Monday, August 29, 2011

Another Summer Trip! New York and Canada 2011

July 9.  After spending the night in Buffalo, NY, we went to Niagara Falls State Park.  The Falls were spectacular. We got pretty wet on the Cave of Winds walk as we walked along the base of the American Falls in our yellow ponchos and fancy rubber sandals. Then we got pretty wet again on Maid of the Mist boat ride that went right up the base of Bridal Veil Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and American Falls. So wet that we think that is where Alaina's phone broke (that tell tale red dot that indicates water damage and renders your warranty void showed up pretty soon after the Falls).

The person at the tourist info center talked Dave into getting a package deal with a guide.  Bad idea.  Don't do it.  It just meant we had to wait for everyone in the group and had to pay a little more to wait in the same lines as the people who could come and go as they pleased.  We did have a great day though, and the weather was perfect. 
July 10.  We went to church in Toronto and Donny Osmond was visiting the Ward.  Dave and I have had a running joke since our New York days that we see famous people then realize it's not really them. So when he said, "Look, it's Donny Osmond."  I just laughed, but then I heard a lot of people whispering and looking at the back pew so I looked and it was him.  Alaina shook his hand, then later asked me who he was.  I guess he's not current with the teen scene.  After church, we drove to Collingwood, and spent a few days at Cranberry Resort.
July 11.  We went bowling and after we got there, we quickly realized what people meant when they said that Canadian bowling was different. The ball is tiny and there are only 5 pins.
 July 11.  We went mini golfing at the zoo.  Well it wasn't really a zoo, but it looked like one.  After I took these pictures someone came out and asked us not to touch the animals.  Like they were real.
Then we went go-karting.  It was Ryan's first time driving and after he and my brother got kicked off the course in North Carolina, I'd have to say he did pretty well here!  We decided this was the worst family picture a person has ever taken for us!  At least it shows we were all together and Dave wasn't working for a few minutes :)
Cranberry Resort was a very peaceful place on a lake.

I was taking pictures of the kids and a guy that was barbecuing with his family asked if we'd like a picture all together.  Given the last stranger photo, I thought we couldn't do worse so I handed him my camera.  He proceeded to direct us as if we were at a photo shoot.  It was pretty funny.  He did a great job, but sadly we must not be meant to all be looking good in the same photo.  We finally got Ryan to smile in one and I had to go and blink!  Oh well.  We look semi-happy, right?  I love my family!

July 13.  We went to a mountain resort and rode the mountain coaster (Ridge Runner).  It's like an alpine slide but instead of being in a cement chute and carrying your own sled up the chairlift, it's more like a roller coaster on a chain and you can't fall out.  You control how fast you go and it's awesome!
We went to Scenic Caves and did an Eco Adventure tour, climbing in and around caves for an hour. Then we got ready for some serious fun.
Ready to go!

It was a 3 hour tree top course that had us 50 feet up in the air, climbing on 10" wide swinging planks between trees.  We paired off with Dave and Andy going first, then Becca and me, and then Alaina and Ryan. At every tree we switched our cables and it was pretty scary.  Exhilarating fun!  Dave and I couldn't believe how well Alaina was able to help Ryan.  At one point he told her she should start digging his grave, but she made a game of it and he was able to make it to the end.  All the kids were amazing!
At the end of the tree top trekking, we got to do two zip lines.  The first was 300 feet long through the forest and the kids went upside down.  The second was a 1,000 foot Escarpment Zip-line ride with a 150 foot vertical drop.  It was awesome!
At the beginning of the 425 foot suspension bridge.
What a fun day!

July 14.  We drove to Palmyra, NY and checked into our hotel, then drove to the Hill Cumorah Pageant.  It was an incredible show.  Over 700 cast members, all volunteers, and lots of lighting and set changes.  It was a great experience.  Some of the kids and I want to apply to be in it next year, but they usually get over 4,000 applications, so I think we may just be observers again sometime.

July 15.  We drove to the Sacred Grove and walked through Joseph Smith's farm house and frame house.  We went through the threshing bard and learned how they did things in the 1800's.  It was amazing to stand in places I have read about my whole life and to be where the Prophet Joseph lived and received the First Vision.

The Sacred Grove.

Grandin Printing Press, where the first 5,000 copies of  Book of Mormon were printed.  We learned that it took several years to print and bind them all.

The Hill Cumorah.  We went back to see everything in daylight and went through the visitors center.  What a beautiful place. We drove from New York through Pennsylvania and on to Ohio and checked into another hotel for the night.

July 16.  We went to the Kirtland temple and had a tour with very knowledgeable guide from the Community of Christ Church, who now owns the temple. We walked all over Kirtland and saw the Newel K Whitney, Ashery, and Sawmill.  We drove to Hiram and toured the Johnson Home, where Emma and Joseph lived when he was tarred and feathered. Just being in all of these places made me grateful again for all of the sacrifices that have been made for the Gospel.  I am thankful for it!
July 17.  We went to church in Kirtland, with tons of other visitors, and then flew from Cleveland to Chicago to SFO.  I love traveling, but it's always great to get home again.
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