Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Remembrance Day Journal--Three Years of Sweetiehood

We, Keith and Mary, have been sweeties for three years now and we celebrated this weekend at Hamilton (halfway between Detroit and Baldwinsville) on Veteran's Day Weekend. The Canadian's call it "Remembrance Day." This is our journal of the weekend, to share with you!

Note: you can click on any pictures included here to see a larger version. (This is also true of the rest of this blog and other blogs at this site.)

Friday, November 11, 05, was Day One of our celebratory Hamilton trip. We arrived at the motel around 2, settled in, and then drove up to the Devil's Punchbowl at the top of Centennial and to the left (East on Ridge Road). This waterfall is right at the edge of the Niagara Escarpment and has formed a large punchbowl shaped basin. We walked around the falls taking pictures. The falls itself is really pretty, but the road at the very top takes away from the total effect. Then we took pictures of the huge cross that has been erected at the edge of the escarpment. Keith suggested that they might have erected it there as a sort of counter spell the name, Devil's Punchbowl.

The punchbowl park was closed and we worried about stopping there and parking at the roadside, but as soon as we did, another car stopped and then another. Soon, there were six cars parked around our car. We had nucleated them, LOL!

Mary at the Devil's punchbowl, by Keith Taitt.

Then we walked along the Dofasco 2000 Trail, stopping to take pictures of grapes vines and barns and apple orchards and red-tipped dogwood bushes and each other. We tasted a couple apples from a downed limb and saw a heron take off twice nearby, thrilling us with its long wings. We admired stands of small same-size trees and their reflections in the many little ponds. It was very wet and swampy, as if they had had a lot of rain recently. The gibbous moon rose over it all as it got dark. We had fun chasing the moon and trying to position it just so over the apple orchard.

The Giant Cross, photo by Mary Stebbins

This is the evening of day 1, Keith carrying the tripod back toward the car after we photographed the giant cross at the Devil's punchbowl!

Then we went back to the room and cuddled a while. We got dressed up, took pictures of ourselves dressed up and then went out to dinner at Baranga's on the Beach. This is the nicest restaurant we have so far discovered in Hamilton. It is right on the beach and the food is well-made and tasty. We had calamari for starters and a nice meal with wine. We asked the waitress to take a picture of us, and also took our own reflection in the large windows that looked out over the dark beach.

Keith and Mary dressed for a celebratory dinner, in our room at the Comfort Inn,photo by Mary Stebbins.

Sharing a loving moment, photo by Mary Stebbins. Keith andMary feel very grounded in our love and blessed to be together.

THE KISS, photo by Mary Stebbins

Day Two was Saturday the twelfth and we had breakfast at the Egg and I, after busying ourselves in the room downloading pictures. They messed up the order and put Keith's cheddar cheese on my omelette and I sent it back, but he never got his cheese. My omelette, though, was good.

Then we went to the Botanical Gardens Nature Center, which wasn't very interesting. We did however enjoy seeing the turtles. There were blandings turtles and softshell turtles. The Blandings were the ones we missed and the softshell was the one we saw in our visit to Charleston Lake earlier this year.

Softshell Turtle, photo by Mary Stebbins. This was at the little nature center at the Botanical Gardens, which mainly seemed designed as a teaching center for school groups and did not have many displays or exhibits. The turtle was very active and curious and had an unusually intelligent look for a turtle.

Keith collected acorn caps, magnificent acorns, possibly the best he’d encountered anywhere. "You might say, he said, 'mighty acorns from little oaks grow (because the trees weren’t about nothin'.) He made whistles out of them and kept startling Mary by blowing one shrilly and unexpectedly. He insisted on testing every promising cap he found, like a little kid and wouldn’t stop. LOL! J

We walked the Captain Cootes trail and took lots of pictures and had a good time together. One of the highlights of the walk was the landing of the trumpeter swans!! Six swans descended on Coote's bay, turning and back peddling their wings. They landed among some Canada Geese. We was fascinated by their trumpeting--how much like a trumpet it sounded, and how beautiful they were, landing.

