Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Hot Date

Since Kurt has been gone since Thursday afternoon we made a lunch date. He had to come back this way to the office and I needed to go his way to check on my cows. (I'm keeping the cows I got for Christmas)(I'm happy with them btw).

He suggested lunch at Perkins, probably because he wanted pie. I agreed but then got a hankering for Mexican. We had a late lunch at Hacienda. Very yummy. I had lunch Chicken Fajitas and he had a beef taco and a chicken quesadilla. We both had rice and beans.

Then I went to the office with him and watched him install a part in one of the multitudes of data cabinets. Wires everywhere. I have no idea how he can make sense of any of it.

I stopped at the mall and used my gift card. They were having 50 -70% off sales. It is the only decent sale that I've seen anywhere. I got four body creams, two body sprays, one big and one travel size shower gels, and two glycerin soaps. All of it for $29.95! I'm set for a good long while.

I took Francis to get his stitches out this morning. It was a forty minute drive each way and approximately 7 seconds to take out the sutures. I should have done it myself. He is fine and without a scar.

Friday, December 28, 2007


So far today, Hillary has called, Joe Biden has called, Obama has called. I got mail from all three of them as well as Edwards. Hillary and Obama people have both stopped by.

I think of the rest of the nation knew how much of this BS there is to deal with (it's been over a year I think) there's NO WAY they would want to be first in the nation.

Bill Clinton is nearby today. Chris Dodd has invited me to dinner in Waterloo.

Please please let January 3 get here!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

And We're Back!

Much like MacArthur we have returned! We got back for MN late this afternoon. Within forty-five minutes I was childless and husband-less. The former makes me happy the latter not so much. Kurt delayed work before Christmas so now he'll be gone until Sunday afternoon.

Our trip to MN was good. The truck is soooo much better than us all being stuffed in the Impala. Francis still hates riding in a vehicle. On the way back today though he was relaxed and snoozing. Probably because he was exhausted from playing with his "cousin" dogs, Sparky and Bandit, and youngest nephew, Ethan. Francis is currently passed out on the bed amidst Christmas presents. It was a very good Christmas. My husband is a very sweet and thoughtful man even though I am terrible at controlling my expressions. He got me a painting that I've been obsessing about since last summer. However, it's not the one I wanted. I really really like it though. I feel like crap for being ungrateful...or unpleased (is that a word?)He says I can check and see if the gallery still has the one I want. He says they looked all over and he's pretty sure it wasn't there.

With my single days ahead I hope to get some cleaning and organizing done. My scrapbook table is a disaster and it makes the entire kitchen look like ca-ca.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Wishes

Christmas Wishes have been fulfilled around here! The kids were up at 5:20 waiting for us to get up! We started opening around 7:45. Nick likes to pile the presents by name under the tree. It irritates me to no end, so this year instead of name tags I assigned them each a number. Then I realized that he could stack by number so I then assigned each kid a random number. It worked out pretty well. They are good a guessing what their gifts are too. Next year I think no presents will appear under the tree until Christmas morning.

We had our traditional oyster stew (and chili) on Christmas Eve at the farm. We've done this every year of my life. It's always been on Christmas Eve except for the year Marnie and Todd lived in Ohio. However, this year is the last year for that. Marnie and Todd want Ryan to wake up in his own house on Christmas morning. Also, Grandpa wasn't there. This is probably our last Christmas with him. I guess I have to accept change however hard it is.

We'll go back to the farm for Christmas dinner. Marnie and I are both bringing lots of food to help Mom out. We'll play BINGO after lunch for dollar store prizes. Then later in the afternoon we'll head to Rochester for Kurt's family Christmas.

Here's hoping all the best for you and yours. Merry Christmas Everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

No idea what to call this

i made chex mix (for the first time ever) last night. I'm doing two more batches now. It's misty/drizzly outside currently. We're waiting to see what the weather is going to do. The kids want to go shopping, I won't them to get some decent dress up clothes, and Kurt has to work in Davenport tonight. I am NOT excited about that. Last I heard tonight is supposed to be blizzard conditions.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I got a B in my biology lab! My grade point for this semester is 3.91!! SO I am OFFICIALLY a graduate of UNI. I got my diploma cover last saturday and now I can wait for the actual diploma to arrive (as soon as I finish my internship). I have less than 100 hours left.


Monday, December 17, 2007


Took the pooper to the vet to get neutered this morning. I really miss him (although it's been WONDERFUL not having to stand outside with him). I can pick him up tomorrow, bring him home, and then turn around and drive back to work.

Speaking of which - I only have office practicums left to do. I have around 120 hours to finish it. This week I'm conducting Medicare Part D sessions with our residents. So far no one has signed up, but tomorrow and wednesday I have short info/sign up sessions scheduled.

