Over the years, Kim and I sure took a lot of road trips. We loved to go on impromptu excursions, as well as, planned vacations. Although it seemed we always returned to Long Beach Island, NJ when we lived on the east coast and Laguna Beach or San Diego since we've moved here, we really tried to see and do different things together...
One of my fondest memories, is of the juggernaut of a trip we took back in August of 1989, with Kim's sister Terri and her husband Todd. I had always wanted to take Kim to see Niagra Falls, so we began planning to drive there to take in its beauty...then, we thought, since we would already be in Canada, we might as well check out Toronto...pretty soon, we had involved Terri and Todd and our list of 'must sees' began to grow.
I wish I had written down how many miles we covered, and I think we did this total round trip in 10 days (correct me where I'm wrong Terri and Todd!) - but we took off from Philly and made it up to Buffalo, where we stopped to see the Buffalo Sabres hockey facility - being a huge sport fan, it was important to me to be able to see stadiums and arenas along the way! Then, we headed to the Canadian side of Niagra Falls... If you've never seen the falls, you need to. The sheer amount of water running over the top of those things is absolutely incredible! I've been to the Grand Canyon twice and found it to be breathtaking, but, as I love water, I think the falls edge out the canyon. At night, they light up the falls in multiple colors. The rushing, roaring sound is so soothing...and the constant spray in the air is refreshing. We spent a lot of time walking around the rim, going below to check out the sights and enjoying this gift from God. Funny thing about this beautiful piece of nature..it, of course, attracts tourists. And, although, I still can't figure out this combination, I remember the main street across from the falls, being a mish mosh of wax museums, Ripley's Believe it or Not museums, etc....we took a look at some of those, too, just for fun!
After the falls, we headed north to Toronto - I remember cruising on the highway, brushing my teeth to save time and spitting out the window doing 70ish (never a good idea!). Oh, and all the while, Todd was recording our trip on their new camcorder! Remember, this is 1989 - that camcorder was as big as a Hollywood set camera! It was state of the art back then and Kim and I thought we'd love to own one, too, but damn, that thing was HUGE! And Todd would be hanging out of his car window filming me brush my teeth, or we'd pull up next to them and make goofy faces - one time, I put one foot out the window and the other on the dash as I drove at top speeds through Canada. We stayed in Toronto (yep, drove by Blue Jays stadium!) and I remember how good the Canadian beers tasted on tap - and finding out that the liquor content is much higher in Canada than the U.S.!!
The next day, we headed north east and up to Montreal. We got to Montreal pretty late, it was dark...I don't remember too much about the city, but, somehow, I got turned around and lost Terri and Todd and did some crazy manuveur/u-turn/over the median type thing to get back on the same track as them. The next morning, we went to McD's for breakfast - we were in french territory now and wanted to be safe. Those silly frenchmen pretended they didn't understand english and we ordered egg mcmuffins and received big macs...we let them have their laughs and took off for Quebec!
That night, we thought it would be so cool and pretty to camp along the banks of the might Lawrence River on the outskirts of Quebec. We had brought along tents and camping gear, planning to stay in hotels sometimes and camping others, depending on where we ended up. We found a camp sight, paid and started to look for the perfect spot...only, it wasn't so scenic, in fact, it was pretty barren, trees were sparse and after being there a short time, we decided to take off and drive a little farther to see if the scenery improved. We were sort of embarrassed to tell the lady at the entry gate that we thought the campsite was ugly, so we said were trying to find a store to buy some supplies...she gave us directions and we fled like criminals. We finally ran out of steam and settled on staying at a tiny, little hotel in the middle of nowhere and I think the proprietor was a little Norman Bates like, so we slept with one eye open.
Well, we had enough of Canada, so we turned south and made a beeline for Maine. I thought it would be a good idea to bring some cases of that good Canadian beer, with the higher alcohol content with us, but the folks at the border disagreed and decided to keep my beer. I've never been back to Canada. We camped in a little town across the border called Moosejaw. It was so beautiful, right out of a Thoreau poem, with huge, dense trees, a lake, lots of grass and, we hoped, moose...although we kept our eyes peeled, we did not see any moose that night and in the morning, we made our way to the scenic coastal highway 1. We made it to Arcadia National Park that day - it is still the most beautiful place I've ever been. We explored its coast and ended up at Bar Harbour, where we could see seals playing in the surf and a classic light house, beckoning to passing ships. The beaches were stunning, mostly large slabs of rock - I remember commenting I've never seen such large surface rocks. We hiked through the trees and up the beaches, before the call of the surf got the best of me. Despite there being no sand, just rock right into the pounding surf, I waded in...immediately turning purple (think George Constanza "shrinkage!"). Even thought it was August, that water was frigid, but it was worth it.
