Mondays at the matinee are becoming a treasured tradition for my best Adventure Buddy and me…..we don’t go every Monday, but when we find a movie we both want to see, Monday is our chosen day! And we LOVE Tinseltown in Gates – it has the best prices, a great location, and is clean and comfortable! What more can you ask for?
This Monday, we went to see “I Can Only Imagine“. We had been looking forward to seeing this movie – heard lots of friends had been and loved and recommended it! With our recent adventures, this is the first chance we’ve had to go, so we did! All I can say is WOW! What an inspirational story!
I Can Only Imagine is based on the true story of Bart Millard – lead singer of the Christian musical group, Mercy Me. Bart is played brilliantly by J. Michael Finley, who made his screen acting debut in this film – his previous acting credits were on the Broadway stage. Finley did an amazing job of portraying Bart – a young man who left an abusive home life to follow his dream of becoming a singer and song writer. His childhood was tragic – an abusive father who was, in Bart’s words, a monster, a mother who escaped the abuse but left her young son behind, and a sports injury that ended a promising future in football. With all that against him, you’d think young Bart would have chosen a different path for his life. But, he had some amazing positive influences in his life that helped put him on the right path – his grandmother, played by the amazing Cloris Leachman, who supported him and loved him; his Glee Club teacher, played by Priscilla Shirer who took a struggling teen and helped him find his voice; his childhood sweetheart, played by Madeline Carroll, who was his anchor as a child and shared his spirituality; and, finally, the manager of his musical group, played by country music star Trace Adkins, who convinced the group they could be great if they focused on music that came from their heart, instead of the rock and roll they were playing at gigs. All these people believed in him, prayed for him, and gave him roots and a solid foundation to build his life on. And, of course, there was God — despite all the torment and disappointment in his life, Bart still went to church and kept touch with his spirituality. It was through God and His influence on Bart and his father that the popular Christian song, I Can Only Imagine, was born. Bart wrote the song from his heart and with the help of his manager and Amy Grant, his group Mercy Me recorded the song and the rest is history!
I deliberately didn’t mention that Bart’s father – Arthur Millard – was portrayed by Dennis Quaid because I wanted to talk about him separately. I adore Dennis Quaid — such a sweetheart – that smile – those dimples……I was really worried about seeing him in a role as an abusive father! But, he did an incredible job. And, in a final scene, I saw the face of the Dennis Quaid I love, so it was all good!!! 😀
I was also very impressed with Trace Adkins’ performance of Brickell – the manager – I have loved his music for years and his deep voice will melt me instantly whenever i hear it, but seeing him in an acting role was a real treat.
To be honest, I had never heard the song before – or if I had, I don’t remember it. I listened to it on YouTube prior to going to the movie at Cathy’s urging, but I didn’t really listen to it. Now that I’ve seen Bart’s story and heard the song in the context of his life and what the words meant to him, I am sad that I didn’t pay attention to it over the years since it was released. It is an amazing song…..and an amazing story!
I rate this one a solid A+ and highly recommend it! Take extra napkins or tissues in with you…..you’re going to need them!!! It is a truly amazing movie and I am so glad I went to see it!
Lunch, on the other hand, was a bit of a let down. We always go for lunch after the movies – this time we chose the Irish Pub in Spencerport and I had my very first Spiedie – I’ve heard of them, of course, but never had one before. Neither of us were terribly hungry, so we split the sandwich and sweet potato wedges – good thing we did cause I would not have wanted a whole one. The sweet potato wedges were very good – they were seasoned nicely – I wish I was hungrier so I could have eaten more. The sandwich was not bad – don’t get me wrong — I am DEFINITELY NOT knocking the restaurant OR the sandwich…….I’ve just never really been a fan of vinegar based BBQ – I do, however, like to marinade my chicken in Italian dressing, so I was hopeful that I would enjoy the sandwich — like I said, it was good – just not going to be a “go to” sandwich for me…..I’m glad I tried one, but I probably won’t ever have another. So……nothing against the restaurant or the sandwich, if you like Spiedies – that wasn’t the reason for the let down – it is a cute little Irish Pub with Irish music playing – nice! I just, personally, wasn’t as impressed with the area’s famous Spiedie sandwich as I thought I would be – I’ll stick with the other WNY claim to fame – the ever popular Beef on Weck!!! But……I can now say I’ve had a Spiedie!!! There is that!!! 😀
Here is the song video and the movie trailer:
In case you hadn’t noticed…….I love Adventure Season – the months where the weather is cooperative enough to enjoy getting out and doing things and going places! And, I kicked this year’s Adventure Season off with a BANG – two, yes TWO, trips in two weeks! And, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of both of them! But…..now, I’m so far behind on everything that I find myself in the position of having to play catch up in between all the normal stuff going on! Yes, I did a lot up ahead of time so I wouldn’t be TOO far behind, but you can only do so much! But – I’m not complaining and certainly have no regrets…….I just need to knuckle down and get stuff done!
