Day Trips or Be a Tourist in Your Own Town.

Even though fall is here, school has started and it makes it almost impossible to travel for any length of time, why not be a tourist in your own home town? More than not, we tend to overlook the own city that we live in with the hopes of bigger and brighter things.

Well, we did just that. The city I live in is quite large and has a lot of history behind it. It is one of the oldest cities in Canada (formed in 1847), so there is quite a few points of interest in my city that would appeal to someone interested in history.

One such museum is the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. This museum boasts about 40 WW2 planes (lovingly restored and flown regularly) as will as planes from the jet age. The museum is home to the only Lancaster bomber from WW2 in North America. It also contains many interactive displays, audio/video displays, a theatre, gift shop and restaurant is also on the premises. This is an interesting place to visit for those that are into history (such as me) and/or the airplane. (We have visited this museum as a family.)

Another interesting history museum is the H.M.C.S. Haida. This World War 2 tribal class destroyer and is now parked in Hamilton Harbour. This ship saw service in both WW2 and in Korea and still fires its guns everyday in salute and to make it more authentic to the visiting public, the soldiers are dressed in uniforms that are from that era. (I have visited this ship with a school trip).

If you have children, the Childrens Museum is a must see. This museum offers interactive things for children to do and since the displays change on a regular basis, the museum never gets boring. (I have gone there on a school trip as well.)

If you have a history of labour or unions in your background, this is a place you will want to visit. The Workers Arts and Heritage Centre is a celebration of the labour union and what it has done for the worker. Through a series of displays, it shows what the hardworking Canadians have done to shape Canada and make it what it is today.

If culture is a little more to your liking, the Art Gallery of Hamilton is a great place to go. After recently receiving a total make over, the AGH has totally revamped its look and is now home to one of the best collections in Canada. And what city would be without their symphony orchestra? The city of Hamilton is no different. It offers concert series throughout the season and if the theatre is what interests you check out the Du Maurier Centre for the latest in theatre productions. There is always something interesting to see there (I saw an Agatha Christie play with my mom there).

The out doors in the Hamilton and surrounding area are beautiful and a treat to visit any time of the year. Hamilton, Ontario Canada is situated on a large piece of land (called the Escarpment) that begins northeast of the city and goes on to form the basis for Niagara Falls. This piece of land (fondly known as the mountain here in Hamilton) is conducive to many waterfalls in and around the city and when the leaves change colour in the Autumn, it is a breathtaking spectacular! There are many public parks and conservations areas in and around the city that celebrate nature.

Also Hamilton is part of the Bruce Trail, which begins in the Niagara region and travels all the way up to Georgian Bay and literally, the longest footpath in Canada. If you are a plant lover, you will want to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens. The RBG is the largest of its kind in Canada and has something for everyone throughout the entire year. In January, you can see the cacti and the bulbs they are getting ready for spring, in May, children can visit the discovery garden, during the summer months, the RBG has many thousands of plants on display, during the fall months, you can see the fall mums as well as the beautiful fall colours and in the months leading up til Christmas, you can see the holiday plants that they have. All in all, it is a garden and plant lovers dream!

All in all, it pays to be a tourist in your own town because you never know what you will discover and what surprises lay in your own back yard!

The Cayuga Wine Trail – Upstate New York


The Cayuga Wine Trail

Cayuga Lake, located in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, offers one of the best wine trails in the eastern United States. Along with some fantastic wines, you can also enjoy samples of beer, fruit wines, hard cider and brandy.

By Emily MacDowell

The Finger Lakes Region consists of six long, finger-shaped lakes: Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, Owasco and Skaneateles Lake. Iroquois legend states that the lakes are impressions from the hand of the Great Spirit Manitou, whose fingers slipped when bringing the hunting grounds down from the heavens. Three of these lakes – Seneca, Cayuga and Keuka Lake – have some of the best growing grounds for grapes in the eastern United States. The soil is rich and the temperate climate produced by the lakes in the growing season has helped many of the vineyards in the area gain success. Each lake has its own wine trail, but the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, starting in the town of Ithaca, New York, offers some different tasting opportunities.

