6-15-15 to 6-21-15 (Post Falls)

Vacation overUnfortunately, I have no exciting vacations to report.  Unfortunately (again), our vacation to Niagara Falls ended and it was back to work we went.  A lot of my files had appraisals, titles, income verification and other docs to read through, approve/decline, and otherwise fondle.  Glamorous.  I had 92 emails and Jim had 40-50.  It took me a couple of days to catch up on everything.  In the meantime, it appeared I didn’t miss anything exciting at work.  It was nice to get home Friday evening and have 2 more days off.

I’ve stated on prior posts that I don’t want another pet.  I especially don’t want to replace Dasher.  There’s no replacing a loved one.  Jim, perhaps a little too soon, had an Italian Greyhound rescue organization come to our house on the Saturday prior to vacation to inspect our home and see if we were a good fit to foster.  I really wasn’t interested and got teary-eyed many a time through the “interview”. 


I used the words “too soon” above because maybe I’ll change my mind, but even now as I type this post up, the freedom is awesome.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d GLADLY give that “freedom” up to have my Dasher back.  Freedom?  Well, not worrying about who’s going to watch him, no worrying about him escaping, no limits on how long we can be away from home, no walking him in the 100 degree weather of the campground, no pee-pee accidents in the house, etc.  The list of what I miss about him is way longer than what I don’t miss.  I think about him a lot.

So, meanwhile, the rescue lady, Ginger, had a lot to go over.  You can’t really pick a dog that’s housebroken or friendly or whatever.  They may need to be crate trained.  That’s my number one pet peeve.  I get that it’s a necessary evil but I’m sorry, leaving a dog inside of a crate 17 hours or so out of 24 seems terrible.  I have many friends that do this and I understand the need.  Pets can be destructive, etc.  But again, all in all, crating feels cruel.  The other issue she brought up is that the gates need to be locked so that no one can steal the dogs.  We have a lawn guy that comes.  That would be a pain. There were some other “issues” for us that I can’t remember at the moment.

I was so sad by the end of the interview that I made Ginger tear up as well.  After she left, Jim apologized and I needed that.

Fast forward to Father’s Day weekend.  We came to Augusta.  Jim hasn’t been here since before Memorial Day and I since Memorial Day weekend.  We got our permit from the campground owner so we can get the roof over built.  The issue now becomes seeing if the people we want to hire can make it per the engineered drawings we supplied at the price we agreed on.  Then problem #2 is that we’ll need to take a day off work to be here. 


2015-06-20Above: Baby Praying Mantis on the car mirror.

6-12-15 Friday (Gambling With Lynda Carter)

So we started our last day with a little gambling.  It wasn’t planned.  We were walking through the casino to get to the buffet and I spotted a Wonder Woman slot machine.  I’m a huge fan of Wonder Woman so naturally I had to play.  It featured clips from the Lynda Carter series.  It was cool.  I went through my $5 pretty quick but on Jim’s turn, he cashed out at $17.  We played and lost about $10 on other slot machines during the week so this helped recoup our loses.  We spent about 15 minutes in total gambling time all in all.

After breakfast we packed up, checked out of the hotel and headed for Niagara Falls State Park for one last time.  We spotted a very cool black squirrel.  My research says they’re not very common.

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We looked at the falls from view points we hadn’t seen previously.  Breathtaking. 

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Above/below: We’re next to Bridal Veil Falls, US side.  The Canadian side is in the distance.

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2015-06-12 007Above: Looking down onto the Bridal Veil Falls, there’s another shot of “Cave of the Winds”.

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Above/Below: American Falls from different angles.

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We went to the Niagara Adventure Theater to see a movie about the history of the falls.  It was interesting to learn about the daredevils and even a young boy who accidently went over the falls and survived.  So the most famous or maybe the first daredevil was Annie Edson Taylor who went over the falls in a barrel and survived.  We collect Christmas ornaments from our travels.  Jim and I associate the falls with a barrel, probably from cartoons, so we hunted for a barrel ornament and the only thing we found was a barrel keychain.  Not what I was hoping for.  Oh well.  I found something better online so I think I’ll order that.


Last meal in Niagara Falls USA = “Top of the Falls Restaurant”.  Nice view but I can’t say much more positive than that.

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We both ordered:

BUFFALO MAC & CHEESE -  Cavatappi Pasta, Chicken Tenders, Medium Sauce, House-Made Four-Cheese Sauce, Bleu Cheese Crumbles, Green Onion (Cal. 1050) $16.50

Jim ordered his less the hot sauce.  Velveeta or Kraft Mac & Cheese would have beat this stuff out.  Ouch, right?  The chicken tenders were those kind that looked food service over cooked and over breaded hard things.  Like the ones in this stock photo, eh? (<— see what I did there)


Blech.  As we left the park it started raining.  We ran to the car and it poured the entire trip to the rental car agency.  What should have been a 40 minute drive took a lot longer due to traffic and the extra slow drive due to the down pour.  Luckily, we had a lot of extra time before out flight.  Just as we pulled up to Payless, the rain stopped.  We were lucky!  We got to the airport, checked in and then went to the Admiral’s Club.  One of our American Airlines credit cards had a voucher for the card holder and a guest to use this facility.  Both of us have never been to an airline club previously.  Nice.  Free open bar (beer, wine, well), snacks galore, comfy seating, desks, magazines, personalized service, soft drinks, etc.  It was a nice way to end a vacation.

What an awesome vacation.  I recommend it!

