07.30.16 – FMCA Convention in West Springfield, Massachusetts next week August 3 – 6

fmca_online_logoSaturday, July 30, 2016 – We’re in a fairly boring location right now so I’m really looking forward to next Tuesday when we drive over to West Springfield, Massachusetts for the FMCA Convention.

The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) is an international organization for families who own and enjoy the recreational use of motor homes. With approximately 75,000 active member families, FMCA is the largest association dedicated exclusively to the freedom, fun and enjoyment of owning a motor home.

We have been a member of FMCA for a couple of years now. When my boss, Curtis, made it known he was looking for a couple of RVillagers to attend the conference with him representing RVillage, Roy and I considered it and let him know we were his couple!!

We will help man the RVillage booth, #720 at Eastern States Exposition Hall. I’ll be sharing with ya’ll our experiences while we’re there but I wanted to take a little time today to share with you what they are about and what we think we’ll be experiencing there.

First-Year FMCA Membership is only $50 … Renewal $40. The value of FMCA’s member benefits far exceeds the cost of the annual dues. Benefit highlights:

  • Family Motor Coaching magazine — receive the monthly print edition (we receive ours online) and get immediate full access to the Web version and digital edition, including back issues, after you set up your online account
  • FMCAssist Medical Emergency and Travel Assistance Program — included with membership. As soon as you join FMCA, you are automatically enrolled in this program. It covers you worldwide, as long as you are 100 miles from home. And you can be traveling in a motorhome, car, plane, ship, or motorcycle.
  • Michelin Advantage tire purchasing — save on RV tires and passenger car tires with this popular benefit
  • Discounts at FMCA commercial member campgrounds
  • FMCA RV Insurance — priority access to the industry’s leading RV insurance experts who can find the right carrier for you and your motorhome
  • FMCA Roadside Assistance Program — group rates on this customized program
  • Approximately 475 special-interest chapters to join
  • Chapter rallies, area rallies and Family Reunions (aka conventions)
  • Exciting RV caravan tours at discounted rates

We’ve received the 112 page digital version of the Conference Magazine and the theme is “Celebrating Your Freedom.” You guys know we definitely celebrate our freedom of living on the road! We are looking forward to getting to attend some of the following:

  • Several big named manufacturers will have their motor homes on display for us to check out! We love Dora but we always love seeing what’s new! We just don’t talk about it in front of Dora!
  • Evening entertainment by “The Texas Tenors” that was featured on America’s Got Talent, Dave and Daphne, and American Idol semifinalist Ayla Brown.
  • We just know we’ll win the Grand Prize of a 34 day Mississippi River Run RV Vacation for Two!
  • We will attend the “First Time Attendees” Get Together!
  • Lots and Lots of play opportunities!
  • Roy’s going to attend the Spartan Chassis Maintenance Seminar and the Caterpillar Engine Maintenance Seminar.
  • We hope to attend as many seminars as possible in some of these areas as they relate to our Full timing RV life. There are dozens of seminars within each area below and several other areas:
    • Communication and Technology
    • Satellite TV and Sound
    • Websites and Blogging!!!
    • Motor home living
    • Cooking
    • Coach interior upkeep
    • Travel – from how to travel to what to see when you travel
    • Motorhome maintenance and operations
    • A big major thing that Roy’s all excited about is having Blue Ox rebuild Boot’s tow bar. This tow bar goes between Dora’s rear end and Boot’s front end.

Since the list of seminar topics within each category is very long it will take some time to narrow down the most important ones we want to see.

The list of Exhibitors (which includes RVillage) is quite extensive and should provide us with a great learning experience!

I will be spending most of the time 9-5 in RVillage’s booth but Roy will have plenty of time to learn more about this lifestyle we love. I hope to get out of the booth to take in the sites at all the other booths and to learn a little bit at a seminar or two. I like the Blogging, Cooking and Travel seminar categories! Roy will like all the maintenance and technology stuff! Hopefully we’ll get to meet and become friends with the almost 10,000 that are expected to attend.

I hope this gives ya’ll a little idea of what we are going to be experiencing next week at the Conference.

If you haven’t already checked out RVillage.com, click on the link and go on over there to sign up – it’s free!

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07.29.16 Challenges of RVing in the Northeastern United States

CTDEMEMDMANHNJNYRIVTxlgSaturday, July 16, 2016 – We’ve experienced challenges RVing in the Northeastern part of the United States that we haven’t experienced anywhere else. Don’t let this stop you from traveling up here because what you see and experience far outweighs the challenges, just be prepared for it. We were not!

