Friday, January 28, 2011

Snow Joke

Well there's nothing like walking on beaches one day, & then digging a couple of feet of snow the next! We finally arrived home from New Zealand late Tuesday night & laughed when we spotted our cars in the parking lot - actually they were more recognisable because they were the only two cars that weren't very visible due to being boxed in by snow.

So Wednesday afternoon brought on the Big Dig:

I always love the icicles this time of year - they remind me of huge stalactites!

Anyway, we had an absolutely fabulous trip & could've easily stayed much longer - there was no "we had a good time but are looking forward to being home" feeling. I could easily live very contentedly in NZ, it's a very beautiful country, with the most amazing scenery - you can go from rainforest to fiordland, mountain, sandy beach or city within a couple of hours of each other, it's quite spectacular.   

I especially loved the relative solitude over there, even though it's their summer & high tourist season. NZ is about the same size as my homeland in the UK as far as landmass goes, but contains only 10% of the population. It was great being able to enjoy hanging out in bars or restaurants without being crowded, & similarly with regards to attractions that we visited. In my younger years I was always a city person when it came to where I wanted to live, enjoying the hustle bustle of activities that cities had to offer. But over the years I've come to much more prefer living in quieter regions & traveling into the city whenever I needed a "fix". So I could definitely appreciate living in some of the beautiful lake or mountain regions of NZ.

Two and a half weeks definitely wasn't enough for me, but it was certainly a great amount of time to get a good sampler of the different regions of the country. I'm going to gradually share photos here from the trip so those of you who've never visited NZ can enjoy some of the nice scenery by proxy at least!

In the meantime, it's back to reality in chilly New England. Shortly after Wednesday's Big Dig it started snowing again. A few hours later we'd had another foot or so of snow & my car required another 40 minutes of digging out at 5am before work yesterday morning (although I was very grateful to M who wrapped up warm to go & dig it out for me!). The snow piles are ridiculous right now:

And parking is even more of a nightmare - hehe!

Hope you're all well folks - I'll try & catch up soon!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Roll Out The Barrell

Well it's been a busy start to the year so far. We spent a couple of days in Boston to end 2010 and ring in 2011. The weather here over the New Year weekend was remarkably nice for this time of year - temperatures were in the high 40s to low 50s & it was bright & sunny - perfect for walking around comfortably without 6 layers of clothing!

We spent the afternoon of New Year's Eve at the Sam Adams Brewery in the city - despite having lived here for over 5 years, I'd never been to the brewery before. It was really busy that day - clearly many others had similar ideas on how to spend the day!

Lots of fun though - tours last almost an hour & end in their drinking room with 3 samples of Mr Adams' finest on offer!

The city was busy around dinner time, unsurprisingly. Naturally we didn't have dinner reservations but did still manage to get a table at a lovely Italian restaurant in the North End. 

We wandered back to the hotel after dinner, & despite having grand ideas about heading out in time for midnight fireworks at Boston Harbor, we were tucked up in bed & fast asleep by about 10:30pm!

Next morning we took advantage of the continued nice weather though & took a walk around Bunker Hill to take in some history before heading back home.

Since we'd fallen asleep early the previous evening, we'd missed out on our champagne, so we decided to have some sparkly stuff on Saturday evening instead - along with some tasty ice cream cake (we couldn't go wrong - it had peanut butter in it!), especially since we were celebrating my birthday a few days early due to M's absence on the day.

He had to head back down to GA on Sunday to finish the clearing process on base down there. I'm pleased to say that he returned tonight though - and tomorrow we fly out to New Zealand!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year

Well Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, with at least a day or two off to enjoy in your own special way. 

It's been a busy one for me, but very enjoyable. Last year I'd saved a bunch of vacation days to use at the end of the year & it gave me a lovely extended holiday, so I decided to do the same again this year. Last Christmas I visited the Grand Canyon & had decided to do something equally fun this year. Naturally though, I was unaware that I'd be having company this Christmas!

Regardless though, my saved vacation days this year enabled me to finish work on December 21st, & I don't return until tomorrow, January 3rd. Since I do have the privilege of having someone nice in my life now, I was lucky enough not to have to spend the holidays alone again. I've always been very resourceful on my own & always put my free time to good use - being single has never stopped me traveling or enjoying life. But I'm sure the majority of folk will agree that fun times are even better when enjoyed with good company.

This holiday just happens to also coincide with M's relocation - he is in the process of a PCS from GA to NY, so is using the time to enjoy a heap of his saved leave. So we decided to combine business with pleasure over Christmas, & drove out to Watertown, upstate NY for a couple of days to do some apartment-hunting. Then we continued on to spend a couple of days on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

This was my 2nd trip to the Falls - I was there in July 2009, so as you can imagine, the scenery was quite different this time of year! I was excited about capturing the falls at night since they are lit up so beautifully. My wonderful man was a real trooper, in spite of the frigid temperatures, & humored me quite nicely by carrying my tripod and never complaining about freezing his bum off on Christmas Eve!

I loved the view of the Canadian or Horseshoe falls with the freezing mist rising up high!

The American Falls & Bridal Veil Falls were kind of joined at the hip by chunks of ice, and looked fabulous, especially all lit up.

We were also lucky enough to catch some fireworks over the Falls on Christmas Eve too!

We went back for more freezing temperatures on Christmas morning to catch the scenery in daylight too. Needless to say, the mist remained the dominant feature of the Canadian Falls!

I especially loved the white-out view of the Canadian Falls at Table Rock.

And it was also great to see the icy slabs over the American & Bridal Veil Falls in daylight too!

Afterwards on Christmas Day we had some indoor fun doing some indoor skydiving at this place! Sadly we couldn't take cameras inside, so I have no pics of us in action, but it was fabulous fun. There is a video on the webpage that you can check out though, so you can get an idea of how it works.

Later we drove out to Niagara On The Lake, a little way outside the Falls region, and visited Fort Niagara. Although it was ridiculously cold, we still really enjoyed wandering around the site, and the snowy scenes really added a very bleak perspective on how life must've been for soldiers there back in the day.

Christmas evening brought a nice dinner at Canyon Creek, one of the restaurants in the Fallsview Casino. Any of you who've been to Niagara Falls will know that it's horrendously touristy and over-priced, especially when it comes to eating out. Combine this with a major holiday & you're left with less of a choice when it comes to where to eat for the evening! So we were doubly open-minded about what lay ahead, but ended up extremely happy with the outcome! We both had decent food & also managed to get a nice view of the Falls from the nearby window too!

I mentioned earlier that we'd started out in Watertown, NY to do some apartment-hunting. We had a really busy day of this on the 23rd, & found 3 decent prospects; however, late afternoon we found a random apartment complex by accident that was very new, & decided it would be worth a look. Sadly they had already closed for the holiday, but we were both in agreement that we'd prefer to see it & not like it, than ignore it & always wonder!

So after our Canadian adventure, it was back to Watertown on the 26th to check out this place! We stayed over at The Inn at Fort Drum on the base, & then drove to the new apartment complex early on the 27th. We were so glad we'd taken the time to come back to it - their townhomes are beautiful & this place turned out to be the winner for us, & the paperwork was signed & made official there & then after we'd seen a couple of different home options.

Then we headed back to the Boston region & took the long but scenic route through the Adirondacks. Somewhere north of Lake Placid I caught this lovely snow scene:

OK folks, I'm going to end this post here, I'd hate to prolong it further & bore you you to tears with New Year's Eve's commentary too!

Hope you managed to ring out a great end to 2010 & ring in an even better 2011. Here's to a wonderfully prosperous year for us all.