On Saturday I graduated with my BA in Gerontology with an emphasis in long term care. I'm glad I walked. It was pretty cool to see all the robes, hear the orchestra, etc. However, everyone forgot to bring a camera so the only pictures I will have will be the ones I can buy. Oh well. Lots of celebrating was done. I had a family dinner at Biaggis. Then on Saturday we ate at Red Lobster afterward and that evening had dinner with friends then drinks with other friends. It was nice.

My grandpa is in the hospital in the Hospice room. He seems to be doing better, but is still sleeping almost constantly. It's very difficult to see him there. Especially since he's in the room where my grandma died. I think they may have redecorated though. The strangest things will make me cry. I'm glad that I am close enough that I can go and see him everyday.

I'm watching VH-1's greatest songs of the 90's. It's reminding me of songs I'd like on my Ipod!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Double Doozie

We're having a bit of a snowstorm. After work I drove the truck to Grandpa's to check on him and to deliver some homemade ham & bean soup as well as vegetable beef. Part way there I knew I'd made a huge mistake driving the truck. It's too big for me to be comfortable with it in snow and ice despite the 4 wheel drive. Kurt had to come and rescue me.

I got to Grandpa's right after Hospice had left. He's all signed up with them. He was very nauseous when I first arrived, but later managed to eat (and hold down) some bean soup and some Jell-o.

The second thing was that my grandpa's younger brother (who is 91) and also lives independently had fallen 2x yesterday. He has a heart thing that causes him to faint. This is the third or fourth fall recently. His hip is bothering him but they can't find a break in it. He is now in the hospital and has checked himself into a nursing facility. Uncle Melvin very upset about my grandpa which isn't helping. Plus their younger sister, Aunt Donna (who is in assisted living) is upset as well. Bad things happening to each of them just makes it a vicious circle. It's coming all at once. Yikes!

Monday, December 03, 2007

I knew this day would come...

My grandpa has been tired and losing weight. He and mom have been "doctoring" Grandpa has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and nodules on his lungs. Mom told me Friday night. I held it together while I was on the phone with her. The second I ended the call I freaked out and went into hysterics. I was crying so hard I was almost hyperventilating. Kurt was driving (this was after we'd been to Christmas with Wartburg Concert)(wonderful btw) and on our way to Perkins. It was all I could do to dial the Wonder Twin and hand the phone to Kurt. Luckily, I have a very wonderful, understanding, and non-jealous husband. In this case, Brian just knows me and the history better than Kurt. Brian was able to get me to breathe and get myself under control.

I went over to Grandpa's today. It was 4:15 in the afternoon and he was in bed asleep. I've NEVER seen him in bed during the day...EVER. I took him some home-made chicken noodle soup, potato soup and some ground chicken. My aunt from CA is here. I hope she can be a help.

I realize that I have been blessed to have my grandpa as long as I have. He will be 93 in March. He lives on his own on the farm and is mostly healthy and independent. He recovered from a broken hip last year and made it out of the nursing home and back to the farm. I can't imagine him not being a part of my life. He's always been there. Every Sunday I know he will be at my parents' house visiting. He's had a long wonderful life as Brian pointed out. It's just that I don't want him to be in pain and to suffer. My grandma died 20 years ago last October from cancer. I was almost 16. It was horrible horrible horrible. It's still vivid in my mind and heart.

Wednesday is the doctor appointment to decide what, if anything, to do. Grandpa always says the way to go is to just wake up dead one morning. Unfortunately, I don't think that's going to happen.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Turns out I'll be 36!!

A few years ago when I thought I was turning 33, I was, in reality, 34. I lost my ENTIRE 33rd year. Well, it's happened again!! Tomorrow I will be 36 and damned if I didn't think I was turning 35. Oh, the crushing disappointment.

My sister got me an I-tunes card. I got myself some cool tunes! Pet shop boys, Tina Turner, You sexy thing, John Dever, Santana with Chad Kroger, and a few more.

Kurt and the kids took me out for Chinese so I started and finished my meal with crab legs! We are celebrating tonight because tomorrow I'm going on Bed and Breakfast retreat with "work". This intern is really making out! Senior staff is having a team building activity. The B and B is famous for it's murder mystery package. Check it out .

It is FREEZING outside. Why oh why is it necessary for my puppy to have an audience to poop and pee?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving from Omaha!

We've had a lovely Thanksgiving at my brother and sister-in-laws in Omaha. They are moving to Dallas in December so their house is a bit bare, but it's gorgeous! I feel like a bumpkin from the poor side of the family. I know that we aren't but I too would like a jacuzzi tub, marble counter tops, and hardwood floors! I suppose I could if I could come up with the cash.

The drive here yesterday was treacherous. We saw 38 accidents/cars/jack-knifed trucks on the way. We just kept plugging along. People are seriously idiots! How long have you lived in Iowa?? This happens every year get a clue people!

The boys(men)here are studying the ads, formulating a plan and charging up the two way radios. They are SERIOUS shoppers! I will be staying here.

