Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Family Pictures

This past Saturday our VMS family went to Waterworks park to have our pictures taken professionally. It was our gift to Mom & Dad VMS for their 30th wedding anniversary. And, of course, while we had the excellent photographers out anyways, we all got family shots too. These are just some fun candid shots I got of the day. The colours were just beautiful!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Vacation 2008

So for our vacation this year we decided to go on a road trip of sorts. We left early Wednesday morning on July 30th and headed into the unknown; well not really the unknown, just along Hwy 3 and across the border. We drove about 10 hours that day, but we borrowed my parent's Narnia series on CD, which make the time go by very quickly. We did have to turn it off during certain parts of our journey as we had to concentrate on driving with, shall we say, less than skilled American drivers. We spent the first night at a hotel in Greenfield, a nice little town in Northern MA. It was only about 2 minutes off the main road, easy to find, and the best part was, we had a coupon from a visitor's centre; so the regular $150+ room, cost about $60. Not too bad, we thought:-) After supper at a neighbouring Applebee’s we decided we wanted to see some sights and sounds of the neighbouring country side. There was a visitor's centre literally across the parking lot, so we went to see if we could find a map or two. Well the visitor's centre was closed, but they had a map outside: one of those you are here maps with some local attractions listed. We saw a place called Turner's Falls, so we thought we'd check it out, after all, it was just down that road, up that hill and around the corner...

Sure enough, we went down that road and up that hill, and we saw a sign pointing in the supposed direction of Turner's Falls. So we followed the sign past/through several little towns. But then the signs suddenly stopped. We thought maybe we missed the turn, but we kept driving, trying to head back in the direction we came. We were just about turn around, and then we saw a sign for Turner's falls. So we followed the sign, and then the signs stopped again. Well we drove around in this manner for about 45 minutes not finding any falls. Then, finally we clued in: Turner's Falls was a town, not actual water falls! You may ask, why they would they put the 'falls' part at the end of Turner. Well, there was this dam.... not a very large dam(although at one time it may have been) and that's why the little town was called Turner's Falls. I couldn't really get a picture of the dam as it's behind the bridge, but these rapid flowing waters are a result of the small dam. Anyways, it was still a fun, exploring adventure that we can laugh about.
We left Greenfield the next morning and arrived at our campground in about 5 hours. The campground was about 45 minutes south of Pylmouth. It was quite a private place, and our neighbours were gone all day, so we didn't really see anyone. The second or third night we were there, we got some new neighbours. We made the friendly small talk, and she mentioned that they too were Canadian, from Quebec. (I know, Frenchies, but Canadian nevertheless!) We had never said anything about where we were from, but they checked our our license plate, and saw the Canadian flag one of our lawn chairs and also on Ben's towel which we had hung to dry. It was so strange, I had never given the flags a second thought, but I guess they would stand out in the US.The beach was about a 15 minute drive from our campground. It was nice but colder than anything! I have now dipped my toes in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans!
I took this picture of our footprints and depending on which way you look at it, it almost looks like the footprint are raised. Fun eh?
We went to Pylmouth one day and walked all around the harbour. It was a beautiful day and it was neat to see all the sights.
A cruise company was offering sunset cruises when we were there. It only cost $36 and we figured, hey, we're on vacation--lets do it! It was 90 minutes and took us out past the Long Beach and into 'open' waters.' It was the perfect night for going; the sky was clear except for this small cloud that hid the sun party as it was going down. It created some really neat shots. I have to admit, I took a lot of sunset pictures: it was just so pretty! This is where the Pilgrims that died after landing were buried. There were 102 passengers on the Mayflower. 53 died, and one was born, making the total survivors 52--half the number that came.This is a remake of the Mayflower. It was made in the 1950s by the Dutch as a gift to the USA. It was sailed across, in much the same course that the original Mayflower sailed. It crossed in 55 days-11 less days than it took the original Mayflower to cross.
The monument around Plymouth Rock was being redone, so this was the best we could see of the "the rock."
The Pilgrim Museum had a chunk of "the rock" on display. And yes, we were allowed to touch it. If you zoom in on the picture, you can see the sign that says "Please touch" so we did!
An old mile marker in Plymouth
On Sunday, after going to church at an interesting United church, we drove up the Cape to Provincetown. We thought we'd have a beautiful drive and nice views of the ocean, but all we saw were trees on both sides. There was also some sort of bike marathon going on, and there were cyclists everywhere! It was nuts! Needless to say, we didn't spend much time there.
We did climb up the Pilgrim monument (252 feet tall) which was 60 ramps and 102 steps. Phew! We were pretty tuckered when we got to the top.
Ben diligently went and collected stones for me to write this. I was going to write our entire names, but he got tired of finding stones :-)
On our way to one beach, there was this really nice boardwalk through this marshy section of land. We went on Sunday night, but it had just rained so it stank like anything! Ben couldn't hack it, so we decided to come back a different day. We ended up going back a couple days later when the sun had dried up some water and smell. It was really neat to see this marshy section that just kind of came out of nowhere. There was a stream that ran through the whole marsh and slowly ate away at the sides of bank. All the natural channels and divits were really fasinating. It would be perfect for exploring, provided you don't mind a little smell or squishy stuff between your toes....
The sun was setting as we walked back, and it made such a pretty sight coming over the water.
We also went into Boston one day and walked the Freedom Trail. It was really neat because the whole trail was marked in red. Red bricks on the sidewalk to follow, painted red lines on the asphalt etc.
This Paul Revere's house. We didn't take the tour because it cost some extravagant amount, and we're cheap!
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Old North Church
It was really neat to see this old church. There were no pews as in a 'normal' church, but boxes. Each family paid for their box to sit in each Sunday. The closer to the front, you got the more expensive the boxes were, so only the very rich could afford them. Each family would decorate their own box and since there were no furnances in those days, they would bring hot bricks to keep themselves warm. Some would even bring their dogs as a heat source!
At the end of the Freedom Trail, we were planning on see the USS Constitution, but alas, it was closed. I was very upset that they would close it on the day we especially came to see it, but was somewhat consolled by this 1950's Destroyer--The Cassin Young.
We walked around on it(free admission!) and then we were just about to disembark, when a call came over the intercom offering a free 'below deck' tour. We of course accepted and got a great tour above and below deck. It was neat to see how these sailors lived; talk about tight quarters!
Ben at the bridge. His aviator sunglasses help him fit right in a 1950's vessel, eh?
We spent 2 and 1/2 days in New York City, well actually Jersey City which is right across the Hudson. We had no desire to drive through New York traffic and the day that we went into the city, we were very thankful we didn't!
The Empire State Building. This was the only shot I got of it. The traffic was nuts and the people were crazy, so we didn't stand in one place very long.
View from the top. In the distance you can see Central Park. Unfortunately we never made it there either. We were both so tired, and hot, and hungry, we just said forget it! We had walked 51 blocks from our ferry close to the World Trade Center. We had looked at the map, and thought, well that doesn't look too far, we can walk it. Well, needless to say, we didn't walk back.