That is not as easy as it sounds……take yesterday, for example: We are in the middle of a pretty nasty ice storm that was predicted to start yesterday late afternoon or early evening, depending on where you were. I didn’t have anywhere I needed to go, so I decided to just stay home and get some things done! And, I did – stay home, that is…….and, I did get a few things done……but, I also took a lengthy nap and watched 4 or 5 programs I had on my DVR from when I was gone and got distracted with Facebook (although, in my defense, here, I work my business via Facebook, so most of my time online was work related). So, you can see that I am easily distracted……today is Sunday and the icy conditions continue – church services around town (including mine) have been canceled and I have nowhere pressing to worry about getting to……I wonder how much “catch up” will get done…….after all, it is Sunday – the day of rest……
So…..I mentioned TWO trips, but only posted about ONE of them! Let’s fix that right now!
The week after going to Washington DC, my best Adventure Buddy and I and a few more friends went to Lancaster, PA area with the local Busy Buddies and Eastern Star groups on a two day bus tour. The tour included attending the current production at the Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster – “Jesus”! This is an amazing place – if you’ve never been to one of these theaters and their productions (there is also one in Branson, MO), you really should treat yourself! This is my second time – the first was to see “Moses” a few years ago with another bus tour group – and it was just as fabulous as the first time! The theater alone is amazing, but the production is breathtaking and inspiring and emotional and just…….there are no words!!!
We had lunch going down at the Country Cupboard buffet restaurant and gift shop — love that place! And, we had dinner the first night and lunch the second day at the Amish Experience in Bird-In-Hand, PA – they serve amazing comfort food family style – and we ate WAY too much!!! We also saw another smaller production in an experiential theater at the Amish Experience called “Jacob’s Choice” – the story of a teen-aged Amish boy who is at the age where he must choose to stay in the Amish community or leave for the English world. In an attempt to help his struggle, his grandfather tells him the story of how the Amish were persecuted in their home land and had to flee to America to start new communities. It was very enlightening and emotional. And, of course, there was shopping time! It is a LONG bus ride down, but worth it……
But, here’s the shocker…….I didn’t take any photos – except for the two each day for my Daily Photo Challenge! It wasn’t really a photo focused kind of a trip.
And…..the sad news is that I went ALL winter long without so much as a sniffle or sore throat – no colds, no flu, nothing – and it was a bad season for all of that, but I escaped it……till now! I think I’m starting to get a cold – coughing, nose blowing, wheezing in the chest kinda cold! I probably picked it up on the bus trip – the heater wasn’t working past the first few seats, so it was cold and drafty and we were in extremely close quarters! I hope I can nip it in the bud cause……well……if you read the first couple of paragraphs of this post, I ain’t got no time to be sick!!!
Here are the four photos I took on the trip…..
“Trees growing out of rock”
Something Weird – Things List
“Statue of Liberty in PA”
Someplace Weird – Places List
It is in Dauphin County, PA and has quite a story behind it…….Google it!
A Stranger – Things List
Someplace Peaceful – Places List
And…..here is my annual photo of the lake that is my back yard every Spring……UGH!!!
So…..thinking I should probably get off here and get dressed and decide what I’m going to do today to put a dent in my “Catch Up” list……cause, tomorrow is not going to be a “Catch Up” day – I have plans to go to the movies and probably lunch and maybe some shopping with a friend……I got my priorities, you know!!!
