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New York - Page Text Content

S: Trip to New York State 5/27/12 to 6/10/12

FC: Jeanette, Claudia, and Brigit | Our Trip to New York State 5/27/2012 to 6/10/2012

1: For some years, Jeanette and Claudia had expressed an interest in seeing sights in New York that they had seen in pictures from visits Carl and Brigit made there in years past. So the three of us (Jeanette, Claudia and Brigit) went to explore the state of New York from Niagara Falls in the north to upstate New York around the Finger Lakes, New York City, and ending with a few days on Long Island. | May 27, 2012 - ready for our flight to Buffalo with a layover in Detroit. Upon our arrival, we rented a car and drove to Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada Soon we were looking out our hotel window at this spectacular sight! | The next morning we were off to experience Niagara Falls up close. | Planning began on 2/7/12 when we met at Brigit's home to order the flight tickets and plan the trip.

2: Awesome!

3: We took an exciting trip on the Maid of the Mist, soaking in the excitement (literally!) as we ventured into the mist of the falls - we definitely got wet - despite the plastic covers!

4: Next we went to the top of the Skylon Tower for more spectacular views of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls and American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls on the American side.

5: Heading to the little town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, we stopped at the Butterfly Conservatory where we were constantly fascinated by seeing butterflies everywhere! Over 2,000 butterflies fly around among the blossoms and greenery. We enjoyed the fun of having some land on us.

6: Niagara-on-the Lake is a beautiful little town with a population of about 14,000 and is the tourism heart of the Ontario wine region along the south shore of Lake Ontario. Over 3 million people a year visit this town with a distinct British flavor. Popular attractions include art galleries, many shops, wineries, and the Shaw Festival Theater.

7: We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast at Parliament Cottage, the B & B where we stayed and enjoyed meeting the resident cat, Mr. Ginger. Our hostess, Isabelle, recommended a wonderful place for dinner overlooking Lake Ontario.

8: Fort George was nearby, so we stopped and learned a great deal about the War of 1812 from the Canadian perspective. The war was about the struggle for control of North America. Fort George is directly across the river from Fort Niagara on the U. S. side. After a fierce battle in May 1813, the American army captured and occupied the town and fort for seven months. | Residents (mostly women, children and old men) were given only a few hours of warning before being turned out of their homes at night in a snowstorm. When the Americans retreated in December 1813, they burned the town to the ground. With the defeat of Napoleon in Europe, Britain was able to send troops to Canada to begin a series of offensives, including an attack on Washington, D.C. The Americans eventually left their positions in Canada and the war ended in 1815 with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.

9: On our visit we explored the fort, noting the big difference between the officers' quarters and the room for the guards to rest. We saw a demonstration of a soldier firing a musket, learning that they could only fire four shots in one minute. Groups of students were there and we saw a group learning to march. The flag of the regiment contains roses representing Britain, thistles for Scotland and shamrocks for Ireland.

10: We could not leave the Niagara-on-the-Lake area without going to a winery! We stopped at the lovely Reif Estate Winery and enjoyed a glass of wine with our snack of left-over muffins from breakfast that Isabelle had packed for us. This visit also took care of the gift Carl had requested - a bottle of ice wine. | Driving along Niagara Parkway on the Canadian side, we saw many loverly homes - this is quite a beautiful area. The parkway follows the Niagara River which here is also the boundary between the U. S. and Canada. | After a three-hour drive we reached Aurora on the eastern side of Lake Cayuga, the longest of the eleven Finger lakes in upstate New York.

11: In Aurora we stayed at the beautiful Aurora Inn. We took a walk down to the lake shore and were treated to a beautiful sunset. We had a delicious dinner at the inn's restaurant and finished the evening with a little walk up Main Street in the historic town of Aurora. | In the past Aurora was a shipping port for goods traveling to and from the Erie Canal. Wells College for women was founded here in 1898 by Henry Wells with his wealth acquired from his founding of American Express and the Wells-Fargo Company. His friend Edwin Morgan also donated generously to the college. On our walk we passed Morgan House, a sister property of the Aurora Inn. Both homes were originally the property of Edwin Morgan. Both properties have served as dormitories for Wells College. Morgan house once was home to students majoring in French; only French could be spoken in the house.