We're going home tomorrow. We might stop in DSM and see my sister and nephew. We need to be home by 5:30 so we can rescue our puppy from the kennel.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

To Caucus or Not to Caucus

Since we live in Iowa the presidential campaign has already been going on for WAY over a year. All the media outlets say how important the Iowa Caucuses are to the process. I'm not sure I believe that. I know that I'm sick of all the politicos being here. I get more phone calls from Barak Obama than I do from my friends!

I'm thinking that I should participate in the caucus since I'm here and I've listened to all these candidates for so long. It seems you can't turn around with out bumping into one or seeing their campaign bus.

I remember my parents caucused at least once when I was a kid. What else am I going to be doing on January 3? Also what's the point if the person I like isn't one of the front runners? The media is saying that if Edwards doesn't win here he may as well hang it up. If that's the case what chance to Bill Richardson or the guy with the big ears and the hot wife have?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I've been tagged!

Marn's friend (and mine) Jen tagged me. As my sister mentioned Jen tagged everyone we know. I guess I could tag Kurt but he only blogs once a year.

THE RULES:1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.2. Share 7 facts about yourself: some random, some weird.3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

1) I too, have mud wrestled a hog at the Buchanan County Fair. (My team won)(two years in a row)(I have the trophies to prove it)! Go Conklin Crushers!

2)I was the only one of my friends not to get kicked out of National Honor Society for getting picked up for underage drinking. (I was also one of few who didn't get picked up for underage drinking period).

3)I have rocks in my head and you can still feel them. When I was 6 or 7 and had just learned to ride my blue bike with the banana seat; I was cruising down the big hill above our house. The nasty little boy next door cut me off with his big wheel. I crashed and face planted into the freshly oiled and graveled street. My forehead was cut open and the rocks went in.

4)I'm obsessed with melanoma. I'm very fair skinned so I've always burned easily. Then my mom got skin cancer and the obsession increased. I'm always slathering on the 50 proof sunscreen, wearing a hat, and trying to convince my friends to do the same. Rikki, have you called the dermatologist yet??

5)I fell down a cliff in San Francisco. I was trying to humor my aunt on the Trek Across America. I fell just past the sign that said "Warning Dangerous Surf - People have been swept away". It was where the Sutro Baths used to be.

6)I drove myself to Canada one Labor Day weekend. I saw Kakakee Falls, I mined amethyst, I saw a porcupine, and I made it back home alive. Some people were convinced I wouldn't nor could they believe I went on a three day driving trip in a foreign country alone.

7)I am sugar cookie impaired. I cannot successfully make sugar cookies. My sister has the same problem.

If you'd like to post this about yourself - feel free.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Things that make you go hum

As of this morning in the past year I've lost 48# I can't think of anything that I've done differently than I've done in the past 20 years. I don't drink as much pop, but I'm back on it to some extent. I guess being nauseous every morning and every night probably helps. As did the months when i was gagging.

I've had several medical procedures/exams to no avail. I feel alright. I hope the weight keeps coming off.

Tomorrow night Kurt and I are going to the play "Cloud 9". Plus our tickets for the Nutcracker just came. As a student I can get a half price ticket. If it's a school production I can get a free ticket. We better get tickets for anything we want to see before graduation in December.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Woo Hoo!!

While scanning entertainment"news" this morning I see that Bon Jovi is kicking off a world tour. I LOVE Bon Jovi!! So on April 22 you will find me at the Wells Fargo Arena!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Free at Last!

Well I'll be free tomorrow anyway. I'm in my dietary rotation right now. I HATE it! I'll be so very glad when it's over. I'm totally an office person now. I've done my food service stint. My pizza making, chicken cleaning days are DONE!! I haven't learned where I'll be going next. I still have Business Administration, Human Resources, Environmental Services, Administrative Organization, and 40 more hours of Governmental and Legal Aspects left to tackle.

Today was BINGO day at the home. They love it! One lady came down an hour early and wanted me to get things started (I kept sneaking out of the kitchen). They play for candy and little bags of cheetos. The cheetos are by far the most popular!

Tonight we went to Alex's first choir concert. He joined because his girlfriend is in it. He claims it's because he likes to sing. Whatever. There are 96 kids in the concert choir. I think that's pretty good for a high school with an enrollement of less than 400.

I have a biology test over genetics tomorrow. Yikes! I'm not good at those punnett squares for figuring out if you're going to have a trait or be diseased.

I finished our book club book. It was excellent and a departure from what we usually read. It's nonfiction (with some fiction in it) about the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. It's called The Devil in the White City. It's also about a serial killer who was operating during this time period. I highly recommend it. It should be interesting to see the book club ladies like it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Four Thumbs Up!

Saturday Kurt and I went to lunch the the Lucky Buffet ($13the two of us!) and then to the theater ($5 bucks each). Despite hating baseball I tend to like baseball movies. The latest one out is terrific! Everyone who likes to feel good should check this out. It's based on the true story of a smalltown in Iowa that's going to lose its school and its identity. Norway isn't that far from here and the movie was filmed almost entirely in Iowa last summer. The local radio station put out calls for extras and often talked to the stars and the film makers. In fact the two morning dj's are in the film. One plays the coach of an opposing team and the other is the announcer.

