Saturday, September 16, 2017

Roller Coaster Road Trip 2017: Niagara Falls

Here's a prepared for a picture-filled post...

When I last left off on our 8-day journey, we had been at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.  We had ridden twenty-three roller coasters in the first four days, and for the next two and a half days we'd be slowing it down a bit.  That wasn't a bad thing of course because we were headed to a place I've wanted to go to since I was a child...Niagara Falls...before heading up to Toronto, our last stop.

The day was Thursday and we packed ourselves up from that beautiful cabin on Lake Eerie and headed northwest towards our destination.  Along the way I had an idea...hey, you guys wanna stop in Buffalo for some real Buffalo wings?  Hey, when in Rome!  We had to pass through Buffalo to get to where we were going anyway and it would be right around lunchtime when we did, so.  The boys agreed and a quick Internet search had us heading to Anchor Bar, a place claiming to be the home of the original Buffalo wing.   

We finally arrived at the Anchor around 12;30 and the place was buzzing.  A quick 20-minute wait and we were all seated and ready to order.  All I can say is wow....great, meaty wings!  Probably the meatiest wings and some of the tastiest I've ever had.  With full bellies, we headed out to Niagara Falls and Alice in Wonderland.

Now I mentioned Alice in Wonderland because the house we were renting via AirBnB on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls was themed after Lewis Carroll's famous tale.  More on that in a little. In planning for this trip, I had heard from many people that the Canadian side of the Falls is much livelier than the American side.  From what we saw on our side, this is absolutely true.  Good choice!

Since we weren't able to check in to our rental until 5 p.m., we had a good three hours or so to explore the town of Niagara and of course, the Falls.  Our first sight of the famous cascades came upon crossing the bridge after the border crossing.  Like with any natural wonder, I am sure, that initial view of the Falls filled me with wonder and a strong desire to see it up close.  

My first impression of the city of Niagara Falls and Clifton Hill was that is was a busy entertainment center built around the attraction meant for families, and others, to enjoy.  Restaurants, miniature golf courses, haunted mansions, souvenir shops, ice cream parlors and even a couple of casinos lined the streets leading down towards the main attraction.  There was plenty for all to do once the wonder of the Falls had worn its initial appeal.  

Once we'd found a place to park the car, it was time to explore.  After making a quick trip to Starbucks for a cup of iced coffee and to charge our engines, we headed on down the hill towards the giant wonder.  For the next 2-3 hours, we took in as much as we could.  The sight of the falls was something to see, the kind of thing that's hard to take your eyes off of as you walk along the promenade of the Niagara Parkway.  Stopping at virtually anywhere along the path, the Rainbow Bridge, connecting two countries, is to your left, the American Falls is across the river and the Bridal Veil and Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side straight up ahead and to the left.  Breathtaking all around!

Once we'd taken it all in, we decided to see what attractions within the Falls we could do at this time of the day.  We had already decided that we wanted to take the Journey Behind the Falls, one of the boat tours (Hornblower is the boat operator on the Canadian side.  Maid of the Mist, which I had heard of before, is on the American side.), and zip lining.  Going behind the Falls turned out to be the only option for us that evening, and it was hella cool!

As was our mood all afternoon long, this little excursion brought out the wonder in each of watch the rushing water from behind the Falls was awe-inspiring and then to go down onto the 'deck' to see the giant waterfall from below...spectacular!  

Well I'm going to stop right here because there was lots more to come on our little 36 hour trip to this wonderful place.  Stay tuned as we check in and check out Alice in Wonderland, get a whole new perspective on the Falls at night, and even check out a beautiful whirlpool up the Niagara River.  And in the meantime, be sure to check out my previous entries on this awesome Roller Coaster Road Trip 2017:

Monday, September 4, 2017

Summer's End: A Reflection on Living Life & Rejuvenation

It's last few hours before it's all over. Yeah, yeah, I know you all feel so bad for me and the rest of us teachers out there who are all getting back to real life after about 9 weeks of summer vacation. Well, while I do agree that summer is a great perk of the job, it is a much needed respite after ten straight months of, well, non-stop craziness, at least for me. Recharging is exactly what the doctor ordered.

