Hello, happy Sunday and, for our Canadian friends: Happy Thanksgiving!
Oh, and a little warning: Photo-very-heavy post coming up…
Hi! This is David. I’ve managed to sneak in here. Wanted to tell you about the great birthday mystery.
My last birthday was a big one (50), and Claudia managed to surprise me in a big way. She told me only that I shouldn’t plan anything on a certain week in June, and that was about it. Then we incidentally had a trip to Toronto that was supposed to be right before the big week. We’d been wanting to do it for a while so that I could meet up with a colleague of mine, an architect that I had worked with on a big project together – she had then been transferred from Houston to Toronto, and the three of us had been wanting to meet up.
So the plan was, Toronto for two days, Claudia had a couple business meetings to take care of, then the three of us would meet in Toronto for lunch, then fly back, and go “somewhere” the following week.
(click on any image to enlarge in a lightbox)After our lunch, we had some time to kill before our flight back. So we went to visit the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, which was in the direction of the airport. Another coincidence – it was their annual flight festival, when many of their antique planes actually flew. We even had an impromptu “behind the scenes” tour when one of the volunteer staff showed us their restoration efforts on a Bristol Bolingbroke bomber from the 1940’s that they had found sitting in a farmer’s field.
(click on any image to enlarge in a lightbox)Then, as we headed for the airport, someone sprung the surprise on me. We were not actually headed for the airport. Nope. Taking the rental car back across the boarder, and heading to Niagara Falls. We had talked about it many times, but it was just far enough away that it was inconvenient as a weekend trip, and so had never done it.
(click on any image to enlarge in a lightbox)But that wasn’t the end of the surprises. We checked into our hotel in Buffalo, NY, an amazing restored historic building, that was the former insane asylum for the city. Fitting for my birthday :-P. Then time for dinner. Heading off to Buffalo RiverWorks, which sports (among other things) a local brewery and restaurant on the waterfront. While we were looking for a place to sit, Claudia walked over to a couple I didn’t know and started talking to them. Then the man introduced himself as “Mike.” I was confused. Then he told me his call sign a a.k.a ‘gamertag’, and I recognized him as one of our team-mates from our online gaming clan for World of Tanks, we have spent many hours with in the virtual world. He lives in the area, on the Canadian side and has invited us to visit on several occasions. Which now became reality. What a wonderful surprise.
The following day was a full tour through the amazing Buffalo Naval Park in downtown Buffalo. A restored old destroyer, a cruiser (the only Cleveland class cruiser left in existence) and a submarine. A full day of climbing around old ships!
Mike invited us back to their place for a barbecue the following day, and we had a great time.
(click on any image to enlarge in a lightbox)But the surprises weren’t over yet. Mike is captain of one of the jet boat tour boat Whirlpool that runs the rapids just north of the falls, and he offered us a special tour with several extra runs through the various rapids. I had been a little skeptical of how much fun running the rapids on a jet boat could be, but let’s say I was very pleasantly surprised. It was a blast! Then on the way back, he called me to the helm, and offered to let me drive – and even showed me how to do a Hamilton turn. What a birthday gift!
All in all – a fantastic get-away. And a great surprise. What a wonderful wife I have 😛
(click on any image to enlarge in a lightbox)And here are a few photos (‘now you see us, now you don’t – hahaha’) and a video courtesy of the Whirlpool Jetboat Tours, who have their boats equipped with a couple of GoPro cameras. What an excellent idea!
(click on any image to enlarge in a lightbox)
Literary assistance by