Friday, July 29, 2011

Greetings from Cape Ann!

Amy and I had a great time at Fenway Park yesterday even though the Red Sox managed to lose the game - but only by one run which made it close but close doesn't quite count in that case, does it? Regardless, it was fun and I didn't mind being in the "cheap seats" at all! More on that later though ...

After the game we came back up to the North Shore for an overnight stay in Rockport which is close to Gloucester and the Gloucester Fisherman.  By the time we got here it was a bit late in the evening but I still wanted Amy to see the famous statute and of course I had to snap a couple of pictures even though I have pictures from the last time Jamie and I were in the area in December.

As you can tell from the flags in the picture above, it was a bit breezy on the water last evening and Amy even thought it was cool enough to don a hoodie. She said she could only imagine how cold it is there in the winter but I could more than imagine having stood in that same spot on a cold and gray December day. Still, there's something about the sea ...

Today we're heading back down to Salem and heading over to the Peabody Essex Museum to finally go on that Historic House Tour I've been wanting to do for quite some time now.  We'll be meeting up with my friend Juli from the Hawthorne Hotel who will be joining us for the tour and lunch in the Garden Restaurant of the PEM following the tour.  After that it's back home and reality but for today I'm going to enjoy one more day of my mini-vacation!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Greetings from Salem!

Yes, yes, I know that I should be home editing pictures from Niagara Falls and Vermont but instead I'm off on yet another jaunt and taking even more pictures that will eventually need to be edited. What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment.  Either that or I like to take full advantage of my days off!

After arriving back in one of my favorite Massachusetts towns early evening yesterday, my cousin and I spent awhile walking around Salem which included a stroll out to Derby Wharf Lighthouse - a square brick lighthouse that was originally painted red when it was built in 1871 at the cost of $3,000. The tower is 14 feet tall to the lantern level and each face of the tower is 12 feet across. A fifth-order Fresnel lens exhibited a fixed red light from 25 feet above mean high water when the light on the wharf was first lighted on January 17th, 1871 but was switched to several other types of lights before it was ultimately replaced by a 155-mm solar-powered optic in 1983 after the Friends of Salem Maritime had the lighthouse restored and relighted as a private aid to navigation following its deactivation in 1977.

As you can see, the lighthouse is obviously located in a very popular place for fishing on what was a beautiful July night.  If I fished, I wouldn't have minded joining all of the folks enjoying themselves at the end of the wharf but that's okay, I've got a fun couple of days planned and there's no bait required!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Baby!

Jamie Bigglesworth

Hard to believe that it was 18 years ago today that I went into Backus Hospital to have a test run to see how things were progressing with my final pregnancy and ended up staying to have a C-section -Jamie was doing things her way right from the start!

Happy birthday to my youngest - who's no longer that young! She's off with a friend and not here to celebrate with us but she's in my heart and my thoughts and I hope she has a kick-ass birthday regardless of where she is, eh?

Happy 18th birthday, Jamie Jessica! I love you!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Moving On on Monday

Most people are never happy to see Monday come along but I've got to say that I don't have that problem with my abnormal work schedule - especially this week as the past week and weekend had some major moments of surrealism, drama, and stress that I was more than happy to put behind me.

Between coming to grips with the fact that Amanda won't be going back to Montserrat as a sophomore and being worried about what the future holds for her, dealing with some drama with a person that I thought was a friend who turned out to be lying snake in the grass who then had the nerve to send me text messages that grew increasingly suicidal as they went on probably thinking I wouldn't do anything about it, as well as working 40 hours from Friday at 3:00 p.m. to Sunday at 11:00 p.m. I was more than happy to climb into bed late last night knowing that I had at least made it through Sunday without additional stress and/or drama.

Of course, when I woke up this morning the worries about Amanda flooded back in along with residual disgust for a certain other individual as well as concern about the sore throat that Jamie has been having up in Canada (trying to play Doctor Mom long-distance is hard) but I'm going to do my best not to dwell on any of that or any other negativity today and just enjoy the fact that I don't have to be into work again until 3:00 this afternoon. Yay for 16-hour breaks!

