and Quebec Provinces
A picture of my parents and sister at one
of our stops along our trip we took September 2000, with Holidays
Tours. Due to bus
problems we did not leave at the appointed hour of 6:30 a.m. Our original
bus, already loaded with us and our belongings was experiencing air
conditioning problems. We loaded onto another bus and finally got underway
first destination was Wheeling, WV.
After arriving around 4:30 and checking into our hotel, the bus took
us to downtown for our buffet dinner and show at Jamboree,
USA. The entertainer slated for that night was Billy Ray Cyrus who,
performing in skin tight leather pants, showed us as much of his rear as his
The next morning we drove to Niagara
Falls, Canada. We arrived around 2:30 and checked into our hotel. We had
the afternoon and evening free of any planned activity. Since we were staying very
near the Falls a quick walk down
the hill and there they were.
I took dozens of pictures, so these are just a few
samples. It was very hazy that afternoon which is why they are not very
After taking in the breathtaking views, we decided to
go on the Maid of the Mist boat
ride up the river and right to the Horseshoe Falls. After getting tickets
everyone goes down a ramp to a building with three elevators that take
everyone down to river level. We exited the elevators onto another
ramp where you are given a blue plastic poncho to wear and
then line up to board the boat.
We first passed the American Falls
and Widow Falls and then continued on up river to Horseshoe Falls,
which is on the Canadian side.
A large island above the Falls separates the two as they are fed from Lake
Ontario. As you
get closer to the falls the spray and wind is like being in a hurricane and
you will soon get drenched,
thus the ponchos.
managed to get a couple of quick pictures before putting the camera under my
rain gear to keep it dry. As the boat turned right at the falls to head
back I shot this one.
It was very hot and humid and being wrapped in plastic made it even worse
so our cloths were pretty damp. The ponchos can be kept, so we walked back
up the hill for a change of cloths and to dump the ponchos. It was now time
to look for something to eat. We finally settled on a restaurant
that offered a
view of the Falls and the garden right across the street from the Falls
After we ate, we were walking down the hill through the gardens
to go back o the Falls to see them lighted
when it gets dark. As we were going through the gardens it began to rain.
We took shelter in one of the garden alcoves but after twenty minutes it did
not show signs of letting up.
Mom headed back to the room and we continued down to
the viewing area to a sheltered area underneath the scenic walkway with a
fast food place and some seating to get out of the rain. It was now well past dark and still no lights.
Meanwhile it is pouring rain, lightning and thundering so we could not go
back to the room anyway without getting soaked.
Finally at 8:30 p.m. a white light beamed on the falls. Every ten minutes
a different color would appear but they never got very bright or pretty. We
were somewhat disappointed. It was now 9:30 p.m. and we needed to get back
to the room, rain or not. We got wet again and had clothing hanging all
over the room to dry so we could pack in the morning.
Our morning schedule every day, except one, was a wakeup call at
6:00, luggage in the
hall at 7:00 and on the bus at 8:00.
Monday morning dawned cloudy but no rain as we
boarded the bus, along with our local guide, to give us a tour of Niagara Falls city and surrounding
communities. The tour was to last for four hours and the guide was very
good. Our first stop was an observation point at the top of the
Both the American and Canadian sides harness the river for Hydroelectric
You can see the Canadian power station
in the background of this photo. The American
one is further down the river on the American side. Our guide told us many
wonderful stories such as dumping the "Old
Scow" and about people
who went over the falls or high wired across. There is also an
elaborate sixteen gate system that can control how much water from Lake
Ontario can be fed to the Falls at one time.
Our next stop was the location of where the original
were millions of years ago. Due to erosion and other factors they have moved backwards to
their present site. This is also the point where the Niagara Rivers
turns the corner creating a whirlpool.
and where the Spanish Aero
Car that goes back and forth across the Falls. We did not ride
Next stop was Welland
Canal, located right outside the city limits. To get to the Locks
at the Canal we drove over a vertical lift bridge, which I had never seen before. We then
proceeded to drive through very pretty vineyard and orchard country and
small communities as our
guide pointed our various things of interest.
This was our lunch stop in the small community of Virgil. As you can see from the
sign it is a combination bakery, general store, and restaurant.
That's mom waving from the little eating area. The sandwiches and baked
goods were delicious. In addition to the orchard, there was a pond with some
very large gold fish
looking for something to eat from the tourists. Our last stop before going back
to the hotel to drop off the guide was to see
the famous floral clock.