We really really enjoyed the movie (despite Tom Arnold being in it)(I think he does a disservice to Iowa anytime he opens his mouth)(He makes us all seem like hicks and buffoons). He wasn't that bad this time around. Iowa is showcased quite well and very little of it seemed hokey or too "country-fied". The movie was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year to rave reviews.

School consolidation is a HUGE issue around here. The high school that I graduated from consolidated in the 1960's. Some people still aren't over it.

Really, check it out. Tell me I'm wrong. I don't think you'll be able to do so.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Something you Don't see everyday....

A horse and buggy running a red light!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Boss's Wife

I went to a pizza party with Kurt's work team tonight. I had to go and represent as the boss's wife. Luckily the pizza was pretty decent.

I tried to blog yesterday, but my java script was off or something. I got frustrated and gave up. Today it works.

I'm wearing a brace on my knee. I went to bed saturday night and I was fine. I woke up Sunday morning and I couldn't bend my knee. It got worse throughout the day. Monday I went to Urgent Care and had xrays. Evidently I have arthritis in it and an effusion (which is fluid under the knee cap). They said if it isn't better by Monday to get a MRI to see if the miniscus is torn or if the ligament slip. Joy.

Our puppy is growing!

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Kurt and I went and saw EVITA today. It was wonderful! It's so nice to be able to go to a quality production in a quality theater and only be 35 minutes from home. We were going to go the the BrewBQ in the park by our house yesterday, but something came up and we ended up not going. I did go down and get some brisket, beans, slaw and BBQ chicken. Plus we could hear the music from here.

I took the pupper to the vet yesterday a.m. He REALLY hates riding in the car. He now weighs in at 9#. I don't want him to get any bigger :( I got him a shabby chic wicker basket bed on clearance at Targucci. He LOVES it and has been snoozing it up.

Another busy week coming up. I'm going to the state nursing home convention in DSM this week with the administrator, the director of nursing and a guy that is half intern and half assisted living director. Should be interesting.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Long Time - No Blog

It's been awhile I know. I'm a working woman again. After a year off (from paid employment) I'd forgotten how exhausting it can be!

I'm doing my internship at a Retirement Community/Nursing Home. At this place you buy an apartment and are then "endowed". Once you are endowed you live in your independent living apartment (which includes 1 meal a day and access to a nurse). You just pay your monthly maintenance fee. When the time comes you can move over to the assisted living unit with no additional cost. Finally, the nursing home/med center is available for your final move.

I'm really enjoying what I'm doing. I've made the right (second) career choice. My internship is for 720 hours. I have to do 80 hours each in nine areas. I've completed the nursing portion and I'm finishing up the social services area. I think I'm going to activities next.

We are spending our Saturdays at cross country meets. Alex improves his time at each one. We expected it to be freezing today, but it ended being in the high forties. It was a huge improvement over the mosquito infestation of last week.

Nicky and Christy seem to be doing well at school. They are doing their homework without much prodding or protesting. It's a nice change.

Friday, August 31, 2007

It's about Time!

Finally, Iowa gets something right. Yay to Judge Hanson who ruled that the DOMA was bs. My gay friends can get married if the want!

Saturday, August 25, 2007


I called my ex-husband tonight to find out why he left me. It's been almost 5 years so I figured I could handle it. I can. In retrospect it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. Of course, it didn't seem like it at the time.

I have an entirely different life now.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Kurt and I had chinese for lunch. This is my so called fortune:

When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out - because that's what's inside

Thursday, August 16, 2007

This and That

I've been busy trying to potty train Francis, study my medical terminologies, making sure the kids have what they need to start school, getting used to them being back, and trying to find myself an internship.

I did at least manage that. I start Monday in a 65 bed facility. They also have independent and assisted living too. I have 9 practicum areas that I have to do 80 hours each in. I've gotten close to zero guidance from my advisor and am throughouly disgusted.

This weekend in my parents' 40th wedding anniversary. We and my sisters are taking them out Saturday night and then hosting a small cake and ice cream feed on Sunday.

Day 10-15 ~ Groton ~ Utica ~ Home ~ 3232 miles total

So we got up and headed out of Connecticut. We drove up her middle passing through towns that had been founded in the 1700's (you don't see that at home!) It was very beautiful and I would imagine very expensive. It took about 45 minutes to traverse Connecticut from south to north. So small! I drive 45 minutes to get to decent shopping! We journeyed into Massachusetts and stopped at a Starbucks. We were trying to match up with the New York Turnpike. We drove through heavy rain for a while. I can check another state off my list! I did notice that we crossed under the Appalachian Trail. That's cool because for book club we are reading A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson in which he and a childhood friend attempt to hike it.

We finally got into Utica. We found the hotel, the work place, and some food. It's like all Italian all the time in Utica! Kurt had to work for two or three days at the site there so I drove around and found there was little to do. Although, Utica does have multitudes of statues. Unfortunately, there's nowhere to park to stop to look at them. I scrap booked while he was at work. I got a good start on my trip to Memphis back in '92.

