Saturday, March 31, 2012

We ran away from home to the Embassy Suites . . .

So Groupon had a great special on the other day and I just couldn't resist.  $99 for one night at the Embassy Suites in Niagara Falls in a falls view room.  So I booked it.  And then I started plotting letterboxes in the area.

Hal got home on Sunday and at the crack of dawn (okay 930ish) we were off . . .  The weather was brisk but the sun was shining so we were hoping to be able to find lots of boxes without too many muggles about.

Our first stop was in Thorold for the War of 1812 Series:  Battle of Beaverdams.  It was a very adorable little park and we enjoyed it thoroughly . . . but . . . we couldn't find the box.  This was the first of many times we saw markers honouring Laura Secord.

So we moved on to Niagara Falls.  First stop was to visit Lundy's Lane Historical Museum.  Guess what?  The museum is closed up with a sign advertising the Grand Reopening in July.  There was no letterbox there but it looked like an interesting place to visit.

After two misses we were getting a little concerned and then we found the Outlet Mall on Lundy's Lane.  We grabbed a quick lunch and went shopping in McGregors for socks.  From here on out we had great success.

RIP Lundy's Lane was in a quaint cemetery.  I loved the stone out front . . .

You should click on this photo so you can read the inscription.

Next stop was to find Flying Alien - Niagara and we did.  This location was so cool.  I wish we'd gone for lunch here instead of Burger King.  We will be going for lunch here the next time we are in Niagara Falls.

Our next hunt was for the Pyramid Power - Niagara.  It was located at the Daredevil Museum and IMAX theatre.  I had a coupon so we decided to take in the display and movie.  The daredevil display was a lot of fun.  Of course Hal had to misbehave once or twice and his flash light had to come out for investigative purposes.  I loved the movie.  At the end where they are showing shots from a helicopter I got so dizzy.  It was so realistic looking.  After our adventure inside we headed outside and found Pyramid Power - so sneaky - and I'd hate to have to find it in busy season.

Next stop, checking into Embassy Suites.  We were a little overwhelmed by the valet parking and gorgeous lobby.  In fact we felt like a couple of red necks.  So we decided to go with that feeling . . . LOL . . . I kept thinking there was no way we were actually going to get a falls view room, let alone a suite, but we did.  And it was fabulous.  I spent about 20 minutes with the windows open just watching and listening to the falls . . . and then we started investigating our suite.  The bedroom had a small table and chair, 2 queen beds, armoir and a big television.  The hall had a sink and mirror on one side and a wet bar on the other.  Check out the price for a peanut butter sandwich!!  There were two bathrooms -- one was a shower (with a light in it) and toilet, the other had a sink and mirror and a giant jacuzzi tub and windows that opened so you could see into the bedroom and out the floor to ceiling windows.  Now remember Hal and I are kinda red necks.  We are more used to sleeping in our van or the motels out on Lundy's Lane.  This was totally overwhelming to us.  The front room had a dining table/desk with chairs, television and video games, couch with pull out bed and chair and a big closet with lots of extra linens and pillows and an ironing board and iron.  There was also shoe shiner.  I know I'm missing some of the features but there were just so many exciting things to check out.

We must not be the only yokels who've stayed here . . .

. . . a warning below the sprinklers in the ceiling not to hang hangers from them . . .

We got cleaned up and respectable and headed to the 9th floor for the Managers reception which included a free alcoholic beverage and snacks.  Don't you worry, I loaded up my plate with mixed nuts, grape tomatoes, dill pickles and ordered my screwdriver and cosyed up into a seat to people watch and also watch the transparent elevator.

After our snack we went downstairs to catch the free shuttle service.  Whenever we go anywhere Hal is the driver which means he doesn't get to really sight see.  With the shuttle he could just look and enjoy.  And we did . . .

When we returned to Embassy Suites we went to TGIFridays with our $40 coupon.  In my opinion the place was really overpriced.  I ordered a BBQ beef sandwich and salad and it was $15.  I think Hal's hamburg and mashed potatoes were the same price.  The food was okay but wasn't very exciting.  On the other hand the wait staff were great, our food was free and we had a good time.  All we had to pay for was one beer and the tip.  They could also improve the lighting.  Hal had to bring out his handy flashlight again to use the debit machine.

We went back to our room to try out the giant Jacuzzi.  After all, Hal and I are both old and have a lot of aches and creaks.  Don't worry . . . there are no photos.  We both climbed in and it was lovely and bubbly and slippery.  I nearly drowned three times.  We were rather worried that security was going to break down the door at some point.  So yeah, it was fun and very relaxing.  My sides hurt from laughing so much, especially when Hal nearly drowned a couple of times.  This tub was huge!

We watched a little TV and watched the illuminated falls.  I took photos but with the steam from the Jacuzzi they didn't turn out well.  Don't worry, I picked up some post cards on Tuesday.

