North Carolina is participating in "Row by Row" this year, which is a HUGE but different type of quilt shop hop. Basically, you go along to see what stores are participating in the state, and if you're visiting that area during the summer, you can go to the store and get a free pattern. The first person from each state to complete 8 rows and use them in a finished quilt wins a grand prize, and the first person to return to a shop with a completed quilt that uses that store's pattern wins a small store prize. While browsing through the states and their Facebook pages, I realized there were TWO shops participating in Niagara Falls...one of the places on MY bucket list. :) I think you know where this is headed. We actually had 6 free days in a row on our calendar (well, we did both have to cancel one activity each, but those happen every month and can easily be missed), so we went.
Driving up we went through West Virginia and PA, coming back it was PA and VA, and even though we had planned to visit a historical site in VA on the way home, my absolutely amazing husband surprised me by changing that stop and telling me to find quilt shops on that route. So while I've only completed 2.9 rows, I now have 13 patterns. :)
I've never been that far north before, and had no idea what to expect. I've had several friends tell me that it's hard to find places to eat while traveling north, and to some degree that is correct. Fast food places, other than Subway and the occasional McDonalds, are hard to find. It became a joke in the van as we saw many signs "McDonalds in 3 miles" that we must have a different definition of a mile (we never saw the restaurants...and I was looking for a bathroom!) but we did get to try some different chains and non-chain restaurants that were good.
And I loved the scenery. Somewhere through PA it was like a switch flipped, and suddenly the trees and foliage were different. I kept wishing my Granny was alive so I could photograph the plants to send her and see what she'd say (she knew the names of almost all trees and flowers), but then I started wondering if she'd know them as well. I've always thought blue spruces were beautiful, and we saw a great number of them. The houses were also quite different, and I'd like to know the architectural origins behind the tall, skinny two-story structures. And I know it wasn't a city thing, as we passed a large number of farms that had the same style of house. I couldn't help but be reminded of the President's comment the first time he ran for office and actually got to tour the US...I never knew how beautiful America truly was. (That's not a direct quote, but that was his meaning.) And I get what he was saying. Our country is very diverse and different, but it truly is a beautiful place.
|Rainbow Bridge, that passes into Canada. My only disappointment was that since we weren't staying for the night, our passports didn't get stamped, but were only scanned.|
|Part of the Horseshoe Bend falls. We rode the boat, like the one pictured, up close to the falls, and that was incredibly awesome.|
|And a view of the Falls from the bridge.|
Due to circumstances and our time frame, we didn't go out at night and view the falls (they light the falls up with colored lights at night), nor did we have time in Canada to take the tour behind the Horseshoe falls. But I thoroughly enjoyed what we did get to see and do. Next time I'd like to stay on the Canadian side and walk the streets and check out shops.
The weather took a dip right before we got there, so the temps were in the 60s (the highs) while we were there, which I thoroughly enjoyed, even if my cold-blooded counterpart didn't and had the heat on at the hotel. We both managed to survive (me the heat and him the coldness outside). Had the weather been nicer, I think I could have sat at one of the observation decks for hours and just watched and listened. It was truly incredible.
I was also reminded of just how blessed Americans are. It was nice and amazing to walk down the streets and hear a multitude of languages flowing around me, from Cantonese and Mandarin to Persian languages to Russian and French. We see a lot of Muslim scarves here in Raleigh, but it was the first time I've ever seen burqas in real life, and we saw quite a few of those, as well as Mennonites, Orthodox Jews, and Hindus. I felt like I was in the middle of the melting pot, and it was nice.
It was a trip worth taking, and one a part of me wouldn't mind doing again. :)