Sunday, September 29, 2019

Our 45-day Summer Vacation

My kids and wife flew out to Niagara Falls immediately when the school bell sounded. That's how excited we were to start out on our summer vacation. I could only take 2 weeks off from work so I stayed behind and planned to fly out end of July. I was a bachelor until then.

Niagara Falls from Jun 29-Jul 14
The adventure starts in Niagara Falls where my in-laws live. My  kids and wife bonded with cousins and extended family for about two weeks. Starting July 6 they went camping at Fifty Point Conservatory Area in Hamilton and boating in Lake Ontario. 



My kids rode at top speed on the boat and also got pulled behind the boat on a three-person inflatable dingy.




Their adventure continued south to Washington DC after that, driving for 7 hours. 


Washington DC from July 15
They went to Washington DC for a day and stayed at Hilton Garden Inn. They went to see the Whitehouse, the US capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, Washington monument, and many other landmarks.

  
   

From there, they drove 7 hours south to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Myrtle Beach South Carolina from July 15-22
They went to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina for a week. Here is a shot of the world famous King Kong on top of the wax museum. It's famous for the beaches so after settling in at a Myrtle Beach State Park campgrounds they wasted no time going to the beach.



They went to Helicopter Adventures to ride around the city and I heard the ride fees were very reasonable. My kids were not scared at all. They also went to Waccatee Zoological Farm zoo, Ripley's Aquarium of Myrtle Beach, and a waterpark.

  

After that, they took a 9 hour trip north to Atlantic City.


Atlantic City, New Jersey from Jul 22-25
In Atlantic City they stayed for a week at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel and Casino. They walked around the famous boardwalk which was vibrant with music in the day and especially at night.

  


They went to watch an MMA professional fighters league event at Oceans Casino Resort at the end of their trip on July 25. I believe it was Alexandre Almeida vs Peter Petties  in this video.
 


The next day they made their way from Atlantic city for a 7 hour trip to Montreal where my nephews live.



Montreal from July 26-Aug 8
On July 27, they went watch the fireworks at old Port Montreal.




The next day they went to Saint Helen Island. They rode the Le Boomerang, Orbite, and won a big stuffed elephant prize by sinking a hoop around some bottles.  


I joined my family in Montreal the day before my wife’s birthday. It would have been a great flight if not for my lost luggage with Air Transat. I waited along with other passengers until the next flight's luggage started filling the carousel. The Air Transat central baggage staff started filling in our claims and were told to head on to our hotels while they locate my luggage. I was so disappointed heading to Hotel Gouverneur Montreal downtown on bus 747 close to 11pm at night. The only I had going for me was that I get to see my family after a month of physical separation.

The hotel was at the corner of rue Saint Catherine and rue Berri. My first impression was that it was a poor part of town similar to Hastings area in downtown Vancouver but that was so far from the truth the longer I stayed there. There was a permanent road closure at that intersection that extended all the way east of rue Saint Catherine, with strings of decorative balls hanging on top of the streets. It was very festive even at that late hour. The walk to my nephew’s apartment was short and was finally greeted at the door by my nephew who has now grown to be a towering man. 

On my wife’s birthday, we all went to an all you can eat Japanese restaurant on Rue du Square-Phillips called Kuu Bistro.  On July 31 we went to the old Port of Montreal to see the Notre Dame Basilica. The building architecture was amazing. We took Uber and Metro every chance we can get.


  
  

On Aug 2 we went stay over at my nephew's home and had some Montreal poutine and smoked meat at a nearby restaurant.
On Saturday Aug 3 the kids with their cousins went to Laser Quest and Amaze Escape Inc downtown Montreal to hang out. On Aug 5 we walked around St Catherine Rue and are our at Kinka Izakawa restaurant. I really liked how the outdoor patios there take up most of the street. 

On Aug 3, we went hiking up Mont Royal to see a breathtaking view of the city.


   


We went to St Viateur Bagels as we heard so much about this place and ordered one of each kind. 

The next day was Sunday so we went to Saint Joseph's Oratory with everyone and attended the English mass. Parking was bad and we were practically the last one through the gate before they closed it and put a "Lot Full" sign. The church was so big that my brother-in-law was able to attend the French mass happening at the same time at the basilica in the same building. There were many construction sites in Montreal during summer and the oratory was no exception. After the mass, I went up to see the stations of the cross while everyone else enjoyed the plaza.

  

On Aug 6, we went to see the Rogers Coupe at Stade IGA, 285 Gary Carter St. All four of us tried to go but couldn't find parking so me and my wife were dropped off and we took the metro on our way back. We got to see some of the matches on National Bank courts and saw the big names on big screen. There was some rain that night where the game was postponed so we relied on their website for updates. Did you know that they offer no refunds until Tennis Canada makes a call of a cancellation, which could go as late as 2am? We headed off to a nearby McDonalds to wait it out and so did many spectators. Thank goodness the rain stopped and we were able to finish the matches.
 

On Aug 7, everyone went to eat out at this fancy all you can eat Japanese restaurant called Taiyo. It is self service in that you are provided an iPad or two to order whatever you want from their online menu. This was our last night in Montreal and headed back to my in-laws' home the next day. We did a detour to Ottawa which was a 2 hour drive.


Ottawa on Aug 8
We drove through Ottawa because we couldn't find parking. We drove by Parliament Hill and got to enjoy the majesty of our nation's capital. 

 

It was a quick detour as it was getting dark and had just finished raining, so we made our trek to Niagara Falls which took a long time to get to it seems.



Niagara Falls on Aug 9
After a relaxing stay, we went to the McBain Community Centre YMCA for a little exercise. Did some weight lifting while wife and in-laws hit the pool.



Buffalo on Aug 10
After spending some time at my in-laws home in Niagara Falls, we headed south to Buffalo, New York to visit the Naval Museum. On our way we stopped by the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine. 
 

We headed on to Canalside where there was coincidentally a Nelly live concert, which was situated right where the Naval Museum was. My kids had their portraits drawn for US$1, we saw these floating tiki bars on the water (I bet you get drunk real quick on these boats), and then drove around the depressed city of Buffalo. It was very sad to see the place so deserted and reminds me of Detroit's urban prairie.


 


   


We spent the weekend going to the local outlet malls and packing our things before heading back to Vancouver. This was a very memorable trip for me and my family. I'm very thankful for my extended family back east and the hospitality they have shown to me, my wife, and kids, and hope to be able to show the same when they head out here next.