12: The next morning began with coffee on the deck of our room as we enjoyed the view up and down Main Street. Breakfast was on the main deck of the inn, overlooking Lake Cayuga. | The beautiful inn with a charming little market next door.

13: Before leaving Aurora, we took a drive around the Wells College campus which has a fantastic view of the lake. | Next we did a little shopping at the Mackenzie-Childs store, which features handcrafted collectible ceramics, furniture, and home furnishings. Their items are certainly colorful and whimsical!

14: The Mackenzie-Childs store is in a beautiful setting! The store is a place where you can browse for hours! Even the bathroom displays their creative designs! | Outside is a beautiful lake surrounded by trees - a nice place to just sit and relax - and make a phone call! Claudia talked to Rich back home. Brigit reminded Carl of the time they sat on that bench a few years back.

15: Next stop - the Fontainebleau Inn in Alpine, NY, which was built in 1814 by the Lawrence Family. A number of additions have been made to the house since. Our hostess even told us that it was reputed to have had a speakeasy in the basement and a brothel upstairs in the 1920's. | A path leads from the expansive front lawn of the inn through the adjacent woods to the Lawrence Chapel. Brigit and Carl's son Erik married Yizhi here in 2002 and they've been back several times since - it is such a beautiful and relaxing setting. Weddings are the main business of this inn, but just going there to relax and enjoy the peaceful setting is a treat. Reading the grave stones near the chapel told us some history of the Lawrence family.

16: "Ithaca is Gorges!" This expression speaks to the beauty of the many gorges in the Ithaca area. These gorges were carved by glaciers advancing south out of Canada over two million years. We hiked first the Watkins Glen gorge at the south end of Seneca Lake. The gorge has 19 waterfalls. The 1.5 mile trail through the gorge includes 832 steps. With every turn there are breath-taking views!

17: We did it! We hiked the whole gorge!

18: We ended the day with a fabulous dinner overlooking the fields, vineyards, and Lake Seneca. The next morning we walked around the inn property. We saw a canoe, so - sure, we went for a ride, but just forgot to take our cameras! Breakfast was fabulous again as we relaxed in this beautiful setting.

19: For the next two days we stayed at the Statler Hotel on the Cornell University campus. Carl and Brigit have enjoyed visiting Ithaca over the years while Erik and Yizhi were at Cornell. Erik & Yizhi made sure we included a stop at a favorite place - Purity Ice Cream. Ithaca has documents to claim the rights to being the birthplace of the ice cream sundae in 1892! | We walked around Ithaca Commons, the pedestrian shopping area, which has some interesting metal sculptures. Then we watched the Ithaca Festival parade which featured many interesting and crazy groups and performances, concluding with the chain saw band! | The parade starts the annual four-day Ithaca Festival. The story is that the community comes together to celebrate the fact that all the university students are gone for the summer!

20: After breakfast at The Statler overlooking the Cornell Campus (notice McGraw tower in the background), we hiked the gorge in Buttermilk Falls State Park. The name comes from the description of the water as it twists and turns over the rock resembling creamy buttermil.k. | Buttermilk Creek drops over 650 feet through the valley toward Lake Cayuga, tumbling over ten waterfalls along the way.

21: We did it again, we three "Gorges Golden Girls!" We hiked the Rim Trail ascending over 450 feet and returned on the Gorge Trail through the forest above the gorge, a total of 1.72 miles. | Pinnacle Rock

22: Returning from our hike, we noticed the festival activity in town, so we stopped to walk around. We're getting used to rain! | We spent some time in the afternoon walking around the beautiful Cornell campus, admiring the old buildings. Our walk included a visit to the campus book store, of course! Clara needed a Cornell sweatshirt from Grammie!

23: The campus has many new, modern buildings, but they didn't interest us. We made it to the art museum building just before closing to get a view over Lake Beebe. We ended our campus tour with a drive to the Cornell Plantations. | Cornell Plantations is an area of natural beauty on the campus with an arboretum, botanical garden, and 4300 acres of natural areas, including Beebe Lake, gorges, wetlands,, meadows, and forests. | McGraw Tower has 21 bells. Student chimemasters climb the 121 stair to play three concerts daily on the chimes.