Following today's shift and tomorrow's double shift I'll be on my days off and enjoying a mini-holiday up to Boston's North Shore with my cousin to attend a Red Sox game on Thursday after spending a night at my happy place - the Hawthorne Hotel. If that doesn't unwind my nerves, nothing will! We've got a few other fun activities planned in addition to the game and I'm thinking I might even leave the computer at home for a change - though the Nikon of course will be going along!

So ... if I have seemed out of sorts and negative recently, I sincerely apologize and hope to be putting on a more positive display of attitude here very soon. And may I just add that if you are going to send me text messages alluding to suicidal thoughts, be advised that I will call the police to do a well-being check on you no matter how much respect I might have lost for you recently and you may end up at the emergency room for a psychiatric evaluation whether you like it or not. I take that sort of thing seriously - I've been an emergency dispatcher for way too many years not to.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Baby, It's Hot Outside!

We're Having a Heat Wave

Now I know for you folks who live south of the Mason-Dixon Line or in Texas or other parts of the Southwest that 105 degrees may not seem that hot but for those of us who live in the Northeast it's pretty extreme. Extremely hot!

Even though my car thermometer showed yesterday's temperature to be a balmy 105 degrees here in Norwich, according to the weather gurus on the local news channels this morning the new all-time record was set at Bradley Field yesterday setting the official bar at 103 degrees.  Personally I'm in no hurry to see that record broken anytime soon!

As I know we all spent the winter complaining about how cold it was and that there was no place to put all of the snow that fell I'm not going to complain about the heat and the humidity. Instead I'm going to simply hope the heat wave ends soon and be thankful it hasn't caused any parking problems with my neighbors.  Hey - it's the little things that count, right?  

Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to work where I'll be enjoying the air-conditioning all day!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Five on Friday - The Homestuck Version

This week's Five on Friday comes courtesy of one my oldest daughter's favorite obsessions - "Homestuck". Some of you may remember when she did an art piece awhile back that was designed around a piece of music from the increasignly-popular web-comic which was titled Rex Duodecim Angelus. If that doesn't ring a bell, feel free to click here for the post I did on "Homestuck" and the stained-glass like drawing that Amanda spent a lot of time working on.

Anyhow, all that aside, even though I don't read "Homestuck" (sorry, I'm just not that cool I guess!) I do listen to quite a bit of the music as Amanda plays it a lot as did Jamie before she left for Canada. Amanda (yes, that's her in the picture dressed up as a "Homestuck" character) has been suggesting I do a Five on Friday using "Homestuck" music for awhile now so I finally acquiesced and said "sure, why not?" As a matter of fact, this post is actually going to be Five on Friday + One as I'm throwing in a bonus track just for my friend Jamie - she'll know exactly which one and why once she gives the music a listen. When it first came out Amanda made sure that I listened to it without telling me why but I knew soon enough not too far into the piece and so will Jamie!

Oh, and as a quick explanation as to the first two songs ... they are similar in music as well as similar in sound and title but just enough to be different.  As the web-comic progresses, a lot of the music in "Homestuck" comes back in different incarnations and that's exactly what happened with the first two songs but I like 'em both and couldn't decide which one to pick so you get both! If I had to pick a favorite, I'd say it was the second piece but that might depend on which day you asked me and at what point in time I was listening to it!

I hope you enjoy this week's slightly different twist to Five on Friday and as always, if you ever wish to join in on Trav's fun Friday meme, just pop over to Trav's Thoughts for the quick and easy rules and join in - we'd be happy to have you with us!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

There WAS One Place I Stayed At in Canada Worth Blogging About!

Kilpatrick Manor Sign

Two weeks later I've finally managed to get a post together about my stay at the beautiful Kilpatrick Manor, a lovely bed & breakfast in Downtown Niagara Falls. It may not have a "Falls view" but it's got everything else going for it including what I believe to be some of the best breakfasts in all of Ontario!

Please click over to read "Falling for Kilpatrick Manor in Niagara"
at The Distracted Wanderer and bring a napkin with you, you're going to need it for all of the drooling you're going to do once you see the food I got to eat!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Hereby Declare ...