The Ithaca Beer Company, a microbrewery located at the beginning of the wine trail on 606 Elmira Road in Ithaca, is a unique place to start your sampling voyage. The owner, Dan Mitchell, came up with the idea for the brewery in 1995 when customers at the bar he worked at kept asking why there wasn’t a locally produced beer. Three years later the Ithaca Beer Company was up and running.

Many types of Ithaca Beer can be found on draft in the local restaurants of Ithaca, but the company’s distribution encompasses the whole state of New York, parts of Connecticut and New Jersey. At the Ithaca Beer Company, seven different drafts are offered. Some types to try include the Apricot Wheat – a flavorful, fruity beer intended for the younger crowd; the Nut Brown – a dark, smooth ale that has a nutty taste with a subtle chocolate and coffee finish; and a seasonal brew – the Gorges Smoked Porter, with its unique smoky flavor that brings the taste of autumn straight to your senses. And if you’re in the mood for something sweet, the Ithaca Beer Company also has a delicious homebrewed root beer on tap.

Another interesting stop along the trail is Bellwether Hard Cider, the only hard cider producer on the trail. The idea for a “cidery” began when owner Bill Barton was drinking hard cider in France. The drink is still popular throughout Europe and at one point, he says, “was the most common drink in the U.S. up until World War One.” He wondered why there weren’t any cider producers in the states. Barton and his wife decided to go for the idea and have now been in the business for six years.

The apples grow well in the area and allow for an easy harvest. “Basically we’re making wine but we’re using apples,” says Barton. The only reason they can’t call it apple wine is because of the alcohol percentage. “The government drew the line at seven percent. If it’s under, it’s hard cider, if it’s above, it’s apple wine.” All Bellwether cider is under seven percent alcohol.

Bellwether Hard Cider offers at least five different samples of hard cider. For a different taste, Barton recommends a blend called Spyglass, a semi-dry cider at 6.9 percent alcohol that is “still,” meaning it has no bubbles or carbonation. It’s a blend of two apples – the Northern Spy, typically used in baking, and the Liberty, an apple breed developed by Cornell University researchers. The most popular variety is the Liberty Spy, made from the same two apples. It has a full, sparkling taste that can be paired easily with meals. In the colder seasons, Bellwether also offers tastes of their Original hard cider, served heated and mulled with a spice mix that leaves you feeling warmed and ready for the next stop on the tour.

As you head farther north along the Cayuga Wine Trail, a winery not to be missed is The Thirsty Owl, created by Jonathan Cupp in 2002. The Thirsty Owl offers samplings from five white wines and five red wines. The most popular wine for the area is the Riesling. “All wineries in the Finger Lakes produce Rieslings,” says Thirsty Owl wine connoisseur Matt Bonacci. The climatic area actually recreates the same environment in which Rieslings originate – along the banks of the Rhine River in Germany. The latitudes are almost identical. The winery offers a delicious dry Riesling that carries hints of lemon and pineapple.

Also offered is Vidal Blanc, a hybrid that has been genetically developed as a cross between Native American and European crops of grapes. The taste is light and crisp with a dry citrus tang. Another wine produced there is called Blushing Moon and is the Thirsty Owl’s version of a white zinfandel. It is made with 90 percent Cayuga White (a dry white wine developed by Cornell researchers), and 10 percent Dechancelor hybrid red wine. When combined, the wine equals a blush similar in taste and appearance to a white zinfandel.