We saw The Order of the Phoenix while we were there! We loved it! I went to Utica Monday nights and listened to the band Buddhahood. They were freaking awesome! I bought the CD.

On the third day we were ready to depart. We pretty much followed I-80 home. We spent a rotten night in South Bend, IN. The first day we spent 12 hours in the car and the second we spent 7. That's too much. We did get The Half-Blood Prince listened to on the way home. We were totally primed for the release of The Deathly Hallows.

All in all we had a great trip! Give us a month or so and we'll be itching to go somewhere again!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Day 9 ~ 1622 miles ~ Poughkeepsie, NY to Groton, CT

~ I don't know about all of you, but I'm getting tired of this trip! All I have left to do with it is blog it, scrap it, and pay for the rest of it! ~

Today we got up and had a breakfast at a 50's diner that we passed countless times a day on our trek back and forth from the sites. After breakfast we toured the Vanderbilt's "cottage" on the Hudson. They only stayed here a few weeks in the spring and few in the fall since they had houses in NYC, Ashville, and Newport. By most standards this house would be a mansion. However, I've been to the Biltmore in Ashville and in comparison this place was a nothing!

The tour guide was pretty funny, but he still rambled on. Of course, there were some idiots with idiotic questions in our group as well. I try not to be an idiotic tourist; others though, seldom make the effort.

The view from Hyde Park is spectacular. The grounds are open to the public daily with bike and walking trails.

After our tour we headed for Connecticut. I wanted to eat lobster and I've never been there!

We were staying the night in Groton. Connecticut is very beautiful (but small!) We got into Groton around 4 pm so we had just enough time to tour the submarine Nautilus and a nearby base. Kurt was like a giant in there! I would think you'd have to be tested from claustrophobia before you signed up to be a "fish".

After our tour we drove down to the sound to go to Abbott's lobster. What an experience! Tall ships were sailing by and we savored chowder, peel n eat shrimp, steamers and mussels, and lobster. Afterword we decided we wanted a little more since it was a once in a lifetime experience. So we got back in line and had a hot lobster roll and crab cakes! It was a perfect meal!

Vanderbilt's Hyde Park

The Submarine "Nautilus"

Abbott's in the Rough

New England Seafood Feast


Monday, August 06, 2007

Friday, August 03, 2007


Our little Francis is a lot of fun. He is very curious and observant. Here he is listening to the guy across the street weed-whack, which is, of course, distracting him from the reason we're outside in the first place.
My days have become all about pooping. He's got the peeing thing pretty much down, but pooping outside still appears to be an inconvenience to him.

What a cutie!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Day 8 ~ Poughkeepsie, NY ~ Hudson River Valley

After a good night's rest we were ready to tackle some more historic houses! We started off at the FDR presidential library and his home (or his mother's home) Springwood.
The library was very interesting. It is the only one where a sitting president actually used it. His mother had saved the dresses he wore as a boy as well has the long blonde curls from his first haircut when he was five. Eleanor's diamonds were on display, too. Of course there was lots of stuff about WWII. Including a recreation of the secret map room FDR had in the basement of the White House. It was modeled after Churchill's War Cabinet bunker.
We toured Springwood, Roosevelt's home. His mother, Sarah, was alive during most of his marriage so until she died it was her home and Eleanor was pretty much a guest in it. Eventually she grew tired of living under her mother-n-law's thumb and she got FDR to agree to let her build a cottage on some of the land.
Val-Kill is the only home Eleanor ever owned. It started out as a cottage industry factory making furniture in the 1920's until during the depression. Then after it was forced to close she turned it in to a home. She and two friends lived there.
The home's contents were sold at auction immediately following her death. Luckily a curator from the library came and photographed ever inch of it before the auction. The National Park Service is now trying to recreate the interior from the photographs. Slowly artifacts are being found and purchased or donated back to the museum.
We had a yummy lunch in Foster's Tavern. We each had one of the specials. I had some yummy beef and Kurt had something good too! Of course we went in search of ice cream and candy after. We weren't disappointed.
After naps and some hot tubbing at the Marriott we headed for the waterfront area. We found a great restaurant called River Station at the foot of the Mid-Hudson Bridge. We sat on the patio people watching, drinking, gorging ourselves and watching the magnificent sunset.

Eleanor's Val-Kill

Sunset over the Hudson

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Day 7 ~ 1287 miles ~ Auburn to Poughkeepsie

We actually managed to get up and going at a decent time today. It appears to be about 250 miles to our next stop. We decided to do most of it on state roads. It seemed it would be more direct and definitely more scenic.