... today to be Facepalm Tuesday! 

Not that this picture was taken today mind you - or even this year as Amanda snuck this one in last year when I was shooting Frank & Dawn's wedding but, believe it or not, I just found it today while cleaning out photo files.  The shot just seemed appropriate as it's been one of those days where I have all good intentions of getting things done but those good intentions have been as fleeting as my paycheck after it hits the bank hence the frustrated facepalm maneuver! 

Ah well, I'm going to get my face out of my hand and see if I can salvage what's left of the day even though it's already after 5:00!  Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow?  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Miss Bee is Right!

For the last couple of posts Miss Bee has left a comment telling me that I have a fantastic life and ya know something?  I do believe she's right!  I get the chance to go to a lot of different places, meet a lot of wonderful people, and spend time taking pictures - a hobby that I really enjoy.  Maybe I don't have a lot of money and maybe I have a sometimes stressful job and maybe things aren't perfect but all things considered my life is pretty darned good and for that I am happy and grateful.  Very happy and very grateful!

Now ... when's the next road trip??

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Elusive "Oh, If I Could Just Win the Lottery" Dream!

Wow, it's Saturday already - how did that happen??  Even though I've been rather busy taking and editing pictures I've really been enjoying my time back in Vermont at the Inn Victoria.  I need to learn to lay off the shutter button a little bit so that I don't have quite so many pictures to then edit but eh, what can I say?  If I take 600 and 100 come out good then I'm happy and considering I'm taking new pictures for the Inn's website I want to make sure that Dan and Penny - the innkeepers - are happy, too. After all, I got a wonderful weekend out of the deal so I want to make sure that they get wonderful pictures in exchange.

Speaking of wonderful and happy ... my room has a beautiful hydro-massage tub complete with "mood lighting" that I have absolutely fallen in love with that is totally wonderful and makes me completely happy!  I haven't figured out how to sneak it out of the house without Penny and Dan noticing so I guess I'm going to have to leave it here for the next guests to enjoy but it's going to be tough as I'm really going to miss it when I go home.

Hydro-massage tub with

Speaking of home, there is a gorgeous house across the street from the inn that's for sale that I really wish that I could call home; I first noticed it when Jamie and I were here in May and it's just one of those houses that makes a person yearn for home ownership.

Isn't it just the prettiest thing?  It's got a fantastic front porch that wraps around to the side, it's got a turret, it's got a nice yard, and it's located right on Main Street in one of the nicest little towns I've ever been to.  I swear Chester is one of those places where time just kind of stopped and it's like something out of a Rockwell painting or off of a Currier & Ives card.

Now if only I could win the lottery, I'd buy this place in a New York minute and put a big master bathroom in that front turret with one of those nice hydro-massage tubs - then I'd be happy and relaxed all the time!  Ah, dreams ... you've got to have them, right?  It would probably help if I occasionally bought a lottery ticket though, eh?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Greetings from Vermont!

I know, I know ... I have so much to write about in regards to my trip to Niagara Falls but when the opportunity presented itself to go back up to Vermont for a couple of days, I just couldn't say 'no'!  This is the Green River Bridge in Guilford - one of a couple covered bridges I managed to find on my way up to the charming town of Chester where I had been invited to stay at the beautiful Inn Victoria for a few days.  It was an opportunity I just couldn't pass up - I bet you wouldn't have been able to either! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Trekking to Toronto

Last Tuesday evening Jamie and I began our trip up to Canada when I got out of work a little early so that we could put part of our journey behind us by nightfall.  If I was reading the maps correctly, the trip to Toronto was going to take somewhere around 9-1/2 to 10 hours so rather than get up in the wee hours of the morning I decided that we'd just hit the road Tuesday evening, drive as far as Albany which is a mere 150+ miles away, and spend the night at a cheap - but hopefully clean - hotel before starting out again in the morning.

The traffic was minimal and we made good time pulling into a Days Inn near the University of Albany just before it started to get dark.  I'd booked the hotel through HotWire and got it for a mere $40 so even though it was nothing to take pictures of or blog about, it was a decent enough place to spend the night. It certainly wasn't the type of place I've grown accustomed to lately but good enough!

