Birthday hike No 2

For Nolan’s birthday I had purchased tickets for a 2 hour cruise on Lake George.  We didn’t get to use it right away since we had family in town, but this week our days matched up and I had an extended week off (I needed a mental break from work).  So we used our day together to use up the last of his birthday adventure. 10494850_10106829544115734_4521339889018624913_nFirst stop: Lake George! Turned out to be a great day.  It was a little chilly once we were cruisin’ on the water, but the views were breathtaking.  All the old houses along the lake, I say houses, more like mansions were a treat to look at as we passed by on our way to the Sagamore.  From there the ship turned around and we were on our way back.  I will say, a two hour cruise was a bit much for us.  It was us, and a lot of other seniors.  We were ready to go after about the first hour.  Also, I was starving and the food on this two hour sail was overpriced and mediocre. I was about to order mac and cheese, when Nol pointed out it was Kraft Mac and Cheese from the box, for $4.99  No joke!  So glad he pointed that out,  I’m not that picky of an eater, but i’m not paying 5 bucks for mac and cheese out of the box. No thank you. After we got back to the dock, Nol and I were debating whether to go hiking.  We were pretty tired and hungry, and I didn’t want to push him too hard since it was supposed to be his birthday adventure.  At the very last minute we said screw it, and went toward our hiking destination, aka the middle of nowhere! We went a good 20 minutes from where we were at Lake George, into Ft Anne.  I found directions online for a trail called Sleeping Beauty. The directions to  where the trail head starts and how exactly to get there can be found at this link —  http://www.localhikes.com/hikes/sleeping_2975.asp10461396_10106829544310344_1638642600600071620_n

 So we started our adventure, and little did we know what a hike we were in for on this day.  Grueling, but well worth the effort in the end.

CaptureWe followed signs for the Sleeping Beauty trail…in all we did 3 miles to reach the top. 10527396_10106829546181594_5259815167192149228_n And what a view we found! 10530862_10106829544794374_6611708664831099761_nLake George surrounded by mountains as far as the eye can see.  It was amazing up there, surrounded by nature. No cars, no roads, none that we could see.  And since we started later in the afternoon Nol and I were the only ones up there. 10456819_10106829544699564_6813266356432543818_nThe rock itself at the summit is a little scary, we both felt like one wrong move and we could’ve slipped and fell. 10356164_10106829546386184_5821362786859603781_nI could have sat there for hours.  This was one of the most peaceful things about my entire four days off and away from my work world.  Absolutely stunning!  It felt even better knowing we almost decided NOT to go.  But we did!  And every step of the way I had fun climbing this humongous mountain with my husband.  Along the trail I kept thinking, what a perfect metaphor for life it was.  Both to the summit, and back.  Started out nice and paved.  I thought man, this isn’t THAT bad.  Then the terrain got rockier, the steps steeper, and at times the ground mushier from the rain that had passed through a couple of days before.  It was certainly no cake walk.  There were obstacles I needed to pass just like in life.  And just like in life, it was grit and determination that got me to my end goal.  I reached the top knowing I had earned that view, and it felt that much sweeter because of all the effort.  Not to mention, humbling, the vast land that lay before us just a tiny glance of what this world has to offer.  7 miles, 3 and 1/2 hours, and a few mosquito bites later I was that much more appreciative of life. I’m excited to explore more of our backyard this summer and hopefully snap a few more pics along the way.

Birthday Hike No. 1

Nol’s birthday was a couple weeks ago and his parents and aunt were coming up from PA to visit for the weekend.  Since his birthday is right around July 4th, I always end up making this patriotic trifle!birthday cake

It’s super easy to make and perfect for warm days, since it’s refreshing.  You won’t feel like going into food coma once you have a bowl of this stuff.  I used angel food cake, strawberries, and blueberries to layer in between the cream mixture.

The cream in between is made up of  12oz of whipped cream, Hershey’s White Chocolate Pudding mix, 6 tbsps of condensed milk, and 1 1/2 cups of cold water.  I mixed it all up and refrigerated it, while I cut up my berries to layer.  Once everything was ready, I started layering! This was a big hit with everyone, and I’ll probably continue to make it every summer for Nol’s birthday.  It’s either that or ice cream cake.

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We eventually ventured into Thacher park with the family.  This was an interesting adventure since both Nol’s mom and his aunt were wearing sandals.  They were troopers about it.  We took the Indian Ladder Trail, which is always well maintained and a fairly easy hike.

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Saw lots of fantastic terrain along the way, and a nice view of the lush green landscape that lay before us and down into the valley.


