It was not so much camping as all of us (including parents) attending an outdoor resort. We stayed in cabins and got to canoe and zipline and swim and it was all a lot of fun (even if Tabby & I were huge babies on the ropes course and got terrified.)2016-06-04-10-59-09
While Clark was at camp this summer Tabby and I took a trip to visit my dear childhood friend, Joanna, and her daughters. We enjoyed our road trip very much and spending time with our friends. We capped it off with an extra special surprise visit to the National Zoo. Tabby adores pandas and to see them in person was very exciting for her (and me!) It was super fun and special.

 

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After that it was pretty much just summer as usual, until we took our family vacation to Boston. Although I barely posted anything this year, I did write a pretty big post about that trip here.  It was a super vacation including whale watching, art, history, and the big event-Pearl Jam at Fenway Park. mosaicboston
Speaking of concerts, it was a big year of concert going for me and Paul. I wrote about all the summer/ fall concerts here. All told, I went to see the Indigo Girls, Guster, Sigur Ros, Pearl Jam (twice!), Weird Al, Kishi Bashi, Band of Horses, The Monkees, Squeeze, The Legend of Zelda (symphony), Pokemon Symphonic, Ben Folds, Ben Folds with yMusic, XPN Fest (Darlingside, David Wax Museum, The Districts), Barenaked Ladies (with Howard Jones and OMD),  Flight of the Conchords, Crash Test Dummies, and Richard Thompson. It was a good variety of music and venues and a great part of the year.2016-09-24-22-37-56

We had one other trip this year, and that was a short getaway to Watkins Glen, NY. We’re not race car fans-the allure for us is the amazing gorge there. We’d been there once before, just to hike the gorge (in the rain!), but this time we stayed in a cabin for a couple nights. It was a lovely relaxing trip that included not just hiking the gorge, but also a trip to the Corning Museum of Glass, which was awesome.mosaicwatkins

Our menagerie remains large, but this year we sadly said farewell to Nibbles. He had been losing his sturdy plumpness and got rather thin and then one day it happened. We all loved Nibbles and were sad to say goodbye to him. Nibbles

We also said farewell to my mom’s dog, Sophie. At 16 1/2 years old she had a wonderful long life, but her departure left a hole. Perhaps she’s playing somewhere with her dear old friend, Pippin. In the coop there many additions as well as deaths. Our big President Rooster died, I chased a fox across our front yard who had a chicken in his mouth-she escaped but he came back for her and her dumb friends on the following two days. There were 13 chicks hatched over the summer and it was just baby baby baby peep peep peep everywhere.2016-08-09-13-17-32
Peeping out from Mother Hen
Some babies were nurtured more than others and of the un-nurtured group, who never were taught to go in the house at night, 6 of the 7 eventually got killed. Idiots. Our rooster Baddie was dethroned as the king of the coop by a up and comer young new rooster. Gordon continues to live in harmony with his chicken friends.
Willow continued to grow and mature and although she still eats food off the counters she is a marvelous dog. Although I think we both miss the big daily walks, she is actually very happy to instead have shorter walks in the meadow where I let her run off leash.2017-01-01-15-46-40

There were, of course, other fun days here and there-a Princeton football game, a Princeton hockey game, Tabby performing as Augusta Gloop with her 4H club at the fair, visiting the aquarium in the midst of XPNFest, holidays, birthdays, and fun for me-special days at school. One especially fun new thing this year was embarking on a long term tabletop game with our friends, Liz and Eleanor. We began Pandemic Legacy, which is a very intense game in which we are working to save the world from horrible pandemics. As you play the game you affect the board, actions, and characters (you can kill some) for the duration of the year long game. We are about halfway through and all I have to say is, good thing we’re not the real CDC.

Now, although I did say I haven’t been keeping up with photography, and there’s been a sad reliance on my phone this year and lack of Flickr participation, I did set one photography project for myself that I really enjoyed. Matching the Crayola colors from the 64 box to real life flowers in my garden.