If we were quite wealthy we could probably avoid some of these issues because we could choose to stay at the one that has it all regardless of the cost.

We have some criteria I use when finding a place to stay: Do they have space for Dora’s length? Do they have 50 amp, water, sewage or any combination of those. Are they along the way or are they way out of our traveling path? Is there a Coast to Coast resort in the area? How much do we have to pay if we’re not staying in a free Coast to Coast resort.

The issue with length is a problem with a lot of Boondockers Welcome, National Parks and State Parks RV spaces which cannot handle a 39 foot RV. Most regular RV parks can but others (like those I just named) cannot. We haven’t found traveling anywhere on the roads and highways up here to be a problem with Dora’s size, but finding a place to stay has been difficult because of this.

In our normal traveling life throughout the South, Central, West and North Westany the RV parks we stay at provide us with water, electricity and sewage hookups. This is considered a Full Hook Up to RVers. In the Northeast we’ve become use to not having at least one (sometimes two) of these at every park.

At some parks in the rest of the country, we have to pay $2 to 5 dollars a day to get 50 amps and we always gladly do that. Up here, either they only have 30 amp (which is a huge difference from 50 amp) or they have no sewage hookup. All have had water but not having a way to get rid of the water (dishwashing, bathing, clothes washing water which collect in the gray tank or the “stuff” that goes down the toilet into the black tank), life is difficult.

Not having 50 amp, like I said, is a huge difference from having only 30 amps when you have a large RV like Dora is. We have two air conditioners, a full size refrigerator, a microwave/convection oven, washer and dryer, hot water heater and television with a speaker system. To run all that at the same time you need 50 amps. Smaller RVs have only one air conditioner (which is all 30 amp can handle), no washer/dryer, smaller refrigerators, smaller powered or no microwave/convection oven, and no speaker system to drain the power.

MV5BMTQ1NDY0MDgxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDU4OTU2MjE@._V1_UY268_CR87,0,182,268_AL_When we only have 30 amps we can only run one air conditioner. We also can only run one of the following: hot water heater, or microwave, washer/dryer at a time. Life becomes a little like “Green Acres” when they only had so much to use and had to alternate between appliances. This does not make for a relaxing, good quality life which we love to have! It’s become our norm lately to just have to accept being without.

We have an adapter that lets us plug into two side by side 30 amps to get 60 amps allowing us to run everything. To be able to do that you have to have no one parked next to you which has only happened once since we’ve been up here.

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This is a Honey Wagon

The issue with the sewage seems to be handled by the parks without sewage hookups, by a “honey wagon” which is just a large tank driven from RV to RV on specific days of the week after you’ve signed up and paid for it. I just think this is terribly crude. One park I asked about it when it kept happening that there was no sewage hook up offered, said that their RV park is built on granite and that they’d have to blow up the ground to install the sewage connections. I haven’t asked others but we haven’t had a sewage hook up for weeks since we started traveling throughout the upper northeastern states. Even with them sucking it all out, we’ve been faced with our tanks being 100 percent full of grey water before the sucking day arrives. We’ve had to ration water so that we don’t fill up before our time. The disgusting thing is that when your grey tank starts to overflow it doesn’t do it outside, it does it in the shower coming up through the hole in the shower floor.

The issue with Coast to Coast up here has been a severe lack of parks. Three of the northeastern states have zero Coast to Coast parks in their states. Two others only had 1 or 2 and not in a ctc-master-logogood location for us. One of our options is to stay in a Good Neighbor Park using trip points through Coast to Coast. Normally parks in the rest of the country ask for 1500 trip points per day. In the upper north east they want between 3000 and 4000 per night. Because of these limitations up here we’ve paid more for RV stays this last two months than we normally do in a full year or more. We really work at creating a traveling path that cost us the very least in diesel for travel and in which park we stay in for cost.

passport america indexPassport America up in the northeast does not allow you to stay at their park normally for more than a day or two at a time, and a lot don’t take PA during the summer months. I did find two places that let us stay there for five days and that was after searching through dozens of RV park listings in Passport America. At those two parks we paid almost twice the normal daily rate we are used to at other Passport America parks.

The hills, mountains and valleys are beautiful up here but a good number of the parks have very unlevel parking spaces which cause us to have to use blocks and even one time our back tires were up off the ground. At the one park we were still leaning which causes some disorientation when walking through Dora.

Lastly reservations need to be made up here at least a month in advance to be assured of a spot. That is not the cast in the rest of the country. As long as we made reservations three days in advance we’ve always been able to get a spot.

