Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Road Trip: Boston, Buffalo, Penn Yan, Ontario & Niagara Falls, Pittsburgh, Weirton, Columbus, Homewood, & Home

May 29, 2011 - June 3, 2011

Road trip with Marissa from Boston to home.

This post is a bit overdue, but that's okay.  After my graduation from BU, Marissa and I took a few day trips around Boston.  A few days later, we took a longer trip back home.  Below are the details of our trip.  I have not included last names of people we visited.

Stop #1: Penn Yan, NY

On the way to Penn Yan, we stopped at Johnny B's for lunch near Albany.  We both had tuna melts, and of course brought the cello in.  As usual, we put the cello at the table as if it were another person eating.  You just can't leave those things in the car.

Lunch at Johnny B's
Here, we visited Howard and Nancy L.  We had a great time visiting them.  Howard worked with our Grandpa Don before we were born.  It was really nice to hear about our grandpa since we never met him.  

Boating on Keuka Lake
They live right on the lake near a Mennonite village.  From what I heard, I learned that Mennonites are sort of like Amish people, but they embrace more of modern technology.  They dress traditionally.  We spotted them riding bikes all around.  They also have their own schools within the neighborhood.  We went to a Mennonite craft market and grocery store - their pies looked tasty!   In the morning, we went to the "Fly-in Breakfast," a fundraiser at the local airport. The community came out for pancakes and eggs at the airport.  In the afternoon, we went boating around Keuka Lake, which was super fun! 

Stop #2: Buffalo, NY

In Buffalo, we visited Audrey, Ira, and Coda in their lovely new house.  They moved in about 24 hours before we arrived.  We had their first dinner in the new house with them.  It was great to see them on the way home, and we'll miss having them around.  That evening, we went to see fireworks over the American side of Niagara Falls.  It was great to stay with friends, and we hope they come back to visit soon!

Stop #3: Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada

Niagara Falls
Guess what?  We were super excited to find out that our GPS doesn't work in Ontario.  It recognizes British Colombia and Nova Scotia we borrowed Audrey's GPS for the day.  I drove up to the border control to get in the Canada through the Rainbow Bridge, we gave them our passports, and continued on.  Almost immediately, we came upon a sign that read "60 km/h maximum."  Basically, I was driving along and exclaimed, "Ummm...what?  That number means absolutely nothing to me!  Oh no, am I going to get a speeding ticket?  Am I going too slow?"  About three hours later, we realized our speedometer also had markings for km/h.  In case you're curious, 60 km/h is about 37 or 38 mph.  We also noted that all the street signs there have crowns on them.

Totally stylin' in our matching, blue ponchos
Naturally, we went to Canada to see Niagara Falls.  Lil' Simz and I bought tickets for the Maid of the Mist boat ride, put on our giant blue ponchos, and hopped on the boat.  We saw both the Niagara Falls and the Horseshoe Falls - it was incredible.  Fortunately, we didn't get as wet as expected, so I was able to take a bunch of photos.  We were totally surprised to find a kosher hot dog stand at Niagara Falls.

After the ride, we ate lunch visited the Hershey's store and the Coca-Cola store down the street.  They were cute.  Marissa was excited to find that everything was written in both French and English.  

Later in the day, we went wine tasting at the Inniskillin winery.  We took a tour and learned about the manufacturing process for Ice Wine.  Ice wine is very sweet - sort of like a dessert wine, it's delicious.  It's make from grapes which grow into the cold of winter, and are picked while frozen.  It takes about five times as many grapes to make ice wine as regular wine, so it's consequently more expensive.  Inniskillin's ice wine has won several awards, and they've even designed a special glass for it.  

Stop #4: Pittsburgh, PA

The first thing we did in Pittsburgh was check out the Andy Warhol Museum.  We brought the cello in, of course.  You should know of this famous pop artist's Campbell's Soup pictures and Marilyn Monroe pictures.  It was interesting to learn that Andy Warhol had also been very involved in films and moving art.  We saw some pictures he created of  Mick Jagger and one of Jackie Kennedy Onassis.  There was one really bizarre exhibit with these giant silver balloons and fans, and the balloons just floated around the room.  It was called "Silver Clouds" I think.

We stopped to visit our Dad's work buddy, Mike, who kindly invited us over for dinner, which was really, really delicious.  We always enjoy talking with them, and would have loved to spend more time there, but we were quickly off to our next destination to visit a friend of Marissa's in Weirton, West Virginia.