Our last stop in Auburn was at the Harriet Tubman home. Here was another museum that is just getting started. There are loads of historic things in NY so I would imagine that funding is tight. This white house is a home that Tubman ran for aged, destitute blacks. Her home was across the lawn and is in the process of being gutted and restored. Tubman on the advice of Seward purchased this land in Auburn. She had a farm here and planted many apple trees. When she was a slave she had to work in the apple orchards. Even though she was starving she or the other slaves dared not to eat any of the apples. She planted her orchard so that anyone that was hungry could eat. Tubman made scores of trips back to slave country and rescued hundreds including her own family members. A huge price was on her head, but she did it anyway.

Following an hour or so at the Tubman sight we headed east on Hwy 20 through the heart of New York state. It was very hilly and covered in orchards and vineyards. It seemed to take forever to get to Poughkeepsie. Once we turned south we could see many huge old homes along the Hudson River. Our only other tourist stop was at Martin Van Buren's home in Kinderhook. We managed to get a stamp for our passport and in on the last tour of the day. His house was very progressive for its time (mid 1800's). He had running water and to the dismay of his guests, indoor plumbing. Van Buren had a huge built in copper tub and he bathed every day! This was Kurt's favorite home of all those we toured.

Traffic was getting much worse in this part of the state. We came upon an accident that had just occurred minutes before so we got flagged off in a different direction. We ended up driving though the tiny village of Tivoli. It had a very high concentration of what looked like very yummy restaurants. The CIA (Culinary Institute of America) is in Poughkeepsie so lots of chefs start up in the villages surrounding the school. It would have been awesome to have stopped and dined at one of the them but we were exhausted and just wanted to find our hotel.

Once we did find the hotel we ordered in some NY style pizza. I had a shower and a fabulous nap. Once I woke up piping hot pizza was at my door. Fantastic!

Martin Van Buren's Kinderhook

Harriet Tubman Home

Friday, July 27, 2007

Day 6 ~ Auburn NY ~ Finger Lakes Region

Today is our day to explore the Finger Lakes. Auburn is a pretty historic town. It looks pretty run down though. Our first stop of the day was a Willard Chapel. It’s the only existing religious building designed entirely by Louis Comfort Tiffany. They were setting up for a concert so we couldn’t do the tour and movie. The chandeliers were astounding. The docent here was well meaning but overly attentive as well. We made our escape when she latched on to some unsuspecting couple from Indiana.

The Seward House was next on the list. There was some filming going on there as well as a meeting of some sort so the gift shop and visitor’s center was inaccessible. This huge home is almost entirely intact. Seward’s (of Seward’s Folly fame) grandson gave the building and contents over to the Park service. There is a painting of a daughter-in-law wearing a lavender dress from the 1860’s. They have the painting AND the dress! I didn’t realize that Seward worked with the Underground Railroad nor that there was an attempted assassination on him the same night as Lincoln (though I think I knew that at one time).

For lunch we decided to drive over to Skaneateles (skinny-atlas). It’s a beautiful town on one of the Finger Lakes. It was crowded with very chi-chi New York women. Very casual yet expensively dressed ladies. Lots of the men had tassels on their shoes. This is a money kind of area. The town is old old. Very federal and Victorian at the same time. We ate right on the water at the Bluewater Grill. I had a fantastic bowl of lobster bisque followed by something else that was yummy. Kurt had baked scrod. It was delicious, too. We stopped at a candy store on our way back to the car. WE bought fudge, truffles, and taffy. I was disappointed in the candy. It wasn’t that good for as nice as the shoppe looked.

We went back to Auburn and checked into our new and much improved hotel. The towels were better, the beds were better, and the internet worked. Heaven! After a brief rest we drove the 20 miles back west to Seneca Falls to go to the Women’s Rights National Historic Park It is on the site of the first women’s national convention that was held in 1848. Only the walls and part of the roof remain of the Wesleyan (go Methodists!) Chapel where the gather was held. The museum next door is interesting, interactive and I thought poorly organized. It seemed crammed full of information about women, their struggles, and what’s happened since 1848 but there was no flow or cohesion to the information and exhibits. The gift shop was great though!

Seneca Falls also has the Erie Canal running through it as well as Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s home. We looked briefly at each of them and did our usual miss the turn around and do it again routine. Many of the miles we are putting on the car is when we are trying to get turned around from having gotten turned around!

I consulted the map and saw that Aurora, NY was nearby. Now I’m an Aurora, IA girl! We had to go. The founder of Aurora, IA was from Aurora, NY. The NY version is a picturesque village on the lake. We stopped at the post office and took my picture. I shot some other pictures of the town too thinking someone at home might be interested. We found a soda fountain/coffee shoppe. I went in hoping to get a postcard of something. The girls behind the counter asked why we were in town. When I told them the one exclaimed, "Well there’s nothing here". I told her she was wrong; she should see my Aurora and compare! We had a scrumptious piece of banana caramel cheesecake and were on our way.

I hate to go the same way twice so we took off on county roads on our way back to the hotel. It was very scenic. NY state is very small farm and orchard orientated. I think the Finger lake region is considered the Catskills. There are lots of trees, lots of fields, and lots of bucolic countryside. People around here say "bucolic" a lot. Weird.