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Eventually, we got to a waterfall!  There’s nothing like the sound of all that water crashing down onto the rocks below!  NATURE! YEAH! Good hike, all in all.

soeulfoodBefore all the hiking, and family visiting I took Nol out to dinner at a Korean restaurant, which happens to be one of our favorite cuisines to dine on, since we first met in S. Korea!  He couldn’t be more stoked for a bowl of bibimbap complete with an egg on top!
nol and walt satur

This past weekend was spent lazing around.  Saturday mornings are the best!  Especially, when you can use Walter’s belly as a pillow! :)

Montreal last day

Our last day was bittersweet. Leaving Montreal would mean going back to work and the end of being a tourist.  It was a short stay, but a wonderful one.  On our last day we visited the Botanical Garden and the Bio Dome, which were all attractions located in the same neighborhood.  We got off the metro and soon after crossing the street, there it was!100_3804It was a slow start to the day for me.  I was feeling tired, I hadn’t had breakfast, and we were about to do a lot of walking, oh yeah, and also the sun wasn’t it out and we were about the go admire flowers.  Not the most fantastic weather for it all.  But I had hope.  The day was supposed to shape up and warm up!

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So I was determined to smile and enjoy myself!  See, proof.

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First we walked through the rose gardens!  It smelled wonderful through these parts.  How they take care of so many plants and make them all look beautiful is beyond me!  But I’m happy places like this exist!
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Nolan always gets fascinated by for the droplets form, hence the picture of the lily pad.
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We also discovered these tiny frogs, that reminded us of the tiny frogs we spotted in Puerto Rico, except these guys didn’t make a sound, like the Coqui’s did in PR.
100_3828100_3829This installation was neat to look out at and ponder about life.  It’s supposed to be a clock that’s shattered.  Time just stagnant as it floats on the water in one place.  I liked it.  Made us stop and savor the last day of vacation a bit more.

100_3834Then we came across the Alpine garden with all its plants and rocks.100_3835There was also a waterfall!  And waterfalls make everything cool for some reason.  After exploring through the Alpine garden we headed toward the Chinese Garden!100_3849It was my favorite spot at the Botanical Garden!  Very serene.100_3850

The tea house (I don’t know what it actually was), I’m assuming it was a tea house… overlooked a tiny lake and the well placed cliffs up above.
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You could also see this building from across the lake.  It had some cool artifacts inside it.
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We walked over to the building to check it out.
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And made some stranger take our picture.  She gave us a wonderful compliment as she snapped our photo!
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Then it was time for the insectarium which was included with our tickets into the Gardens.  Nolan was especially excited for this part of the attraction, I could’ve skipped it and headed straight for brunch.  We  looked through all the bugs amidst hundreds of screaming kids.  Wasn’t my favorite part, they were sorta all over the place and none of the adults seemed to care. After leaving the Botanical Garden we wandered around for food…which was quite the hunt and then headed to the Bio Dome,
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The first thing we saw were the sloths!  I thought they were awesome chilling in their little cubby holes.
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This lizard guy was hanging out below and had the meanest face.
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There were two sloths, I was hoping to see one of them move!  No such luck.
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The bio dome had four different climates set up. The first one we entered was the tropical one!  I felt right at home!  Loved how warm it was!  Everyone else was complaining that they were suffocating!  Such pansies :)
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Yupp, Nol one of those pansies!

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This guy reminded me of Walter!  Mostly because of his color.  He was super quiet and mellow.  Supposedly the largest rodent species!  Forgot what he was actually called, though :(
100_3893And then there were a ton of fishes throughout the aquariums set up.
100_3921 And of course penguins!  Like this cool punk rock one!100_3923

Here’s the Olympic Stadium, which dominated the landscape in this area!  Can’t miss it.100_3926

Toward the end of the evening we headed back to Old Montreal to eat dinner.  We weren’t hungry just yet, so we sat around and listened to this Peruvian group.  They had the audience going!
100_3928Before dinner this guy popped up in the square.  Nolan was not impressed by his act and felt sorry for him. At first it seemed like he was doing a fire show with the batons and what nots he was holding.  He did some lame trick and put his hand over the fire…but then just called up volunteers from the audience.  Nolan had to walk away because he knew this was some random act that had nothing to do with fire.  And he was right.  The guy just made the people dance and embarrass themselves.  He did get the crowd going, he at least had that going for him.  But his act was just weird and had no point to it.  Amazing how people forgot about the fire aspect of it.  Like whatever, happened to the fire?  Oh, that was just to draw people in, it seemed.  Weird.

After dinner, we headed back to the apartment to get ready to leave the next morning.  Our three day vacation was over but thankfully we relished every moment, and every sight!