My first major adventure of the season is now in the history books…..well, actually just in my memories and here on this blog, but it is “in the can”, as they say! Last year, two friends and I went on what we decided was going to be our inaugural trip to Washington, DC. We decided that there was WAY too much to see and do to cram it all into one trip, so we decided it would be an annual event so we could do shorter visits, focus on seeing a few things each year, and keep going till we saw it all or we could no longer keep it up! Last week, we made our second annual visit…..well, two of us did – unfortunately, our third partner in crime couldn’t make it this year.
Last year we focused on the basics and an overview of the city. This year, we put The National Cathedral, Smithsonians, and Cherry Blossoms on our priority list – we also wanted to see the FDR and WWII Memorials – two we missed seeing last year. As with last year, we took the train down on Monday and back on Friday – giving us full three days there to see what we could see in that time frame. Here are some of our photos:
Views from the train:
Views while walking around:
We stay at a very old hotel right downtown – the Hotel Harrington – it isn’t the Ritz, but the location is PERFECT and it has a restaurant that we love – Harry’s and there is a great little sandwich shop just around the corner called The West Wing Cafe that has the best bagels and coffee/tea for breakfast! Hotel Harrington is located on the block between 11th and 12th and E and Pennsylvania Ave. It is an easy walk to most attractions and there is a Metro Bus stop on the back corner of the block and a Metro Train stop two blocks away — so, pretty much anything we want to get to, we can do so very easily….and the rest, well, there are always a line of cabs right outside the hotel lobby! And…..it is clean and comfortable, so we put up with the lack of amenities for convenience and ease of getting to whatever we want!
Right around the corner, there is a building that has a really cool sculpture hall – we stopped in on the way to breakfast to look around!
Right behind us is an amazing building – it used to be the old Post Office, but is now Trump International Hotel – very impressive building with a statue of Ben Franklin on the corner. It is so beautiful all lit up at night! I’m going to go inside and peak around one of these trips – was going to this year, but didn’t get to it!
This curved building is very impressive, as well…..we didn’t figure out what it is, but it is pretty cool
If you needed any more proof that you CAN NOT avoid the IRS, just try to walk past the IRS building…..the sidewalk goes through an arch that extends from the building right to the street – if you want to walk around it, you have to walk out onto the incredibly busy Constitution Ave…..so, yep – even when just walking down the street in DC, you can NOT avoid the IRS!!! hahaha
The White House – we didn’t get any closer than this, this year, maybe next year…..
The SunTrust Bank building is very impressive, as well……hard to find a building in our Capital that is NOT impressive, but some are more so than others!
We had planned to visit this Smithsonian – the newest one – but, when we got there, we discovered that it is so popular, they have it set up where you can only get in if you sign up for a specific time by going online starting at 6:30 in the morning OR being there at 1:00 to try for a limited number of walk-ups. We decided to go see the WWII Memorial and then try to get in at 1:00, but when we got back at 12:00, the line was already getting long and we didn’t want to stand there for an hour on the chance we “might” get in. So, we’ll plan ahead for it next time!
By trying to get in there, we put ourselves closer to the Washington Memorial than we were at any point last year – we ended up walking right by it to get to the WWII Memorial!
World War II Memorial
This memorial is amazing…..it is the newest of the memorials on the National Mall and sits at the end of the Reflecting Pool between the Washington and Lincoln Memorials. It has a large fountain that is surrounded by a fortress looking structure on each side – one for the Pacific Ocean and one for the Atlantic Ocean – and 56 pillars that represent each state and US territory from that period – each with two bronze wreaths (one on each side) representing the mourning for those lost from that state/territory, as well as memorials representing each of the military services involved in the war and inscriptions memorializing the major events during the war. There is also a “Field of Stars” with over 4,000 gold stars – one for every 100 of the over 400,000 Americans who died in the war – with the inscription “Here We Mark The Price of Freedom”. Very emotional memorial…..