This will continue until we return to the South which makes for a little darkness over the otherwise amazing places we’ve been blessed to visit. Roy has jumped in and is helping me now with the planning for our travels. It gets so complicated sometimes that I just can’t do it and he even gets quite frustrated with it.

We’ve honestly wished we had unlimited funds to be able to not concern ourselves with this but then we know we are “quite” blessed to be able to do this at all.

I don’t like to complain about things so I hope you find this a little unusual for me. My main reason for sharing this is to prepare other RVers for what to expect in this area.

I’m happy to say we have reservations most everywhere along our path until mid September except for a week or two around Virginia Beach near the end of August.

That’s it for our issues up here in the northeast! Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!!

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07.22.16 Goat Island at Niagara Falls, New York

Friday, July 22, 2016 – Goat Island is an island that splits the Niagara River, causing it to flow along both sides of it to form the American Falls on one side and the Horseshoe Falls on the other.  This is a good picture showing Goat Island’s location.  You can either drive onto the island and park, or walk over a bridge to get there.  The parking on Goat Island in one of the two parking lots is $10 for the day.  On Tuesday of this week Roy and I visited there to experience more of the amazingness of Niagara Falls.

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We enjoyed a beautiful day there walking all over.  We saw the horseshoe falls from a different perspective.  Last Monday when we saw them it was from the Canadian side and Tuesday we saw it from the American side.

20160719_125516 I loved the beautiful purple flowers right on the edge of the rushing water!20160719_125341 20160719_125154 20160719_125126 Not only did we get to see the Falls from the American side, we also got to walk away from the Falls on a lovely walkway along the Niagara River and see it up close as it was rushing to the Falls.   It was absolutely amazing not to see people swept up in the rushing river going over the falls since there is nothing that stops you from just walking into the river.  Even a tiny fence at one place was easily walked around and right now to the water!!

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A good ways along the walkway we came upon an area where you could turn off and walk to Three Sisters Island, a series of small islands with a walkway between each island.  The views from each of the walkways of the river rushing by cascading over small falls and the final island was breathtaking.

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We took a ride on the Niagara Falls Trolley all around the island and the rest of the Niagara State Park to give our feet a little rest!

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When we were finished with all our seeing we enjoyed a delicious meal at the Top of the Falls overlooking the Falls.

20160719_161519 20160719_152057 20160719_151659 I did not want to leave there that day.  I was absolutely mesmerized watching the falls and the rushing water.  God’s handiwork is displayed here in all it’s glory! I think I took so many photos so that I’ll always be able to look at them and remember our amazing time here!  We bought a Niagara Falls puzzle so I’ll get to play around with that soon!

This was our treat after a long day and a photo of the beautiful back roads here in New York.

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We’ll be leaving this area on Sunday morning headed for Accord, NY where we’ll stay for nine days.  Don’t know what there is to see around there so we’ll see.

After that we’re headed for the FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) Convention in West Springfield, Massachusetts where we’ll be joining my boss Curtis to represent RVillage there.

That’s it for today!  Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!!

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07.20.16 The Museum of Neuroanatomy at the University of Buffalo in New York

20160720_12395120160720_124344Wednesday, July 20, 2016 –  I have a deep personal interest in the human brain, what it looks like, what makes it work, and what does it look like when it doesn’t work.  When I found out that, near our RV park in Buffalo New York, a museum with actual brains existed I wanted to go!  I contacted the Professor, Dr. Christopher Cohan, curator of the Brain Museum as well as teaching 2nd year medical students about the human brain.  He was quite nice, and said yes we could come visit which is what we did today.

Remember all the photos are clickable to see them larger.  Who wouldn’t love to see a brain larger!!!

The University of Buffalo, South Campus is a really nice campus and it was kinda cool to be back on a college campus.  What I remember of our old Biology building was that it smelled like formaldahyde, this one didn’t!!

He allowed me to actually hold a human brain (with gloves on of course).  It was heavier than I thought it would be and really cool! Kind of looked like molded cooked chicken!

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I had to throw these next two in just to show you I did enjoy holding it!  It took a bit to get use to thinking I was holding a brain!20160720_124102 20160720_124101Chris spent two hours with us explaining so much about the brain as we walked throughout the museum.  It’s such a complicated body organ.

The Museum of Neuroanatomy is dedicated to the study of the brain.  It consists of specimens, models, photographs, x-rays, brain images and other exhibits.  The museum serves as a learning experience for medical students as well as being open to the general public.