24: We finished the day with a very tasty dinner at "Just a Taste" on Aurora Street in Ithaca - seems to be restaurant row. | On June 2 our day started at the Ithaca Farmers Market at Steamboat Landing on the south shore of Cayuga Lake. The market began in 1973; vendors sell fresh, local produce and hand-crafted items. We enjoyed coffee and crepes at the dock. Soon we were on a one-hour historical narrated tour - the guide was outstanding! Sailing away, we could see Cornell University on one side of Ithaca and Ithaca College on the other. Beautiful homes are located on both the east and west shores of the lake. | Great dinner!

25: Summer homes line the west side; there is no access in winter. | Above: Cornell University on the hill Right: Ithaca College in the distance on the hill | Homes on the east side of the lake are perched above the cliffs.

26: It was time to leave upstate New York. On our drive back to Buffalo for our 6 a.m. flight to NYC the next day, we enjoyed the beautiful countryside. We had plenty of time for Claudia to take pictures of old barns that she likes. At the Ithaca Festival someone told us we should check out the Windmill Market, an Amish and Mennonite market. There were lots of buildings with vendors, a few of them Amish and Mennonite. We did buy an ice cream! | No matter where you are you can be on the phone. On the right below Claudia was telling Rich about our trip.

27: We arrived in the Big Apple! We checked into our hotel, then walked immediately to the Grayline ticket office, stopping on the way to take in and admire Rockefeller Center in its summer splendor - so many beautiful and colorful hydrangeas. | We took the tour bus to our destination for the afternoon - Ground Zero. Along the way we saw Times Square, Macy's and much more.

28: We had a quick lunch before we walked the many blocks to Ground Zero | One World Trade Center, also known as Freedom Tower, will be America's tallest building at 1,776 feet, reflecting our country's beginnings in 1776 | The memorial honors the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks of 2/26/93 and 9/11/01. It consists of two massive pools set withing the footprints of the Twin Towers with the largest man-made waterfalls in the country cascading down the sides into what appears to be infinity. | People from all over the world were there - the lines were long to get in - but there was such a sense of reverence at this site , - so many people, yet it was so quiet. Truly a place to mourn and reflect on a great loss.

29: The names of the nearly 3,000 individuals who were killed are inscribed around the edges of the memorial pools. | Being there was very moving - so hard to take it all in.

30: We were very fortunate to be staying at the Marriott Eastside through special arrangements with Harriet, the sister of Claudia's son-in-law. We were definitely spoiled there with concierge service and a wonderful staff. Harriet and her husband Dave invited us to the Renaissance Lounge - what a surprise - an unbelievable view of Times Square as we enjoyed drinks and snacks.

31: Afterwards, we spent some time in the m&m Store -3 stories of m&m memorabilia & quite a lot of fun! | What a surprise! A gift from Harriet was waiting for us in our room when we returned. How wonderful! Wow, we feel special! Thank you, Harriet!

32: Rain greeted us the next morning as we hopped on the tour bus again to get to Battery Park to catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. In Battery Park we saw the sculpture which stood in the plaza of the World Trade Center, entitled "The Sphere," a symbol of peace. It was damaged during the 9/11 attacks and now stands as an icon of hope and the indestructible spirit of our country.

33: We took our time at the Statue of Liberty just enjoying the opportunity to be there. | We walked all the way around enjoying the many views of the statue and looking back at Manhattan Seeing the line of flags of the Park Service across the water was impressive.

34: We boarded the next ferry headed for Ellis Island. We walked around inside the building and went on a one-hour tour with a park ranger, learning a great deal about the history of the island. | The inspection of third class passengers took place in the Registry Room or Great Hall. Most were processed in three to five hours. | Registry Room in the 1920's

35: The "Stairway of | We each had a reason to be moved by the experience of being on Ellis Island. Jeanette and Claudia had grandfathers who came through the island. Carl's father came through here also - just three of the over twelve million immigrants who entered through this portal. | "Stairway of Separation" Doctors would scan immigrants for physical illnesses; they became very adept at these "six second physicals." Only 2% of arriving immigrants were not permitted to enter the country. Those given permission to enter went down the left side of the stairway, those sent down the right were being quarantined due to illness. Those sent down the middle had to return to their home countries. | First and second class passengers underwent a cursory inspection on board the ships. Steerage or third class passengers were transported to Ellis Island after spending two weeks in crowded conditions on the boat, often seasick On the island, they were given a medical and legal inspection.

