2023 · Connecticut · Imbolc · New York · Pennsylvania · Texas · USA · Wheel of The Year

National Groundhog Day 2023

Groundhog in Whirlpool State Park

Traditionally the groundhog awakens from his nap for a nice welcomed break during the winter to see if he can see his shadow. Many believe if the groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If this is so, he retreats into his den and goes back to sleep. However, if he does not see his shadow, the groundhog remains outside to play, and people celebrate, believing spring is just around the corner.

Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, has hosted the annual Groundhog day event. Thousands of people come to the town of Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day for this day of celebration.

  • Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow: Pedicts six more weeks of Winter
  • Connecticut’s Chuckles didn’t see his shadow: Predicts an early Spring
  • Texas Bee Cave Bob is an armadillo and predicts an early Texas Spring

Happy National Groundhog Day!

2023

My 19th Immigration Anniversary

Today it has been 19 years ago, I  immigrated to the United States of America. I remember sitting with Katelynn (she was a little less than 4 months old) in my arms in O’Hare (Chicago International Airport), and I had only 22 US pennies in my pants pockets. I was very excited, but also a little bit scared. Because I did not know what the future would bring to us. While Kevin was calling his parents in NC, I looked out the window at the skyline of Chicago. I was thinking to myself: “Omg, what have I done, now? I’m over 4,000 miles away from home, with no money in my pockets, and no job lined up. I just hope, everything will work out alright!” Kevin was working long days and went to school at night. In the meantime, I took care of the baby. Better work came with Kevin’s education. About 18 months after my immigration, we could afford a small house in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas.

Now 19 years later, having a house full of kids, dogs, cats, a backyard, and a car, in Connecticut, I still have “no money” in my pockets. After the bills are paid, there is usually not much left. I learned there are a lot of great people in both places, my home and my home of choice. I traveled all over the US to enjoy the different mentality and hospitality of these states. I also enjoyed the landscapes this country provides to all of us. Here, I look back to close to two decades of a great journey. Now I’m excited to see, what the next 19 years will have in store for me and my family. 

People frequently like to ask me this question: “But you do get the chance to get home and visit family and friends quite often, don’t you?” I have to disappoint y’all. I came here and never went back. And I never regretted my decision, either.

2023

Relaxing & Reading Stephen King’s “The Shining”

In the Summer of 2017, we visited Niagara Falls to meet up with Kevin’s former High School friends. Kevin and I had our daughters with us, and Jackie had her daughter, born in the same months and year as Sara. Kevin, the girls, and I had a room at the now Niagara Inn (I can’t remember the old name of the motel. It is on my tongue, but I can’t spit it out.). Jackie, Lisa, and Bella visited us at the hotel after hanging out at Oppenheim Country Park. Sara and Bella were standing in the motel’s hallway. And all of a sudden, Jackie said: “Girls, stand right this way. I want to shoot a photo.” When I looked up, I started laughing and said: “That’s a re-enacted scene of Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’. Even the Exit sign fits perfectly into the picture.”

Now, Jackie sends us the photo on the yearly anniversary, reminding us we need to see them again in Niagara Falls. And I read this book for the second time after I read it first in the Winter of 2020. Thank goodness, we are only six hours instead of two-and-a-half days away from Niagara Falls, now. What a relaxing evening to laugh my butt off, when the book reminded me of the photo in Niagara Falls, again. 😂👭📚

2022 · My Travel Journal · New York · Special Events · USA · Wedding

Travel Journal, Day 2 (Part II): Paul’s & Jackie’s Wedding

💍 Paul & Jackie ~ September 10, 2022 💍

Paul and Jackie had a beautiful wedding last week. Family, friends, and former schoolmates met to celebrate with Paul and Jackie. There was plenty of food and alcohol with an open bar. And they also had a karaoke setup. Sara and Neveah sang Adele’s song “Easy On Me”. Sara enjoyed it.