We got back to our hotel in time for tipple time. We quaffed some wine and got advice on where to eat from the all blonde and boobs girl handing out the drinks. We went to Curley’s for dinner. It’s an Italian place. It was right on the river and also across from the prison. We sat on the patio which overlooked a wooded area. As we were dining I noticed some people in blue uniforms with radios and side arms poking around in the trees and pointing at the river. Keep in mind this river is shallow and looks more like creek. They’ve been 6 or 8 weeks without rain here though. Pretty soon another guy in uniform shows up. This one is wearing a white dress shirt. He must be higher up. By the time we get done with dinner there are police cars, fire trucks, and 8-10 personnel milling around. I’m thinking Prison Break! Kurt wouldn’t let me get my picture in front of the prison but I did persuaded him to drive by it 2x so I could take pictures out the window! As a side note for book club a few months back we read the good wife. The main characters’ husband was convicted of murder and spent time in Auburn. We also passed a road sign pointing to Attica at some point.

We spent the remainder of the evening at a laundry mat. As we waited we played two games of scrabble. We sat on the bench out front. The weather was nice. We are pretty, wild party people!


Seneca Falls

Skaenateles - Lady of the Lake Church

Aurora IA girl in Aurora, NY

Been There

Done that. Won't do it again.

Kurt and I ate for the first (and most likely last) time at the New Isle of Capri buffet tonite. Blech.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Day 5 ~ Niagara, ON to Auburn, NY

So far we've put 938 miles on the car.

Today is our last day in Niagara Falls. Should we go down and see it again? We decided against it with all the people and traffic. After another chatty breakfast we packed up and headed out. WE still had our pass to the butterfly conservatory. We weren’t that interested, but we’d already paid for it and we’d get there just as it opened so we decided to stop. It was FANTASTIC! Herds and herds (what do butterflies travel in?) of gorgeous multicolored butterflies of all sizes. Blue, green, hot pink, orange, yellow. Gorgeous! We spent probably an hour and I shot tons of pictures. Since it was early it wasn’t that hot, either.

Our entry back into the states was as simple as our entry into Canada. It was kind of disappointing. I was hoping for more stringent security. So far on this trip there hasn’t been any security of any sort. No x-ray machines, no purse searches. Nothing. Not at all like when we were in D.C. or Chicago.

We made our thru downtown Buffalo, NY. We bought this National Park Service passport so we were working on another stamp. We stopped at a tiny but nice museum in the house where Teddy Roosevelt was inaugurated after McKinley was assassinated. You can tell it’s run by volunteers and that it’s in the beginning stages of museum-hood, but it was nice.

It was back in the car to go to a Frank Lloyd Wright home on Lake Erie. It was designed for the Martins who also have a house in Buffalo (closed on Tuesday) so we were only visiting their ‘country’ home, Graycliffe. The drive along the lake was grim, but very pretty once we go out of the former industrial zones. The house is open by tour only and we were early. We decided to drive around and find somewhere to each lunch. We drove and drove and drove. Evidently you eat at home in these parts. We crossed a double railroad crossing. We got to the no man’s land in between the two crossings when the lights flashed on and the bars dropped. TRAPPED! We decided to raid the cooler and make some sandwiches. Disappointing, but cheap.

Graycliffe is on a spectacular piece of land towering above Lake Erie. Wright designed it so one line of the drive is on the summer solstice line while in the other direction, on a clear day, the mists of Niagara falls is visible. The property is currently being restored. It’s in pretty sad shape really. In the 1930’s it was sold to some Hungarian Priests and was only reacquired in the late 1990’s. We had the doozy of all long-winded docents on this tour. The 75 minute tour took almost 2 excruciating hours. I’m really all for the self guided tour!

Hot, and tired we climbed back into the car. We were still almost as far away from Auburn as when we left Niagara Falls. Driving into the Finger Lakes region was very pretty. The last of the Mohicans was starting to pick up speed so it wasn’t a bad drive. Our Super8 was a block from the prison. It was nasty. Kurt says he hopes to never stay in another Super8 again. I found us a different hotel for the next night.

Auburn Prison


Teddy Roosevelt Inagural Site


Niagara Falls Collage

Day 4 ~ Niagara Falls

We like to stay in B&B’s but one of the hazards (some say charm) is the innkeeper. The one where we stayed was super chatty, super inquisitive, and really in love with the sound of her own voice. I can’t hack that much yakking in the morning. I can barely hack morning itself.
After breakfast we walked down the hill to the Falls. The roar got louder the closer we got. We bought an Adventure Pass which gave us access to the Maid of the Mist, Journey Behind the Falls, White Water Walk, the Butterfly Conservatory, and unlimited access to the People-Mover (the bus to all the sites).