36: We hoped to get back to our hotel quickly because we wanted to take the night bus tour, but there was so much traffic, because President Obama was in town for a fund-raiser.. | We made it, but the night tour to Brooklyn was a bit disappointing. The guide was not very good and they did not stop in any good place in Brooklyn to give you a good view back over Manhattan.

37: Central Park | We had 72-hour passes on the tour bus, so when we got on to get somewhere, we saw many places over again, but it was great when we had excellent tour guides! One was so good, we did the entire tour with her just to hear her descriptive stories (and she was 81 years old)! | Walking back to the hotel, we did have fun seeing Rockefeller Center with the colorful night lights and the beautiful Chrysler building all lit up.

38: We toured Radio City Music Hall and learned the fascinating history. Did you know? 1) It is the largest indoor theater in the world! 2) Over 300 million people have enjoyed stage shows there. 3) The eight-week Christmas Spectacular has been a sell-out success since its debut in 1933. 4) More than 3,000 women have danced as Rockettes over the last eight decades. On our tour one of the Rockettes spoke to us and answered questions.

39: Back at Rockefeller Center we took the elevator to the Top of the Rock The views all around were spectacular. | Empire State Building

40: With hop-on, hop-off tickets, we take the tour bus to get places, but we also walk A LOT! Brigit had her step counter and a few days we got over 12,000 steps! On the bus we see many interesting sights, such as dog walkers and kid walkers - life in Manhattan! | Guggenheim Museum | Trump Hotel & Tower

41: We walked to the theater to see the play "Other Desert Cities." With all this walking we continually end up in Times Square coming and going - what a busy place! People everywhere, day and night!

42: Our time ran out on the bus passes, so we took the subway to the Empire State Building.

43: Spectacular views again in all directions!

44: From the Empire State Building we walked to the Grand Central Terminal and Shops - a beautiful train station. Our feet needed a rest, so we stopped for a gelato and to catch up on texting.

45: At Radio City Music Hall we had inquired about tickets to the opening night of Zarkana (Cirque du Soleil). We were fortunate that someone had just canceled their tickets and we got them for half price - sixth row center! Fantastic view - wonderful show.

46: Thursday, June 7 already!? Our trip was quickly coming to an end. We left NYC for Long Island. Jeanette went to spend three days with her cousin Martha in Franklin Square. Erik came there to take Claudia and Brigit to his and Yizhi's home in South Setauket.. We dropped off our luggage at the house and went with Erik to Port Jefferson, a historic waterfront village, We strolled around the shops and along the harbor. From here, the ferry crosses Long Island Sound to Bridgeport, Connecticut. | Beautiful sunset picture taken by Erik as he gave us a few lessons on the features of our cameras, which we, of course, knew nothing about! Good to learn!

47: Yizhi and Clara joined us and we went to dinner at the Fifth Season, a restaurant near the water. Brigit loved seeing Clara again! (Well, Erik & Yizhi, too, of course!) She has grown up so much - Brigit last saw them in August 2011. Good thing there is Skype! | After dinner we took a little walk to get dessert - yummy ice cream cones!

48: Hi there, Snarf! If there is a container (basket, box, etc.), Snarf must check it out! He must have just had a bath, since he jumped in the "Clean Laundry" basket! Dunkers is up high checking out what is going on. | After breakfast of Eierpfannekuchen (German version of crepes - a family tradition that goes back to Carl's mother and before), Claudia and Brigit were off exploring the Eastern half of Long Island . . . starting with a little shopping in Southampton.