The museum’s collection focuses on the anatomy of the normal human brain in undissected and dissected preparation.  Imagine a whole room full of brains both normal and diseased. Somewhere around 90 to be a little more exact.

We got to see what a brain looks like after a major stroke.  The one we saw has a large hole in it from the dead area affected by the stroke.

20160720_120148 20160720_120153We also got to see what an Alzheimers brain looks like.  I now have better understanding about the grey matter that is so important to healthy braining functioning but is slowly eaten away over time for someone with Alzheimers.

20160720_124550 20160720_124543 We also got to see what a brain tumor looks like.  Knowing that a friend of mine is experiencing this made it more important to me.

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Seeing is a big part of understanding and seeing today the various parts of a brain that are not exactly perfect in my brain was very helpful.  Chris explained things in terms of what a specific part of a brain is responsible for rather than just using the name of the part.  I can imagine that his medical students love having him as a Professor.  Here he is in front of the showcases.

20160720_124841There is a section in the museum about aneurysms with examples of aneurysms on brain parts and in a blood vessel.  There was a small display that showed what abdomen, heart and brain stints look like and how much they cost.  He opened up the showcase to take out the tubing with wiring in it that is used by neurosurgeons to get to damaged brain parts.  He pulled the tiny wire out of the tubing and then pushed what’s inside the wiring out.  Wow, it could get into even the tiniest of spaces.

First picture is a vein Aneurysm.

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Different types of stints, the white circle of tubing contains what’s shown in the last two photos in this group.20160720_120239 20160720_120644 20160720_120650

Roy went today for me, but I believe he came away having learned a lot and enjoyed himself!  If you’re ever in the Buffalo, NY area and are interested in a tour send Chris an email at ccohan@buffalo.edu.  Give him as much notice as you can, preferably a week.

Thanks Chris for the great tour and all you allowed us to see and do!

On Tuesday we went to Goats Island by Niagara Falls and saw all of it from a different perspective.  The brain visit was so cool I had to publish it first!

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

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07.14.16 Niagara Falls in New York – Part Three, the Canadian side

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Here’s the map again to help with where everything is located.

Thursday, July 14, 2016 – If you haven’t read the first two parts of this three part blog post, here are links to those.  USA side – Part OneMaid of the Mist – Part Two

Now on to part three which will cover all we saw and did while on the Canadian side of the falls. WARNING: It may take a while to load all the pictures and videos.

I said last time that the Canadian side is as different from the USA side as night and day.  The main reason is that the Canadian side is totally commercial with some nice walking trails mixed in.

In Canada the view encompasses all of the falls.  There is a 1.25 mile walkway between the Rainbow Bridge where you cross into Canada and the end where the Horseshoe Falls are located. The photos below are in the order as we saw them.  First are photos of us getting to Canada from the US walking over the Rainbow Bridge.

Remember all photos are clickable so you can see them larger.

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Finally we’re in Canada.  This is our first time in Canada ever! This next part will show you how commercialized this side is.  Shopping everywhere, place after place wanting your attention and your money.  I’m not knocking it, it was cool, just very different than the US side.

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Looking back down Clifton Hill you can see the American Falls.20160711_150010 20160711_150114 20160711_150157 20160711_150219 20160711_150504 20160711_150600 20160711_150623

Notice the “Misty Award”20160711_150803

Looking back up Clifton Hills from the walkway by the Falls.20160711_151806

Finally we entered the park like area and started walking down the path along the Niagara Gorge where we could see the falls the best.

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And the photos that you’ve probably been waiting for are here!  This is the first look of what the falls look like from the Canadian side.

Looking down the 1.25 mile distance to the Horseshoe Falls. 20160711_152422

The American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls from the Canadian Side.  You really can see all their beauty from Canada.20160711_153658 20160711_154115

Because of the distance we covered on the walk, we sat down as often as we could.  This is what the falls look like from a sitting position!!!20160711_154914 20160711_155743

The Horseshoe falls with a Maid of the Mist heading into the mist.20160711_155957

Hotels lined the other side of the street from the walkway.  Every hotel you can imagine is here.20160711_160235

Looking down the walkway – you can see the large amount of tourists on this side.20160711_160434

Getting closer to the Horseshoe falls.  I couldn’t help but snap a photo every few feet.  Over 100 photos were deleted from the blog post about the Canada side leaving over 50 here.20160711_161041

After getting soaking wet on the Maid of the Mist it all came back as we got closer and closer to the Horseshoe Falls.20160711_161825

We were able to get right next to and on top of the falls.  This to me was one of the most amazing experiences.  In the pictures below you can see the very edge of the falls with the water flowing over it.  20160711_162152 20160711_162421 20160711_162758

We are two happy Chauvins!20160711_162826 20160711_162903

This is on our way back down the 1.25 mile walkway looking back at the American Falls.20160711_163008

Since you’ve seen the falls over and over and over in the photos I don’t think you need me to explain what these videos are showing.  There are several and each time I went through them I determined they all need to be shared so here they are!

