Friday, October 23, 2015

Niagara - Canadian style .... and Laundry Day with the Amish, Part 2

Following this post.

We diverted up to Niagara Falls, armed with the popular advice to view it from the Canada side.  The reason, which we quickly discovered, is because you can see it better.  Canada faces it. happily assisted us in booking a reasonably priced room in a hotel overlooking the roaring falls.   (Btw, we learned that, Expedia, Priceline, etc. are all owned by the same company.  "They're all the same", said one chatty hotel clerk.)  When we checked in, the cute little gal at the desk offered us a free upgrade.

"We're not very busy." she said.  Then upon learning where we live, she said she used to live in Oregon and named a small town within minutes of home.  With that, she then offered us another upgrade for a small added cost.  17th floor.  Overlooking the falls.   Um, okay.......

BAM!  The view from our room:

There are actually four falls, two are too small to remember their names, then American Falls on the left, and Horseshoe Falls on the right.

 Thus we spent two days and nights gawking from our window, just below the Vanderbilts, or whomever happened to be hobnobbing in the penthouse suites above.  There were even fireworks the second night .... the last of the season before they turn off the lights, shut off the falls, and everyone migrates to Florida ..... kidding.

That's me, in the light-colored top, waving, and Dear Friends are three windows to the right.
Niagara Falls (the city) is interesting.  In front and on both sides of us was scenery beyond description.  Behind us, was this:

And this .....


And we were serenaded by this .... for hours ...... but he was actually pretty good.

But redeeming features of this city, were a just a head-turn away:

We ate dinner in that tall Space Needle look-alike.  The view, as you can imagine, was spectacular.

But back to the falls.
These boats were constantly toting about loads of tourists, cowering under rain gear.  

As we walked the half mile, or so, along the shore from our hotel to the top of the falls, we went from comfortably dry weather to chilly drizzle.  The mist threatened to inflict some serious frizz, so I was glad I had a hood with a draw-string.

Husband and Dear Friends

Now from noisy glitz to quiet simplicity....

Pennsylvania was not on our route, but we managed to find some Amish communities in Ohio.

We stayed in a lovely historic hotel in Millersburg.

The lobby
The next day we found quilts, antiques, pie .... and I found puppies.

Take a moment ....
We drove around seeing neat-as-a-pin Amish farms.  It was a Monday, which we all decided MUST be Laundry Day because everyone had their clothes drying outside.

There was a tiny town called Charm.   (I'm not kidding.)

Interesting fact:  Amish men grow a beard (no mustache) after they are married.  
I visited a store where they don't sell their crafts to tourists, but where they shop for themselves.

The men's department.  Plain and dark.
Fabric.  Solid colors only.  
I thought these little boys' overalls were adorable.  
I honor any religion that worships God and is respectful to others.  I don't know much about their theology, but I respect their simple, modest, hard-working lifestyle.  Should the "Grid" fail ..... and we lose power, the web, and fuel sources, and find ourselves panicked and disconnected from our lives of convenience -- we should all (somehow) high-tail to the Amish where I can imagine them rolling their eyes at us, and then inviting us in for a warm home-cooked meal.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Dear Oregon ..... Sorry to tell you .... Part One

Husband and I, along with Dear Friends Alan and Judy, recently returned from two weeks in New England where we went with the purpose of:   1. Seeing the famous autumn leaves and visiting places to which we've never been, and 2.  Connecting with our religious history.   This post is dedicated to my new love .... Maine.  Part two comes next.

And not just Maine, but Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and even New Jersey .... and every other state in the vicinity.  So I must confess to my home state of Oregon, about which I have bragged my entire adult life  .... I have been unfaithful to you.  I left my heart (to quote Tony Bennett) on the shores of the Atlantic in the small village of Camden, Maine.  But first .....


Our trip started out with one day in the Big Apple, New York City.

We did a tour of Ellis Island, crossing it off my bucket list.  Not as impactive as I had hoped, but definitely worth seeing.  It's accessible by a short boat ride that takes you right under her loveliness, the Statue of Liberty.

The tour led us through the process that thousands of our fore bearers walked as they entered our country legally.  The tour thoroughly impressed upon our minds, the fear and wonder of those brave people who left everything familiar to sail to a new land, and how terrified they were of being sent back to Europe.  (The truth is, only a small percentage were denied entrance.)

Where they waited in line.
 Interesting tidbit:    Some babies were born on this island as their parents processed through the immigration inspections.  But Ellis Island was not considered part of the U.S., therefore, those babies were not yet citizens.  It was encouraging to learn how, for the most part, the immigrants were treated humanely and even kindly.  Many charitable groups visited the island to bring food, play music, and to add to the immigrants' comfort.  If they were sick, they were hospitalized (all on the island) and nursed to health, if possible.  Some had to remain there for weeks before being released into their new home, America.

We also stopped by the tragic site of the former World Trade Center towers and the beautiful memorial fountains where the buildings once stood.

 The names of all the victims are imprinted along the wall, including the fact that unborn children also died that day.  (Side note:  I will never understand why some unborn children are considered victims when their lives are violently taken by terrorists and others, who are destroyed by abortions, are not.  Trust me, THAT will be another post.)

