Sunday, February 9, 2014

At the American falls of Niagara.
How beautiful is God’s creation! I am just in awe of it this trip having never traveled this area before, and now to be here during this time of year. We experienced a light snow storm most of today as we traveled from where we have spent the last two days in extreme western New York state. Yesterday, we enjoyed the winter wonderland that is Niagara Falls State Park, and then traveled the hills for an afternoon of snow tubing just south of Buffalo. For two days, we have been skirting the edge of Lake Erie and the Niagara River. Our trip got off to a slow start on Thursday as we left about nine hours late… yes, NINE. Packing was an unusual challenge because we would be in a different hotel each night, save two. And I would not have access to a washer and dryer to keep my packing efficient. Without dragging this out because it is eye-gougeingly boring, I didn’t have enough clothes for each person to have a full clean set each day without washing a few days in, and each be appropriate warm pieces for all activities. So, packing was a stressful bear… or I was a bear while trying to get it done for six people. We drove all night in order to make it to our first hotel stop and grab a minimum of four hours sleep before extended check-out thanks to the “rewards” or
At Horshoe falls of Niagara
“points” or “membership” of our hotel room donor. We so needed that personal rest stop, which was just south of Cleveland. To stay on track, we then headed straight to the next hotel in Niagara Falls, NY. So, for most of the first 20 hours we spent on the road or asleep in a hotel. Our second stay was right on the Niagara River just south of the falls. According to the news, the Great Lakes have the most ice coverage that they have had in a century. The river was frozen along the edge but chunks raced down the center toward the falls. We slept late that morning because we really needed to make it up, then it took all morning to dress the kids for the painfully frigid temperatures for visiting the falls and snow tubing. So, we didn’t get to Niagara Falls until lunch. It was really was just an awesome winter wonderland. The trees are frozen in the tops
because of the freezing mist blowing in the air from the falls. Our jackets were frozen from standing in the mist. I would love to come in the summer when all the tours are open, but in the winter it is unbelievable to view as well -two totally different experiences. The kids weren’t as impressed. Eli cried and complained about being cold or too tired to walk the whole time, but the other three were loving playing in the snow - which they could do at the hotel. Hg was the only one that was at least some impressed with the landmark. When we headed for snow tubing, I was pleasantly surprised at the curvaceousness of New York’s country hills. It was beautiful in these little towns that often sat right on the edge of wide creeks, now frozen white. The snow tubing faired a little better on their enjoyment scale, but still Eli gave a baby effort and continued to
Check out this Wal-mart that looks like a library.
complain. He is just extremely content to talk about transformers and watch TV, and is reluctant to try anything new or exert energy to try something new. He is not adventurous. But, he did a few runs on the tube, and I think liked it “some” he finally conceded. Caleb enjoyed the few runs he made, but opted out soon in exchange for just playing in the snow. Hg stuck with one of us as we took turns sliding and watching the boys. And Abbey? I have no idea, I caught glimpses of her going up and down every now and then. She told me she wiped out one time, but I didn’t see it and since she was telling me about it, I figured she was good. She is never hesitant to participate. I personally, just loved it, but I love speed in general. And I could fly on those little tubes because I am heavy and short. My weight carried me fast, and my feet didn’t drag. With a
My only two adventurous souls. The heat was not working well.
running start and good jump, I could easily have busted through the barrier beyond the stop line. I had to make an effort to stop. A couple of times the attendant came over to me after my run (because they didn’t like you running up on the barrier), but then when they saw me it was like they just sort of dismissed their thought. I figure they were surprised to see it was an old woman, and decided I didn’t know what I was doing and couldn’t help it. But, I could have parked that tube on the guy’s big toe by the end of the evening. The temperatures up here are painful, like seriously painful. The weather channel says it has “felt like” -10 and -11, and wow, I would agree. It is blistering to try to dig stuff out of the trunk. Up until today, the roads have been great, and the scenery even better. I have always heard
Snow tubing a Colden.
about “Yankee drivers”, but very mild drivers on the road, even during good conditions. I have only seen one trooper so far, and the only cops I’ve seen were at Wal-mart. So, it has been a pleasant driving experience, albeit stressful conditions today, except that it is long anywhere we try to go. The tolls have been killing us, too. We tried to make it to the church of Christ in Erie, Pennsylvania today, but we left late and then the driving conditions are slow. So, we continued our journey westward which again ran us along Lake Erie, but this time we continued up through Cleveland where we visited a nice little aquarium before heading to Dearborn, Michigan. The kids love aquariums and train museums, basically anything that has a souvenir shop. The snow had been steady through the night and all morning, and watching snow plows running as
Eli after a run.
 we traveled, called to see if they were open. “umm, yes, duh.” Well, she didn’t really say that, but I could sense it in her voice. She warned that the roads were kind of bad downtown because it was Sunday and the city figures that no one goes out on Sunday morning anyway, so they don’t try to clean them off as much. (frowny face!) Well, I know who was out Sunday morning and it was our new friends at Allen Park Church of Christ, which is very near Dearborn. We were able to make evening services and worship with God’s family there. How wonderful is it that we can travel hundreds of miles from home and walk into a building where we have never been and be with family. As any small congregation I have every visited is, they were friendly and we were blessed to be with them tonight. Unbelievably, Vic knew the preacher who was from his home town (I had no idea when I steered us there), and one of the elders’ granddaughters is an Auburn grad. The grandmother even knew to say War Eagle! How ‘bout that for family. I also learned that the amount of snow they have right now is unusual. This whole time I was thinking that this is how Michigan and northern Ohio always is - covered in feets of snow all the time. But, she said, that they do get snow
Caleb headed up the "magic carpet."
regularly, but that it comes and then melts. I mean this place is thickly blanketed with heaps of it lining the roads and drives. It looks and feels like it is suppose to be like that. And they handle it so well, I just thought it was normal. I hope we can log some more snow time tomorrow after our tour. Caleb and Abbey are dying to get in it. We have an early morning for the plant tour and we are just ecstatic (well the girls think they will tolerate it, but they will be surprised how much they are going to like it). I think it is going to be so much fun, and very interesting. Eli is very excited and I am so grateful for all of those that helped make it happen for him. He just can’t stop smiling about going. I will update as soon as I can! (more pictures below)
In front of a frozen Lake Erie with Cleveland in the background.

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