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I didn’t even keep up with my “Favorites of 2016” folder! Here’s a link to it.

All in all, it was a pretty good year. Now, the elephant in the room. I can’t talk about a year end reflection without acknowledging that since November 9 we’ve all been down in the dumps (well, the adults in the house) and had our beliefs about mankind and the world gravely shaken. I have tremendous worries and concern about the next 4 years, but I will strive to do one small part by teaching my children to show respect and kindness to people and stand up to bullies.  Although it may not feel like it, I know there are still good people in the world and good moments. Would you believe we met another Pearl Jam fan in Boston and kept in touch? I mean, how lovely is that?  And I get to be a librarian again and immerse myself in educating and sharing books with students. And I get to see my children growing up and being smart. And even though I didn’t enjoy my hobbies as much this year, I do have them! And I met my reading challenge this year (read that big recap of my top books of the year right here.) And I have a super husband who is my concert partner and biggest fan. So, that was 2016. Let’s see what happens in 2017!

Boston: Travelogue

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Last week we took a trip to Boston for an action packed 4 day vacation, which included the previously written about Pearl Jam concert.  But what else did we do that left us so tired? We arrived on Thursday late afternoon and checked in to our hotel. We were staying kind of outside the city in the midst of not much, an option that many other PJ fans were doing as well. Free parking, free shuttle to the T stop that was 2 miles away, and much cheaper than right in the heart of the city. The one thing that was by our hotel was a Boston Bowl, so we ate dinner and went candlepin bowling and had a grand time. Speaking of the T stop, we spent an awful lot of time on this trip taking the T to get here and there, including many transfers. For our kids, who live in a public transportation free area, this is easily one of the most fun parts of a city vacation. They loved it and that we rode all the lines. And let’s face it, people watching is so much better than when you just get in your car and drive to Wegmans.
On Friday we did the quintessential tourist thing and took a duck tour.2016-08-05 13.33.28 Before it started we had two hours to spend at the Museum of Science (that was the starting point of the tour) and it was a really lovely science museum. zapWe only saw part of it and would have liked to have gone back after our tour, but lunch and other things beckoned. As for the Duck Tour, I was really looking forward to this and it did not disappoint. We were driven all over the city while the knowledgeable tourguide told us all kind of interesting facts about everything we saw.IMG_6903 It was a good way to not have to walk everywhere and get a nice overview. And we did so enjoy the part where we went into the Charles River and the kids even got to drive the boat.
Afterwards we headed over to Quincy Market and got some food and ate outside and walked around and soaked up the ambience. Then went into a branch of Newbury Comics for a long time and bought new graphic novels.
We then met up with my mom, who had driven up that day. We went swimming at the adjacent hotel in the funny little incredibly deep pool, and then all refreshed and hungry, headed back into the city for a late night dinner in the North End.  Because it was late I figured we couldn’t dither around trying to compare restaurants to find just the right one. We walked briefly and I saw a place off the main street, it looked charming, they had room for all of us, so in we went. And o what vacation serendipity!! First, when I got home and looked back at emails I saw that someone had actually recommended that restaurant! (I hadn’t even noted the name.) Second, it was one of the best meals of my life. I had the cioppino and it was spicy Italian seafood heaven. My mom had the lobster ravioli which was incredibly rich and delicious. And Paul had some “four meats” thing that was Italian meat heaven. We wrapped up the night by heading into the famous Mike’s for famous cannoli.2016-08-05 22.12.01