After we walked from one end to the other and back we heard from the Ashliman’s that they were in our area.  Walking across the parkway we saw them!  We walked up Clifton Hill (the area that is similar to Las Vegas) with them stopping for the children to play with the giant marble Roy previously played with.  They took photos with the tall man I took a photo with earlier.

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Roy, myself, Ron, Nichole, Trevor, Melanie and Holly had a great visit at Ruby Tuesdays.  It was wonderful to see the children, now three years older, and their parents.  They were so kind to us when we visited them in Decatur, Indiana three years ago and we’ve kept our connection through Facebook since then! Here’s Nichole, Holly and Melanie!

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Here we all are after visiting!

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Here’s a link to the two blog posts from back then.

Church, Party and Parade (where we met the Aschlimans)

God sat us in the right place – October 2013

After telling them goodbye we walked around a bit exploring some of the shops, especially the Hershey’s store!

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Being almost totally exhausted we took the walk across the bridge back to the US!20160711_190527 20160711_190734 20160711_191010

Our time in Niagara last Monday was wonderful.  We’ll be in the area until Sunday, July 24th so our plans are to rest for a while and then head back to see Goat’s Island which has a different view of the falls, a nearby city Niagara on the Lake, and maybe eat at the Top of the Falls.  I guess you can tell if I could camp out long term at the falls I would!!

Thanks for following our trek through Niagara Falls with us!

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

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07.13.16 Niagara Falls in New York – Part Two, Maid of the Mist Boat Tour

If you missed the first part of this three part blog post here’s a link to it!  Niagara Part One20160711_122750Wednesday, July 13, 2016 – After touring the USA side of Niagara Falls we went for a ride on the “Maid of the Mist.”  As they say on their website:

Hear the crashing waves. See the breathtaking views. Soak up every drop of powerful spray aboard the Maid of the Mist.  Build mist-covered memories that will last a lifetime. Soak up every moment of natural and historical amazement — like millions before you have. Journey into the heart of one of North America’s most powerful waterfalls. Hear the thundering roar of 600,000 gallons of water falling right before your eyes. Feel the mighty rush of the mist on your face aboard the Maid of the Mist. It’s the only way to experience one of the world’s most amazing natural wonders right here in the U.S.A.

The tickets for adults are $18.95.  If it was triple that it would have been worth it!  You will be able to see exactly how happy we were in the photos below. There is a Maid of the Mist that leaves from the Canadian side as well.

The first step was checking out the The Tower’s Observation Deck which extends out over the Niagara Gorge and is the only place in the Park to view both the American and Horseshoe Falls at the same time!  Once you view all that, you take an elevator ride down 200 feet to the side of the water.  There you receive your blue rain coat and board the Maid of the Mist.  Our elevator is the first photo below – yes I took a photo of the elevator!  Remember, all photos are clickable to see them larger.

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This is the Observation Tower from down on the water.20160711_120729The Maid of the Mist boarding area

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Aren’t we precious in our blue rain coats!20160711_120318

The Rainbow bridge we walked across to get to Canada as seen from the water.20160711_120647One of the Maid of the Mist vessels.

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So that you will know what you’re seeing, the first falls you’ll see are the two in America, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls.  The ones that seem to surround us and have the most mist that hit us are the Horseshoe Falls which are Canadian falls.

The boat goes slowly in front of the American falls and when it gets to the Horseshoe Falls it pauses for several minutes while we took in the experience.  The force of water from the falls on the sides and in front cause the boat to not sit very still which made for an exciting and quite wet experience.  You cannot prepare for when you need the rain coat hood on so it is probably best to wear it all the time. I didn’t and ended up looking like a wet rat.

These first photos are leading up to and seeing the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls.

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Looking back at the boat launch.20160711_121445

The amazing American Falls.  They are the majority of his area.  The Bridal Veil Falls are the area on the right after a rock wall separation.  It can be seen better in some of the photos.20160711_12154020160711_12155520160711_12165120160711_12165920160711_12175020160711_12180720160711_121853

After those two falls is a several hundred foot stretch where there are no falls.  Seagulls and other beautiful birds fly around the area and seem to make their home on the water’s edge there!

