The Narrows at Zion National Park

The Narrows at Zion National Park

With all this rain and the current flood Watch, we are reminded of a trip that we took this summer. 

We were fortunate enough to get to go with 4 of our nieces, Delise’s brother Mark and sister Donyal and her husband Michael to Zion National Park in Utah. Zion  is one of the most beautiful parks we've ever been to. (Ever heard that before?)

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Wuzzyblack?

It's is our view that when the black birds and red-wing blackbirds arrive by the thousands in middle Georgia, fall is officially here.  
We have a special name for these birds because one day when one of our nieces was very small she was riding in the back seat of the car when she looked out the window at a bird and asked her mom "what kind of bird was that?" Her mom, not seeing what kind of bird she was pointing at ask - "was he black?"

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A Summer Trip to Toronto...

A Summer Trip to Toronto...

We wanted to visit Toronto but decided to get a hotel room in Burlington - it was cheaper and the location was perfect for exploring, so we would commute into Toronto every day. We did have a rental car but everybody said not to try and drive in.  That was some very good advice, the road construction was everywhere. The best way to get in to Toronto from surrounding areas is the Go Train.  It is amazing how honest everyone is. There are no ticket scanners or gates to go through. You just put the ticket in your pocket in case they ever want to see it. We rode the train 4 times and showed our ticket once... The Go Train is a wonderfully comfortable means of transportation, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

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Dreamy Niagara Falls

Dreamy Niagara Falls

There is an old lamp that looks like Niagara Falls - the way the light shines through it makes it look as if the water is moving. I remember as a child watching that lamp and thinking how great it would be to see it in person.  So I guess you could say I've always dreamed of seeing Niagara Falls. So it was a no-brainer that when we were that close, we had to go.  We crossed into Canada near Buffalo, NY, at the Peace Bridge then headed north on Niagara Parkway which follows the river to the falls. 

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Remembering a dear friend - Always look for good in everything

We always want to keep the blog happy and upbeat even in a time that can be sad.

It is our view that some people can help shape a community, they help educate us and inspire us to be better stewards, to always see the best in people and make the best of every situation.  
We had a dear friend who did just that, Cyriline Cantrell. She so loved Peach Country, she was always looking for ways to let people outside Peach Country know how wonderful it was. Cyriline was so humble, during her last days when I whispered in her ear about how many people were going to miss her she said no.. I said yes.
Cyriline was a quiet giver, never wanting attention for herself. Several years back when a dear friend was sick, she made coffee and breakfast for her for 12 weeks straight.  All you had to do was pick up the phone and she was there to help.
We could go on and on about the things she did for Fort Valley and the people that live here.
One of the last times we visited our friend when she was in hospice as we got out of the car we noticed a field of yellow dandelion blooms.  We thought it was some kind of a sign.  

A few weeks later we happened to go by that same field, I was saddened to see all the yellow blooms were gone and replaced by the wispy white seed heads.  I told Paul the beautiful blooms were gone just like Cyriline...... Paul turned to me and smiled, no not gone, just turned into seeds that will blow and be far reaching and will bloom not in just that one place be all over.  He is so right, Cyriline planted seeds in so many of us, making us better people.
You may wonder why we blog this now, well Cyriline's granddaughter had a baby boy this week. I am sure he will be told many wonderful stories of his GREAT grandmother.  She will always be Blooming in the hearts of everyone that knew her…

Cyriline and Norman 

Cyriline and Norman 

Lighthouses, wine tasting and a beautiful sunset

Wine Country

There are a lot of wineries in the New York - Pennsylvania lake region... Our new friends at the Cherry Farm told us of a winery down the road that buys their grapes, so down the road we go. Yes it was still early but it is OK to do wine "tastings" before noon.  Heritage Wine Cellars is a family owned farm that was started in the 1800's and is still run by the same family.  Located in North East, Pa. it is not one of those fancy California vineyards, but they do produce some very good wine. It is the only self serve wine tasting that we have ever seen. Just pick up your own tasting cups and try all of the selections that you want. There are about 40 bottles with a great variety of flavors sitting on the counter.  You know the girls love Cherries and Chocolate...guess what one of their flavors was? Chocolate and cherry flavored wine - there is nothing better than that! We picked up a couple of bottles for the trip. 

 

As we headed East along the coast of Lake Erie we pulled into a marina just to look around. Turned out to be a great place to pick some of Delise's favorite flowers. Sweet Peas were growing wild on the hillside. She picked a bouquet that lasted several days..

delisesweetpea.jpg

Light Houses

We Love Lighthouses! We guess by now you can see a pattern, we love everything. We will drive way out of our way to see one - especially if we can climb it...But who knew there were light houses on the Great Lakes. We were lucky to find this one very close to our route.

The Dunkirk Lighthouse is on Lake Erie in New York State and was established in 1826. The current tower was first lit in 1875.   The light's 27-mile range makes Dunkirk one of the most prominent on Lake Erie. The original lens is a third order Fresnel lens installed in 1857 at a cost of $10,000 and is still in operation. It was automated in 1960 with an automatic bulb changer. The keepers house is now a museum that is run totally by volunteers.