Then on to check one off Husband's bucket list -- the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Disclaimer:  I am not an art connoisseur.  I mean, I respect old stuff..... I do ..... because it's old and still around.  I get that.  But nothing there was familiar.  No Mona Lisa.  No Washington Crossing the Delaware.   There were, however, lots of naked people ..... meaning paintings and statues.  Sheesh.  Put some clothes on, please.    I much preferred the Smithsonian and so my opinion of the "Met" probably should be ignored.  But the building itself, was fabulous.

Times Square!  Central Park!  Oh yeah!  Visual overload to the max!  This was our second visit to this amazing city and someday we'll get there when it's not raining.  Someday.
Borrowed this pic off the web.
Finally, before we move on, Yours Truly has experienced a New York subway.  Yup.  It's a somewhat-grungy but necessary, people-moving wonder but I must say, I prefer traveling above ground.  However, I did appreciate the woman proclaiming to the captive, albeit tuned out, audience of commuters, of her faith in God and His Bible.  I gave her a smile and a thumbs up.  Good for her.

Then we headed north and the magic began, in spite of the semi-lack of abundant color.

"The leaves are late this year.  We had a really warm September."... we were told several times.

Nevertheless, we saw Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine including a host of towns and villages with names I can't remember.  We drove through Portland .... the other Portland, visiting a few of its historic light houses

 ..... and although the leaves were "late" -- the homes, the architecture, THE CHARM was overwhelming.  It seemed as if every home sprang off the pages of a story book.  The term "tract home" is probably an unknown entity there.  Nothing pre-fab.  Just clapboard and brick, gables and shutters, window boxes and brightly painted front doors.  And it went on and on.  Home after home, building after building, town after town.  Pride of ownership was everywhere.  Lawns were green and mowed.   Chrysanthemums and pumpkins celebrated the season on porches.

This one got a little carried away.  Try to ignore the Halloween spiders.
Then we happened upon Camden, Maine.  This was where I gave up the fight.

"It's no use, Oregon Dear.  You lose.  You can't compare to this."

The quintessential white church with the tall steeple.  Every town had one or two.

Husband and Dear Friends wandered off with their cameras, and I meandered along the main street marveling at the charm.  The shops weren't full of touristy trinkets.  They held lovely woolen blankets, linens, tasteful home decor, yarns, stationery, and leather goods, along with an occasional high-end sporting goods store (my kind of fashion).

And then there was Woodstock, Vermont.  Too much traffic clogging the streets, but the buildings ....
See what I'm talkin' about? (Caught a brief moment between trucks, cars, and tourist buses.)


Another favorite spot of mine was our room in Trenton, ME, just a few miles outside of Acadia National Park.  We stayed two nights at the Open Hearth Inn, in one of the large, newer (1970s) upper rooms.  The extra touches by the proprietors who truly cared, were noted and appreciated, including the home-made muffins each morning.

Me, Madame Proprietor, and the muffins.
Open Hearth Inn, built in 1830.  (We stayed in another building behind it.)  I happily gave them a generous review on Trip Advisor.
 It sat across the street from a campground overlooking a bay, and both mornings I (with my muffin) walked over there alone, to soak up some early Maine sunshine.

Next door was a three-generation-owned-and-run, cluttered but homey restaurant that featured, like every other eatery in this state -- lobster.  Oh yes.  Melted butter and all.  We ate there twice.

Acadia was a visual wonder, seeming to be entirely situated upon one mammoth granite slab.

  Another interesting fact:  Very few actual beaches there.  They don't have sand like we have on the west coast.

Their sand comes from ground shells and is more coarse.   
We also spent an afternoon in Bar Harbor visiting the endless shops while the guys tested out the local golf course.

Crossing the bar at Bar Harbor.  It leads to an island and is under water in high tide.  (The bar, not the island.)

We may have been early for the leaves, but not for this.  Sunset in Acadia.

The weather was perfect.  And by the time we hit Vermont, the leaves were strutting their colors.

Vermont.  Another borrowed picture.    
My Official Leaf Assessment:  New England leaves are stunning.  No question.  But compared to ours in the Pacific NW ..... I have decided that the naturally-growing foliage that covered the hills and valleys for miles and miles, meaning non-human-planted ..... was better in the East.  More variety of color.   The trees that are human-planted for landscaping and along streets, chosen specifically for their color, are better here.  However, this assessment is subject to change and definitely needs another trip east for further research.  I am here to serve..... and I am hankering for more lobster. 


As I said, Maine wins.  The whole state was one big post card.  Cold winters, you say?  Yeah, apparently so .... because many of the tourist-supported businesses were just days away from shutting down for the season, allowing their owners to escape to Florida till spring.   But I kept thinking ..... with a wood stove and plenty of firewood, and as long as I didn't have to actually GO anywhere ..... I could really do the whole boots and sweaters, soup, hot cocoa, and knitting thing.   I mean, they plow the roads, right?  We have a 4-wheel drive.   And Maine needs more Republicans.  Sounds like a win-win to me.

Next post:  The Canadian version of Niagara Falls and laundry day with the Amish.  Scroll up or click here.