Sunday, October 13, 2019

Botanical Gardens: Chocolate Factory

Last Day in Buffalo; Then on to Scranton

Our last day in Buffalo had me moving slowly; we didn't get out of the room before 2 pm. I am grateful that I have finally accepted the fact that I just cannot go like I used to, and also that Joe is patient enough to wait until I am ready.

We decided to go to Platter's chocolate factory and the Botanical Gardens. We figured neither would take too much effort!

The chocolate factory had large plate glass windows where you could view their chocolate-making process, which is always interesting to me; they weren't too busy, so, unfortunately, it was not nearly as interesting as I had hoped.

Since Ginger had already given me my "special" box of Orange chocolate, I decided to buy one for my Aunt Helen, who is soon to be 95 and LOVES chocolate!

We picked up a few other treats and some really great coffee, which I hoped would give me some pep in my step for the Botanical Gardens.

Arriving at the Botanical Gardens felt magical! The Victorian-style buildings that the plants call home are absolutely stunning; they were opened in 1900, and their architectural style was based on the famous Crystal Palace in England. It is a national historic site, education center, and tourist destination.

I loved the dome and all of the glass and I have decided that I have officially become "one of those old people";  as I thoroughly enjoyed walking around looking at PLANTS!

The most fascinating plant, to me, was the Curry plant; it literally smelled exactly like curry, and if I am 100% honest, I can tell you that it tasted like curry, too! Shhhh...don't tell! lol

And then there were the koi fish. They were spectacular! And oh so friendly. I just loved the way that they followed us, as we meandered from one side of the pond to the other. I could have watched them for hours. They were all so unique in shape, size, color, and fins.

I think that my favorite plants were the orchids. There were so many different varieties in bloom; all spectacular. They even have a Corpse Flower; which was not in bloom. Interestingly enough, they only bloom every 7-10 years.

We spent about an hour walking through the various collections, and I was glad that it was not any larger, as, for one reason or another, I am just really tired.

I am grateful for the small adventure, and that I have just enough energy to get ready to head to Scranton in the morning.

After a good night's sleep, we decided to take the backroads to Scranton. We figured the drive would be much prettier and enjoyed the countryside and the rain. When we finally got to our hotel, the very first thing that I noticed was the brochure, from guess where?

Yup, the EXACT same Botanical Gardens that we just enjoyed. The irony of two people, being in Buffalo at the Botanical Gardens, and then in a small EconoLodge in Clarks Summit was pretty amusing. I wondered if they enjoyed the gardens as much as we had.

I think I will leave my brochure in the room, too!

We are going to be visiting family while we are here, so I am hoping that a good night's sleep will perk me up!

Blessings to all.

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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Niagara Falls

When in Buffalo, New York, you must take a trip over the border, to Canada to see the falls from their side! Don't get me wrong, the American side is pretty darn impressive, but the Horseshoe Falls is spectacular!

On the way, we stopped at DiBella's Subs. Their subs are amazing and it is no surprise that they have been around for nearly 100 years. I don't know what they do to their bread, but it truly is amazing; maybe it is the 16 hours of aging, before baking that makes it so good. It seems that the further east you go, the better the bread gets! lol We had the Uncle Louie on sesame bread, and it was yummy!

Twenty miles down the road and we were in another country watching water fall over cliffs. We parked at Table Rock ($20) and headed to the bridge, to cross the street to the falls. Of course, the wind was blowing mist everywhere and I was amazed at how cloud after cloud was forming over the falls. You could literally see the clouds forming and I thought what a great opportunity for kids to witness science in action.

We knew from driving in that we would have to buy a poncho in order to stay dry. While we were wandering around the gift shop, I saw yellow ponchos sticking out of a trash can and yes, you guessed it: it didn't take me long to pull two of them out of the trash and head to the falls! Not only was I saving money, but I was also saving the environment. So if you ever visit the falls and want to save a few bucks, check the trash cans before purchasing a throw-away poncho.

Once we crossed the street, the mist was almost like rain, and the most stunning rainbow was hanging over the falls. The rush of the water roared, and the mist on my face made me smile!

Standing there with the power of the water crashing down makes you feel really small. Of course, I took a photo under the rainbow and when I later shared it with my daughter, we discovered that we were both standing under rainbows at the same time; she was in Hawaii and I was in Canada. How cool is that?

After enjoying the falls, we took a walk through the park and marveled that it was still gree, and warm. We so expected it to be cold and dreary. Eventually, we headed back to the car and were amazed that the mist had almost completely ceased to exist. I guess it was the wind that created all of that "rain" earlier, but I was happy to see that the rainbow was still there.

Driving in and out of Canada was a breeze, but I thought that it was interesting how many more questions the Canadians ask when entering their country compared to the few questions asked when entering ours.

I am grateful that we were able to see the falls and enjoy their beauty.