On Saturday Paul took us over to Cambridge to Harvard Square. I should mention here that Paul used to live in Boston for a couple years, going to school, working in a bookstore in Harvard Square, buying stuff at Newbury Comics all the time, and the like. So for him it was fun to show us some things he remembered and revisit locations and see how they changed. It rained a bit here so we went to a coffee shop, I browsed a fancy stationers, we took a quick peek at the Harvard campus, and then hopped on to the T to go to the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum. My mom and I had put this high on our list of Boston sights, though I’m not really sure why. I think just that I had always heard it was a good museum, plus it had the fascinating unsolved robbery many years ago. [We did not see the empty frames notes in that linked article.] It was a beautiful and quiet museum, and a lovely way to spend an afternoon.Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum View from above We all enjoyed imagining that we were super rich people in the late 19th century who collected art.
After that mom headed back to the hotel while we took the kids over to Fenway Park to check that out and buy some official Pearl Jam merch.Welcome to Fenway That evening the kids enjoyed more swimming and dinner with mom while Paul and I went out to a viewing of the Friday night concert. The next day, Sunday, was a big one. We had tickets to go whale watching at 10, leaving out of the aquarium wharf. It was clear and sunny and the big boat was nice. It took about an hour to drive away from the city, though we could still see it on the horizon. We reached the Stellwagen Marine Sanctuary, an area where humpback whales naturally congregate to feed in nutrient rich waters and, a whale!Look! A Whale! For the next hour we saw humpback whales in groups of 2,3, and 4, as well as alone, doing all the things you might expect. Humpback Whale
FlukeIt was truly exciting to see them so close and humongous, to see their beautiful flukes as they dove, great sprays of mist from their blowholes, and so on. I’m so glad we did this because it was amazing. 2016-08-07 11.45.54When we returned to the dock we went into the aquarium to enjoy that for a while. Due to it being insanely crowded, we enjoyed and explored this wonderful aquarium much less than we wanted to. It’s clearly a way better aquarium than the one we usually go to, but we were only able to see all the many adorable penguins (being hand fed) and the great big center tube deep ocean thing with a spiral ramp going around it for four floors. I loved this and really, we all did and it was very satisfying.
Then it was time to head back to the hotel, refresh, and say goodbye to the kids and mom while Paul and I headed out to the concert. Which you can read all about here.
The next day we had planned on just coming home, but instead we made it another full vacation day. We said goodbye to mom and got back on the T for one more city outing. This time we went to the Public Garden, where it was, to our pleasant surprise, uncrowded and peaceful. Boston's Public GardenWe admired the famous swan boats and took a pleasant ride on one. Then we saw the statues of the famous Make Way for Duckings. Make Way for DucklingsWe then walked a few blocks into Chinatown, which is always fun. When I saw a fabric shop I insisted on going in. Quite a different experience from  Pennington Quilt Works.2016-08-08 11.53.45 I bought a length of beautiful fabric which who knows what I will do with. Then, more vacation serendipity, Paul looked up what the best place to eat there was and it was right there and even though super tiny, we only had to wait a couple minutes. The menu was so fascinating I could have sat their reading it for 15 minutes.2016-08-08 12.19.07 I did not get sauteed blood and leeks, but rather Ma Po Tofu, and we got lots of delicious dumplings.
After that we headed out of the city, collected our car, and headed home….almost. It was only 40 minutes to Plymouth so we decided to go there and visit Plimoth Plantation for an hour. A wrong turn took us not to the plantation but right into town and Plymouth Rock, which turned out even better. More serendipity! A parking space right along the water right by Plymouth Rock.Plymouth Rock We admired the small rock, climbed some stairs to a beautiful view, marveled that the island right off the shore was called Clark’s Island, went down to the docks and looked at the Mayflower II and enjoyed the lovely harbor.Mayflower II
Mayflower II
We capped it off with some really awesome ice cream from a place with an extensive list of creative homemade flavors and finally buckled in for the very long drive home. Very long. We got home about 1 am (but I’d rather waste a night than a day driving!)
All in all it was a great vacation, very tiring, but we did and saw so many things.