The following morning, we had breakfast with Lisa before we returned home to Connecticut.

~ THE END ~

2022 · Canada · My Travel Journal · Ontario · Texas · USA

Travel Journal, Day 2 (Part I): Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara Falls, New York (2)

September 10, 2022

Since Kevin parked on Goat Island, we walked from the Canadian Falls over to Luna Island. And from there we hiked the trail along Hell’s Half Acre, crossing the Goat Island pedestrian bridge to get to Prospect Point/Observation Point. Kevin, Sara, and I spent a little while there before we walked back to the parking lot on Goat Island. We had lunch in Wheatfield before we got ready for the wedding and the reception.

… to be continued …

2022 · Canada · My Travel Journal · New York · Ontario · USA

Travel Journal, Day 2 (Part I): Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara Falls, New York (1)

September 10, 2022

On Day Two, Kevin, Sara, and I went to Niagara Falls State Park in the morning. Five years ago, we were at Niagara Falls. But we never made it to Goat Island on that trip back then. This time, we planned to stay in the United States and go see the falls from the American side. On Goat Island, we’ve got a wonderful different view of the Horseshoe Falls. While we were standing at the rim, we saw Maid-of-the-Mist boats inching as close to the falls as possible. They wanted to give these tourists the experience of a lifetime. All the tourists wore ponchos. But some still came drenched out of the boats. Since we had a beautiful day and warm weather, their clothes dried up quickly. Due to the mist, Kevin, Sara, and I saw a very colorful rainbow that stretched from the Horseshoe Falls to the Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls in the Niagara Gorge.

… to be continued …

2022 · Canada · My Travel Journal · New York · Ontario · USA

Travel Journal, Day 1 (Part III): Fort Niagara State Park At Lake Ontario, Youngstown, New York

September 9, 2022

Before sunset, Kevin, Sara, and I drove to Fort Niagara State Park, at the corner of the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario in Youngstown, New York. While Kevin and Sara spent some time at the playground, I went down to Fort Niagara State Park Beach. There I’ve got a good shot of Toronto across the lake. Due to our planet’s curve and some mist on Lake Ontario, the lower part of the skyline wasn’t visible from where my viewpoint in the US. Shortly, Kevin and Sara joined me to watch the sunset, which gave the lake a golden hue.

… to be continued …

2022 · My Travel Journal · New York · USA

Travel Journal, Day 1 (Part II): Whirlpool State Park, Niagara Falls, New York

A major change took place there about 7,000 years ago when water volume was low. The connection between Lake Huron and Lake Erie was cut off and the Upper Great Lakes drained through the Ottawa River and St. Lawrence Valley. Only the flow from Lake Erie went over Niagara Falls, and a narrow gorge and shallow Riverbed were formed.

Today, the flow of water coming from the wider upper Great Gorge is channeled into the narrow section, thus creating the turbulent Whirlpool Rapids. The violent waters of the Whirlpool Rapids flow into the Eddy Basin before entering the Whirlpool.

September 9, 2022

Kevin, Sara, and I arrived in Niagara Falls in the late afternoon. We drove to our hotel, ate something, rested for a moment and went from there to the Whirlpool State Park. We didn’t want to deal with the big tourist crowds that evening. So, we were tourists away from the tourists. We saw the falls at night five years ago. I could wait until the following day. Kevin was in Wheatfield High School in the late 80s and early 90s. He knows this area like his back pocket.

At Whirlpool State Park Kevin, Sara, and I took a little hike on the Whirlpool Scenic Trail. It was very interesting to witness how the rushing waters of the rapids flow from the Eddy Basin into the Whirlpool, where the water is forced to circle around, hence the name “whirlpool”. Kevin also discovered a groundhog on the side of the river wall. That groundhog was so used to humans that it didn’t care, we were only a foot and a half away from its burrow. The chipmunks and squirrels came much closer. We think they are being fed by visitors.