We also enjoyed walking down into the wildflower trail, though there were no wildflowers to be seen. It was in a gorge with a stream running through. We did see raccoon tracks in the streamside mud. It was quite spectacular.

Raccoon tracks in streamside mud, photo by Keith Taitt.

From there, we went back to the Captain Cootes Trail along the bay. We enjoyed the views of the bay, and of course took lots of pictures. Most of the leaves had fallen from the trees, but there were still some sugar maples and oaks with intense color. Along this walk and during most of our others, Mary was taking pictures for her assignments for her Better Photo.com course on “Seeing Creatively” with Bryan Peterson. We loved seeing the chicadees and cardinals feeding from stumps where people left food for them.

Black-capped Chickadee along the Cootes Bay Trail, photo by Keith Taitt

We stopped after the bridge and looked at the sunset and on the other, the Hamilton Harbor, and of course took pictures.

When we got back to the car, we drove around looking for a place to eat and reading the dining guide. We went downtown and the first couple places we went were defunct. We walked and walked and walked (and were already tired from all our hiking earlier) and finally ended up eating at Mahal, an Indian Restaurant with delicious food. We really enjoyed it. Keith had the Tandoori Chicken Tikki, "mild". The rice that they served was a rather dry basmati, just the way Keith likes it. Mary's food was quite hot but wonderful.

Then we went back to the room, downloaded and looked at our pictures, and went to bed, exhausted.

"Wonder." photo by Mary Stebbins. It's Keith looking sort of "religious." Mary took it at the Mahal Indian Restaurant on the second day our Hamilton trip.

On Day 3, Sunday, November 13, 2005, we got a up, finished the downloading we'd started last night, and went back to the Egg and I for breakfast. This time, our breakfasts were more reasonable. That is, we both got what we ordered. And the food was reasonably good.

On the way up, we noticed a waterfall up the slope of Upper Centennial, so on the way back, we stopped and explored the falls and took pictures. When we got back in the car, I looked on the AAA roadmap of Hamilton, which has many of the falls labeled, but this one was not labeled. We're calling it Centennia Falls since it was beside Centennia Parkway, for want of the "real" name. (maybe that IS the real name!)

It was a nice falls, though, worth the visit. (There's no parking area, we just had to stop on the side of a very busy road.) It had a similar amphitheater shape as the Devil's punchbowl. There was lots of scree, loose rocks under fallen leaves that made the footing treacherous. Mary struggled trying to level the tripod on the steep slope and Keith struggled getting down by the falls for Mary to include him in her photograph (and then went back again when the first set didn't come out right.) (Keith says he struggled to be Mary's sweetie, accommodating and respectful. Mary wishes that being her sweetie wasn't such a struggle, LOL!). There were herb Roberts in flower. Also Tansy.

Herb Robert in Flower at Centennial Falls, photo by Keith Taitt

Mary at Centennia Falls, Photo by Keith Taitt

Centennial Falls, photo by Keith Taitt

Then we went to the RBG (Botanical Gardens) and looked around, visited the greenhouse, and took pictures.

Mary at the Royal Botanical Garden Greenhouses, photo by Keith Taitt. (Remember, you can click on the photos if you'd like to see them bigger!)

Keith Relaxes in the meditation Garden at the RBG, photo by Mary Stebbins. This was a cool place and we were fascinated by it and took lots of pictures!

We repeated some of the pictures we'd taken in past trips and then walked out onto the botanical garden
grounds and trails (taking more pictures as we went), and repeating more of the old pictures. Keith took one of Mary walking and typing on the Psion, as he did once before in the same spot. He was impressed that she could walk and type at the same time.

Mary walks the Bridle Trail writing on her Psion. She often writes while walking. Photo by Keith Taitt. This is a photo that attempts to replicate a photo Keith took in the same place on a previous trip.

We watched some huge salmon that someone said were spawning, though November seemed the wrong season? They seemed to be fighting. Someone said they were lost. We would have liked to talk to a naturalist or someone who really knew what was going on with them. We really enjoyed the boardwalk and even loved being under the big bridge.