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Summer Fun

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Since Clark’s birthday we’ve been having a pretty routine summer. It’s been hot. We ate ice cream. We went to the beach. We went to concerts. Etc. Here’s the highlights/pictures:
We had a unexpected and great beach day with our good friend Mary Lynn.
Belmar BeachShe invited us to go with her to Belmar to see a sandcastle building contest. The day was grey and overcast and apparently it rained all afternoon here at home. But at beach…the sun came out after a little while and it was gorgeous. 2016-07-13 13.22.02-2 2016-07-13 11.38.01Our first foray into the ocean this summer and the water was a glorious temperature, crystal clear, and the waves just right for frolicking.
The sandcastle creations were also really cool to see. The kids (and Mary Lynn) were vastly entertained and delighted that someone made a giant poop emoji.Poop emoji sand I especially liked this one.World on a turtle back We don’t get to the beach very often, but I”m so glad we can go when we want to. (This particular beach is probably what most people think of when they think of the Jersey shore-pretty crowded and good people watching. It was so fun! And as ML pointed out, it’s nice that some things just never change. There’s always some teenage boys playing football in the waves, some little kids digging, and everyone swimming in the same way.)Tabby, down the shoreClark ended up spending the whole weekend down the shore with friends. While he was gone we had a great night out roller skating with Tabby. She loves to skate and I love how completely unupdated the roller rink is.

Somewhere in there were concerts-one for just Paul, one for all of us, and one for the two of us Steel Stacks. As you know, we’ve been loving Bethlehem and Steel Stacks for the past year. This was my first concert there, though Paul has been to more. The concert was Ben Folds, who is a favorite, and he was playing with a group called yMusic. You can read Paul’s detailed write up here. For me here’s the big takeaway–the last time we saw Ben Folds was at PNC Arts Center, a pretty big venue. I could not believe that this was a stage set up in front of the steel stacks and we could literally walk right up to it. There were only two people between me and the barrier. Ben played his piano and the center rear of the stage so he actually wasn’t as close to me as he could have been, except at the end when they all took a bow. Ben Folds @ Steel Stacks Still, it felt like a private concert at a party with a couple hundred people. I couldn’t believe was a small venue and crowd it was and the show was great. It really was a thrill! And the Steel Stacks looked gorgeous at night, all lit up.Ben Folds @ Steel Stacks

We also went to a concert as a family-Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions. We had heard about this a year or so ago and this year when we saw it was playing at the Mann Center, we decided to buy tickets (when we were there for a different show.) The date of the show happened to be just a couple days after Pokemon Go was released, so there was an especial Pokemon fan fervor going on that was a lot of fun. There was some cosplay and basically everyone else was wearing some kind of Pokemon attire.
Pokemon Symphony This show turned out to be a lot of fun. The Pittsburgh Symphony was playing and I just don’t understand how the acoustics were so good at an outdoor venue. They sounded amazing! The music was beautiful. Our seats were in the balcony and were in cool wooden boxes. Behind the symphony was a big screen that showed the game play through the evolution of it.Pokemon SymphonyThe encore were the songs that had words, including crowd favorite sing along “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” (Which, I would include right here, but I don’t know how to insert from Instagram, which is where I shared the edited video.So, uh, I guess follow me on Instagram if you like?)

As for keeping busy elsewhere, Tabby just finished up a week at the beloved nature camp, while I finished a week of doing the craft station at vacation Bible school.

Odds n’ ends-I chose this hot week to take up running again and am slowly working my way up to going a tiny bit further each day. I am rereading one of my all time favorite books and am in a daydream most of the time, thinking of it. Three hens are broody and so we are not getting any eggs (but will maybe have more chicks soon?) And we have a possibly very fun weekend lined up, if we don’t all expire in the heat!
Me and a buffy

Bei Bei

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Tabby and I took our own trip this week, down to Virginia to visit my oldest friend, Joanna, and her girls. We had a marvelous time, accomplishing all the things on my “I want to do” list, which included nothing educational, historic, or strenuous. We did our nails, watched tv, hung out, went out to lunch, went shopping, told old jokes and stories, and just enjoyed being together. It was wonderful and super relaxing. Here we are all the girls together:2016-06-29 17.51.49