After not being able to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture, we had to rethink our plans for focusing on Smithsonians on this trip. We had already tentatively planned to visit the Smithsonian Castle and Gardens – the Smithsonian Headquarters, so we decided to start there. As we walked along Constitution Ave, most of the other Smithsonians had HUGE lines waiting to get in — the risk we took by choosing to go during Easter Week – spring break for so many schools AND the estimated peak bloom time for cherry blossoms (the reason we chose that week). But, there wasn’t a line at the Castle, so we went inside. The building was amazing – a gorgeous castle – but, once we got inside, we were a little disappointed. The write ups about it said you could learn a little about each of the different Smithsonians and see a sampling of what is displayed at each one. But, that wasn’t really the case – there was a gift shop and an information booth and a room with what looked like a video, but we couldn’t tour any further than the ground floor and there were no real displays other than detailing the history of the Smithsonian complex. But…..the garden out back was AWESOME!!! It was a little early for much of the bloomings, but the magnolias and spring flowers were out in full force and absolutely gorgeous!!!
The lady at the information desk also told us about two Smithsonians that were tucked away underground – the entrance to both were beyond the gardens. We decided to go to one of them after we enjoyed the stunning magnolia trees for a bit. The one we visited was the National Museum of African Art and it was amazing!!! We spent quite a bit of time there and really enjoyed it!
This was my favorite display – not only because it is beautiful, but more so because of what it signifies. The display is titled Sophie-Merica shows an African woman in a traditional blue uniform for domestic workers and then a Cinderella-like skirt flowing out from beneath the uniform representing the imagination and possibilities for her future.
Last year, we saw Ragtime at Ford Theater and it was such a lovely theater and an emotional experience that we decided to see another show there this year – this time we saw The Wiz! Last year, we had a better view of the box where Lincoln sat and was shot, but it was still amazing to be there and know what happened there so many years ago – a significant part of our history!
The National Cathedral
One of the highlights of the trip was our visit to the National Cathedral in Georgetown. This was so incredibly awesome……I could never do justice to it in any description I could ever write! The National Cathedral is dedicated to serve as a house of prayer for all people and a spiritual home for the nation. It is the Cathedral for the people of the nation to come together to worship as one. It is officially an Episcopal church. It originally meant for another location – land was set aside in the plans for the Capital City for a “great church for national purposes” – the National Portrait Gallery is now in that original location. In 1893, it was decided to renew the plans for a National Cathedral. The current site was chosen and construction began in 1907 when President Theodore Roosevelt witnessed the laying of the foundation stone. 83 years later, President George H.W. Bush attended the final piece of construction in 1990. The architecture is incredible and there is an intimate garden area for meditation outside. Inside, there are multiple chapels on two levels, as well as the High Altar at the head of the Nave. The Crypt Level is home to many dignitaries and notable American citizens – such as President Woodrow Wilson – the only American President buried in the District of Columbia, Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, the daughter of Ulysses S Grant, the architects who worked on the Cathedral, a couple Senators, some military service men, deans of the Cathedral, and many others.
The day we were there was the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was a distinct honor and emotional experience to be able to sit in on a Holy Eucharist Service where the priest included an abbreviated version of Dr. King’s last sermon – delivered there three days before his death. What a blessing! We were also able to listen to an organ demonstration on the Great Organ – one of 20 largest organs in the world. It was installed in 1938 with approximately 8,400 pipes. It was expanded in 1963 and again between 1970 and 1975 to its current state, consisting of 189 ranks and 10,647 pipes. To say the sound that came from this amazing instrument took my breathe away is an understatement! What a treat to be blessed with the chance to hear the sermon and the joyful sound coming from the organ!
So – here are some photos from the National Cathedral:
In 2011, there was an earthquake that caused a LOT of damage that is still being repaired.
Statue of Baby Jesus outside the children’s chapel
The children’s chapel had baby animals on the seat cushions and everything sized for children
This crypt had a dog at the man’s feet and angels at his head
The Garden at the National Cathedral
Very little was in bloom in the intimate garden, but we still enjoyed sitting there for a bit – so peaceful and beautiful – a great place for meditation and prayer
The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
We also saw a show at the Kennedy Center – we didn’t get to see one in the larger theaters or the Opera House, but the Theater Lab was a wonderful smaller theater that was perfect for the type of show we saw! We saw “Shear Madness” – a murder mystery comedy with a lot of political humor that relies on audience participation to solve the crime and it ends differently every night and changes somewhat each performance! It was very funny and very enjoyable! It was also a great experience being in that wonderful venue!
