Saturday, December 14, 2013

Morning Comes Electra

Part of the Lobby

Cold road going down to the Falls though pretty at night with blue snowflakes
See bottom photo. Wish I took that myself but a tripod is needed

Didn't take the tram

One of the wineries we visited

The start of Lake Ontario

Steve outside of breakfast place

Korean Lantern Festival

No I didn't read the play or maybe anything by Eugene O'Neill. Here in the Midwest, mourning and morning are pronounced the same so my fractured title works...sort of. But Electra came and is coming with about 4 inches so far with lots to come.

 Good thing we are not travelling today though we had lake effect snow as we drove along the Niagara River up north towards Niagara-On-the-Lake yesterday obscuring our view of the chasm.  It did clear up a bit while we visited the wineries included in our deal. I mainly was interested in tasting ice wines. The grapes are allowed to freeze then thaw then freeze over and over forming some sort of raisin that yields one tiny drop of nectar which then is fermented to form ice wine. It was tasty though very expensive. Since Steve is no longer a drinker, I drank his too. We (I) had other wine too but definitely the ice wine and the ice wine cocktails were the best. At one point we had Wayne Gretsky wine..stick to hockey Wayne.

This trip was to celebrate staying together 36 years. We stopped on the way at my favorite breakfast place that features fancy omelets served with cheesy grits and various interesting toasts (such as the cheese-jalapeno that I had). Our route brought back memories of driving to Boston as the first third of the route was the same but no huge New York State to cross and much smaller Massachusetts.

Our hotel was perched on a cliff facing the Falls. Reviews insisted that don't be any lower than 11 stories or the view would not be great. But to go higher than the 8th floor would cost another $30 on top of the falls view premium we were already paying. We went up to check the view. Yeah we'd be seeing enough where we were.(see yesterday's photos). We ate at Steve's favorite chain restaurant for a late lunch (not a fan of this place and the prices were almost double than those back in the US but it was his anniversary too and we were right there). Then out to see the Falls up close. When we got there, it was sunny with rainbows forming from the mist (I got one poorly focused photo of this). After our lunch, it was cloudy, very windy and below 20 degrees. I would guess the wind chill was below zero...Fahrenheit. I am fairly tolerant of cold but this was ridiculous. Steve's hands were freezing as he needed his gloves off to take photos. It is a long walk to get to the Falls though it was interesting. They have a very fancy, well decorated casino there with its own set of waterfalls.

So there were the Falls all covered with ice though the water was still flowing. I think we went through there once when the American Falls had froze over. I grew up not far from the Falls so these are not so special to me. But Steve who never traveled much beyond the city limits of NYC always wanted to come here. We stopped there once with the older kids during a trip to NYC. It was so cold, they refused to come out of the car. They didn't even want to look at them. We took Naomi about 7 years ago in the summer when it was impossibly hot but Steve was mad at me about something so that time was not enjoyable.

There is a tram going up the cliff that took us almost directly to our hotel so we didn't have to face the west wind going back. Parking anywhere near the Falls is very expensive as it was at our hotel. Our special deal included a lot but NOT parking.

Once it gets dark (early given the time of year) the Falls are lit up. Also, the parkway lining the Falls is full of light displays of various kinds though all very secular. No manger displays here. No santas either.The only display with any religious overtones was one of Noah's Ark with pairs of Canadian mammals trotting out of it..bear, beaver, moose..There was a display of dinosaurs cavorting, a sculpture for the ice wine growers, lots of luminaries.

My favorite display was that of the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival aka South Korean Lantern Festival where they had elaborate silk lit sculptures (see yesterday photos). It was fun slowly trolling the lights and Falls while listening to classic music. The city streets also had beautiful lights too.

Back at the hotel, I had wine while we watched some of the color changing displays out the window. Then I went for a whirlpool soak while Steve got dinner (lunch was too big for me). He gave me one of his anniversary presents (the other opened back  home in case the border people took it): a photo book denoting our years together. I hate photos of myself and usually avoid the camera. Some of these escaped me throwing them in the trash. But it was a very sweet gesture.

My exercise program is going down the drain. Even though I had that biopsy last week, I still managed to bike 30 miles and run 26. But not this week. The hotel did have a fancy gym which I should have gone to the first day. I woke up early to run on a treadmill (still cold would be nice to run along the Falls but the spray causes a thick sheet of ice to form; they are good about salting but probably not so early). I haven't been on a treadmill since cancer. I am so afraid of losing my balance but my only problem was banging my hands ( I swing my arms too much) on the railings and that they have it so hot in the room.

We had a leisurely breakfast overlooking those Falls and then on to further adventures. Steve jumped out of the car to take some photos that he had missed (signs all over the place about no stopping..they want to fill up those $15 parking lots) and then we headed north along the Niagara River towards Lake Ontario stopping at several scenic overlooks until the snow came down hard. At that point, seeing a few feet ahead of us on the road was what we concentrated on. I assume it was pretty along the gorge but it was nearly white out conditions. I don't know if I had been down that road before though at one point there is a huge floral clock (all dead now) that I remember as a child (unless there is one on the American side that I am remembering).

We had tasting passes to 4 wineries, three of which we went to. Two of them featured ice wines, which were very good. We visited the town of Niagara-on-the -Lake which is very cute and all nicely decorated for the holidays (again, all secular). I went into an Italian gelateria and bakery hoping for some Italian pastries. The gelato looked good but not inviting in this cold. No Italian pastries. They did have beautiful French macaroons costing 2.5 times the Hoosier variety (and those in the priciest town in Indiana). We were going to eat at one of the wineries but it would have cost more than $70 even with the discount voucher we had.

Instead we ate in a food court Steve opting for Chinese stuff (looked yucky) and me eating at a bizarre New York-Quebecoise fusion place called NY Fries featuring various poutines. Do they have poutine in NY? I never saw it..maybe along the border they do. I assume they call them NY fries because they are thinner than the ones the Quebecois use for poutine. Poutine is a mix of fries, cheese curds and gravy. But this place featured different 'gravies' such as Indian Butter Chicken, tex-mex, Texas pulled pork. Actually it was tasty.

A long boring road back made longer as Steve ignored both me and the GPS urging him to be in a certain lane so we ended up going towards Toronto instead of London. As I repeated why more than once, it put him a snit that he still is in so our real anniversary was no fun.

Josh and his family and Naomi were at our house when we returned. Allie is now laughing.

As I sit here, I see the city clean off the bike path behind my house (not the roads however) Do I try to run before the snow fills it up again?

Road lined with candy cane trees
Photo I wished I took but didn't from our hotel's website
Looks like an upside down Van Gogh's Starry Night

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