When we woke up and looked out our floor to ceiling window we could see trucks everywhere salting down the roads.  The mist from the falls was frozen to everything.  It was a spectacular sight.

We packed up, dressed and headed back to the 9th floor (where everything exciting happens apparently) for our free breakfast.  Oh my goodness . . . chefs in white jackets and hats made my omelet right in front of my eyes, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes, pancakes, french toast, yogurt, fresh fruit, muffins, toast, bagels, several types of cereal, several types of juice, coffee, tea and I'm sure I'm missing things.  And they served the eggs on warmed plates.  If only all restaurants would do that.  We ate in a lovely dining room with a fireplace that overlooked the falls.  The staff were amazing.  Perhaps they were a little bit too amazing.  After the 4th server or bus person came by the table to make sure we had everything we wanted, I remarked to Hal that I was going to smack the 5th one . . . LOL . . . When Hal used the salt and pepper a server came over and exchanged the shakers for full ones.  Seriously.

We packed up and checked out without using a couple of our coupons -- $50 for Seneca Casino and $20 for IHOP.

Well enough of luxury.  It was time to start letterboxing again.  First stop, Stick Man Goes to Marineland.  A simple find at this time of year but I have no idea how we would have been able to find it in mid-summer.  The muggles will be a big hurdle so plan a diversion in advance.

RIP Fairview was an easy find once we understood the clues.

Snake Eyes - Niagara was a difficult box for me.  Of course my bender doesn't work so great and I have no idea what a cross member is so I returned to our illegally parked van and we found a closer spot to park illegally so Hal could go find the box.  Guess what?  The Hershey's store is next door.  I had a coupon for a free sample and for 20% off but we didn't feel comfortable leaving the van unattended for fear it may be towed while we were inside.  This is another stop on our list next time we are in the area.

Little Bird - Niagara was another find.  I have no idea what kind of distraction you might use during high season.  But right now it is easy.

We were on the way to Great Wolf Lodge when we spotted Souvenir City.  What an awesome place.  We spent some time looking through all the stores but managed to control ourselves and walked out with 1/4 pound of fudge and some post cards.

Hal just found out the price . . . LOL . . . hand blown glass made right there.

The Wolf - Niagara was an easy find.  We just acted like we belonged there . . . including photos in the giant chair at the front of the lodge.

Niagara Butterfly was an easy find.  It does need a new log book.  We tried to talk the parking attendant out of paying for parking but no luck.  Oh well, the cost of letterboxing.  The fact that
Queen of the Meadow Up the Garden Path was at the same location took some of the sting out of the $5 fee.  With a little stumbling around we found the location of this letterbox but guess what gardens the students were working in on Tuesday?  Yup, right where we needed to be.  We wandered around a bit, hoping they would go for a coffee break or class or something but no such luck.  We were both getting a little hungry so we decided to have lunch at the Butterfly Cafe (I think that's what it was called).  What a mistake.  You had a choice of overpriced burgers or hot dogs . . . way overpriced.  We ordered two burgers and two coffees.  The hamburgers were no-name lots of filler and not much beef frozen burgers.  In other words, awful.  They should be ashamed of themselves.  We went back to the garden and waited a while longer, chatting and sipping our coffee.  Those darned students had no intention of leaving so we finally gave in and left.

When we arrived at the Niagara Parks Floral Clock in Queenston, staff were working on clock.  I realized we were going to be walking around big power lines and frankly I'm scared of power lines.  But I was brave and we found Canada's Neighbour and it contained Winged Rose HH as well.

We cruised up the Niagara Parkway, stopping wherever we wished including a stop at Brock's Monument.

Our next stop was to find Ishtar Gate:  Lion and Marduk in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  The Lion was a fairly simple find but Marduk was rather daunting.  Someone is cutting down a lot of trees in the area the box is hidden and some landmarks are now missing.  We counted out the steps and found the log in question buried under some cut down trees.  We stamped in and then re-hid the box in the same location, adding a flat stone on top of the box as extra protection in case the logs get moved.

Our last find of the day was a delightful surprise.  We tried finding the original box at this location a couple of times and were 100% sure the box was missing on our second attempt.  Well kenlaur has hidden a new box in the same vicinity and called it Little Church - Niagara.

That was our last box of the day.  We headed for Toronto to have supper with our youngest son and his girlfriend.  We ended up being a little late because we found "cheap" gas in St. Catharines so we decided we better top up the tank.  And then we realized the van was covered in salt and dirt so we went through the car wash.  We also spotted a big Goodwill store and a warehouse store and had to check them out.  I picked up a school shaped cookie jar and a heart shaped photo frame to give them.  Krystel is a new teacher and she really seemed to like her new cookie jar.  We ran into gridlock traffic a couple of times as well.  No surprise there.  But we did make it in fairly good time.

We had a lovely dinner and visit and if they'd had enough room we might even have stayed the night.  We were home, happy and tired, just after midnight.

We are already talking about where to go on our next letterboxing adventure.