49: The Hampton beaches are beautiful. Along the shore are large, beautiful mansions, spaced far apart. We saw very few people on the beach - it's too early in the season, apparently. Perhaps the villages of the Hamptons and their reputations are more about people getting away from the big city and having quiet weekends in their mansions here - most well hidden behind high hedges. No doubt the Hampton lifestyle is also about parties. Unfortunately, we were not invited to any!

50: It does appear on the GPS that we went about as far east as we could go! We reached Montauk Point Lighthouse, a National Historic Landmark. The lighthouse is the first in New York state and the fourth oldest in the U. S. It was authorized by the second Congress in 1792, under President George Washington.

51: We climbed the 110 foot tower, taking 137 steps to the top. The views over the land and water were quite spectacular. We had lunch near the lighthouse, which we shared with this sweet little sea gull, who had an injured foot and just hopped around.

52: Next stop was the village of Sag Harbor, another of the Hampton villages. This, of course, meant a little shopping again - these cute, little shops are quite inviting! These are lovely little towns, all of them flying the flag high in the center of town.

53: On the way back we stopped at Brieremere Farms for fresh-baked pies. Should we also mention that we went into the Chico's Outlet in the Tanger Outlets in Riverhead?! We managed to come out of there with just a couple of things each - great prices! | Great day for a BBQ. | Clara was delightful as she sang and danced to the wedding proposal video that went viral - she had heard this many times before as she certainly knew the moves! | Talking to Carl on Skype | After a long day of driving, shopping, and being tourists, we certainly needed to rest!

54: We're in Sayville where Erik, Yizhi and Clara ran in a 5K that is a fund raiser for scholarships in memory of Keith Nintzel, a university student killed in a car accident as he was returning to the campus after Thanksgiving in 2004. He was a member of the Sayville High School cross country and track teams. | Erik works with Keith's father, standing here with them before the race. | There they go! | Almost there - Clara also got out and ran a little a couple of times. | They're off, led by the Sayville teams | And here they come!

55: Walking around Claudia and Brigit were both taken by the lovely homes with the large porches and the beautiful and lush gardens. | Relaxing in the park after the race. The park contains a lovely garden area, a memorial to 9/11 | Yizhi enjoyed her new camera, an early birthday present

56: Our last adventure - we took a tour of the Stony Brook Grist Mill and a hike through Avalon Park and Preserve in the village of Stony Brook. | Avalon Park and Preserve is a recreation of the natural environment with five distinct natural habitats populated by native flora. It is a 76 acre tract of fields and forest with a network of hiking trails - a very tranquil place to go for a hike. | The Stony Brook Grist Mill is Long Island's most completely equipped working grist mill and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The mill was built in 1751; the first mill, built in 1699, was washed away in a flood. Water from the millpond flows to the wheel, which powers the mill. It turns a series of gears and wheels, which turn the huge millstones, each weighing about one ton. | Farmers brought their grain to the mill to be ground into flour. Ships came down Stony Brook with grain to have it ground.

57: In the afternoon Grammie Brigit got to spend some time in the back yard with Clara, running, playing on the swings, and having a tea party.

58: On the last night of our time on Long Island,. Yizhi's parents, Wuzheng and Zennie, invited us to dinner. We had a wonderful time and appreciated it so much! | Meanwhile, Jeanette was having a wonderful time with family. She went to the Nassau County Museum of Art where she and Martha enjoyed the gardens and exhibits. She also enjoyed sharing dinner with Martha and her son Frank. | Sunday morning we had breakfast at a local bagel shop (bagel, eggs, bacon, coffee for $3.50!) Then we went to West Meadows Beach near Stony Brook to enjoy the nice weather walking by the water; Claudia also took a walk along the wetlands reserve.

59: Sunday, June 10 - Erik drove Claudia and Brigit to Martha's house to get Jeanette; he then drove us to JFK and we were off, back to LAX, ending a wonderful trip! | Morning and evening meals were enjoyed overlooking Martha's lovely garden. | Nicky, Martha's grandson, received an honor for writing an essay on Freedom. Martha and her son Paul and family were all very proud of Nicky for winning the honor. | Jeanette and Martha also had a chance to visit with cousins Barbara and Anita - they had a wonderful day! | 6/10/12 5 p.m. Headed West!

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  • By: Brigit M.
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