Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Our weekend in upstate New York

We spent last weekend in Niagara Falls visiting some friends that Liz used to work with at her last job. For a four-day weekend, we had a full schedule:

Friday: We visited Fort Niagara and saw a reenactment of a battle from the French and Indian War. That night, we dined and danced at the country club's annual dinner for the Porter Cup amateur golf tournament. We were the youngest people there by at least twenty years.

Saturday: we saw the American side of Niagara Falls, Goat Island, and the whirlpool gorge. In the afternoon we followed the last group in the final round of the golf tournament, taking a break after six holes to eat lunch. Since our hosts' house abutted the 17th green, we caught up with the leaders there and saw the finish on 18. Spencer Levin won the tournament despite playing his worst round of the week. I mention his name only on the odd chance that he someday becomes famous and Liz and I can say we saw him when he was just an exceptional college player. (He did have an excellent chip shot on 17 in the third round on Friday.) On Saturday night we went to a cocktail party in honor of the neighbors' daughter's engagement to a Manhattan restaurant chef. The party was in the backyard of the neighbors' house, with a spectacular view of the Canadian side of the Niagara River and an amazing sunset.

Sunday: we ate brunch at and then toured the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. Dinner that night was a New England clam bake (though as the pot only had five clams in it, it was more of a lobster bake) with mussels, sausage, potatoes, corn, and lobsters. To cap things off, we saw the fireworks from the nearby outdoor performance of the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra.

Monday: we went to Canada. We saw Niagara Falls from the Canadian side, which I have to admit is more impressive than the American side. You can't understand how powerful these falls are until you see the water rushing by and feel the spray in your face. After lunch, we stopped in Niagara-by-the-Lake, a village with an old historic hotel and many quaint shops and restaurants. We bought a few souvenirs, including a bottle of icewine, which is made from grapes that have been frozen on the vine. For dinner we had a special treat: on Sunday afternoon, the neighbors who had given the party on Saturday borrowed a few large bowls from our hosts, explaining that the chef (their daughter's fiancee) was cooking that night. On Monday morning, they returned the bowls with some leftover pasta. It was penne tossed with fresh tomatoes, eggplant, garlic, mozzarella cheese, and olive oil, and it was delicious. Even though our clambake was excellent, I think I should have gone to the neighbors for Sunday dinner to watch this professional chef at work.

We flew JetBlue to and from Buffalo, and I have to say that I love this airline. Complimentary DirecTV at every seat is a fantastic innovation. They turn on the TV feed while you're still on the ground, and leave it on through touchdown, taxiing, and even deplaning. So on Friday morning I watched OLN's coverage of the Tour de France, and on Monday night I flipped channels from the Democratic convention to A&E's "Airline" to ESPN. The flight was only an hour, but with TV it didn't even feel that long. I'm not sure I'd be able to last on a cross-country flight (it's still a small cramped plane), but on East Coast routes of three hours or less, I'd be just fine.

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