(Long post with lots of pictures, but I tried to keep words short...sort of )
Last week, we took our first "official" on our own family vacation EVER! We had been saving for MONTHS- putting away little bits of money here and there as Aaron did work in the garage- determined to (go somewhere cheap) and pay for it all in cash- nothing charged. We chose Niagara Falls for several reasons.
After months of saving and planning and reserving a hotel room paid in advance- the stomach flu hit our house 24 hours before leaving. I was so disappointed thinking we wouldn't be able to go and we would lose all the money we already paid. But, after talking to others and knowing this was our only chance for a while- we wouldn't be able to afford it again anytime soon- we went! At the time of leaving, we had 3 kids that had been sick in the last 24 hours. By the end of vacation, the 4th child and both Aaron and I got it. But, it passed quickly with that 4th child, Ellie (though it caused quite a gross mess to be cleaned up in the hotel room...) and Aaron and I only got a mild form of it, so luckily our vacation was not ruined!
The kids were all excited!
(and the girls pretty well insisted on making funny faces in just about every picture!)
Though it was tight quarters, all of us in one hotel room, the kids still thought it was awesome! Our room had a "window" seat- that actually looked out on a construction site (most adults would think it a dismal view but to a KID it was the BEST! Cool trucks and everything!) and we could not keep them out of the window. It actually became Kenny's bed for the week!
Niagara Falls was amazing! We knew we wanted to do the Maid of the Mist boat tour and the Cave of the Winds tour (where you climb steps right up to the falls!). It turns out, they offered a pass with those two items as well as the aquarium, the movie that told legends and history of the falls, and the gorge discover center (didn't make it to that one), and a trolley to go between them all for just a few dollars more than we would have paid for just the two tours! It was very worth it.
1) Cave of the Winds
We all got matching yellow ponchos and souvenir sandals included-but got completely soaked anyway!
(at the hurricane deck... you can reach out and put your HAND in the falls.... the pounding sound was incredible! It was like literally being in a hurricane- you could hardly see anything the water pounded and blew around so bad!) This was just a tiny portion of the Bridal Veil falls.
After taking ponchos off- completely soaked through! And, yes- we are in New York, but that is Canada in the background. Very cool!
2) Maid of the Mist Boat tour
(this time- BLUE souvenir ponchos!)
The American falls.....
Very close to the horseshoe falls.... again just pounding. It took the boats full motor to keep from going backward!
3) The trolley ride
this in itself was a blast for the kids! (a blurry picture because Meghan was too excited to sit still long enough!)
4) The aquarium
Luckily, this wasn't very big because the kids were tired- but it was small and easy to walk through with some COOL sea life! Here is Meghan looking at a sea lion.
Part 2- The Great Lakes!
So, after Niagara Falls, I thought it would be cool to show the kids two great lakes in one day, since they are very close at this point. We drove north first to Lake Ontario- the only Great lake I had NOT seen at some point in my life. This is what the girls thought of Lake Ontario:
The boys were much more excited however:
Then, it was on to Lake Erie- we had a harder time finding a decent spot without going too far south and the kids were losing their sense of humor, but we still got a picture of them in Lake Erie- so they were in two great lakes all in one day!
On the way back to the hotel room, we got pulled over by the police and got a TICKET because Aaron was talking on his cell while driving. Apparently they have a "hands free" law in NY (it is not illegal here). We had been in NY for 24 hours and he gave us a ticket- no mercy because we are from out of town and didn't know. We don't know the amount yet (have to wait for bill) but estimates put it at $75-$85!!! We didn't budget for THAT. Grrrrrr.....
Part 3: Palmyra, NY
As many of my readers know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints (also known as "Mormon"). Palmyra (about 2 hours east of Niagara Falls) is actually where it all began. As a quick explanation- in Palmyra, Joseph Smith lived in a small cabin (with his parents and 7 siblings!!!) We believe the he went to the woods near his house (now known as the "sacred grove") and prayed for knowledge of which church to join. We believe God and Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him he was called to restore the church of Jesus Christ as it existed in the days when Christ was living on the Earth. That is very very basic (trying not to get to wordy since most who read this know my faith) . For more info, click here.
Every year in Palmyra, they have an outdoor drama that depicts our history. It is on Hill Cumorah (also significant to our history). We saw this and also toured the local historical sites, such as the homes Joseph Smith lived in and the sacred grove.
We climbed to the top of Hill Cumorah to tire them out. It worked (for me too!)- It is a big hill!
From the top:(the brown area underneath them is the stage and the green dots are chairs!)
And, scenes from the Joseph Smith home and sacred grove-
(I didn't get very many good ones. We were supposed to follow a guided tour to see the sites, but we had 4 cranky tired kids so we just sneaked around to see things and in so doing, I forgot to snap more pictures)
One last thing- a funny story if you are still hanging in there with me. A quick background explanation first..... most people know our religion has "the Book of Mormon." This is the record of the people in the America's whereas the Bible is the record of those in Jerusalem. We believe them both to be very important and use them both.
One story in the Book of Mormon involves a prophet named Abinadi. Abinadi was trying to teach the wicked King about Jesus Christ, but the King would not listen. He became angry and burned Abinadi to his death. As he died, Abinadi prophesied that this wicked King would die the same way. Several years later he did. Before the show started, Jacob was reading through the scenes that would be played including this one. Many from the cast walked around before the show greeting guests in their full costumes. One was dressed as a king. Jacob said "Hey Mom! Is that the king that will burn Obama??" (Obama, Abinadi... An easy slip I guess)
I replied under my breath... "don't I wish...."
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