The Cherry Blossoms
The main reason we chose the week we went was specifically to see the cherry blossoms! All predictions indicated that we would likely be there during peak bloom time or just before, so we were sure we picked a good time to book the trip – of course, all was dependent on the weather and was a crap shoot for whether or not the predictions would be true. Well, as we got closer and closer to the dates, it looked like we just might end up missing them – the predictions kept slipping and being pushed out to the point that once our travel dates got here, the predictions for peak blooms was out a week after we were to leave! UGH!!! We weren’t totally bummed because the predictions were for PEAK blooms and the trees were budding and starting to open!
We had booked a bus tour that promised the best viewing of the cherry blossoms and some additional attractions. We won’t do that, again…..it was a $60 per person tour and everything we saw we either saw last year or earlier this trip…..or could have seen for FREE on our own! Granted, the cherry blossoms were incredible (more on that in a minute) and we were taken to the absolute best spot to see them and the guide did offer information we probably wouldn’t have gotten on our own, but the guide rushed us through everything to the point that we could barely enjoy the one monument we wanted to see really bad – the FDR Memorial – and it was too late in the trip to go back to see it again on our own before we left…..so, it will be on next year’s list so that we can take our time and really see it! And, there was one stop that I was particularly looking forward to that he skipped altogether – the Senate Park at the Capital Building to see the pear trees in bloom! So — our advice is to not pay for pricey bus tours — everything in DC is accessible and, with a very few exceptions, FREE! Go on your own – take guided tours at the various venues, if you choose, but don’t pay for big pricey tours! The only organized tour we took that was WELL worth it was last year when we took a DC at Night tour – that was amazing!!! Also, if you go to Union Station, just outside are buses that you can get on that cost $1 per stop (or a very inexpensive day pass) – you can take it around the loop it runs and it stops at all the major attractions and you can hop off and pick up another one. It isn’t the major hop-on-hop-off companies, like “Big Red Bus” – it is a city run thing and it is a FABULOUS way to get around and see the basics!!!
Anyway – back to the Cherry Blossoms — when Thursday came and it was time to take the tour, mother nature cooperated!!! The blossoms were not only out and gorgeous, they declared Thursday the official start of peak blooms!!! So — we hit the timing jackpot!!! And, the blossoms did not disappoint — they were so amazing!
And, BTW —- if you want to know where the best place to see the blossoms are, it is around the tidal basin in the National Mall……so start at the Jefferson Memorial and then go to the FDR Memorial and walk around the basin to the MLK Memorial and you will see them all!!! Over 3000 cherry trees all around the tidal basin and more in other areas around the National Mall…..and, I’m told there are more in Arlington National Cemetery, as well!
And, finally, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
We missed getting to see this memorial last year and it was a priority for me, this year! I was so happy to get to see it……again, disappointed we weren’t given time to really enjoy it, but we’ll definitely go back to see it again!
The FDR is a long, winding memorial that tells FDR’s story through both Presidencies, the war, the depression years, the new deal years……and includes ordinary people depicting scenes from the era and even a memorial to Eleanor – the only memorial to a first lady in the Capital….and lots and lots of his quotes and speech excerpts!
So, there you go! DC trip # 2…..2018……can’t wait to see what we experience next year!!!
The source for my Daily Photo Challenge Topics has been less than challenging, lately…..and, this month it is the alphabet – AGAIN! So, I went searching for a different list of challenges and found one by a photography group that I think I’m going to like. Their 2018 list is “Places” and their 2017 list is “Things”! Their lists are intended to be a weekly challenge, so there are 52 topics on each list and they are not meant to necessarily be done in order – you just check them off as you do them so you don’t repeat. But….I plan to continue doing it daily and in order – as much as I can…..and do them together – again, as much as I can! So……I’ll target doing one “Place” and one “Thing” daily and see how it goes! I think I can get pretty creative with most of the topics on both lists……and I’m thinking they just may be challenging!
Here are my first two from April 1st:
An Old Building – Places List
Clouds – Things List
And…..here are some other daily photos I’ve taken since my last post:
This Banana Toffee Pie was the best pie I’ve had in a very long time!!! The topic that day was “Oh My!” – perfect!