We didn’t get in line for the Maid of the Mist until after 10 a.m. I’m glad we weren’t any later as the line was starting to get long. They handed us our blue disposable rain coats and sent us down the elevators. The raincoats were surprisingly effective. It was in the 90’s so it was freaking hot wearing them. The Maid was packed full of people from all over the world. We managed to get two spots on the top near the rail in the back. The Maid chugged against the current. We got right up near the American Falls. The mist was incredible. The wind coming off the Falls whipped all around us. I can’t imagine how it must have been to discover the Falls. We got so close to the Horseshoe Falls that we were in the mist. We couldn’t see anything except water. My loving sister offered me a hundred bucks to go over the Falls in a barrel. Dad said he’d chip in $100 too. Letting them keep there money was the right decision!

We had a fast food lunch before our time for the Journey came around.

After the Maid we went to do the Journey behind the Falls. It was so incredible! Looking at the Falls from behind the Falls wasn’t anything too great, but going out on the the viewing platform was something else! The platform puts you only 25’ above the river bed. It’s at the base of the Horseshoe Falls. I’ve never had so much water in my eyes ever! I don’t I’ve had that much water in them swimming with my eyes open!

The Journey was terribly crowded. We decided not to do the cave of the Winds. 1) It’s on the US side and the line to cross the bridge was hours long 2) Kurt found out the cave is no longer there and 3) I tend to trip up and down stairs when they are dry and not next to a raging river.

Following this adventure we had a beer and sandwich at a restaurant at the top of the Falls. Watching the water as it approaches the Falls is pretty awesome, too. It was now the middle of the afternoon. We took the People Mover up River road and went to the White Water Walk (we’d paid for it after all). It’s a board walk down in the Niagara Gorge that goes along a stretch of river that has class 6 white water. The water is so dangerous, shooting the rapids is illegal and if you live, results in a $5,000 fine.

I was dying of heat at this point. Kurt was pretty hot too. We were both super stinky. We caught the bus and had it drop us off uphill from our B&B. Showers and naps followed. Nothing beats a shower after a full day of sightseeing.

For dinner we went to the Falls View Sheraton. Rooms there are way over $200. It’s above the Falls. The view from the restaurant was amazing. The restaurant was elegant, the food was fantastic. We’re there until close to sunset. We saw our first rainbows refracted in the mist. It was a great way to end the day.

Our room at the lodge accessed the garden. We sat outside in the cooling air, played scrabble and relaxed. We both slept well that night.

Day 3 ~ Detroit to Niagara

We didn’t get out of Detroit until after 10 am. That makes me crazy when it’s a driving travel day. Welcome to Canada! I had the not so brilliant idea of driving along a scenic route along the lake. It took forever to go a short distance. Ontario is very farm oriented. There were gigantic green houses everywhere. I’ve never seen anything like it. The landscape and towns reminded me of the San Joaquin Valley in CA. We saw fields and fields of onions and tobacco, vineyards, orchards, wheat, and the shortest corn I’ve ever seen! It was such a contrast. In Iowa there was corn that was probably 8 feet high and starting to tassel while here there is 2 foot corn that is fully tasseled!

I bought some Ontario cherries at a fruit stand. They are sweet and juicy and deep reddish purple. The blueberries are fantastic, too.

We had lunch in the town of Erieau. It’s on Lake Erie (which is very cold, too). The lake had waves and white caps when we waded at the beach. Molly and Oj’s is where we dined. It was dark with a supper club atmosphere. We had a basket of chewy and crusty flax bread with sweet cream butter while we waited for our lunches. Our dinners came with soup so we both upgraded to the clam chowder. It was fantastic! I had a lemon pepper battered perch and Kurt had blackened rainbow trout. We were too full for dessert.

It was already mid-afternoon so we decided to forgo the scenic route and get our tushies to Niagara Falls. Evidently, Mapquest hates Canada (according to our B&B hostess); the directions I got put us in Niagara-on-the-lake which is lovely, but 20km from our destination.

We’re staying at the Eastwood Tourist lodge. We have a large room with a fireplace, a king size bed and a garden patio. We’re about 1 mile down (well uphill) from the Falls overlooking the Niagara Gorge. We can hear the Falls from here and see the Rainbow Bridge.

Once we got settled we drove down to see the Falls. UNBELIEVABLE!!! It’s truly incredible. We could see that without even getting out of the car. We drove up to the Cliffton area of town and had dinner at a great (cheap) little family restaurant. Then we rode the Skywheel. I hate shit like that so me getting on it was pretty amazing. I was squeezing the blood out of Kurt’s had though. It was awesome getting a bird’s eye view of the Falls. After our ride we drove down to the Falls and found some parking. We watched the light of the Falls while we waited for the fireworks. The city puts on a fireworks show every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday during the summer. The show was short, but spectacular. Tomorrow we will do all the Falls tours.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I've created a Flickr account for my photos from the trip. I wonder if it works. It's free for you to view. I haven't figured out how to make a sidebar link on the blog yet, though. Enjoy!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Meet Francis

Meet Francis. He's a 6 week old sheltie boy. He's sweet, fluffy, and likes to explore. He smells like a barn (hay, dirt, animals) but in a good way. I love him already!