The volunteers provide a guided tour of the house and yes, you can climb the tower! The tower is 61 feet high. To reach the top you have to climb the original cast iron spiral staircase where you can go outside and walk around outside the tower.  The last 10 steps are pretty tight but the view is worth it...

As we were driving in to Erie, Pa we saw a state park out on a point. It was getting late abut we decided to check it out anyway. We were glad we did. As we were walking to checking out the harbor lights we started talking to a fisherman that told us we should head over to the other side of the park to see the sunset. We always love talking to locals. He was right, It was a beautiful sunset over the lake...

Next - Delise has a dream come true...  I think I hear a waterfall!

Cherries... Part Two

We were in Washington state a few years ago and passed a roadside stand that was selling cherries. Delise said lets stop and get some. I said I don't like cherries... She asked if I had ever eaten cherries? I said yes. She said, no, not the plastic tasting ones in the jar with all the juice. A real cherry fresh from a tree.. I thought, how different could they be? If you have never had one - well you should. It is hard to explain how good they really are. You can buy them at the grocery store every now and then but the best ones are picked right off the tree, and you can meet some really interesting people too.

A beautiful sign for weary travelers!

As we were driving through northeastern Pennsylvania we started seeing a lot of vineyards.   We had no idea that they grew grapes here or produced wine. The further we went the more fields of grapes we saw. We decided to take a backroad to get a closer look and to our surprise Paul saw a sign for "pick your own cherries". After making a quick u-turn we were headed down a little side road through a field of grape vines. We soon pulled up to Rahal Farms. It is a beautiful farm with a lot of different fruit trees that we did not expect to find in this part of the country. Not only did they have cherry trees. To our surprise they had peach trees as well as 20 other fruit and nut trees.. It is a little to early in their season for peaches and besides we have no trouble finding peaches at home!

We were greeted by the owner (Wajeeh Rahal) and his daughter who was helping for the summer. They are very friendly with an interesting story. Mr. Rahal quickly pulled out a picture to show Paula of himself from from the 1950's when he was Mr. Lebanon back in his home country. He came to America to attend college and loved it so much he decided to live here. He started telling us about the farm and how he began growing so many unusual things in this area. He said he will try anything and if it survives he will sell it! The strategy has worked well for him.

We went inside the barn and were told to grab a bucket and head up the hill to the cherry trees. Paul asked where the sweetest ones were located. We were told to pick them off the tree and try them. They obviously did not know how much we like cherries and how many we could eat. We felt a little guilty when we came back with just 3 pounds in the bucket, so we paid a little extra for all of the samples...

 

The Cherry trees look a lot like peach trees but grow much larger.

Delise was thrilled when Mr. Rahal asked her if she liked Mulberries. He could tell from her smile that the answer was yes. They are one of her favorite childhood memories. He pointed to the tree just outside the barn door. She ate several and even shared some with the chickens. With all of the fruit trees around the farm, I bet those chickens lay some sweet eggs! After a good visit at the barn we headed back to the car in search of our next adventure.

 

If you are ever traveling through Pennsylvania up near Lake Erie you should stop in at Rahal Farms. From the variety of things grown there I bet they always have something to munch on during the summer and fall and you will definitely enjoy the visit! Where else can you get cherries for $1.50 a pound? 

 

Did you know they have lighthouses on lake Erie? Can't wait to tell you about them... 

A beautiful variety of cherries. From sweet to tart.

Lighthouses, Cherries and Small Towns - Part One

We left the trade show and headed to our first stop in Erie, Pa. As usual the gps said to take the interstate but it looked like there was a much more interesting way to go. We headed north toward the lake. We found the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.

There are a few things you may not know about us. We love cherries - especially right off the tree, Small towns - we live in one, Lighthouses, Drawbridges and tall ships. Either we seek out these things or they draw us to them. Either way you can imagine how excited we were to get to see all of them in two days of travel, and have a glass of wine to top it off.

Our first find of the trip was a quaint little town, Ashtabula, Ohio. They have a great little downtown with a lot of cute shops, a fantastic lift bridge and a park overlooking the water and a huge coal port. The town was settled in 1803. All of the buildings in town have plaques giving the history of the occupants over the years. We are still in awe of how they can grow such beautiful hanging baskets in the north.

We had time to visit a couple of the shops downtown. Heartmade Boutique was full of interesting and handmade items. She makes her own bath soaps and salts. She also does custom orders - great for weddings! Picked up a few little gifts while there.

Down the street was a great little chocolate shop - oh yea, that's another thing we love! Marianne's Chocolates is also on the main street. Never have tried sherbet fudge before, maybe not a favorite, but the rocky road is great!

A big feature of Ashtabula is the lift bridgeBuilt in 1925, it is one of only two of its type that remain in service in the state of Ohio. We talked with Jim, who had the afternoon shift. He retired from the transportation department 8 years ago and took a temporary part time job operating the bridge. He has been working an 8 hour shift 6 days a week since then. He is very knowledgeable about the operation of the bridge and will share the information with you - just holler up at him as you walk under the operators box. He said the bridge is so well balanced that it will not lift if someone is standing on it. The bridge does not operate in the winter because of ice buildup. Jim told us that a barge would be coming by in about 20 minutes and we were lucky enough to see it from the park.

More to come!