Friday, February 26, 2010

Vacation of a Lifetime

I never really travelled much until I hit my late 30's but since then I've had some wonderful vacations. So, when the Etsybloggers blog carnival topics were posted for the second half of February and both of them were about traveling, I felt like I could easily participate - but which topic to choose? Should I blog about my favorite vacation so far or about a dream vacation I would like to take. For me, it's easier to talk about things I've actually experienced, so the decision was a little easier. My favorite vacation? Our three and a half week long whirlwind vacation across the US in 2008.

The first leg of the trip was a little bit business and a whole lot of fun. Al attends a trade show every spring in Las Vegas, but this year we decided to begin our vacation there as well. We had booked tickets for Anthony Cools - a hypnotist show which was a riot, as well as going to the Tournament of Kings show at the Excalibur, and a stop at the Star Trek Experience (which was, by the way, where we had gotten married!) for a last trek before the attraction was closed. After 4 days of business conference, too much eating, and seeing the sights, our stay in Vegas was over. Next stop - Chicago, or actually Matteson, IL to visit my mother.

Al had been to Chicago before on short business trips, but had never had the opportunity to really "see" the city... and since I was born and raised there, it was easy to plan out our activities there. We spent the next four days visiting museums, the Shedd Aquarium, touring the "Loop" and some of my old stomping grounds and the neighborhoods I had lived in and of course enjoying the wonderful ethnic cuisines that Chicago is famous for. We also had the pleasure of reuniting my mother with her oldest friend, whom she has been friends with for 80 years now and hadn't seen in almost 3 years.

From Chicago we drove east to Livonia, MI, where my sister and her family live. Over the next couple of days Al had an opportunity to finally meet my nephew and my nieces and their respective families. I gave him a quiz on names and faces (there were only 11 for him to learn, geeze) and now at least he has respectable results! The weather wasn't very cooperative, but we did manage to do some sightseeing and again indulge in some great ethnic fare...but the best part was his getting to know yet another part of my family!

The next stop was a small act of indulgence for us on our way to western NY state. Since I had never seen Niagara Falls and since it was very much "on the way", we decided to spend a romantic night in a presidential suite at a hotel right across the street from the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. (Quick note - it took us over an hour and a full vehicle/bag search to get across the border into Canada - we were considered suspicious because we driving a rental car from Chicago, had been visiting in Detroit, and were from Arizona! Since I had also gone thru a couple of name changes, I had all of my documentation at the ready to prove who I was! You'll see why I thought this was interesting a little later.) The room not only had a gorgeous fireplace and a wonderful jacuzzi, but the view of the falls was completely breathtaking. If you've never been to Niagara Falls, GO... and take the tour down behind the falls and walk along the walkways that take you so close to the water that you will be amazed at the pure force and energy of the water. We opted for a jetboat ride through a class 5 whirlpool rather than a ride on the Maid of the Mist. Amazing fun!

After heading back to the other side of the border (which was a 2 minute glance at our papers and a have a nice day... after a "what? huh?" considering our experience coming into Canada) we were on our way down the highway for a quick stop in Rochester to see the Rochester Institute of Technology (Al's old stomping grounds) and then on to Corning to visit with his kids/my stepchildren. We took a tour of the Corning Museum of Glass - guided by Al's youngest son who had been a tour guide there for a couple of years. We also strolled down main street and drove around looking at some of the great architecture in the area... but mostly we got to enjoy our time with the kids. After a shopping trip to the mall, a late afternoon movie and a great local meal, we just chilled and enjoyed each other's company for the rest of our albeit short stay. Checkout time was after brunch with the kids the following morning and we were then on our way to New Jersey to visit Al's family as well as New York City, Ellis Island, West Point, the Statue of Liberty, and Broadway.

Ellis Island was amazing - as was the Statue of Liberty. Both of us can get pretty emotional thinking about the immigrants and their hope of a better life - such courage. We got to see the new release of "Grease" on Broadway which was very cool, and while seeing Times Square was also a treat, I must admit that NYC is great place to visit, but this girl could never live there! The rest of the week was spent visiting with family, sightseeing and touring the areas that Al had grown up in and worked during his restaurant days as a young man. It was wonderful to get a sense of the community that he had been a part of and to finally see so many of the places he talks about when he's being nostalgic about his youth!

After we left NJ, we drove down to Philadelphia to spend the day on our way to Washington DC. Visiting this historic city was definitely another major highlight of our trip - seeing the actual buildings where the US was born was a wonderful experience and finally getting to see the Liberty Bell (something I had wanted to visit all my life) was a real treat! I could easily have stayed there a couple days, but our itinerary was pretty well set - but now I have an excuse to go back!

Our final destination was Washington DC, where we spent 2 days touring many of the Smithsonian museums, visiting ALL of the monuments, and just taking in the hustle and bustle of our Nation's capital. Definitely another city I would want to revisit with a little more time to spare!

Home felt wonderful after being gone 3 and a half weeks, but I must admit it was 3 and a half of the best weeks of my life and an amazing vacation!


Baroness Bijoutery said...

What a great really did it alot of wonderful places....You have so great pictures too....

PussDaddy said...

I have been to Many of the places you name. Washington and Chicago off the top of my head. I am lucky to have seen a lot of the world, but there are many places I haven't seen of course. We also attended a hypnotist show here where we live and it was a riot.
You really went to a lot of places and it looks like you really had fun.


Jac-Ber Creations said...

I love the Star Trek Experience!
Isn't is great to be a tourist in your own country, it's my favourite thing to do :-)

Great photos!

mysticwynd said...

It was definitely a trip of a lifetime for me! Thanks for stopping by and all of the great comments!

Studio B (UberArt) said...

Wow, what a trip! You really jammed a lot into a short time frame!

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