And…….the altar at my church on Easter Morning!
Catch ya on the flip side!!!
I met my friends, Tom and Janette, for lunch at Rohrbach’s in Gates, today. They just happen to have recently returned from their annual winter stay in Hawaii and they brought me back a cute little gift……something I saw he had posted a photo of on his blog while in Maui. I LOVE IT!!!! It just so happens that my Daily Photo Challenge topic for today is “I Wish” and I knew this was the perfect photo for it!!! I really do wish I had a cool VW Bug and I truly wish I could be driving it around the beaches on Maui……or anywhere tropical! hehehe Unfortunately, this one is a bank and can’t be driven, but……a girl can dream, can’t she?
The shot I used for my Daily Photo Challenge
Thanks so much for thinking of me, Tom and Janette……always a real joy to meet up with you! 😀
And, some other recent photos, while I’m here:
Taken today at a business next door to the restaurant where we had lunch!
Lunch yesterday at JoAndy’s — a great little place on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation
I’ll be back soon……
I went on my first adventure of the 2018 Adventure Season on Friday! Our Cobblestone Society hosted a day trip / bus tour for Maple Season. We started out at 9:00 am, made two stops, and got back home about 3:30 pm. And, it was a fantastic day!!! The weather cooperated – I won’t say it was “perfect”, because it was pretty cold, but the sun was shining all day and the sky was a gorgeous blue with just wisps of white clouds.
Here are some of the photos I took to capture our adventure to learn about all things maple….which, by the way, is a MAJOR produce for our state – second only to Vermont – and the Maple Tree is our state tree!!!
First stop was the Merle Maple Farm in Attica, NY, where we learned all about the process of tapping trees, getting the sap to the sugar shack, and producing pure maple syrup and maple sugar! This is the first I’ve heard words like “Permeate”, “Retentate”, and “RO” since I left the Pharmaceutical Industry…..I’m proud to say I understood everything he was saying about the process of extracting and purifying the sap into syrup products!!! 😀
As fate would have it, my Daily Photo Challenge topic for Friday was “Candy”!!! This was my choice for the challenge – Maple Sugar Candy!
The next stop was Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn in Angelica (Short Track), NY where we had all-you-can-eat Buckwheat Pancakes with fresh pure maple syrup…..and some ham and sausage, too! I’ve had pure maple syrup in the past (at Cartwright’s, as a matter of fact) and thought it was OK, but still preferred the taste of Aunt Jemmiah – I thought the artificial stuff had a better flavor and is thicker! But, this was AMAZING!!! I do believe it has changed my mind about pure maple syrup!!! And, the pancakes…..OMG……what a meal — I ate four – two more than I should have, but I couldn’t help myself! A few of us also went downstairs to see the antique equipment and the processing room.
I’ll leave you with this chart found at Merle’s……..it shows the difference between the different natural sweeteners! Maple Syrup may be second highest in calories, but it is soooooo rich in nutrients – they are definitely NOT empty calories! We also learned that maple syrup can enhance most any flavors — adding maple syrup to your recipes will bring out the flavor of whatever you’re making without adding an overwhelming maple flavor. It is especially good with any tomato based foods – it can enhance the flavor and balance out the acidity to result in a truly amazingly tasting meal!
All this talk and touring of Sugar Shacks brought this wonderful old song to mind……
If you read my earlier post, today, you know that I had a “free” day with nothing on my calendar, but a lot that I could have done to catch up after a busy month! Well, I did take advantage of the day with no set plans……but not to catch up……I turned it into a “me” day!
First, I ran a few errands and had some lunch. Then, picked up a platter I painted last week and drove out to the Rez for gas.
Then, I spent a lot of time hopping from one overlook to the next at the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge looking for birds and cool things to photograph…..I found a few overlooks that I haven’t been to before and saw a LOT of geese and several swans and other cool stuff I thought might make a good photo…..and, they did!!! The weather was good for it — cold, but very sunny and the water and sky were the most gorgeous blue!!! Here are some of the photos I took:
I ended the day by picking up a take-out plate from the Albion Rotary Club annual ham dinner…..YUM!
Other than being hit on by a real creepy guy – twice – at two different overlooks (same creeper), it was an amazing day!!!