Thursday, September 29, 2011

Upstate New York - History and the Sapsucker Woods

After leaving Niagara Falls we traveled across the state heading toward Seneca Falls. On the way we stopped in Waterloo. Waterloo, New York is small town America, but the patriotism here is huge.

The first stop was the Civil War Memorial. We spent quite a bit of time here because a man working there, who was very involved with this project, gave us a guided tour and told us all about the different monuments and all the stories behind them.

Here's the man talking to Ray.
Everything there has a reason and a story,
But I don't remember them all.

They even honored the women.

Our next stop was the Memorial Day Museum. Waterloo is know as the birthplace of Memorial Day. Henry Welles thought it was a good thing to honor those who fought in the war when they came home, but he felt that those who didn't come home should be honored too. Read more here: Memorial Day History

At the museum I noticed a display about the Women's Relief Corps. The framed document is from the Sanitary Commission. As a quilter I have heard quite a bit about the Sanitary Commission and it's value in the civil war. It was the forerunner of the Red Cross and was created to relieve the pain and suffering of soldiers. One of the things they did was donate quilts for the wounded soldiers. Today we do the same thing and there is a local group that makes quilts using a pattern that was used by the Sanitary Commission. Check out the new group here: Home of the Brave Quilts

We made it to Seneca Falls and the National Women's Hall of Fame. I recommend it if you're in the neighborhood. They honor women from every walk of life for their contributions. They will be moving to a larger building when they get enough donations to fund the move. But it is very impressive even in the small building.

We headed south along Cayauga Lake; one of the finger lakes. There are so many trees in this state that the lakes are hard to see, but we found this opening and a chance for a photo.

A bonus here was Taughannock Falls.

Then at the bottom of the lake near Ithaca is the Cornell University's Ornithology Lab. Because my brother Mike has been interested in birds his whole life, I have heard about ornithology my whole life. Here they have the Sapsucker Woods. We took the hike through the woods and it was beautiful!

Too bad there isn't sound because there were lots of birds here.
We heard lots more than we saw - Mike would have seen them all.

Make way for ducklings.


Look who's hiding.

A nest.

Another nest.

Close-up view.

Another family.

Rain is coming.

We went across the state line to spend the night in Pennsylvania just cuz we could. Plus it added another state to our list. In the future we plan to returning to Pennsylvania, but for now it was just an overnight thing.

The next morning back to New York and the Catskill Mountains.

We stopped in Woodstock for lunch and to walk the town and do a bit of shopping. Then headed toward New York City. That's coming next!

Monday, September 26, 2011

One Year!

Well, a year ago today I went to a Weight Watcher meeting...and the rest is history!

I lost 40 pounds this last year (even if I did gain a few back over the summer, but they're on their way out). It's the best thing I ever did for me and for Ray too. He lost 80! And it reversed some of his heart issues. With eating right and walking (& the gym) we're in so much better shape than last year. We've also gone for some fun hikes that we couldn't do before and we were able to save a bit on public transportation in New York and Boston this summer.

At today's meeting we were discussing motivation: what brought us into Weight Watchers in the first place and what keeps us on track.
I just know that last year I had no energy and I didn't fit into clothes. I was too out of shape to go for a walk of any length and I was eating more and enjoying it less.
Now, I go for the walk even if I don't feel like it beause I know I'll be fine once I get going and that it is one of the best things I can do for me. Plus being aware of what I eat and keeping track of it helps me eat less (or at least smarter) and enjoy it more. (We do love to eat!)

Oh, and I started feeling so good I also fired changed my doctor this year. What a difference that has been. I have a really good doctor now and I'm finally getting good health care. That's a good feeling!

So thanks Betty for inviting me to a WW meeting and if anyone needs a little push to get healthy, consider this a push. Go get that check-up that you've been putting off, make a few healthier choices this week and get moving. If you want any information or suggestions just let me know. You don't need Weight Watchers - there's lots of free stuff out there to help you keep track of your food and activities.

Below is a sort of before and after. I don't like to have my picture taken, but I can see that I should take a few more so I can see the progress for myself.

May 2010
At a family get together.
I thought by turning sideways I'd look slimmer.

 May 2011
Taken by our friend Els.
Check out the baggy pants.
Oh yeah, Ray finally trimmed his beard.

Here's another one Els took at a quilt guild meeting
of me trying not to be self-conscious.
I finally got new (smaller) pants.

This is a lifestyle change and with that in mind I'm not stopping any time soon!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Niagara Falls and Other Stuff

These are a bit late, but it has taken me a while to catch up with our pictures from this summer. We landed in Buffalo New York the afternoon of May 20th and it was pouring. As we drove the little rental car to the city of Niagara Falls to get checked into our motel it was really coming down. By the time we got to our motel we were tired and it was raining, so we decided to take a nap.

When we woke up the rain was gone and the sun was out so we headed for the falls.

Horseshoe Falls from the top.

The mist from the falls with Canada in the background.

American Falls

Time for a walk on Goat Island between the falls.

It's so beautiful here.

Another shot of the mist.

The top of the American Falls.
The observation deck and Rainbow Bridge.

American Falls

Ray on the observation deck.

The next day we drove to the Canada side of the river.
The top of Horseshoe Falls is behind us.

Before the falls, in the middle of everything, is Bird Island.

Me with the American Falls in the background.

We had lunch here at the Edgewaters.

We had a wonderful view of Horseshoe Falls.

And American Falls.

Back on the American side we drove up the river.
At the top by Lake Ontario is Fort Niagara State Park.

Our first lighthouse was not on the coast.

Looking across Lake Ontario.

A close up of what's on the other side.

We drove along the lake for a while and then went in search of the Erie Canal. Earlier we saw a show about it on the history Channel and were impressed with all the work it took. We didn't see as much as we thought we might, but in the city of Lockport we finally got our chance and were able to watch a lock in action.

Here the locks have filled and are letting the boat thru.
Notice there is a wedding party on the boat.

Another stop we made was Lewiston.
It was the last stop on the Underground Railroad.

A monument at Freedom Crossing.

What it was like for those crossing.
I wouldn't want to take that boat across that river.

It was so green and beautiful there, but I'm sure it had something to do with all the rain. We were expecting lots of rain on this trip, but actually lucked out and didn't get rained on very much at all.

We were gone three and a half weeks so there are more pictures to come!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Blue-Footed Boobie

Thanks to my brother Mike I know what bird this is. He was flying in front of the boat that took us from St. Thomas Island to St. John Island. My brother is so good that I just gave him a weak description (I had the colors backward) and he knew it was a boobie and probably a blue-booted boobie. So he got out one of his bird books and I was able to see that it was a boobie.

It was flying in front of the boat looking for fish and would dive to the side of the boat and then fly back to the front to look for more. It put on quite a show for us.

On the way back to St. Thomas it was there again.

Thanks Mike!