Montreal part deux

No I didn’t forget about the rest of my trip.  I finally had time this weekend to sit down and recount the last two days. 100_3649

Day two in Montreal was grey and gloomy and full of sprinkles and a few downpours.  However, we DID NOT let that stop us.  We were determined to get the most out of this trip rain or shine and we did well on that commitment.  Our first stop after a last minute change up in our itinerary was Notre Dame Basilica! (We had planned to go to the Botanical Garden on this day and hit up the museum, but the weather wasn’t so great for flowering viewing).  
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Notre Dame was quite majestic on the outside, but the inside wasn’t as impressive as the Cathedral (Mary, Queen of the World) I had visited the day before smack dab in the middle of downtown.

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So after checking out the inside of Notre Dam, and the square outside surrounded by old important buildings we moved quickly since it started to rain.  Ended up getting breakfast at some Greek diner, where they served store brought croissants and mediocre coffee.  No big deal though, our purpose was to get out of the rain and we did.  After planning our next step we walked toward the cobble stone streets of Old Montreal!

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Since it was raining, we decided to get indoors to the science museum.  We would come back the Old Montreal after the rain subsided to grab lunch!

100_3687Nol and I had fun inside the science museum right by the Port of Montreal!  We were the only people there without kids!  We were worried at first that the first little gaming exhibit we saw was it for the museum!  Would have totally been a bust and a ripoff.  All it included was a fancy computer board game and a playroom.  Yup, 30 bucks for all that!  I was about to get super disappointed, but we kept walking and stumbled upon the actual museum part itself.  Phew!  Disaster averted!
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Some kid tried to mess up my progress as I was trying to get a robot through a maze! How dare he!

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Nol needed to show off his balancing skills!

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And I became mesmerized by magnets. After checking out all there was inside the museum (I must say I wasn’t that impressed by the science museum. Worth skipping if you’re on the fence about it.), we headed back to Old Montreal!

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We hit up Chez Suzette!  I Looooooved this Creperie!  I wanted to eat every meal here!Crepes!

I ended up ordering the most fantastic crepes I’ve ever consumed.  They had fresh apples and stuffed with Brie cheese drizzled with maple syrup.  Yeah, my mouth is watering just thinking about this meal!  Nol’s crepes were fantastic too!  He had something drenched in toffee!  We loved it!  And the cafe itself was adorable.  The windows were all open to watch the rain come down.  BEAUTIFUL!  Can’t wait to go back here one day!100_3720

Here’s me after the meal, satisfied and happy as can be!

100_3706We needed to walk off our lunch, so we started following the walking tour of Old Montreal in our Frommer’s guide book.  Saw city hall, the inside of another church where apparently a lot of sailors would frequent back in the day.
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No matter what church we were inside of, they all had beautiful stained glass windows!

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We could have done without the rain for our #MTLMOMENTS but Nol and I stuck through it and I think it even made our trip more memorable since we had so many goofy moments as we tried to stay dry under our one huge umbrella!100_3732

We ended up going into get coffee for a couple of hours while the rain passed and by 5pm it was gone!  Clouds were still there, but no more water falling from the sky.  So it was adventure time again.  We walked along the Old Port where we saw this creepy building.  Looks like an old run down factory.  It’s called Silo No 5.  It had something to do with grain processing.

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I said creepy didn’t I?  We wondered if people broke into this abandoned building?  If so, I’d be afraid they’d get infected with some weird disease.
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Nol saw this and chuckled! 
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And this abandoned beauty reminded us of a place Brody from Homeland stayed when he was shooting of heroine in South America.  And open faced building, half done, half open, and rusted.

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After walking more we found an old clock tower.  And of course we had to get to the top!

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Panoramic shot of the Old Port!

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We made our way up.  Steps got very narrow toward the top!

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Outside the clock tower were cool old canons!  100_3766

Some sort of memorial to sailors.
100_3767Once we exhausted to Old Port from one end to the other we had back to Old Montreal for dinner!  Walked around the streets taking in the old buildings and decided on a place called the Cage.

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We sat up on the balcony where our view was awesome and the food even better.  Nol and I were hungry hungry hippos after walking 30,000 steps (kept track courtesy of our fitbit!) throughout the port and this part of the city! 
100_3797We ended up circling back around to Notre Dame because we heard it was worth seeing at night all lit up.  We saw, we enjoyed, we went home :)  To be cont’d….

Montreal day 1

It’s been a full week since we came back from our Montreal trip and boy was it a blast.  We took a three hour drive north, crossed over the border, and made our way into the neighborhood we were staying in for the week.  Once we got checked in, ditched our baggage at the apartment, and  freshened up we were ready to hit the streets.

We made our to the nearest metro where the exit was closed… and like fools, we stared at the map nearby for a good 5 minutes before realizing there was another entrance to the metro across the street. D’oh!  Not our brightest touristy moment.

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We made our way to the center of town to grab lunch at a pub.

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We sat outside  at a place called Pub McLeans and watched a World Cup game while taking in Montreal’s Peel Street.  One of my favorite parts about the city was the hilly terrain and the organized bustle of a busy metropolitan area that still managed to look well put together and clean.