Stop #5: Weirton, West Virginia

Here, we visit Marissa's friend, Yoanna, from the Westminster summer opera program.  We took a lovely walk on the Pan Handle trail with her family and stayed over for the night.  Marissa and Yoanna sang some duets in the evening.  Their voices balanced each other really nicely.  It was totally impressive.  I would post the name of what they sang, but I'll have to ask Marissa.  I regret to admit that I'm not an opera expert, so I'll have to defer to her.  As you know, I'm more of a ballet person.

At Yoanna's house, Marissa and I stayed in a trundle bed.  Marissa kept wondering what it was on the way there, and I kept explaining to her that Kirsten, the American Girl Doll, sleeps in a trundle bed in one of her books, but I don't think Marissa read that series as many times as I did, so she didn't remember.  Sorry for the run-on sentence; I'm not going to fix it.

Coal Power Plant in West Virginia
On the way out of West Virginia the next morning, we passed a bunch of coal power plants.  We noted that it was interesting to hear people complain against wind power with the argument that it's not aesthetically pleasing.  Wind power is definitely prettier than these plants.  The real difference seems to be that there are fewer of these ugly plants, and they're only placed in select locations.  So either more people have to look at a little bit of ugly landscaping, or a few people are surrounded by tons of power plants.  Sadly, the country seems to prefer making a small group of people ruin their entire landscape.  Come on people, sharing is caring!

Stop #6: Columbus, OH

We had breakfast just over the border of West Virginia in this little place called Shlepp's on the side of the highway.  Of course we dragged the cello in with us.  Some guy asked us if the cello case was R2D2.  We NEED more music education in schools!  NEED.  Absolutely need.  We were appalled.  I probably made a face.  Later at the Easton Mall, another guy asked if I was carrying a giant guitar or a bass.  Ugh, seriously guys?  A giant guitar?!  And I'm pretty sure you can't carry a bass on your back.  Another guy in one of the stores was like, "Whoa, what's that contraption?"  Contraption?!  Try finely crafted musical instrument.  It's gotten so bad that when someone actually knows it's a cello, I want to hug them, and I don't even like to hug people.

For lunch, we met Callie in the Easton Mall and ate at Northstar.  Callie has been working in Columbus for a while now, and I was so glad we saw her on the way home since we don't see her often anymore.  We did some catching up, wandered the mall (with the cello), and then Callie went back to work.  Marissa and I had a few hours until we were due to arrive at our next destination, so we went to the mall's movie theater and saw The Hangover II - again, with the cello.  This cello has a great social life - malls, movies, lunch, dinner...  We were pleased to find that movies are cheaper in Ohio than at home and in Boston.

We were getting ready to leave the mall, when we realized we had forgotten where the parking garage was with our car.  The mall has like four different garages.  It was bad.  We wandered around for about 45 minutes, with the cello on my back, (ahhhh!) looking for our car.  Eventually, we found it - obviously, since we arrived home.

That night, we had dinner with our Uncle Jack and Sandy.  We hadn't seen them in a while either, so it was really great to visit them.  They gave us a driving tour of Ohio State University, since they live near there.  That is one huge school!  We stayed overnight, had breakfast at Panera, and then continued on.

Stop # 7: Homewood, IL

We were going to stop in Indiana at an Amish village, but we were itching to get home, so we just kept driving.  We also would have stopped in Elkhart if my friend, Gen, had been home, but she wasn't.  As expected, there were a bunch of signs advertising the sale of fireworks in Indiana just before entering Illinois.  

We went to meet our grandpa for lunch at Aurelio's Pizza.  Aurelio's has always been one of our favorite places to eat, followed with ice cream at Mitchell's of course.  We had a very nice lunch together, and then drove another two ish hours north, narrowly avoiding Chicago's rush hour, and arrived home.

Quotes from the trip:
1. "Marissa, look at all the conifers!" - obviously me
2. "Is that R2D2?" - a very ignorant guy
3. "Marissa, how do I drive 60 km/h?  Help!  I don't even know if I'm speeding!" - also me
4. "But Boston is that way, and you're going that way." - US Border Control
     "Umm....that's correct, Boston is that way." - me
     "That doesn't make any sense." - US Border Control
     "We're going home to Illinois.  Away from Boston." - me
     "That doesn't make any sense.  Boston is that way." - US Border Control
     "Umm, yes, Boston is that way...that's correct..." - me/Marissa

The trips was great - we visited with many friends and relatives we don't often get to see, and we also learned about different types of people as we passed through various communities.  One of my favorite parts of traveling is learning about different people, their customs, and how they live.  It's always interesting to see how a country changes as you enter different regions.  The USA has so many different faces; the vegetation changes, the topography changes (totally flat by the end of the trip), and the people change.  It's a fun place.  That being said, I can't wait to get to Spain in the fall!

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