Monday, September 29, 2008

Trip Rewards

On Sunday we returned from a five day (well, two travel days and three days there) trip to the Niagara Falls area. Jacob's grandparents live in an unincorporated area between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. We stayed at their 1850s farmhouse, which truly is a real estate agent's worst nightmare. It is located on a busy country road, has a train running - literally - through the back yard, is across from a run down bar frequented by gruff looking motorcyclists and has the most amazingly warped floors I have ever seen.
Van Niagara Falls

We arrived in the early evening after two smooth, on-time flights, retrieved luggage and a hassle free car rental experience. We ended up driving the biggest SUV ever, which Jacob said felt like driving a U-haul truck. They were out of the car size we'd requested and so 'upgraded' us to size ginormous. It guzzled a good bit of gas, but we enjoyed the view from up high and I have to admit that it was super easy getting Joris in and out of his car seat without having to bend down. But we were glad to get rid of the beast again at the end of the trip and decided we won't be SUV owners any time soon.

Joris did great on all of the flights. On the way there he ended up falling asleep an hour before landing and napped through the descend, all of the announcements, everyone leaving the plane and me carrying him into the terminal. Except for some very minimal fussing he was easily entertained and distracted and we feel like we could not have wished for better traveling behavior.

Grandma and Grandpa were thrilled to meet their great-grandson. They were also very good about letting Joris come to them and not trying to rush him into interactions. Joris was pretty apprehensive of them until the last day. Especially grandpa, who has a loud, scratchy voice and who'd bend down and half-yell "Well how ya doin' big guy!", was a tad bit intimidating, I'm afraid. It also didn't help that Joris came down with a fever for a day and a half which made him not irritable, but a bit clingy and definitely not his cheerful self.

Van Niagara Falls

We made it to Niagra Falls twice. The first time we walked around Goat Island and admired the American Falls and enjoyed a picnic lunch under a tree.
Van Niagara Falls
We then drove over to Canada and did a little driving tour of the wine region just across the border. The second time we walked across the Rainbow Bridge to admire the falls from the Canadian side, which has a much better view of them. Joris was duly impressed and kept pointing and making his sign/sound for water.
Van Niagara Falls

On Saturday, our last day there, Grandpa had suggested going to the wildlife festival that the local electrical company puts on annually. Apparently they can gauge local electric rates as long as they spend a certain amount of money on community activities... The wildlife festival had booths, games and demonstrations from wildlife preservations groups, boy scouts, SPCA, wildlife rehab places, etc. but also of the Niagra Trappers Society, taxidermists and hunting and rifle associations. It was weird to see the booth of the SPCA which showcased a tiny screech owl and another small bird of prey across from a table with hunting trophies.

Joris got to pet a border collie named Gracie and throw a stick to her, which she'd retrieve.
Van Niagara Falls
Then we went to watch what was supposed to be a dog obedience and agility demonstration but which ended up being a showcase of how trained dogs sometimes just don't want to listen and obey. It was pretty funny. After a bit Joris waved bye-bye dogs and kept saying "owl". So we went back to look at the little screech owl. I asked the lady there if there were any other non-taxidermic animals around and she kindly pointed us to a building. Inside there was a fun stage show where they showed different animals to a large audience of kids. We got to see a lemur. But the most fun was at the table to the side that was run by a hawk rescue/rehab place. They had a great horned owl named Yoda, that Joris was very interested in. Yoda even hooted at us and ever since, Joris makes this great hooting sound whenever we talk about owls. He also found a very nice stuffed animal toy owl that we adopted because Joris would not let go of it.
Van Niagara Falls

Van Niagara Falls

We treated Grandpa to some festival food and did a good amount of people watching and we all agreed that it had been an excellent outing. Joris fell asleep in the car on the way home and we were unsuccessful in transferring to his bed after we got home, so he only had a 15 minute nap that day.

That evening, we heard a train approach and Jacob rushed Joris outside to watch it. We'd been lucky enough to catch a fair number of trains and most of them were passenger trains or shorter freight trains, but this one was very nice and long and took a good 6 or 7 minutes to pass. When they came back inside Joris was signing "more train" over and over. I tried to explain that we don't control the trains and the train was all gone. His eyes got teary, he made the saddest face and started stomping his feet in protest. He was very tired and just wanted more trains.

We enjoyed three days of grandma's cooking and delightful company. She got Joris a big lion puppet, which he loves to talk to now. I think he realized that Jacob or I make it talk because he'll ask us if he can talk to the lion. I believe that grandma and grandpa were equally entertained by watching Joris interact with the lion. Grandpa gave Joris some very cool antique children's books (which he won't be allowed to touch for a while). One of them is printed on linnen paper, which most likely is the reason it has survived the almost 100 years.

Here you can find some more trip pictures.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable trip and we are excited about how well everything worked out. We're less worried about traveling with Joris to Costa Rica in November now and we are so happy that we got to visit with our family. It was hard leaving them, not knowing when, if ever, we'd be able to return to see them again, but we're thankful for the time we enjoyed with them on this trip.


Christine said...

I giggled so hard at the familiar description of Grandpa yelling, "HOW YA DOIN'", I nearly snorted my coffee out my nose. The pictures are precious, too.

Anonymous said...

Great description of your visit,and I also can hear Grandpa's voice!
I know G and G treasured your visit - what blessing it is to see a great grandchild.