And here we are–over 30 years as friends!2016-06-30 16.46.19-1

The day before we left I realized that I should have planned one particular thing and decided to be spontaneous and do it on Friday, since we really didn’t need to be home at a particular time. As you might have noticed, Tabby’s favorite animal is the panda. We have talked about how much she would like to see them, but, as we are not going to China, would need to go to the National Zoo to see a real panda. Duh! We were only 45 minutes from the zoo! On Friday morning, instead of driving straight back home, Tabby and I went to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Oh, she was so excited!! And oh, was it ever worth it.
Tabby & Panda
As soon as we arrived we walked straight over to the pandas. I was getting a bit worried because we didn’t see them and then we saw a crowd with cameras all pointed in the same direction and saw the baby, Bei Bei, way up in a tree. Being adorable. His chubby self draped over branches. Moving around. Oh what a sight!

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After that we just poked around. We loved seeing an orangutan using the “O-line”-man-made vines the orangutans can use to get from one area to another, right over your heads out in the open. Tabby loved the reptile house (which I hate, but manage by taking off my glasses so I can’t see anything and standing safely in the middle. Since this outing was a special thing all for her, I was being a saint and letting her do whatever she wanted.) We also really enjoyed an exhibit that was scattered throughout the zoo. The pieces were sculptures of ocean animals made entirely from trash found on the beaches.
Sea Lion
So, it’s horrifying to see all the things that have washed ashore,  yet as a sculpture it’s awesome to see how they were able to use the trash to make all the color and details just right.
Chompers the Tiger Shark

Another treat was the carousel. Now, the #1 carousel we’ve ever seen was in Brussels (before kids) and included strange  and creepy creatures. But this one is going to be a close second for my new favorite. It included beautiful renditions of animals they have at the zoo. And not your standard lions, and tigers, and bears. How about–naked mole rat? fennec fox? cuttlefish?
National Zoo Carousel
Tabby chose the panda, of course.
National Zoo Carousel

Another highlight was seeing this:Mr. Beazley.

I was so startled by this and recognized it so instantly and was overcome by surprise emotions and, well, I cried. This dinosaur used to be on the Mall in front of the museum of Natural History. I can remember climbing around it as a child (we visited D.C. fairly often, it seems) and a family photo that I love is one of my (very young) dad and the three of us, next to this dino. I had no idea they still had it, much less that it was here at the zoo.2016-07-01 14.14.05 And to make it even better, I didn’t know that this dino was the model for the dino in the movie version of The Enormous Egg. This is a book that was a favorite of mine and I didn’t even know there was a movie of it.
We returned to the pandas and this time went into the building where all four were hanging out. Oh my God, was Tabby ever excited. Bei Bei was napping in his little room, but the others were all eating bamboo and looking cute. Even tumbling over.
Tabby & Panda

The happiest girl there that day

So overall, we had a wonderful special day, just the two of us, at the zoo.
Tabby & Sarah at the National Zoo
And even though it made our drive home long (traffic is just a nightmare down there, good grief) it was so worth it. And of course our trip to the zoo ended with a special souvenir and Tabby chose a stuffed Bei Bei.

Willow welcomed me home in the most adoring and excited manner I have ever been greeted. Holy cow she missed me and was so happy I came back. And now today Clark will come home and we can’t wait to see him and hear all about his week at camp!

It’s Summer!

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Hooray! Summer is finally here! I am so excited to be able to get back to writing here, reading, and I’m especially looking forward to sewing. We’ve only had 4 days of summer vacation so far, and most of that has been spent tidying up the house so that we can then do those nice relaxing things. Here we all were on the last day of school:
Last Day of School!
Last Day of School!
Last Day of School!
Yes, all of us! Because it was my last day too. I will be working a few days over the summer, but I will mostly be enjoying myself. Willow is already happy to have a return to morning walks and me around. I’m very happy to have my first half a year under my belt, and that I have my job to return to in September. Going back to work, and in a school, was definitely the right decision for me, but I’d be a big liar if I didn’t say I wasn’t super happy on the last day of school. It was a lot of fun being caught up in the end of the year stuff: a talent show to watch, a family picnic to attend, a teacher-student kickball game to play in, a field day to watch. It was a lot of very merry stuff going on. And people asked me to sign their yearbooks! It was a big deal end of year for Clark because next year he starts…middle school! Gasp! I can’t even believe it.
Last Day of School!Speaking of Clark and “can’t believe my little boy is so old”, he is presently away for his first time at sleepaway camp. Well, Boy Scout camp, so with his troop, but yes, gone away without us for a week! I hope he has a great time and doesn’t miss us at all.