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Friday, October 4, 2019

Patriots vs Buffalo Bills!!

Throughout my entire life, my father remained a Buffalo Bills fan. My husband even inherited a vintage (lol) t-shirt from my father, which he, of course, brought with him on this trip. I pretty much figured he would like to go to a Bills game, but once I found out that they were playing the Patriots, it was a done deal!

Buying tickets on Ticketmaster the night before the game wasn't nearly as outrageous as I thought it might be, and we scored tickets, up high, but on the 50 yard-line for $140! Not too bad
considering.....sometimes when once in a lifetime opportunities come along, you just have to jump on them!

I was probably more excited than Joe! As we drove to the stadium, I was relieved to see so many Patriots fans; and grateful I wasn't the only one.

I don't know what it is about going to live events, but they make my heart sing and my face hurt from smiling so much! The National Anthem gave me goosebumps and the fighter planes flying over, along with cannons shooting made me proud to be an American!

I loved every minute of the game and enjoyed watching a couple get married during half -time. I seriously think the gal was more excited than the guy.  Apparently, they won a contest and even scored Superbowl tickets.

The fan behind us had zero impulse control and literally banged on Joe's seatback until he eventually broke it. Fortunately, he and I had agreed to disagree on who was going to be sad at the end of the game.

As luck would have it, it was him, because the Patriots DID manage to win!

Getting in and out of the stadium was easier than I had anticipated, yet there was still a bit of traffic.

On our way back "home", we decided to stop for some Polish food at the Polish Villa. I had amazing perogies and sweet and sour cabbage, and Joe had kielbasa, cabbage, and parsley potatoes. It was so, so good!

It was such a great day, and I was shocked at how exhausted I was when I got back to our room.

Oddly enough, my back was none worse for the wear; maybe my little prayer worked?

Go, Patriots!!

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Thursday, October 3, 2019

Private Tour: Our Lady of Victory; National Shrine and Basilica

After the funeral and Chowder Fest, we decided we still had a bit of time left in the day, so we headed to the Basilica in Buffalo. Since we did not have an address, and still have a dumb phone, we were not sure where to go.

We could not locate the church on our GPS, so we headed to the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, and figured we would go from there. The museum was actually closed, with the exception of the birthday party that was just about to begin.

What a great place for a birthday party! What little kid would want to spend their birthday surrounded by carrousels??

Even though we did not get to go through the whole museum, the lady in the gift shop allowed us to take a sneak peek while she looked up the address of the basilica.

I loved seeing so many old, original hand-carved horses, and hearing the music from the carousel, as it went round and round. Apparently, the museum and factory have been around since the 1890s and houses many original carrousel horses.

Fortunately, the woman in the gift shop was able to find the address for the church and we were on our way. Shortly, we arrived at a Basilica that was just as amazing as many we had seen in Europe. Both the inside and the outside were stunning, with tons of marble and sculptures. The stained glass was gorgeous, and the altar was regal.

Once mass was over (yes, par for the course) we were able to walk around the inside of the church all by ourselves and were fully immersed in its' beauty. In the back, there was a guest book that we were browsing through to see where others, that had visited, had come from. There were people from all over the world, as well as a couple from Nampa, Idaho, right down the road from where we live!

As we were marveling at that discovery, a small man approached us and asked if we were enjoying the Basilica. We told him, "Very much so." He proceeded to talk to us and asked if we had some free time; which we did.

He proceeded to tell us about the church and the man that built it; Father Baker, whose church is currently petitioning to canonize him for all of his acts of miracles and good works. He took us to a spot where it is claimed that he spent many hours a day, just staring at a statue of the Blessed Virgin and Jesus, he would then go and put his hand near the statue, before walking away.

There was an indent in the marble where many have followed suit. The gentleman, giving us the private tour claims to have had his shoulder healed by standing in that spot and praying. You know I stood there and I prayed REAL hard.

Oddly enough, I did not pray for my leukemia to be cured, but I did pray for direction, acceptance of His will, and understanding of whatever He throws my way. I did say that He could throw me a bone and make my back feel better though! lol So you never know, but if I am ever "cured" aka in treatment-free remission, you know I will remember this day!

We continued through the church hearing healing story, after healing story, in addition to how the church was built with no building fund, but a whole lot of Faith, in three short years, for $3.5 million. There have been apparitions, and many have seen angels and the Blessed Mother on film. Some have also claimed to see Father Baker, who now rests inside the church.

Our gracious tour guide took us back to the original Baptistery, and all around the life-sized stations of the cross. He explained that there were three orphanages and a school for abandoned children and reiterated time and time again just how special Father Baker was. He lived a humble life, until his death at 94.

We cannot believe how lucky we were to have been given such a personal, private tour of a very special place, by happenstance, and I marvel at how many times in my life I have been given an unexpected gift, such as this tour, and I am ever so grateful.

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Bricks for the Brave!!