The surprise vacation

Those of you who read my last column probably remember that I mentioned taking a camping trip last week with my husband. Well, color me wrong on that one.
Nov 6, 2013

Those of you who read my last column probably remember that I mentioned taking a camping trip last week with my husband. Well, color me wrong on that one.
After coming home very early Saturday morning following football games (somewhere in the neighborhood of 1:30 a.m.), I, of course, went to sleep. Well, come about 4:30, my husband wakes me up to say we need to get ready to leave. I was so tired at that point I didn't think to ask what in the world we needed to leave that early for a camping trip for.
So fast forward about 45 minutes to the moment my brain finally started to function and I asked where we were going. This is when I found out he was surprising me and we were heading to the airport to go to Washington D.C. I was excited, since I hadn't been there since I was in seventh grade. The excitement was a bit hard to determine given the sleepiness, but it was there, I assure you.
And the surprises just kept coming.
Following two days in D.C. we drove up to Hershey, Pa., to visit Hershey's Chocolate World. Talk about a sweet day (yes, I know that is a lame pun). I have not eaten that much chocolate in one day in a very long time. Halloween is about the only time I ever have, and it's been several years since I did the whole "trick-or-treat" thing. Not only did we purchase several different types of chocolate, we were given many freebies at the conclusion of each tour.
We toured the factory where the famous chocolate goodies are made as well as created our own chocolate bar. I'm pretty sure that one will never be eaten, purely for sentimental reasons.
My husband and I have had several discussions about going to visit New York City, and - you guessed it - that was stop number three.
Having been born and raised in the south, the sheer volume of people and the crazy atmosphere were more than enough to take in by themselves. We visited the 9/11 Memorial, which was beautiful even though very somber, and we also took a stroll through Times Square. I even got to witness a protest there, which was interesting. We sampled the famous New York pizza, and I can say it was very good. It was recommended to us by some fellow tourists that we ride to the top of the Empire State Building, which we did. You can see for many miles from the 102nd floor of that famous landmark.
On our way to the Empire State Building, we strolled past the original Macy's Department Store. I took photos of the outside, but couldn't make myself go in. Too much temptation and not enough money in the budget.
The second day in NYC we took a ferry out to the Statue of Liberty, and that was also a site. Learning about the history of how Lady Liberty came to be placed on her island was great for Mrs. History Buff. The funniest comment of the day was when we were waiting for the elevator to take us to the top of the pedestal for our scenic view. Someone nearby had taken the advice of one of the tour guides and looked through a glass ceiling to see the inner skeleton that created the statue and I heard another voice say "You're looking up her skirt."
Following our ferry ride back to the downtown area, we decided to visit Grand Central Station. So, we did what many people in the city do and hailed a cab. I have heard many stories about rides in cabs in New York City, but I think the stories do little justice to the actual experience. I have never been inside a vehicle that cut off at least 12 other cars, weaved in between pedestrians and I have never heard so many horns being blown in the same place in my life. I heard enough honking in that 10-minute cab ride to last me several years. But it was definitely a place I'm glad we visited.
Our final stop was one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World - Niagara Falls. The American Falls, or the side actually on US borders, have an observation deck called "Cave of the Winds" that you can stand on and be about 20 yards from the water crashing over the cliff. On the day we visiting, the deck was truly living up to its name as there were gusts that were probably around 40 miles per hour. I'm no meteorologist, but the gusts were strong enough to push all of us on the tour so strongly that it was hard to stand up straight.
The Horseshoe Falls, which are located on the Canadian borders, pour out over 650,000 of water per minute. Needless to say, the ponchos provided by the tour guide did little to keep anyone dry that day. The mist from the falls carried well beyond the observation deck into the park a few blocks down the street.
It was a vacation I won't soon forget, and I'm looking forward to the next "surprise" trip that my husband can come up with.


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