Sunday, September 16, 2018

A New York Minute (Damien's 2nd birthday)

This past weekend, as it was Damien's 2nd birthday, we decided to do some camping on our way to Ontario. Instead of driving through Montreal and continuing west as we had done a million and one times before, I suggested to Marie we take a different route - through Vermont and New York and visit some places we had never been before. The forecast was for sunny, warm days but cool nights so taking a few fall clothes with us we set out. We crossed into Vermont at Derby Line, following I-91 to Orleans where we took state road 58 and 100 south through typical northern Vermont scenery along the Green Mountain Byway - ski resorts, lakes and winding rivers, wineries and near Stowe the Von Trapp Family Lodge. We picked up I-89 in Waterbury and half an hour later arrived in Burlington where we would catch the ferry to New York state. After some delays because of the town's annual Pride Parade we eventually made it to the ferry terminal to catch the 3 PM crossing. Lots of time to explore and have lunch on the waterfront at the Spot on the Dock restaurant while we waited for the almost 90 year old MV "Champlain" to arrive. 

Burlington, Vermont waterfront
Spot on the Dock restaurant, Burlington, VT

Green Mountain Railroad Dinner Train, Burlington, VT

camper on board ferry MV Champlain leaving Burlington to NY

The MV "Champlain", previously the "City of Hampton" which ran from Hampton Roads to Norfolk, Virginia, has been a fixture on the lake since 1957 and where we crossed was at one of the widest points on Lake Champlain. The ride across was an hour with views of  the Green Mountains to the east and the Adirondacks in the west behind Port Kent, our destination in New York. There is not much to do on the ferry except enjoy the view, take pictures and try not to lose your hat in the strong breeze but we made it across without incident and debarked in a few minutes, passed the Ausable Chasm (note to self this is a place to visit one day) and arrived at the North Pole campground in Wilmington for supper. This resort is huge and has everything one needs while camping - clean washrooms and showers, a general store with a killer craft beer selection, an awesome games room, dog walks through the woods, and access to the Ausable River a few minutes walk away. It was unfortunate we were only there for the night as we had to get up early the next morning to make Embrun before noon but highly recommend this place if you are exploring this area of the Adirondacks. We were only a few miles from Lake Placid and Saranac Lake which we drove through the next morning. Known as the Olympic Region it is close to Whiteface Mountain and the sites of the 1980 Winter Games that will forever be remembered for the "Miracle on Ice" hockey game between the US and the Soviets. The US eventually went on to win the gold medal and, as they say, the rest is history.

the Champlain in Port Kent, NY

our campground at North Pole Resort - quiet and private

North Pole Resorts, Wilmington, NY

early morning mist, Ausable River, near Wilmington, NY

It was a three hour drive north to Ontario with very little traffic on the mostly well kept roads. We left the Adirondacks park just a few miles south of Malone and crossed over the St Lawrence into Cornwall and were at Christina's in time for hot dogs and cake. Damien is growing up fast - he is going to be a big fellow and since we last saw him has changed considerably - talking, running and laughing more. Hopefully he can start sleeping through the night soon and give his parents a much needed break! Christina made the cake - her first she admitted - and big enough to have enough left over for Damien's third birthday! We set up a pinata - a must have for any birthday party nowadays! then opened Damien's gifts. I helped set up his favourite one we had got him and then we said goodbye to all his guests. 

birthday boy Damien cruising around the neighbourhood

Christina showing Damien how to hit the pinata

the loot

proud mama

blowing out the candles
opening gifts

playing on the trampoline
 After breakfast the next day Marie and I drove to the cemetery in St. Chrysotome then had lunch in one of the many restaurants in the small town. From there we continued on the back roads home, stopping to pick up some local fruits and vegetables in a roadside market in Dunham. It was a whirlwind trip that seemed to fly by - just as the summer is doing. Soon the leaves on the hills about us will be changing colour and the smell of fall won't be far off.  gws

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Parc Safari (Labour Day Weekend 2018)

During the long Labour Day weekend this year Marie and I had the opportunity to look after Amy and William while Phil and Fernanda were off in Mexico to attend a friend reunion. So what to do with two rambunctious kids for four days? Besides daily walks to the park down the road and running and biking with Ben a trip to Safari Parc, less than an hours drive away was in order! We had driven by this place half a dozen times in the past and wondered if we should go one day with the grandkids. Time to find out if it was worth the high price of admission...

Image result for map of safari parc

Safari Parc is the animal and amusement park in Hemmingford, south of Montreal, near the new York border with about 500 animals including zebras, elephants, camels, eland, rhinos, wildebeest, ostriches, lions, water buffalo, gaur, tigers, yaks, deer, bison, llamas, ponies, and elk among many others. We began at the drive thru area where you follow a winding road for an hour getting to see, feed and touch many of the animals that are wandering about from your vehicle. The kids were thrilled and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Afterwards we had lunch then walked about the rest of the park. It was hot and the lions and tigers were snoozing in the shade or stretched out on the glass covered enclosures we were able to walk through to get a real close view. We visited the bird sanctuary and a small wooded area filled with very tame spotted deer that came up and fed from the kids hands before heading towards one of the three water parks on site. William and I went to cool off there while Marie and Amy went tubing down the Nile River, joining us later. 





We were there almost six hours and, as we had left Ben at home, decided reluctantly to call it quits around 4 PM and head back to the city. William immediately fell asleep in the van but Amy had her music and tablet and didn't seemed phased by the day of fun. On the way back through the country roads we pulled over to help a big snapping turtle cross the highway but he wasn't having anything to do with that and hissed and snapped at us as I prodded him to move along. We stopped to pick up some fresh corn and were home to be met by a very excited dog! The rest of the weekend flew by and it was time to pick up Phil and Fer at the airport, spend another night and then head back home, one more time.   gws

heading home, Mercier Bridge  and Montreal

The rest of the weekend ...


cheerios and strawberries

ice cream at the mall
checking out the latest devices
fresh Quebec corn

painting William's treasure chest

another hot day in the park on Sherbrooke