6-11-15 Thursday (A Barrel Of Fun)

We started the day with breakfast at the hotel’s IHOP.  We had a lite breakfast since we got a late start. We have reservations at the Skylon Tower for lunch.

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Above/Below: Elevator ride up.

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As we entered the tower, we had our photos taken, which we purchased:

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Our seat in the dining room wasn’t up close to the glass but rather a tier up further back.  I was disappointed with the seat but Jim was happy we weren’t that close.  It would have bugged him at that high an elevation.  Our seat, as you can see below, turned out just fine though.

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Jim started with the escargot and I with the onion soup.  Tasty.  For the main entrée, Jim had a filet and I opted for the NY Strip sirloin.  Mine was disappointing.  It looked and tasted like processed, institutional meat.   The photo below was off the internet.  Mine looked worse.  Mine was very rectangular.  The coloring was icky too. I dealt with it.

skylon steak

Check please:

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After lunch we went up a couple more decks to the observation deck.  This was amazing. 

2015-06-11 017Above: This is the observation deck and tower (on the USA side) we were on the prior day.

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2015-06-11 011Above: That building with the upper pink part is our hotel.

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2015-06-11 016Above: This is the “Cave of the Winds” attraction we visited yesterday.

The “insert a video” option of this blog post isn’t working so if you want to see a 17 second video of me panning from falls to falls then click here

If you want to watch a video of me eating my steak, you won’t find one and you should get a life.

What’s next?  We drove to Niagara on the Lake to catch a helicopter tour.   We’ve done the Alaska helicopter tour which was our favorite part but this tour just bored us.  I think it’s because we just saw the falls from the tower which was the perfect height and view point?  Maybe we’re jaded?

2015-06-11 031Above: Map showing our route.  The tour was about 20 minutes.

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2015-06-11 020Above: Many vineyards.

2015-06-11 022Above: Niagara River

2015-06-11 025Above: Falls view from behind.

2015-06-11 028Above: Falls view from the front.

2015-06-11 030Above: Jim didn’t stand up straight.  He was afraid the rotors would decapitate him.

A few days ago, a restaurant server (I think it was the Rainforest Café) told us about a locally known favorite ice cream shop which is part of a dairy farm for the area.  So off to the Avondale Dairy Bar we went.  It was yummy.  We’ve had better.  2 amusing photos from this trip:

2015-06-11 032Above: In their display case.

2015-06-11 033Above: This is why you shouldn’t run with scissors.  You might lose them.

We closed the day with a trip to  the falls again and then dinner inside the Casino Hotel at Johnny Rockets. 

I’ve got to tell you.  Food is ridiculously expensive.  Jim suggested getting the car and going out of the tourist area for food.  My feet were very sore and I was very tired.  Johnny Rockets was close by so there we ate.  I had a Philly cheesesteak (which was very tasty).  My Philly was $18 and Jim’s burger was like $15. 

6-10-15 Wednesday (Free Sandals)

We started the day with a buffet breakfast at the Casino Hotel.  Our table had a view of the falls.  This buffet was yummy and actually a lot less $ than the IHOP at our hotel.  Eggs cooked to order.  Over easy for me and an omelet for Jim.  We only needed to walk through our hotel to an enclosed connector bridge to get there.  Very handy. 

Jim bought a Clifton Hills Fun Pass prior to our trip.  We rode the Niagara Skywheel which is a large Ferris wheel offering views of the Niagara area.  Awesome.

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2015-06-10 047Above: Inside the gondola. 

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Above/Below: Taken from inside the gondola.

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2015-06-10 045Above: Another from inside the … yes, gondola. 

I’ve been excited to get to the Hershey’s Chocolate store since I love chocolate.   It wasn’t all that great and I just felt guilty for eating it.  BUT, I can say I did it.

Next up, Niagara Falls State Park on the US side.  The facilities/property was overall run down.  Not very impressive.  I definitely prefer the Canadian side.  We went on Maid of the Mist which is a boat that runs very close to the falls.  Everyone is issued a rain poncho.  It’s very much needed and appreciated.  This was a great up close and personal view of the falls.  Pretty cool.

2015-06-10 016Above: US side, observation deck.  Quite windy!

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We explored the park a little and then continued on to Youngstown, NY to catch a Jet boat tour/adventure. First it was time for food.  The Youngstown Village Diner hit the spot.  I had a fried baloney sandwich.  I haven’t had one of those in eons.  After that, it was on to our tour at Niagara Jet Adventures.  This was very fun.  Exhilarating. 

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We went into class 1 and 5 rapids.  It was so frickin’ fun.  Jim and I paid a little extra to be in the front seats!  It was worth it.

There’s still more.  Next? Cave of the Winds.  Which isn’t really even a cave anymore.  Due to falling rock, they purposely sealed it up with controlled dynamite blasts in 1955 but the name remained.  Now it’s stairs and walkways up close to Bridal Veil Falls.  It was exhilarating.

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Aside from ponchos, they supply sandals.  They’re cheap, serve the purpose and can be kept as souvenirs. 

We got back in the car and drove around the park some more.  We saw an interesting trail, parked the car and explored.  It was along the river so there were some nice scenes.

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Below: Jim had to pee and the restrooms were closed:

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Later, we ate dinner and then went to Clifton Hill again to use up some of the Fun Pass attraction tickets.  Some arcade fun, a 4D wild west cartoon ride which was cute, a shoot ghosts ride, and back onto the Skywheel to see everything from above at night this time.  We also had the displeasure of touring the Movieland Wax Museum.  OMG.  It was bad.  Not very life like.  I’m glad we didn’t actually pay for this.  It did provide Jim and I with many a laugh though.