Note: I have a couple of links to a very good web
site on Niagara Falls. This is an
excellent site to learn more about the history and geology of the Falls in
addition to the attractions.
trouble had reared its ugly head again. The belt was slipping and
causing the bus to over heat. We stood around in the parking lot of the
hotel while our very
experienced driver proceeded to fix the problem. Back on the bus to drive on
We arrived in Toronto around two thirty for our visit
to the CN Tower. This is the worlds tallest
building at a height of 1,815 ft., 5 inches and is located in
downtown Toronto next to the Expos' baseball stadium. I am not a big fan
of heights or glass elevators that ride on the outside of buildings. But, I
overcame by cowardliness and agreed to go up. Some of our group chose not to
I am glad I did. The ride up takes two minutes but I
closed my eyes until we got to the top. You exit the elevator into a large,
glass windowed room 1,122 ft above the ground
overlooking the entire city and
outlying areas of Ontario.
This is one of the pictures I took out the windows looking out over the city
and beyond. I did not walk on, or look down from, the glass floor nor go
outside and walk along the observation area. There is also a restaurant in
the room and a small souvenir shop.
The ride down too a minute and I very bravely opened
my eyes. We exited into a gift shop, of
course, where I purchased several post cards of the tower as it was very
hard to get a good picture. We then drove through the
large city of Toronto to our hotel right outside the city.
After checking in to our room we walked down the
street to the Swiss Chalet and had a very nice meal. The hotel fitness room
was pretty useless but I ran on the treadmill and did some free weight work.
Before going back to the room I stopped
at the pay phone and called a fellow AIIP
member that lives in Toronto. We had met back in April at the conference in
Washington, DC. Not knowing our itinerary until the last minute, I told her
if I had time I would give her a call. We had a nice chat and I hope to
visit her and her fine city again once we relocate to New Hampshire.
Next morning, Tuesday, we headed for the town of
ON. This is a very old city and was the first capitol of Canada.
Unfortunately we did not have much of a chance to explore the city. We
arrived at our hotel located right at the water front where we
would be going on a lunch cruise up the St. Lawrence River and around the
The Thousand Island
lunch cruise lasted three hours. In addition to lunch we had a guitar
player, and as you can see from this picture,
several men in our group chose to participate in one of the songs. That is my
dad on the far right standing next to the steward in the white blouse.
The islands are made up of many small islands upon which one or more
houses have been built.
We again had misty, rainy weather and many of my shots did not come out very
well. I took some from the observation deck of the boat and some from inside
the cabin where we ate.
We returned to the dock about 3:30, which gave us a little time to explore
the city around the water front. I found a real used book store, so of
course the family lost me for about an hour while they continued walking
around. I found a history of Montreal and Kingston, history of a
Newfoundland family and a biography of one of my favorite nature writers,
R.D. Lawrence. We ate at one of the water front restaurants and then headed
back to the room to prepare for tomorrow.
We left Kingston Wednesday morning for
Montreal. Between traffic, one way streets, and room to maneuver the bus
it took quite a long time to get to our hotel once we reached the
city. It turns out we were staying in Chinatown. I found that to be a bit
ironic to be in a French Canadian town staying in a Holiday Inn
in Chinatown complete with pagodas on top.
This is the restaurant where we ate breakfast the next morning. We chose to
eat dinner in the Pizza Hut, also in the hotel, and had a very good meal.
We could not check in to our hotel, so the bus took us over a couple of
blocks and parked near the Place Jacques-Cartier, a street lined on both sides with outdoor cafes,
street musicians, and shops. We had a hard time making up our minds but
finally settled on Terrasse du Paro.
We then picked up our bus tour guide at three o'clock for a tour of the
city of Montreal. He was a native of
Montreal and former history teacher and did a wonderful three hour tour. Again,
most of what we saw was from the bus but is the only way to see so much is
so little time.
Our first stop was in downtown Montreal at the oldest church in the city,
Notre-Dame-de-Montreal (Notre-Dame Basilica). The interior
of the main church, the alter, and the hand carved wood work is really
beyond description. It was very dark and I had to hand hold at very slow
shutter speeds to get these. I bought postcards for my trip album.
We then drove through Old
Montreal past many clean parks, landscaped and containing historical
monuments where we did not stop. We also drove past Olympic Park and the Parc Lafontaine.
stop on the tour was at the
Parc du Mont-Royal (Mount Royal).
High on a hill overlooking a beautiful garden is the Oratoire St-Joseph
Oratory). There are 300 steps which worshipers climb and stop periodically
to prey or there is shuttle to the circle drive above.
This a view from the top of Mount Royal overlooking Montreal and
Thursday morning we headed for Quebec
City. Upon arrival, around noon, we again could not get into our hotel. The
bus took us to a nearby mall where we found lunch in a food court. This is where
it got fun. Quebec city is almost totally French speaking. When we got to
the food court the only thing we could do was look at the pictures and try
to decide what we could order that was recognizable. Most of the group descended
on one place that sold fried chicken plates. It was pretty good.