We were on the 86th floor and the buildings below looked like lego houses.
A long ways down......
After deciding to opt out of Central Park, we decided we had to see Times Square. This was as far as we got. People, people everywhere! It was just incredible! This small island has a phenomenal amount of people all going somewhere and doing something.
On our way back, we stopped at Ground Zero. The twin towers stood right in front of all those other buildings. It's already been seven years since 9/11 happened and they're still clearing some stuff away. They've starting building the subway underneath and are laying the foundation for the new buildings.
This is what they hope to have built by 2012. They won't be twin towers, but they'll still be huge and add to the already famous Manhattan skyline.
This was a bronze plaque that someone, or some people made of 9/11.
We spent one day going to Ellis Island the the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island was, honestly, quite boring. There wasn't really any direction from the staff; it was just walk around and look where you like. It was kind of neat to see the registry hall, but we couldn't find the registry book with all the names... oh well.
The Statue of Liberty was one of the highlights of our trip. No matter how many times you see it in pictures or on movies, it doesn't compare to actually being there and looking at her standing tall.Lady Liberty
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
~Emma Lazarus

There was a little museum on the way up to her monument. This is a model of her face; she looks quite angry, but they had to make her features that sharp so you can see her from afar. Her face is over 8ft. tall. The people in front of us had two young boys who could both stick their heads halfway up her nostrils. It was pretty funny too see :-)
Her foot is huge too! We saw a video of how they made the foot and how they would have made Lady Liberty in 1886. Talk about a lot of work!
This is the original torch that came from France. but was replaced in 1986 because it was deemed beyond repair because of the extensive modifications they made in 1916.
We could only go into the monument, not actually into the Lady herself. They shut that part of the tour down in 2001 following, but not because of, 9/11. It violated almost every safety regulation including the fact that there wasn't a second escape route. There is just one spiral staircase going up and the widest part of the step is about 8 inches. And to get to the torch, you have to climb 40 foot ladder.
So ends our Vacation of 2008. We made our way back home again leaving Jersey City on Friday morning, about 9:30 and arriving home at about 7:30 that same night. We had a reserved a campsite about half way, but it was raining off and on, and we didn't feel like setting up the tent. The drive was only 10 hours or so and we were glad to sleep in our bed that night. No matter where we go there isn't any place that compares with Home sweet home!