When we recently visited with friends in Buffalo, they proudly served us Buffalo Chicken Wings and Buffalo Sponge Candy. We knew of the wings, of course, but the sponge candy was new to us. It’s chocolate outside and inside it is crisp at first and then melts away in your mouth. Tasty! I started thinking about all the cities with their special foods: Cincinnati Skyline Chili, New York Style cheesecake, Deep Dish Chicago Pizza, Philly Cheesesteaks, Boston Baked Beans, etc. True, there is “Barbeton Chicken” and “Ohio Buckeyes”, but Akron needs its own. Preferably something with chocolate.
Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category
Peeve #1: The number of zoos offering 100% reciprocity to other zoos’ members is decreasing, unfortunately. I discovered this when we went to the Buffalo Zoo on Sunday and we had to pay 50% instead of, well, nothing. And I just saw that all zoos in Ohio are now at 50% reciprocity. I know even 50% is a deal but it’s kind of a bummer when you’re used to paying well, nothing.
Peeve #2: As anyone who goes to the zoo in the off-season knows, anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of the exhibits aren’t open during this time because it’s too cold for certain animals. With that in mind, I appreciate the zoos that offer reduced admission in the off-season. But don’t you think all zoos should do this?
I know, I know. Zoos are as cash-strapped as every other organization. But I repeat a point I made many many blogs ago. Zoo visitors usually spend enough money on food, souvenirs and extras like rides and animal food to make up for reduced revenue from admissions.
Yesterday we drove back and forth into Niagara Falls, Canada. I had our passports and birth certificates, but still, we warned the kids to be quiet and behave as the border patrol talked to us. I told them the story my BFF had told me a couple years ago. She and her husband didn’t have all their documents so they had to go to some building for further questioning. When they questioned the kids about whether or not my BFF and her husband were really their parents my BFF held her breath, hoping her young daughter wasn’t in one of THOSE moods and would answer something like “No! They’re NOT my parents! They’re trying to kidnap me!!!” Of course her daughter didn’t, but still, can you imagine if one of your kids did that just because they could? What a long day that would be!!!
I’m becoming more and more aware of how limited my time to do certain things with the kids is. For example, taking family trips to children’s museums. That’s why I wanted to go to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis sooner rather than later (we went right before Christmas). My kids have outgrown the children’s and/or “discovery” museums of Cleveland, Canton, Pittsburgh, Toledo and Dayton (which were good for day trips). Once the window is closed, you have to wait for great-nieces and nephews, or your own grandchildren, to go again, which can be wonderful, but’s it’s not the same as sharing it with your own children. The good thing about the children’s museum in Indy is that is not only the WORLD’S largest children’s museum but that there really were things for all ages. We went on Christmas Eve and it was crazy crowded (admission was free for the shortened hours of 10-2), but we experienced enough that we know we wanted to go back — and could wait a few years to do it.
I’ve been to Indy twice in the last 10 years — once in the summer and once in the winter. Both times I’ve been so impressed by how the canal “makes” the downtown. I don’t know the history of how or when this happened, all I know is that the canal area incorporates water fun (paddle boats, kayaks and gondolas), art (murals and statues), residences (apartments looking over the canal), museums, outdoor entertainment and more. I SO wish Akron could do something like this.
Who knew my kids would love a place with just a bunch of birds? But they LOVED the National Aviary in Pittsburgh (free with our Akron zoo membership). It was our second visit there in two years, but the kids seemed to really enjoy it a lot more this time. One reason was that they got to feed different kinds of birds by holding up fish and berries. There is just something kind of cool about seeing birds swoop down to eat out of your hand. Though many birds were striking in their beauty, one of my favorites was the laughing kookaburra, which we tried to prompt with our off-key rendition of the song, “Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree, merry merry king of the bush is he, laugh, kookaburra, laugh, kookaburra …” Expect to spend up to an hour and a half there, more if you want to shop for unique bird gifts — there’s an especially wide range of owl and penguin items.
Mike, one of the crew members we talked with (a local Maine kid of around 20), told us he had hitchhiked from Maine to Ohio last year to visit his sister who’s going to Cedarville College. He got as far as Columbus when the police picked him up and took him to the bus station. I didn’t think hitchhiking was something people really did anymore, or if it were even legal, but apparently it’s something Mike, the other crew (including a 16-year-old girl) and random people we saw along the road, do pretty often. When I asked Mike what he thought about the inherent dangers of being picked up by strangers, he said he thought it were more dangerous to pick up a hitchhiker than to be one. Most people who picked him up were former hitchhikers, he added. About its legality, I checked the Web when I got home and found out that it is actually pretty much legal, as long as you follow the laws, and several sites give you guidelines, like: http://hitchwiki.org/en/United_States and http://www.digihitch.com/usa-state-22.html. I don’t know — maybe it’s a cool, fun, adventurous thing to do when you’re young, but unless it were a matter of life and death, it’s not something I would do. It still seems very risky.
Right from the Boston Logan Airport, where we saw the Dunkin’ Donuts logo on huge cement posts outside the terminal, I swear that while driving from Boston to Rockland, Maine, up Highway 1 we didn’t travel more than 10 miles without spotting a Dunkin’ Donuts. Some were even right across the street from each other. Some were in gas stations, others were connected to Subways or hair salons. As for the competition — we only saw 2 “Honey Dew” and 3 “Tim Horton” stores. On my return I of course had to google why Dunkin’ Donuts has such dominance here. Here’s the scoop: it was founded in Massachusetts and is still headquartered there. And of the more than 6,700 Dunkin’ Donuts locations throughout the United States, only 75 franchisees exist west of the Mississippi River. Within their Northeast home base, however, Dunkin’ Donuts is everywhere (as we observed). The funny thing is, we didn’t even stop at one.
Several years ago my husband and I drove Highway 101 through Oregon. I remember the spectacular cliffside views of the coast. So as I was planning our trip driving from Boston to Rockland, Maine, I imagined Highway 1 to have the same coastal views, just closer to sea level. I didn’t research as much as I usually do, otherwise I would have known that we’d only see the coast for a total of about 8 minutes of our 5-1/2 hour drive. What we did see, other than the occasional roadside oddity, were Dunkin’ Donuts. Lots and lots and lots of them …
Last week my in-laws watched the kids for a few days so my husband and I could take a special anniversary trip. We flew from Akron-Canton to Boston, drove a rental car up the coast to Rockland, Maine, sailed on a schooner for two days, then drove back to Boston for our flight home. Four days, four states. Lots of time for many (often pointless) ponderings …