I'm not speaking here to extol nor to defend the virtues of working in education, though. As I like to do every so often, I am here tonight to express appreciation and gratitude for my life. Having not worked in the summer for the first time in my teaching career, I had the total pleasure of experiencing life in a myriad of ways this time around, and for that, I am eternally grateful...and proud!

Where do I begin? I had so many pleasurable experiences over the summer that seem too innumerable to list. Dinners with friends, kayaking, parties and bbq's, the Roller Coaster Road Trip, camping, the beach, deep conversations, Philly, new friends, dancing, Fire Island, and even a semi-steady summer romance are just some of the many pleasures in life I got to enjoy this summer. I am a very lucky person!

Earlier today, and this was not the first time, someone said to me, "look there, the man who's really living life." I always say to this, "Who, me? Nah, it just looks that way on Facebook." Really, though, it is partially true. I live my life as I see it through my own eyes and that's where the proud part comes in. If a friend suggests an activity, I usually jump right in. Taking what comes your way is really a great way to get to experience life, to make memories that will stay with me to the very end. I know so many people who've got hangups, so many who waste their days in front of the television sets or just being 'bored.' To me, that's kind of sad and I could never imagine myself being that way.

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My friend Rich is always telling me that I need to say no sometimes. He's right, but not totally. Yes, I've always got more on my plate than I can sometimes handle, and I'm always running against the clock, always in a rush, but once I am at whatever thing I have scheduled with someone, I usually find the enjoyment in it. Even when things go awry on a jaunt, at least I have a great story to tell.

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So as I get ready for the first day of school tomorrow, I go into it once again with a fresh mind and happy memories that will carry me to the next summer. No, life is not over (except maybe the sleeping late part, lol). It simply continues through a different means. There are still good times yet to be had, and I intend to make the most of those that come my way.

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So to all of my teacher friends out there, I hope that you have all lived a little this summer and appreciated every moment. May the new school year bring out the best in all of us as a result of our blessings. See you all soon!

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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Roller Coaster Road Trip 2017: Lighthouse Point at Cedar Point

As I spoke about in my last post, our visit to Cedar Point was the ultimate in roller coaster fun, but that wasn't the only great thing about that stop.  For all of our other stays on this trip, we used AirBnB for lodging, but for here, and at Gary's suggestion, we stayed on the grounds of The Point and it was spectacular!

Lighthouse Point is an area within the Cedar Point property that consists of an RV camp, cottages and cabins.  We opted to rent one of the cabins, just steps from the shores of Lake Eerie.  The rental was a little pricey, but oh so worth it.  The three of us had left Cincinnati early in the day and as we made our way up to Sandusky, my curiosity about our digs was piqued.  Gary had described it to us beforehand, but it was hard to picture just what it would be like.  All I can say is wow!  

The cabins are located just outside the park (a five-minute walk), towards the northern tip of the peninsula.  There's a common area swimming pool, a deck, and a barbecue just outside of each lodging, and the place itself is charming and clean.  It was nice to be able to escape the crowds of the park for a couple of hours and enjoy a swim, some relaxation and even some home-cooked BBQ. Oh, and discounted tickets to the park are also available to guests of Lighthouse Point.

Well, there's not much more to say about the place, except if you're ever planning on a multi-day visit to Cedar Point, this place is so worth the visit.  Check out some more pictures of the cabins of Lighthouse Point...

the front door

inside the entrance


Gary relaxing on the deck

A view from the grounds

Rich having a giggle

Gary grillin'

So that's about it for Cedar Point.  Be sure to check out previous posts on our adventure and stay tuned for Niagara Falls...