The sun hadn’t set yet. So, we chose to go to a second destination, before we called it a day.

… to be continued …

2022 · My Travel Journal · New York · USA

Travel Journal, Day 1 (Part I): Mohawk River Valley/Erie Canal, New York

September 9, 2022

On Friday, we began our journey to Niagara Falls. One of Kevin’s best friends from Highschool got married on Saturday. And we were all invited to the wedding and reception. Katelynn couldn’t make it. She’s stuck in Dallas. But Kevin, Sara, and I went for a weekend trip to Western New York, again. Along the way, we saw some cool historic and natural places. One of them is the Erie Canal, which runs from the Hudson River all the way to Lake Erie. A part of the canal was built along the Mohawk River. When we made a stop at the Mohawk Valley Welcome Center near Fultonville, we saw what looked like a bridge, but is actually a moveable dam to control the flooding of the Mohawk River Valley. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erie_Canal

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The Erie Canal is a historic canal in upstate New York that runs east-west between the Hudson River and Lake Erie. Completed in 1825, the canal was the first navigable waterway connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes, vastly reducing the costs of transporting people and goods across the Appalachians. In effect, the canal accelerated the settlement of the Great Lakes region, the westward expansion of the United States, and the economic ascendancy of New York State. It has been called “The Nation’s First Superhighway.”

A canal from the Hudson to the Great Lakes was first proposed in the 1780s, but a formal survey was not conducted until 1808. The New York State Legislature authorized construction in 1817. Political opponents of the canal, and of its lead supporter New York Governor DeWitt Clinton, denigrated the project as “Clinton’s Folly” and “Clinton’s Big Ditch”. Nonetheless, the canal saw quick success upon opening on October 26, 1825, with toll revenue covering the state’s construction debt within the first year of operation. The westward connection gave New York City a strong advantage over all other U.S. ports and brought major growth to canal cities such as Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo.

The construction of the Erie Canal was a landmark civil engineering achievement in the early history of the United States. When built, the 363-mile (584 kilometer) canal was the second-longest in the world (after the Grand Canal in China). Initially 40 feet (12 meters) wide and 4 feet (1.2 meters) deep, the canal was expanded several times, most notably from 1905 to 1918 when the “Barge Canal” was built and over half the original route was abandoned. The modern Barge Canal measures 351 miles (565 kilometers) long, 120 feet (37 meters) wide, and 12 feet (3.7 meters) deep. It has 34 locks, including the Waterford Flight, the steepest locks in the United States. When leaving the canal, boats must also traverse the Black Rock Lock to reach Lake Erie or the Troy Federal Lock to reach the tidal Hudson. The overall elevation difference is about 565 feet (172 meters).

The Erie’s peak year was 1855, when 33,000 commercial shipments took place. It continued to be competitive with railroads until about 1902, when tolls were abolished. Commercial traffic declined heavily in the latter half of the 20th century due to competition from trucking and the 1959 opening of the larger St. Lawrence Seaway. The canal’s last regularly-scheduled hauler, the Day Peckinpaugh, ended service in 1994.

Today, the Erie Canal is mainly used by recreational watercraft. It connects the three other canals in the New York State Canal System: the Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga–Seneca. Some long-distance boaters take the Erie as part of the Great Loop. The canal has also become a tourist attraction in its own right—a number of parks and museums are dedicated to its history. The Erie Canalway Trail is a popular cycling path that follows the canal across the state. In 2000, Congress designated the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor to protect and promote the system.

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… to be continued …

2022 · My Travel Journal · New York

Back Home From Attending A Wedding

Guess where we were this weekend. If you listen really closely to this Great Black-backed Gull, it might tell you at what edge it stands and watches the water rushing past its legs and feet. The gull gives you a few hints: “I’m at a river between two lakes. The river separates two vast countries. It gets very cold there in Winter. And the Summers can be warm and humid.”

… to be continued …