Trail Rides, Waterfalls and Canada

As we are driving to our next destination, I am trying to recollect what all we have done this past week. I really need to get in the habit of writing posts at least every other day, but the clock seems to be in fast forward mode and before I know it, another day has come and gone. I will try not to leave any exciting details out, but like I said in previous posts, I’m not making any promises.

Let’s start with Monday, October 15.
Our event was a morning assembly at New Hartford High School to honor U.S. Army All-American Marching Band member Samantha Hollister. Samantha’s father is the band director at West Genesee, so it was touching to see how proud he was for her, as both a teacher and as a parent. Our team was very proud for her as well, and we are excited to see her perform in San Antonio.

After our event, we grabbed a bite to eat at The Retreat. It was a cozy restaurant, full of Syracuse memorabilia and fall decorations. The food was extremely delicious; I definitely recommend it to anyone who is ever in the area.

Lauren and I decided we would venture off by ourselves after lunch. We ran a few errands and then went on a hunt for an Apple Orchard. Syracuse is amazingly gorgeous, surrounded by rolling hills, lakes and creeks. I’m not much of a gambler, but I’d definitely bet money that this is the most gorgeous time of year in upstate New York. The foliage is absolutely incredible. Some trees look as if they are on fire; burning bright orange and red, while others look as if they have had hundreds of gallons of pollen dumped on them, yellow as can be. It was definitely distracting while driving through the hills, the beauty and magnificence that nature has to offer –so incredible. After making our way through the winding country roads, we came across Navarino Orchard. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to venture out into the fields of apple trees to pick our own apples, but we did manage to find some yummy treats inside the orchard shop. Lauren and I both chose a bottle of amazingly delicious apple cider, and the sweet tooth in me decided to grab a caramel apple with nuts to go, needless to say, it didn’t last long.

On our way back to the hotel, we decided to take the back roads so our eyes could be delighted with nature as long as possible. We passed by a huge open field with about 30 horses or so grazing in the pasture. The sign said Rt. 80 Quarry Ridge Stables. Lauren and I immediately did a google search and found that the stables offer daily trial rides. We gave the owners a call and booked a ride for Tuesday afternoon. As we continued on to our hotel, our curiosity of SyracuseUniversity student life had us circling around campus a few times, admiring the architecture and reminiscing on college life the rest of the drive home. We met Joe for dinner at a restaurant next door to our hotel and then headed in for some shut-eye to prepare for the long day to come.

Tuesday Lauren and I awoke full of excitement for our upcoming trail ride. We grabbed a bite to eat at Panera for lunch and then made our way to the stables. It was an extremely chilly day with a breeze that stung as it touched our faces and hands. Aside from the weather (and me getting shocked by an electric fence) everything was amazing. The backdrop of rolling hills surrounding the stables and the smell of the outdoors were just the perfect recipe for a refreshing fall day. After our tour guide saddled up our horses, we jumped on and hit the trails. Our tour was an hour long and took us up to the peek of a massive hill. We weaved around several enormous trees, the horses’ hooves crunching the fallen leaves as we made our way through the colorful, peaceful woods. The hour of relaxation flew by way too fast. We had such an amazing time and it was just what we needed before our next busy days of events.

After grabbing an energy boost from Starbucks, we picked up Joe from the hotel and headed to our next event at West Genesee High School to honor Shawn Davern and Nick Piato on their selection to the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. The event took place after band practice and attendees consisted of band students, parents, teachers and other friends and family. Both young men gave incredible speeches and had the crowd roaring with laughter. Once everything was over, we packed up our van, had a quick bite to eat at Applebee’s and headed to our hotel to prepare for the two events scheduled for the next day.

Both of our Wednesday events were to honor U.S. Army All-American Marching Band members. Our first event was to recognize Ryan Tighe of C.W. Baker High School. Our second event was at OswegoHigh School to recognize Joseph Bertonneau. Both events went extremely well, despite the wind knocking over a few of our signs during our second event. After a long day of work, we treated ourselves to dinner at Water Street Café then headed back to our hotel to get some much-needed rest.