This photo below shows one of the wooden walkways that you can pay to see the falls closer up on.  Perhaps next week when we return we’ll try that one out!

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I do not think anything can prepare you for the exhilaration of entering the mist near the Horseshoe Falls.  The Maid of the Mist sits in place there for several moments and then turns in place to head back.  I have nothing to compare the experience to! The photos and videos may look like a lot of white but it’s beautiful white when you’re there!

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After turning around we headed back in front of the American and Bridal Veil Falls.20160711_122902 20160711_122834

Here we are pulling up to the boat launch ready to go back up to the top of the Observation Tower and then over the bridge to Canada!

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Next, we went across the Rainbow Bridge to the Canadian side and it is as different from the US side as night and day.

We were quite blessed while we were in Canada to get to visit with the Aschliman family.  We first met them three years ago while watching the Callithumpian parade in Decatur, Indiana.  To find out they were also in Niagara Falls when we were was amazing, and we took advantage of this opportunity to visit them in Canada.

While we are in Niagara Falls our son Chip and his family are enjoying time with Mickey in Disneyworld!  More on our visit with the Aschliman family and our visit to Canada in part three which I’ll put together tomorrow!

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear

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07.12.16 Niagara Falls in New York – Part One, the USA side

20160711_110303Tuesday, July 12, 2016 – Monday was one of the most amazing days of our life!  Niagara Falls is the bomb!!!  If it’s not already on your bucket list, it should be!

This experience will be presented in three parts.  1)  Niagara from the USA side, 2) The Maid of the Mist boat tour by the falls and 3) Niagara from the Canadian side.

The two side of Niagara are different and I found a article that explains the differences well.  You can read it by clicking here!  We followed their recommendation at the end for how we saw the falls and it all worked out fine.  There are many different things to see and do and we didn’t do all of it.  We feel 20160711_104521like what we did covered most all of what we really desired to see.

We’ll be in the area until Sunday July 24th so there will be lots of time next week for us to go back and see other things!

We started out at 10:00 am for the hour drive to get us to Niagara Falls.  As we started seeing Canada and Niagara signs I started getting happy!

First, parking can be a challenge.  The lot we chose to try out was full so we drove around a bit and came back.  They had some openings and were able to go in.  Absolutely the perfect parking spot!!!  We were able to return to it a couple of times and unload our loot!

It costs nothing to see Niagara Falls except for the two quarters it costs to return to the USA side.  Doing things other than looking do cost but it is truly amazing that you can see it for no cost.  The parking on the USA side is $10 and on the Canadian side is $20.

20160711_111328After walking through a very attractive state park we entered the Visitors Center which is a multi level building that contains information, a museum and a gift shop.20160711_112828 20160711_113944 20160711_113957When leaving the visitors center this is the first sight we had of the falls.  It is much less crowded on the US side than the Canadian side. 20160711_114420I was totally unaware of the layout of the area and found a map that is helpful.  On top is the United States, on the left is the Rainbow bridge we walked across to Canada and the bottom is Canada.

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Here we go!!!!!  The photos and videos.

20160711_114509 20160711_115019 20160711_115046 20160711_115140The rainbow at the bottom of the falls!  In this photo is also the Maid of the Mist which we rode and I’ll write about next time. 20160711_115201

The view of the falls from the Boardwalk way above the falls.  You can see both the falls on the US side and some of the falls that wrap around the end from USA to Canada.  The mist coming up from there at the end can be seen from miles away and feels like rain when you get anywhere close to that area!20160711_115649 20160711_115652

You can start to see the walkway that leads up the side of the falls.  That is an attraction that you can pay $14 for.  It use to go under the falls but a rockslide and some other damage they found showed it wasn’t safe so now it runs up each side of the US falls.20160711_124029 20160711_124519

One of the Maid of the Mist boats (it looks so tiny here) from up on the Boardwalk.20160711_124623Some of the walking area down right by the bottom of the falls that leads to the walk way up to the top.20160711_124627The Canadian side (a small bit) and the bridge we crossed to get from USA to Canada and back.20160711_124756

The suds and other things created by the falls hitting the river going under the bridge we crossed.  It is all so beautiful, even this.  The water is an amazing bluish green and even lighter on the USA side due to a water fall that empties into the river at that end.20160711_124759The rock walls on the US side.20160711_124803Looking down from the boardwalk to where people are getting their blue rain coats before boarding the Maid of the Mist.  We were one of those folks just a little bit after this!20160711_124836In this picture you see the walking area and the walkway up next to the falls, the falls and the viewing area from the US side.

