4:30 AM. Yep, that’s what time we got up to start our vacation. For all of you who didn’t know, we went up to Rochester to see Kristy graduate, check out her new house, meet her beau, Dermot, see Niagara Falls, tour the wineries in Ontario and visit with everyone. Wow, lots to accomplish in a three-day trip. So, we sucked it up and boarded a plane at 6:00 AM and flew to Chicago, then on to Buffalo, where we had to rent a car and drive about an hour to Rochester. When we got there, we just had enough time to hug Kristy, get a tour of the house and greet Tucker (yes, the dog traveled from Colorado Springs to witness this wonderful event, for only $80), before the Fish clan descended upon us (Mom, Dad, Jen, Aunt Diane and Grandma). It was so great seeing all of them, it had been three years since we had seen her family. It was also a good thing that they came prepared with two huge bags of kettle corn from the Lilac Festival that was going on in town. Sweet and salty, yes! I don’t ever want to see kettle corn again, oy vey! We also ventured deep into the maw of the best grocery store in the world, Wegman’s to get food for the weekend. Man, that place rules.
Now, this wouldn’t have been a party without Erin and her mom, so of course they showed up! They both arrived at 10:30 that evening and we stayed up late just talking and catching up with everything. I tell you what, when we all get together, we just can’t stop talking and our voices just get louder and louder! It’s so much fun! Good thing Bob took some Nyquil or else he would have never slept through it all. Poor guy, he was a little under the weather this weekend, but he had brought enough meds to treat a small country, so he was good to go. He did wake himself up from snoring just in time to greet Aidan, Dermot’s brother and promptly went back to sleep. He didn’t even know that we were laughing at him.
Graduation Day has arrived. You know it’s a big event when Kristy’s mom couldn’t stop crying all day. Too cute! Now, during graduation, the speeches are usually hit or miss but these were pretty good. The student speaker was funny and the faculty speaker was poignant. On the other hand, the commencement speaker went a little long on the story of Roger Bannister and his four-minute mile, but that’s okay. We did hear the woman behind us snoring so that amused us for a while. With less than 100 students graduating, it didn’t take long and then on to the reception where there was a huge spread of appetizers that were delicious. I was a big fan of the mini quiche while Bob enjoyed the cheese spread. And of course, I ruined my dinner (Bob did warn me) and I didn’t eat much at Bernucci’s, this Italian restaurant that Dermot and Kristy suggested. What I did eat (which was a pizza) was great and it was even better the next day. Bob had the Pesce Diavolo, a seafood trio in a spicy white wine marinara sauce. Of course, we topped the whole thing off with Tiramisu and a Raspberry Chocolate Torte. Yum! The crazy thing was that Kristy’s dad footed the bill for dinner, which was absolutely generous of the Fish family and we were all very appreciative. They’s good people, I’s tells ya.
All who attended Kristy’s graduation. So, who’s the one who was photoshopped in?
Touristy Day. Saturday, Dermot and Kristy became our tour guides on a whirlwind trip in Ontario, Canada. First, we had to cross the border into Canada and Betty, Erin and I really wanted a stamp on our passports. So, when we pulled up at the border crossing, all three of us, at the same time, and close to the same high-pitched tone, sweetly asked “Can we have a stamp?” You could tell that the guard did not get this request often because he had to rifle through booth for the stamp and then cross to another booth to get a stamp pad but we all got it! He was so nice about it. Weee! My first stamp in my new passport and Bob’s first stamp ever! The rest of the caravan wondered why it took so long and Bob stated, “We had the yellow one.” So, first stop: Niagara-on-the-Lake, where there was a quaint shopping district. We didn’t see much that we wanted so we came back empty-handed but the rest of the crew found stuff. And Dermot and Kristy took care of lunch! My gosh! We have such awesome and generous friends all around!
Next: the wineries. Now all of you know that I don’t drink but I did take sippies of Bob’s wines as we went through the wine country of Ontario. We first stopped at Peller Estates, huge winery. They seemed a little snotty for us but we bought a bottle of the Late Harvest Vidal, a very sweet, icewine-like wine.
Kristy had no restraint during the winery tour. And this was only the first stop.
Next was Lailey Estates, a much smaller winery with a modern feel in the tasting room. This was where we tasted true icewine for the first time. (Sidenote: Icewine is a very, very, very sweet dessert wine made from grapes after the first frost, originated in Austria. This was the first time we had ever heard of it.) We weren’t quite as impressed with this winery, but Bob thought the building was a pretty awesome modern structure. Bob and his clean lines — sheesh! On to Caroline Cellars where Bob bought a bottle of Pinot-Cherry. They say you can drink it with popcorn or chocolate or anything. Bob and I enjoyed this winery the best because they were so friendly, you didn’t have to pay for the tastings and they had great wines. I think by the last winery, Inniskillin, we were all a little loopy on the wines so we didn’t stay too long there. Their wines didn’t do too much for us either.
Mother encouraging the daughter to booze it up. Erin, I don’t know if you can keep up with Mom!
Saving the best for last: Niagara Falls.
I’m thinking the entire crew was super excited about this portion of the tour. You just can’t believe the awesomeness of this natural wonder until you see it in person. The mist from the Falls blanketed you and sometimes you couldn’t even see a part of the Falls due to the mist. Very awe-inspiring. Why do we not have something that cool here in St. Louis? Meramec Caverns does NOT compare! I can’t even describe it in words, pictures will have to speak for itself.
After the falls, we visited Clifton Hill, the Tourist Area. We could tell it was the Tourist Area by the sign:
We hit up the Hershey’s store hardest and checked out a bunch of other little shops, but left without any knick knacks – Bob with his pseudo minimalism again keeping me from cluttering up the house with expensive crap! ☹
On the way back to our motherland, we were met by an especially surly border guard, but I guess that’s kind of their thing. We ventured back to Rochester in one piece, save a little whiplash (thanks for navigating, Kristy!), and convened at the Fish-Healy household to trade pictures, swap stories, and fill our bellies.
All in all, we had a great trip, made memorable by the wonderful and giving people around us this weekend: Kristy, Dermot, Erin, Betty, Ray, Judy, J, Diane, Connie and Aidan. YOU ALL ROCK! It was a nice and well-earned vacation to be sure. We are also looking forward to Kristy and Dermot’s Midwestern Adventure, in which we take them up in the Arch, down to Augusta for the wineries there, and up to Kirksville to relive the glory days of college. So gather up some vacation days, you two, and we’ll be ready to attempt to repay your incredible generosity and hospitality.
Some highlights of the trip include:
Can you feel the love tonight?
Who would have thought that we would still be friends eight years later? One of the few success stories of freshman roommates. 355 Rocks!
The cap is just the finishing touch to the outfit.
Will work for wine!
Dancin’ in the streets!
The only Mountie that we saw in Canada. He was nice enough to pose for us.