We then boarded the bus to pick up our tour guide for the afternoon. He
was a retired fireman, he spoke excellent English, having come from a bilingual
family and he loved to show off the city where he was born, raised, and work
all his life. Unfortunately we had rain and again, the bus was acting up.
We began our tour in the Upper
Town with a ride to Old
Quebec past the Citadel
to highest point of the city. We were able to look out over the river and
the city. We continued our bus tour with Eric pointing out many points
of interest that included: the Musee de Quebec (Quebec Museum) which is housed
in an abandoned prison dating from 1867, Parc des Champs-de-Bataille
(Battlefields Park) and is also known as the Plains of Abraham, the Wolfe
Monument and the Parc de l'Espanade (Esplanade Park). Like in Montreal, the
parks are clean, free of trash, and although being used, were nice
From there we rode to the Lower
Town for our walking tour starting in the Plaza Royal. This area is one of
the oldest of Quebec City and formerly housed wealthy merchants. The streets
are cobblestone and lined with shops and restaurants. The
object in the background that appears to be an elevator is a funicular which
takes you from the lower town back up to the upper town where we started our
tour. The other alternative is to climb the twenty five stair cases that go
to the top.
Located in the square of the Place Royale is the Eglise Notre-Dame-des-Victoires
(Our Lady of Victory Church) built in 1688 and restored twice. Eric, our
guide is the one standing in front of the church in the white shirt and tie.
The alter in this church as lovely. Hanging left and right of the center
pews are some very famous art works. As we walked along the streets Eric pointed out various places
he recommended should we wish to return to the area to eat and/or shop.
Other than occasional sprinkles it did not rain real hard until we were
almost finished and were boarding the bus to go to our hotel to check in.
Twelve members of the group wanted to go back to lower town where we toured to
shop and eat dinner. We hired two van cabs and split the cost between six of
us, which came out to about 1$ Canadian. Once we got there we all split up into our own groups.
After we shopped we returned to one of the restaurants Eric had recommended
that served the best apple pie he has ever had. Having eaten a big lunch, we
decided to give it a try, Le
Cechon Dingue (Crazy Pig).
I ordered an appetizer of Pigs Wings. Bet
you did not know that pigs could fly? They were small, flat ribs that came
a small green salad and fresh made French bread and I had a glass of
delicious French Rose. Frances ordered goat cheese fried with an okra coating that was very good
and they all three ordered pie which I had a taste of. It was indeed very
It began to rain pretty hard and we were all getting pretty tired so we
caught a cab back to the bus. I bought Bob real Canadian Maple Syrup sold in
a very pretty bottle shaped like a maple leaf.
Friday was head toward home day. It was pouring rain when we left and
continued to do so all the way to New Hampshire and our lunch stop in Franconia
Notch State Park in the White Mountains. On our way we drove past the
geological formation on the side of the mountain know as "the old man
in the mountain".
We arrived at the Flume Gorge while it was still pouring down rain. After we
ate lunch we were ushered into a small theater to watch a short film about
the Park and the Flume. As we exited the movie back into the information
center the rain had stopped, the sun had come out, and it had turned warm.
About a dozen of us decided we would do the hike up to the Flume.
An old school bus took us through a covered bridge to the bottom of the
hill to start the climb to the top of the falls. After a short uphill climb,
there are a series of wooden stairs to climb as seen in the pictures. These
took us right into the falls toward the top.
reaching the top I took this picture looking back down the Flume. At this
point there are two options. There is a short hiking trail that will take
you back down to the bus or continue on hiking the entire two mile trail
back to the visitor center. I think only about only seven of us continued on
including my sister, who is not the outdoor hiking type. It was hot and humid
but once at the top you could look down into the Gorge and the river that
feeds the falls.
Along the way we walked across another covered bridge that spanned the
Gorge. We passed huge glacial rocks and trees with the roots covering many
of the rocks. Moss covered much of the forest floor. If you prefer, you can
start the hike where we finished and go backwards. I am not sure it would be
Back on the bus, we continued on to Chelmsford, MA for our nights lodging
place. During the trip from Quebec to Chelmsford, the bus kept over heating.
The driver kept having to turn the AC off and on to keep the water
temperature down so the bus would not cut off.
Sunday morning we headed for home and the bus continued to have
problems. We were very lucky to make it all
the way home without breaking down on the side of the road due to the
wonderful driver of the bus.
I hope you enjoyed the trip. Since so many of the things we saw on this
trip were just very hard to get good photographs of, I hope you enjoyed the
links to other sites.
Please visit my other trip pages for Mackinac
Island, Nova Scotia, and New