20160711_124938Across from the parking lot is a large glass building serving as a Welcome Center.  Mostly they sell souvenirs and food.  Not one bite of American food, however.  There was Indian food, Italian food, Mexican food, Chinese food, and more.  Not only was there no American food but it was all horribly overpriced.   One of the things I would have wondered is why Indian food?  Well at least one out of every two visitors to the Falls is Indian.  We’ve found over and over as we’ve traveled that more people from other countries visit these places than our own Americans.  Can’t quite figure that one out. 20160711_131827 20160711_131831Our parking lot To the left is the large glass building you just saw, behind the trees in the back is the US State Park leading to the falls.  Behind us was the Pedestrian walkway to Canada.

At this point in our day we went on the Maid of the Mist and we went to Canada.  So that I can keep everything we did or saw on the US side together here is what we saw and did after visiting Canada when we got back to America.

Videos from the bridge:

When you return to America or just go into America there is a turnstile that wants fifty cents.  If you only have dollars you can get change in machines in the same room.20160711_191304

In the middle of the bridge going from country to country is a place showing where the International Boundary Line is located.20160711_192122

This is taken looking towards the automobile border crossing behind me.20160711_192351

We enjoyed a delicious burger at Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls, NY.  Very cool place and we loved the food!20160711_204319

I thought this was cool.  As evening started getting darker the half moon at the top and the mist from the falls at the bottom looked so neat I had to take a photo!20160711_210843These are photos as the sun went down and the colors were turned on at the Falls.

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Some of the Canadian skyline in the evening.20160711_212118

In my next blog post I’ll share our experience on the Maid of the Mist going down the river and pausing for a few minutes in the middle of the horseshoe falls where the mist was the thickest.  We did not get home until almost midnight so you can tell there is a lot more of our experience to share! This is a really good photo I found that shows the horseshoe falls from the air.  Puts it into great perspective.

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Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!!

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07.10.16 MLB Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY – Part Three

NB_HOF_logoBack in January of this year Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were elected to the Hall of Fame.  Their induction will occur two weeks after we’re there. Ken Griffey Jr. has been our son Chip’s favorite play all his life so this will be a big Hall of Fame induction for for him!

Some of the Museum stores items and a look at the store.

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ROY, TAKING A BREAK, IN THE HALL OF FAME ON THE FIRST FLOOR
– EACH ALCOVE DISPLAYED THE PLAQUES OF THOSE INDUCTED INTO THE HALL OF FAME DURING A SPECIFIC TIME PERIOD20160708_164030national-baseball-hall-of-fame-and-museum_119876 Head_Atrium_HOFIN THE VERY CENTER OF THE BACK OF THE HALL OF FAME IS A DISPLAY WITH THE FIRST FIVE PLAYERS INDUCTED

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TY COBB20160708_164847HONUS WAGNER20160708_164836WILLIE MAYS

20160708_164122SOME OF OUR FAVORITE PLAYERS WHO ARE IN THE HALL OF FAME

CRAIG BIGGIO20160708_164759JOHN SMOLTZ, ATLANTA BRAVES PITCHER 20160708_164719GREG MADDUX ATLANTA BRAVES PITCHER20160708_164655TOM GLAVINE, ATLANTA BRAVES PITCHER20160708_164643BOBBY COX, ATLANTA BRAVES COACH FOR MANY YEARS20160708_164634

BABE RUTH20160708_164546RICKEY HENDERSON, AN ALL TIME FAVORITE OF OURS – AMAZING BASE STEALER20160708_164533CAL RIPKEN, BALTIMORE ORIOLES – 2,632 CONSECUTIVE GAMES PLAYED20160708_164523DENNIS ECKERSLEY – PITCHER20160708_164442PHIL NIEKRO – PITCHER20160708_164309  AND NOW, THE MOMENT CHIP’S BEEN WAITING FOR – THE KEN GRIFFEY JR. SECTION ANNOUNCING HIS INDUCTION INTO THE HALL OF FAME IN LATE JULY.  20160708_163955 20160708_163837 20160708_163635 20160708_163626

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, CATCHER AND POWERFUL HITTER MIKE PIAZZA WILL BE INDUCTED ALSO IN LATE JULY

Remember you can click on any photo to enlarge it!  All that I’ve included in these three blog posts is just a tiny bit of what all we saw.  I took photos of things related to players I like so your experience probably would be quite different.  If you’re a baseball enthusiast I recommend going there one day.