So, it’s been a while since I’ve written and I have a lot to catch up on, so I’m going to break it up into some categorized posts. So this can just be the intro to a big summertime batch!

 

O Canada! (Pt. I-Niagara Falls)

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Niagara Falls//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsBecause our school started so late this year we were able to take a summer vacation in September. The trip was built around being in Toronto on a certain date, and since we all loved our Niagara Falls trip two years ago we planned to drive there and spend the night before continuing on our way.  Although we were not planning on doing much more than seeing the falls, we ended up having a very marvelous time there and cramming quite a bit in. We arrived in late afternoon and walked around the falls. Seeing the falls was just as magnificent as we remembered.  It was a bit overcast, but when the sun broke through the water was a gorgeous blue-green, rainbows popped up, the Maid of the Mist bobbed around down below like a little toy boat, and it was all spectacular.   The Maid of the Mist looks like a tiny toy boat//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Niagara Falls//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsSmug Seagulls at Niagara Falls//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
After dinner we ended up doing something we never do, which was enjoying over-the-top gaudy, tacky, arcade/boardwalk like amusements. It was so much fun! This one street in Niagara Falls (Clifton Hill) is just ridiculously all the tourist things you might see in other places-Ripley’s, a was museum, neon arcades, etc. It’s all very noisy and bright.
Neon lights of Niagara//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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We only intended to use our complimentary voucher for a few minutes in an arcade, but ended up all having so much fun together that we allowed it to get late before walking past the falls on our way back to the hotel (where we crammed in a 10 minutes swim because if there’s a hotel pool we’re going to use it!). They were not as gloriously lit as we had thought they’d be. In the morning we of course had Tim Horton’s doughnuts for breakfast and then the plan was to walk across the bridge back into the U.S. and check out the American side, specifically where we had seen people in yellow slickers walking along the bottom of the falls. It was so foggy and cloudy that the tall Skylon Tower outside our hotel, looked like it was in Cloud City. Cloud City//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
This ended up being so much fun, so interesting, and taking so much longer than we thought (uh, I think the “short walk” was really like 3 miles at least.) To cross the bridge into the U.S. you pay a 50 cent toll and walk through a turnstile. We had our passports with us because it’s a proper border crossing on the other side, though very easy. The international border is halfway across the bridge. Here’s Clark in the U.S. and Tabby in Canada:
the American side of the Falls//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsHere’s a view from the bridge-the U.S. is to the left and Canada to the right. IMG_4413  One of the very beautiful things on the American side of the falls (Horseshoe Falls is the Canadian side, Bridal Veil the American) is that you can walk along the river and see how idyllic and lovely it looks. Then turn your head and see that if you were swimming or canoeing in that part that looked so nice, you would be quickly swept over the falls that are not far away at all! We got tickets to the Cave of the Winds and got suited up in ponchos and non skid sandals. We took an elevator down 18 floors and you are allowed to walk around all the stairs and decks built into the base of the falls.  It quickly became apparent why footwear was issued as soon as we started walking around-the water and spray are pouring and splashing right out onto everything. You can reach your hand out and stick it right in the falls (and for the record, that water was super cool and refreshing.) I want to know-how did they build this? It’s not like they turned off the falls to do it. So they had to build this in the midst of gushing forceful water. the American side of the Falls//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
The “Hurricane Deck” was especially neat-a spot where the falls are just pummeling you.
the American side of the Falls//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsAfterwards we returned to the top and followed the path so that we were now the ones at the top of the falls, looking down at the yellow poncho people where we had just been. the American side of the Falls//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
I think the thing that amazes me about all the falls is that it’s so sudden. It’s not a gradual drop-off, it’s a sheer plummet.
the American side of the Falls//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Also, the water is relentless and never stops flowing or slows down. After a well deserved ice cream we began the long trudge back into Canada.
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We fetched our car then and headed off around Lake Ontario to Toronto. For something that was just meant to be a short stop along the way, we had a marvelous time seeing the falls again and felt like we got a really different view by crossing back in and checking out the American side.