We went on the "Bridle Trail" and the "Grindstone Marshes trail." We saw lots of chickadees, male and female cardinals, nuthatches and ducks. People put out birdseed and the chickadees landed on their hands. Some anyway, who were patient and/or lucky. We saw lots of squirrels. Took some pictures of the birds. Saw blackbirds flocking up. Mourning doves. We want to bring birdseed to attract the birds and see if they will land on our hands or at least attract some of them to a scenic spot for photos.

Sunday night, we ate at the Black Forest Inn, “Schwarzwaldhaus" and we ordered Rindsrouladen. And Keith got a tall beer--I tasted it, it was good. Warsteiner. It was one of the places we attempted to go to Saturday night, but they told us the wait was 45 minutes or more. I’m glad we went back. The meatball soup was scrumptious. And the wait wasn't so long, thank goodness. The Rindsrouladen was very tasty, as was the cabbage, potatoes, Mary’s apple strudel and Keith's hazelnut torte. It wasn’t heavy and cloying, more like a sponge cake with whipped cream.

Then we went back to the room, downloaded our pictures and viewed them. Mary also downloaded Picasa, Irfanview and Firefox to her new little Toby (Libretto computer) using the wireless connection in the room while Keith snoozed. Then we both snoozed.

On Day four, Monday, November 14, 2005, we packed all our stuff up, checked the room, checked out and had breakfast at the Egg and I again. We both had the Egg and I Big Breakfast which consisted of three eggs, 3 slices of bacon, three sausages, three pieces of back bacon, 2 slices of toast and home fries (and we had juice) (cholesterol city!). We asked for grapefruit but got orange.

Petting the pig, Photo by Keith Taitt. This is the morning of Day 4 after breakfast, and one of a series of remembrance photos taken as follow-ups to previous Hamilton Photos. Just for fun, LOL!

Here is the picture taken in the same place in April 2004.

Then we went shopping at Sears for Bedding--non-feather bedding for Mary's allergies. We got 2 new pillows, a new comforter, new sheets and two new shirts for Mary.

Then went to Beamers Falls. It's approximately ten miles from Centennial to Beamers Falls along Ridge Road. Beamers Falls is similar to Sliding Rock Falls at Cranberry Lake in the Adirondacks, only steeper than Cranberry’s sliding Rock. It's a pretty falls, not too large, but pleasant. We climbed fro the parking area at the top to the bottom, taking pictures as we went. We saw some fossils and snail shells and herb Robert in flower. There's a second falls lower down, but we only viewed that from the top. We saw queen Ann’s lace and vipers bugloss in flower.

Vipers Bugloss above Beamer's Falls, photo by Keith Taitt

Maple leaf in afternoon sun. Mary took this one originally for Gail because she loves leaves. It was taken the afternoon of Day 4 at Beamer's Falls.

Mary on the rocks above Beamer's Falls, photo by Keith Taitt.

Mary leaning out over the gorge at Beamer's Falls to get a picture.

Then we went over to the Bruce Trail parking lot on Quarry Road near Ridge road (Near Beamers Falls) and hiked back to the Beamers Falls gorge from the other side and along the gorge, which was really pretty.

View from the Tower at the head of the Bruce Trail on Quarry Road, photo by Keith Taitt.

Then we went back to the cars at the Comfort Inn where we'd been staying and traded stuff back and forth and repacked everything. Keith departed around 4 for Detroit. His mother, ML, and Graham were waiting for him with a hot dinner. He hoped to arrive around 7 and did.

Mary, who had no one waiting for her with hot dinner and was going home alone to a cold empty house decided to walk at the beach above Centennial and attempt more pictures of the beach house and the high-tension wires. She walked down there and did shoot some pictures, but the lighting wasn't as nice and there were people working in aerial baskets and the sky wasn't as pretty and though she wandered around with her tripod gear, she should not determine where she was standing when she took the shot she wanted to replicate with a tripod. She left around 5. The trips were safe and the border crossings and quick, hurray! We are both safely home in cities 400 miles apart—and miss each other already!

This page is under construction--I am going to be adding more pictures and text!

Please refrain from commenting on this particular post until I complete it. Thank you! I'm going to add the Hamilton journal here as soon as it is ready. And more pictures! Thanks for waiting!Posted by Picasa

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