That night, we stopped along the shore to buy lobster from a fisherman who had just brought in his catch, paying about $8 a piece for huge, live lobsters. We took them back to our campground, nestled beneath some of the biggest, greenest trees I've ever seen, and had lobster races! Then we boiled them up over the fire we had built and they were delicious. Reclining by the camp fire, with Kim, Terri and Todd, I felt at peace. The sky had a large, bright moon and countless stars, much like our beautiful night skies here in Tucson. I could have stayed in Maine for a lot longer, but we still had a lot of coast to cover...
We hugged the coast on US 1, going through New Hampshire/Vermont and into Massechuesets, where we stayed in Boston (excuse me if I get the order of towns/places incorrect, you see, I got a 'D' in Geography), right across the alley from Fenway Park. Boston is a neat city, but it is a challenging one to drive in as every street is one way, and you'd better be prepared for which direction you need to be heading in, as we found out, turning onto what we thought was an eastbound one way road and staring into oncoming traffic and the unforgiving stares of hardened Bostonians with no stomachs for tourists. We spent some time taking in the rich history of the city and its historical sites, which were neat, but I had one goal when I got to Boston - to make it to Cheers! Cheers was at the pinnacle of its popularity back then, so when we got there and saw the line snaking out of the basement entrance, onto the sidewalk and well down the block, we were undeterred. We only had to wait an hour or so to work our way down the basement steps, anticipation growing and then, finally, we squeezed into the packed bar...to find that it looked nothing like the bar on the t.v. show! We did not let it spoil our time, though, and even bough souvenir shot glasses (yes, they went into our living room décor that I described a few posts ago).
Ok, here's where I get hazy, I know we went to Salem and to see Plymouth Rock, but not in which order. Salem was pretty neat. The town is made up of incredible Victorian style mansions and bed and breakfasts. We chose one of the bed and breakfasts, based on the promise that it was haunted...we flipped a coin to see who would get the 'haunted' bedroom and who would sleep in the living room. Kim and I 'won' the toss...but were not disturbed by any supernatural forces. Neat place, though. It was a pretty town to walk through and we saw a few of the museums and where the trials occurred and hanging tree, etc. Plymouth Rock, on the other hand, was a let down. It was much smaller than I imagined it, and back in the 1800's, in an effort to save the historic marker from the rising tides, the townsfolk decided to move it...cracking it in the process. They patched the crack with cement - kind of looked like one of my 'home repair' jobs (Kim was always the handyman in our house!).
Other than that, we went to see the aquarium in Mystic Conneticut, which was fun and had a bizarre experience in Providence (is that where we were?). We had spent the day on a beautiful beach on the cape and wanted to find some night life. We stumbled upon a quaint town with plenty of bars and started walking down the main avenue to decide which one to go to. It was a bit of cultural shock that day, as we soon came to realize that 90% of the revelers were same sex couples ('not that there is anything wrong with that' Jerry Seinfeld) ...which, being super mature, Todd and I could not resist in making as many jokes about as we could...to the point that Kim and Terri thought we might just get killed...we didn't, but go out of there pretty quickly!
Along our way, we were able to stop and enjoy many of the coast's beaches - all of them different and offering scenic beauty and features like lighthouses, jetties, tidal pools, varying sands and slopes and we tried to get into the ocean at each stop. Again, I don't know how many stops we made and I used to know how many miles we covered, but it was unbelievable how much we packed into 10 days - we'd often marvel over that during reminising about that trip...
Tonight, one month ago, Kimmy took the ultimate roadtrip - our shooting star, at 7:59 p.m...although the actual date was the 13th, it was four weeks ago today...the bambini's and I celebrated Kimmy by making pork milanese, one of her specialties and about the only way to get us to eat pork. Cody and Autumn helped me in the kitchen (Tonio has been sidelined with strep throat, so I'm a nurse once again! When he was diagnosed, he became quiet and introspective...I asked him what was up and he asked 'Dad, can I die from strep throat?'). Andrea brought the poor boy some home made soup and he gobbled up a huge bowl! Oh, and the toothfairy made it the other night, barely, remembering around 4:30 in the morning that a tooth had been lost! But, if you are outside tonight, something that has become a family ritual for us before bed each night, looking up at the night sky, please watch for the shooting star...it will be there, Kimmy, once again, gracing us with her prescence....