A Sweet Trip to Hershey

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We enjoyed what felt like a days away vacation this week, but was actually just one very jam packed exciting day and night. I haven’t been to Hersheypark in probably 30 years and didn’t remember much beyond the chocolate world tour. With Willow we’ve been sticking close to home this summer, so it also felt pretty exciting to be gone for more than a few hours. [Willow went to a friend’s house where she enjoyed playing with their dogs-it was a vacation for her, too!.] We left on a Tuesday afternoon, checked in at our hotel, and headed out to dinner. I had read about a place that was a bar with good reviews for food. I wasn’t so sure about taking the kids in, but we didn’t get dirty looks, so it was fine. And we got to try the most interesting appetizer I’ve seen: “sausages in honey.” We ordered it specifically because someone recommended it in a review. And it was exactly that-spicy smoked sausage slices in a dish of warm liquidy honey. It was delicious! You can use your park tickets the night before (a “preview” night) so we headed in to the park for a sneak peek. It got us quite excited for the next day. We rode the bumper cars, went up the Kissing Tower, and a couple other rides.

In the morning we got to the park and were dismayed at how completely crowded it was at the entrance. Yikes! On a random Wednesday!
Chocolate WorldWe visited the Chocolate World for a bit and then headed in to the park. Tabby and I kicked off the fun with a ride on The Comet-a bumpy fast wooden roller coaster. A couple more rides and then it was back to Chocolate World to use our tickets for the “Create Your Own Chocolate Bar” experience. I’m glad this was recommended to me because it was actually a lot of fun. You design what you want in your chocolate bar and watch it move along the production line. Designing our own chocolate bars at #hersheypark #hersheyparkhappy

It all starts with a chocolate bar baseClark watches his bar receive his custom ingredients

The final enrobingThen you design the wrapper and at the end you get your bar in a nice keepsake tin with the wrapper around it. Fun to do, neat to see, and a delicious souvenir.
Create your own Hershey arWe also enjoyed the tip that it was better to eat lunch there-less crowded, not too expensive, and tasty. So we had lunch, enjoyed looking at mountains of candy for sale and this awesome sculpture (Twizzler Tut!) Behold! Twizzler King Tur! #hersheyparkhappy #hersheypark #twizzler #candysculpture ure and then headed back into the park to buckle down to some serious rides. The wooden roller coasters were wonderful. We even got Clark to go on one and even though he was really scared, as soon as it ended he said he loved it and asked to do it again. So we did. It was the Lightning Racers and two trains depart at the same time on tracks that whiz past each other. Clark and I rode on one, and Tabby and Paul on the other. And it was so much fun to zoom past each other, screaming, and see each other! Lightning RacerYou know how at carnivals and fairs and parks you always see people walking around with oversized stuffed animals they won? I’ve never won anything or had anything won for me, so I found it delightful when Paul set about trying to win for Clark a gigantic Pikachu. Tabby and I left to go ride another gigantic and thrilling wooden roller coaster and when we came back…success! Pikachu, I choose YOU And Paul was in the process of winning one for Tabby, too. She chose Squirtle. They were both so, so happy and I’m sure that is something they will always remember. Big win
It was a wonderful day and we fully enjoyed all the rides we wanted to, ice cream, and people watching. We left at 9 and were home by 11:30, feeling like we’d just had a full vacation.
on the Starship

IMG_4134Mr Ferris and his Wheel

Clark is a Twizzler

a Hershey's Kiss