Bryan and I rarely (like, never) get a trip to ourselves. For a variety of reasons it just doesn’t happen; we love to take our kids usually, and we are too cheap for long term babysitters. BUT this weekend that all changed! Since we are visiting family in PA and have FREE babysitting we decided to hit the road together. The goal was a friends’ house near Ottawa, but another goal was couple time!
We left Thursday morning and were shocked at how much quieter the car is without the kids. We actually had full length conversations about everything from cabins to Christmas. It was great and we made great time. In fact, we were on track to arrive early so we took a detour to visit the Museum of Glass in Corning, NY. Lucky for us this is on the Blue Star Families summer museum program, so it’s free for military all summer. That saved us, like, $30! If you are military this is the best deal going…FREE is great! Anyway, it was interesting. We learned about glass, saw a guy blowing glass, wandered around ancient glass, and shopped for glass. In the end we simply bought lunch at their euro-wannabe restaurant and kept moving. Not sure this place would be worth the steep entry fee unless you were super into glass. It is neat stuff.
Our stop for the night found us just north of Syracuse near Oneida lake at the Wellnesste Lodge. Wonderful! that’s all I need to say. Well, OK, more detail – we stayed in Thoreau’s Cabin for the night and arrived with plenty of time to wander the trails, swim in the river, sun ourselves on the rocks, and watch the fireflies. The cabin was so cute, too, and we realized we could probably live in an 18′ x 14′ cabin and be happy as clams (without the kids). We ventured into the hamlet of Camden NY for dinner and a walkabout while they had a very well attended summer music in the park concert. It was fun. In the morning we took another dip in the river. This time we walked downstream pretty far to the ‘big hole’ for some true swimming in a huge deep place. There was even a little rope swing for jumps in! Bryan and I reminisced about our pre-kid days, but missed them and called later to see how their weekend was going. I think they had a blast with Nana and Pappy camping, shopping and seeing some early fireworks.
From here we drove up I-81 into Canada and drove along the 1000 Islands hwy to see the crazy huge fancy expensive mansions built on tiny rock islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence. Crossing the border was slightly more involved than I recall 12+ years ago; Bryan got twenty questions from the border patrol agent, which we weren’t expecting. But, hey, we didn’t get searched or anything else so irritating. My guess is that Bryan’s crazy vacation beard made him seem a bit ‘fishy’. The drive to our buddy’s house was uneventful and quick! So quick without kids! Friday evening was a wonderful time of visiting, eating, and having grown-up conversation with a friend Bryan met while deployed last year. It was such a nice time, and the food was delicious… we discovered that French Canadians are gourmet!
On Saturday our friends took us into downtown Ottawa to see the sights. Now, I have never thought of Canada’s capitol as a vacation spot, but I should have. The city is super walkable, has a gorgeous canal system with parks and bike paths and even boat locks. We visited a bustling open air market selling all kinds of wonderful stuff. Of course we got some syrup and also a few new treats: maple butter and Beaver tails. Yum! The highlight of the visit, though, was seeing the governmental buildings. We happened upon Parliament Hill during the changing of the guard ceremony with the bagpipers, band and guards in their bushy black hats. A walk around Parliament was also super cool. The building is beautiful and set on a big cliff overlooking the river and Quebec. We learned about the Canadian government in the heart of it all. I’m sure it helped that the weather was incredible. Blue skies and warmth all around. The whole place was hopping, too, since tomorrow is July 1: Canada Day! There were concerts on Parliament lawn and boats parked in the canal ready for the festivities. In addition to our Ottawa tour we also visited a few Canadian staples like Tim Hortons and Swiss Chalet. I think this trip only wet our whistle. We’ll be back to Canada.
Saturday evening we just did a quick search for a place to stay on our route back to PA. Sunday morning, though, we were up early enough for another fun side trip! Watkins Glen State Park in New York to be exact. It’s a beautiful walk up a little canyon full of amazing waterfalls. The trail is paved a has lots of steps. It took us a couple hours to walk up through the gorge and then back down along the rim. There were very few people out when we started, so we stopped for lots of pictures. From there we continued on to State College for a quick shopping trip before heading over to my families house for a picnic. It was great to finally see our kids. Avi got out of the car so excited and started running toward me only to beeline it for Nan, then the dog, and then finally me. Zoe was also excited to see us and tell us all about her weekend. I missed these two a lot. But, I must say that having a whole weekend of Bryan to myself is something I’d like to repeat more often!