We didn’t have any events scheduled for Thursday or Friday, so we decided to venture to Niagara Falls. The drive was just under three hours and was extremely windy. Joe had a tough time keeping the tour van on the road with all the wind, but he managed. Thanks, Joe!

When we arrived at Niagara, the weather was bright and sunny, but we could see a few dark clouds making their way towards us. Our hotel was a couple blocks from the falls, so we anxiously unloaded our luggage and headed out to see Mother Nature’s incredible masterpiece before the storm clouds rolled in. We captured about two photos prior to strong gusts of wind nearly knocking us over. Then came the rain. Even in the gloomiest weather, the beauty of the falls remained in tact and had put what seemed like a form of hypnotism on us, unable to take our eyes off.

We had a late lunch at TGIF before heading back to the room for a little rest. With such beauty outside, I couldn’t bare staying inside for more than 10 minutes. I headed back out in the rain for a walk over to Goat Island, a small island between the Horseshoe Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The island gives you a different view of the falls, with trails along the top of the falls that lead down to the foot. There were tons of squirrels running around the wooded area and I was quick to get a few shots (see below). I also witnessed my first black squirrel sighting here, absolutely adorable.

Thursday night, Joe and I decided to head over to Canada for a bite to eat. We made our way across the RainbowBridge, through customs and into the foreign country. It was still raining out, so we hurried into the closest restaurant, Planet Hollywood. There weren’t many people out that night, I’m assuming because of the weather, but we still had a good time and the dinner was delicious. We paid .50 to get back into the U.S., and headed to our hotel to watch a bit of TV with Lauren before dozing off to sleep.

On Friday morning I walked to Red Coach Inn Restaurant for brunch. I ordered the pasta salad and club sandwich, which was absolutely scrumptious and gave me just the energy I needed for a long day of sightseeing. It was a beautiful, sunny day in the upper 50’s/low 60’s, a drastic weather change from the night before, thank goodness. I headed over to the Canada side and walked along the boardwalk overlooking the river. The boardwalk runs from Clifton Hill all the way to Table Rock/Horseshoe Falls and provides some of the best views of the falls. I am actually quite surprised my camera battery survived the lengthy photo shoot. The photos posted below aren’t even 1/20th of the shots I took on Friday.

Joe made his way over to the Canadian side a little later in the afternoon, and I joined him for ice cream and a stroll down the boardwalk back to the American side. Before completely calling it a day, I laced up my sneakers and went on an hour run around the falls, the most beautiful workout I have ever had in my life, no doubt. If I had scenery like that to run around every day, I could totally see myself being a female version of Forrest Gump.

Lauren and I went to TGIF for our last dinner in Niagara. It had gotten extremely cold out and the walk back to our hotel after dinner was extremely grueling. The cold weather and long day of sight seeing completely exhausted me, so I crawled into bed early and watched Double Double Toil and Trouble on YouTube to get me even more in the fall mood. I love this season!

On Saturday we headed to a new hotel in Rochester, NY. We had a few hours to relax before we headed to our Saturday evening event at the Webster Schroeder Autumn Fanfare, an annual band competition at the WebsterSchroederHigh School stadium. At the event, we honored U.S. Army All-American Marching Band member, Hannah Harrison. Like our presentation on Wednesday night, the weather was extremely windy and we had a hard time keeping our signs up. Towards the end of our presentation it starting raining, but that didn’t stop the band competition that was following our presentation. The fans were cheering loud and were extremely lively despite the unfortunate weather. We were very impressed by all the bands we saw perform and we are honored to have been a part of such a neat event.

We just arrived at our hotel for the night, so I’m calling it quits for now, but I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on our events for next week. I plan on spending the rest of the day getting things organized, getting a nice workout in and catching up on some TV.

I hope everyone had a great weekend! -Until next time, -E.