One of the absolute best things about our visit was hearing dads and sometimes moms share stories about players achievments with their sons and daughters.  What memories that’s creating!

20160708_163940That wraps up our visit to the MLB Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

As I finish up this on Sunday afternoon we just arrived at Three Valley Campground in Holland, NY.  Either Monday or Tuesday, or maybe both, we’ll go to see the amazing Niagara Falls from both the US and the Canadian sides!

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

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07.09.16 MLB Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York – Part Two

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Saturday, July 9, 2016 – On to the rest of the second and third floor of the National Baseball Hall of Fame! Here’s the map of the three floors.  Click on it to see the full size map.  They recommend that you start on the second floor, go to the third and then end at the Hall of Fame on the first floor.  That is what we did and that is why the floor maps are not in order like you’d think they would be.

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20160708_160641These fabric-mache sculptures of baseball fans, represent one of the greats of the National Pastime: the love of the game by their fans!  Most of these portray specific people, but they also honor every fan who loves the game.   20160708_160521As baseball reached the last 20 years it seemed to become a whole new ballgame.  The love of baseball was renewed and new fans like us came into the baseball fold!

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As America reeled from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Commissioner Bud Selig suspended the baseball season.  Play resumed six days later – not because America had recovered but precisely because it had not. When the teams returned, they bore special caps and jerseys with American flag patches and the date “0-11-01.”  Mike Pizza of the Mets signed his Jersey from that date and it is now in the Hall of Fame.

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The Atlanta Braves are our family’s favorite MLB team.  The amazing men who played for them in the good old days have some of their memorabilia here in the Hall of Fame.  Click on the three photos below to see what some of those things are. Tom Glavine’s shoes, Bobby Cox’s Atlanta Cap, John Smoltz’s game winning ball, Greg Maddux’s shoes. 20160708_160115 20160708_160102 20160708_160056

Baseball grew twice in the 1990s, and all four new clubs quickly earned postseason success.  The Arizona Diamondbacks took just four seasons to with their first World Series.  The Florida Marlins accomplished the feat in five, the Tampa Bay and Colorado Rockies teams made multiple playoff appearances and won a pennant during their first fifteen years, feats that have eluded many established clubs.  Three of the newer team’s caps are below. 20160708_160032My favorite hunk of a player was Jose Canseco.  My sons and hubby put up with my crush and have had a lot of good natured fun at my expense reminding me that a ball bounced off his head in the outfield causing a home run for the opposing team!20160708_155848

Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa home run race kept America watching every game they played in . Click on the second photo below to learn more about “Chicks Dig The Long Ball”20160708_155841 20160708_155825

Some of the interesting exhibits about what make baseball great.  The Field of Dreams poster is in the upper left corner of the first exhibit below.  We visited the site of the Field of Dreams movie a few years ago and loved it!20160708_155639 20160708_155527Chipper Jones’ jersey he wore in 2012, the last of his 19 big league seasons.  The jersey you see me wearing is a Chipper Jones jersey!!!   He was an amazing player and man.  We loved watching through the years!20160708_155445

Stan Musial’s Locker – you know you’re something when they have your locker here!20160708_154812 The Yankee Jersey Lou Gehrig wore in his final year, 1939. 20160708_154709 Women’s Baseball had its own area which was really interesting to walk through. 20160708_154420 20160708_154314To Ted Williams, hitting was a science.  On each of the 77 baseballs displayed below he has assigned a batting average.  Each indicates what he believes his own average would be, if pitches were delivered in those areas of his strike zone. 20160708_154044The New York Yankees launched a new dynasty that saw them win 15 pennants in 18 years.   This is the 1950 team. 20160708_153949

Cy Young’s memorabilia20160708_153731

20160708_153326 Back in 1949 this was how flip down sunglasses were worn – bolted to the cap!!

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Here’s for my friend Cat who is an avid Chicago Cubs fan! I thought I had another pic for ya but I don’t. 20160708_152441

One of my favorite exhibit was the large glass case with baseball gear from the 1800s and early 19002.  I encourage you to click on this picture to see all these cool things in a larger form. 20160708_151952 Me, wearing my Chipper Jones jersey, checking out the different team’s cages.   20160708_151348

I end this blog post with the first thing we saw when starting our tour.  Each Major League team has a cage holding information on the team and some of that team’s memorabilia. 20160708_151149Close up of some of the Brave’s information including those players whose jersey’s have been retired.

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Ya’ll come back now for Part Three, ya’ hear!!

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