Sleeping Beauty!

Rising bright and early the next morning - some of us more bright and early than others! - we were ready to hit the road again around 8:30.  Our direction of travel took us on Route 90 West (aka the New York Thruway) before we took a turn north on Route 81 towards Watertown and Fort Drum, a relatively large Army base which is home to the Army's 10th Mountain Division.  Not too far past Fort Drum we came across the last exit in the United States and Jamie started to get excited as she's been wanting to go to Canada for awhile now.

Last exit in the US before Canada.

My goal had been to reach the American/Canadian border by 1:00 p.m. at the latest and we did just that reaching the New York side of the Thousand Islands Bridge System right around 12:30.  We stopped for a little bit to fill up on gas (I had checked to see how expensive it was in Canada and decided that it would probably be a good idea to not buy gas there if I didn't have to as it was going for approximately $1.30 a liter) and take some pictures of the Welcome Center and the American span of the bridge.

Thousand Islands Welcome Center
Thousand Islands Bridge over the Saint Lawrence River
The Thousand Islands Bridge

Looking up at the spindly green suspension bridge that crosses the Saint Lawrence River, I was thinking that it was probably a darned good thing that my mother wasn't with us as she hates bridges and certainly would not have enjoyed this one at all!  

Crossing the Thousand Islands Bridge - still on the American side.

She wouldn't have liked how high it was nor would she have liked how narrow it was! 

Thousand Islands Bridge from New York to Canada

The entire Thousand Islands Bridge System extends a distance of 8.5 miles running from Collins Landing near Alexandria Bay, New York to Ivy Lea near Gananoque, Ontario; in other words, it's pretty big! I wish I had been able to enjoy the view more but alas, I was busy keeping my eyes on the road while trying to adjust to measuring my speed in kilometers rather than miles per hour.  It's trickier than you might think! 

Canadian border crossing near Thousand Islands, New York

Shortly after leaving the bridge behind, we approached the Canadian Border Crossing where we were fortunate enough to get a very friendly young lady who smiled broadly when, in answer to her question about our purpose for visiting Canada, I replied "Hugh Jackman is in concert in Toronto!"  She said that was definitely worth the drive though she warned me that driving in Toronto could be tricky.  It was going to be even trickier based on the fact that my GPS went into a vast nothing-ness at the American border as if the rest of the world didn't exist outside of America. I had rather suspected that might have been the case so was well-prepared with Google maps and printed directions. I dubbed Jamie the official navigator and off we went - into Canada! 

Welcome to Ontario, Canada!

I'm afraid my first impressions of the Great North were less than stellar as it started to rain shortly after we crossed the border and the entrance ramp to Canada Route 401 West (the only way to get to Toronto) was blocked off for some unknown reason. There was nothing for it but to take Route 401 East for close to 15 miles before we were able to turn around at the next exit and finally make our way west and in the proper direction. 

Canada Route 401 heading west towards Tornonto

My navigator decided to take a nap about an hour into the ride but I woke her up as we got closer to Toronto as she was going to need to start reading off directions for me on how to get to our hotel for the night in downtown Toronto.  Traffic was also starting to get heavy though you can't quite tell from the picture above. 

Toronto through the windshield.

As we drove into Toronto on the Don Valley Parkway, Jamie got a quick shot of the CN Tower in the distance and lots of power lines up close!  

We found our next stop for the night relatively easily and after parking the car in a very dark, very narrow, very low-ceilinged garage that cost $23 a night, we made our way up to the lobby and checked into our room. I had booked the hotel through Travelocity as one of their "Secret Deals" which meant I got it for a fairly decent price but again it was nothing to take pictures of or blog about. The Best Western Primrose Hotel in downtown Toronto is a'ight but that's about it.  I must say that the staff was friendly and they were good about changing our room once I told them the air-conditioning didn't work but I don't believe I'd stay there again should I ever find myself back in Toronto and in need of a hotel room. That said, it was pretty well situated in downtown and it was relatively easy to get to the places we needed to be and that had been my key consideration when booking it.