After lunch, we trekked up Peel and started our ascent to Mount Royal.  We stopped off at a cafe at the half way point…and once we reached the top there was a super nice overlook with a wonderful view of the entire city.

 

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We took a few pictures, enjoyed the view and found a seat nearby.

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While sitting there, we noticed some girls playing on a piano (they were doing a horrible job and it was not music to our ears).  I soon learned Montreal has public pianos at different locales for anyone to show off their talents.  A little weird, but I guess why not have public pianos? Why not ….

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On the way back down we took another break at a coffee shop and I managed to get Nol inside of an H&M where the music was too loud and the tweens were too “mature” looking (i’m getting old).

Nol needed to grab a bite to eat before we did more exploring and I stole half his food.  After we finished up there,  we went toward the metro but then I spotted and Cathedral.  So we had to go check that out!

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I later learned this Cathedral named Mary, Queen of the World was modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, but a 1/4 of the size.

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It was amazing inside and I found such solitude and quietness.  Everything about it was absolutely stunning.   We spent a good amount of time inside the building grateful for a silence found within the city.  After aweing at the beauty of it all and snapping a few more photos, we left.

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Then it was on to our next adventure…a walking tour of downtown. This was funny. We were following our guide book and hopped a metro. Without realizing we went back a few steps back from the cathedral which happened to be on this portion of the walking tour. Talk about a lot of walking.  We made a big circle that landed us back where we were.

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This was another church somewhere in the city, had a lot of homeless people hanging outside its door.  100_3632 After going throughMcGill University and finding the Museum of Fine Arts…100_3639

This guy is called the EYE…  Very freakish looking.  Nolan loved it!

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It was time for dinner so we found  Sir Winston Churchill Bar. Overrated in my opinion, they were super busy, the service wasn’t all that great, and oh yeah I ordered poutine thinking I’d give it a try. It was disgusting  and salty. Not my idea of a wonderful snack. 100_3648

Too goopy and the fries were too mushy. Yuck. Never again will I order them. Once was enough and now I can say I tried poutine and dislike it :) Then we made our way back to the apartment for the night. Exhausted.  That was our first day in Montreal!  Jam packed!

Vegucation

Lately, I’ve been putting a lot of  thought and awareness into my health.  My dad’s health has always been abysmal and as he’s getting older things are not improving, rather spiraling downwards into a sad and depressing state.  A lot of it is family history, but A LOT of it is his own doing. Smoking, eating horribly, no exercise are all contributors.

Luckily, I have not picked up my dad’s stubbornness in this matter.  His ailments have made me see how important it is to take control and change things for a better, illness free life.  I’m not saying don’t enjoy life. It’s always been hard for me to practice moderation.  But the past few months, weeks, I’ve come to realize how crucial moderation can be to my life.

So as I’ve been thinking about all this I started looking for documentaries to watch on health.  Nol got one for me the other day called Vegucation.

Vegucation

It was a very interesting piece.  Done with a very low budget and at first I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it.  But it quickly grabbed my attention with it’s very candid style.  I was horrified by the clips of animals living in horrible conditions and being treated horribly!    It was very disheartening to realize this is what the food industry does to get the most bang for their buck.  In the film, the three participants are all asked to live a vegan lifestyle for six weeks.  I don’t know if I could go vegan, too many restrictions, and I  work a weird job for me to follow all the rules all the time.  But this documentary…along with Food Inc. which I’m sure you’ve heard of before, made me realize I need to step back and be more aware of what I’m consuming.

 

food inc

 

So with all that being said, I’ve definitely cut out most meats from my diet, except for fish.  I still eat eggs and cheese.  But the idea of eating chicken or any other meat that has been living a horrible life does not appeal to me.  I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea of  eating free range chickens that are living their lives well on a farm and free to go about their day.  But all I needed was the image of these large sheds where  hundreds of chickens are kept by farmers who have contracts with the major distributors.  The chickens all sit in their own filth and feces.  Some of them are too big to even stand up, they collapse under their own weight. It’s sad.  It’s disgusting.  That is all.

Addicted to strawberries

The other week strawberries were on sale at our grocery store.  It was BOGO!   I stocked up!  And devoured them just as fast.  I think I may have a problem.  Most of my meals consisted of a Strawberry/Spinach salad because I couldn’t get enough.strawberry salad

I added in dried craisins, almonds, feta, and used a poppy seed dressing.  I could eat this all summer long!


walterAnd this guy is already tired of summer.  After our walks, he insists on sitting downstairs to soak in some coolness from the tiles on the floor.  I was feeling in a funk … but it’s hard not to feel good after looking at this picture and witnessing Walter’s goofy smile!