Jamie in Toronto

The first place we needed to be was the Princess of Wales Theater where Hugh Jackman aka Wolverine was putting on a one-man show so we hopped on a subway and then took a short walk down to the theater stopping along the way for a photo op!

The Princess of Wales Theatre
Hugh Jackman in concert in Toronto.  He was all that and then some!

As for Hugh Jackman, what can I say other than WOW! He put on an absolutely fantastic show - it was 90-minutes plus of non-stop singing and dancing and interacting with the audience. Jamie and I were sitting in what could probably be called the nosebleed section of the theater (the second to the last row in the upper balcony) but we still had a pretty good view of the stage.  No photography was allowed but my friend Jamie out in Washington state was nice enough to send me some photos to use that she got from another friend of hers. Jamie is a HUGE Hugh Jackman fan and I couldn't help but think during the concert how much she would have loved to have been there.

For those of you who only know Hugh Jackman from his role as "Wolverine" the man is so much more more than that and an amazing stage performer.  He began his love of musicals growing up in Australia and watching movies like "Sing, Sing, Sing", "Guys and Dolls", and "Singing in the Rain" with his very first role being in "The Music Man" when he was in high school.  He performed the opening scene from the show for us playing all eight parts of the traveling salesmen on the train and I must say it was quite impressive! Equally impressive was his rendition of "My Boy Bill" from the musical "Carousel". Honestly, "Carousel" has never been one of my favorite shows but if Hugh Jackman took it Broadway in a revival, I'm afraid I'd have to go see it - he's just that good!

I wasn't too sure how Jamie was going to like the show as even though she's also a big Hugh Jackman fan, I really didn't know whether or not she was going to like the music as Broadway standards aren't her usual fare and she didn't even really know that Hugh Jackman sang until I told her we were going to the show. As it turned out she loved absolutely every minute of the show and only wished that we had been able to sit closer - like in the front row! Of course, she knew how much those tickets cost and said she was just happy to be in the theater at all when you got right down to it.

Following the phenomenal performance we walked back down to the subway stopping long enough to take a picture of the illuminated CN Tower -

CN Tower in Toronto at night

And a couple quick pictures of Saint Andrew's Church - 

Plaque for St. Andrew's Church
St. Andrew's Church

We made it back to the hotel in time for Jamie to change clothes and make sure she had all of her stuff together before we took a taxi to the nearby Toronto Bus Terminal where she was boarding a Greyhound bus that would take her out to Winnipeg where she'd be meeting a friend of hers who had invited her out for the summer.  Her bus left at 1:00 which might seem like an odd time but it was the only schedule that didn't require her to transfer anywhere along the way.  This being her first long-distance bus trip, I wanted to try to make it as easy as possible for her - or as easy as a 1-day, 12-hour, 36-minute trip could be!

As we waited in line for her bus to board she struck up a conversation with another young lady who was also heading west and they ended up sitting together for most of the trip.  I waited until her bus pulled out taking her on the rest of her Canadian adventure before I walked back to the hotel to continue the rest of my Canadian adventure on my own.  In retrospect maybe walking alone through Toronto at 1:15 in the morning wasn't the best idea but I had no problems at all in getting back to the hotel.

Before calling it a rather late night, I snapped a picture from the hotel window and then climbed into bed and fell directly to sleep.  Ahead of me was going to be a 2-hour drive southwest to Niagara Falls but first I was going to have to navigate my way out of Toronto minus GPS and anyone to read the directions to me!  Obviously I was going to need to be well-rested!

Toronto at night through the hotel window.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Greetings from Monday Morning!

Part of the miniature golf course on Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario.Not having had any coffee yet today, I think this fella is a pretty good representation of how I'm feeling this morning!

Yeppers, it's time for the "after road trip" slump portion of my week wherein I lack any sort of energy, enthusiasm, or ambition. There's laundry to be done, pictures to be edited, posts to be written, etc., etc. and yet all I can seem to do is play silly Facebook games whilst telling myself I need to get started on something - anything!  And playing another round of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" doesn't count!

Ah well, I'm going to shuffle off to the kitchen and brew up some java while throwing in a load of laundry and at least pretending I'll get something accomplished before going into work this afternoon.  It's a start, right??

Oh, and just FYI, this picture is from Dinosaur Adventure Golf at the Clifton Hill section of Niagara Falls and not a self-portrait in spite of the resemblance!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

I took this picture just before I left the parking lot at Niagara Falls State Park for my drive home and I have to say that it was fairly accurate - though it hadn't factored in a few stops along the way for gas, a Tim Horton's iced coffee, and a Roy Rogers roast beef sammich.  After all, that's a lot of miles to go on an empty stomach and even though my car gets good gas mileage, it's not quite good enough that I wouldn't have needed to make at least one stop!

It ended up being a very beautiful and pleasurable drive home as the weather was perfect, the traffic was light, and my iPod provided a good soundtrack to drive to. I pulled into my driveway at 9:40 p.m. with a grand total of 1,178 miles on the trip meter from start to finish - not bad!  All in all it was a great trip and as soon as I'm not working double shifts and have time to sort through the 1,370 pictures I took, I'll tell you all about it!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Greetings from Niagara Falls!

The American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls

Sadly this is my last day in Canada and I'll be heading back over the bridge to the American side shortly. It's been a very busy couple of days filled with so much to see and do coupled with very sore feet from all of the walking but oh so worth it! Yesterday I met up with a blogging friend from Canada who could be my long-lost sister we're so alike when it comes to things like history and old cemeteries and such; Carole and Steve drove me ALL over the place and fit so much into one day that it was amazing - and I've got close to 400 pictures to prove it!

As soon as I can tear myself away from my beautiful B&B I'm going to drive over to the American side of the Falls to try to get a few pictures from that angle and then I'll start the 7-hour drive back to Connecticut and reality. In the meantime, please enjoy the picture of the Canadian falls that I took Thursday evening.  Oh ... and those things that look like black spots on the right side of the picture - those are actually birds of which there were a lot! Heck, if I were a bird, I think I'd pick Niagara Falls as my home, too!

Ah well, speaking of home, I'm outta here ... once I figure out where I stuck my passport!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Greetings from Toronto!

I've got a full day ahead of me but wanted to post at least one picture from yesterday's travels and what says Toronto better than the CN Tower? Off to Niagara Falls here shortly with fingers crossed that I've not forgotten about to navigate the old-fashioned way without benefit of a GPS device; I knew I should have brought along some post-it notes

Ah well, head southwest and look for the falling water ... 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Onward to Ontario

With many thanks to Frank who came in and took over for me early in dispatch yesterday, Jamie and I were able to hit the road a little bit sooner than I had originally planned for our journey north through Massachusetts and New York then onward to Canada.  The weather was great, the traffic was light, and all in all it was nice 155 miles of pavement towards our stop for the night near the University of Albany. I told Jamie to pull out the camera and take a few shots as we drove through the Berkshires but I've apparently yet to quite teach her the fine art of shooting from the passenger seat.  Still, there were a couple of decent shots.

That isn't one of 'em! 

Being that we were driving west, the sun was either doing pretty things like playing hide and seek behind the clouds or causing major road glare!

I thought I had done a good job of cleaning the windshield but apparently not! 

This was the "Welcome to New York" sign which was hidden behind a bunch of road construction vehicles.  I think Jamie did well to get any sort of shot at all considering the location and the fact that we were whipping by at 65 mph!

This morning we'll continue heading west a little bit before we take a turn towards the north and the Thousand Islands region of upper New York State en route to the Canadian border. I thought it would be nice to approach Toronto from the east around Lake Ontario rather than drive up past Niagara Falls as that area is on tap for tomorrow and the next day. So ... time to pack up and hit the road before the sun gets any higher in the sky. After all, Hugh Jackman awaits!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 235th Birthday, America!

No fireworks for the Fourth for me this year as the City of Norwich isn't holding a fireworks display until the 8th but that doesn't mean I don't get to see any pretty colors in the sky - they're just on my computer screen instead!

Last but not least - my favorite colors in the sky!