Many wineries along Cayuga Lake not only use locally grown grapes for their wine, but also add other local fruits to the mix for some interesting flavors. Hosmer Winery, located 30 minutes north of Ithaca along the Cayuga Wine Trail, offers the only Sangria in the Finger Lakes region. Sangria is a famous Spanish drink that blends sweet red wine with lime, lemon and orange flavors. Hosmer Winery, which has been around for twenty years, has won numerous awards, including the 2002 Governor’s Cup award. Another notable flavor there is a sweet raspberry wine called Raspberry Rhapsody. It is made from a semi-sweet white wine blended with native red raspberries, and is delicious when served with chocolate.

Knapp Winery, located near the Hosmer Winery, has some mouth-watering strawberry and peach wines. According to the Ithaca Times Fall Guide, Knapp also makes “brandy and grappa, a traditional Italian high-alcohol beverage made by fermenting pressed grape skins and seeds.” Knapp Winery has beautiful gardens to explore in the summer months, and has an outdoor patio where you can view the grapes growing under the sun as you sip their finished product.

As you make your way along the trail, don’t forget to stop and get something to eat. Many wineries also have bistros or cafes within where you can order a bottle or glass of wine with meals. A few places to eat along the route include the Knapp Winery and Restaurant, the Thirsty Owl Wine Company, Sheldrake Point Vineyard and CafĂ©, or for a special treat, the Cayuga Lake Creamery, which also serves finger food and coffee in addition to their delicious homemade ice cream.

Don’t feel like driving? Many escort services offer limos and sedans that will take you to all the wineries you desire. Special tour packages are also available and include accommodations at a bed and breakfast, transportation on a six-hour tour, and bottles of wine or champagne in special gift baskets. Finger Lakes Winery Tours & Transportation (http://www.flwtinfo.com/) provides customized tours for any size group in luxury vehicles for Seneca, Cayuga, and Keuka Lake. Executive Limousine and Sedan (http://www.elslimo.com/) has tours for Cayuga and Seneca Lake for up to 12 people. A World About Us – Tours and Travel (http://www.worldaboutus.com/) features group, individual, and family tours that can be customized to suit your needs and include much more than wineries. It offers a great tour of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, lodging, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a full-time guide to take you to five of the most popular wineries along the way.

The most important part of wine tasting is having fun – so gather a group of your friends, find a designated driver, and enjoy a sampling adventure along the beautiful shores of Cayuga Lake!

Fall Family Time in Indiana

By Misti Sandefur

Fall is a great time to enjoy the outdoors with your family. Some outdoor activities you can participate in with your family follows:

1. Take a bike ride. This not only provides time with your family, but it gives you all exercise, and we know exercise is important for your body and your health.

2. Enjoy a stroll in the park. Indiana has many parks and a few of them are the Brown County State Park (Nashville, IN), Clifty Falls State Park (Madison, IN), Harmonie State Park (New Harmony, IN), Indiana Dunes State Park (Chesterton, IN), McCormick’s Creek State Park (Spencer, IN), Mounds State Park (Anderson, IN), Pokagon State Park (Angola, IN), Potato Creek State Park (South Bend, IN), Shades State Park (Waveland, IN), Shakamak State Park (Terre Haute, IN), Spring Mill State Park (Bedford, IN), White River State Park (Indianapolis, IN) and many others.

If you’re not near any of the parks above, then you can always take a stroll in the park nearest you, or if the park is only an hour or less from where you are, make it a family outing.

3. If you have a rather large family, or you are having your annual family reunion, you can set up the volleyball net and enjoy a fun game of family volleyball.

4. Halloween isn’t far off, so why not decorate your yard for the occasion. Take a trip to the store and purchase a few of those bright orange pumpkin bags to stuff with leaves, then return home and rake up leaves to stuff your bags with. Want to make it really fun? Before filling your pumpkin bags, have the family — adults included — jump in the pile of leaves.

Other than filling pumpkin bags and jumping in the leaves, your family can also gather hay or straw, some old coveralls, a straw hat, an old pair of shoes and a couple large limbs or sticks (for arms). Yep, I’m sure you know where this is going. Take all those items you just gathered and make a scarecrow. Next, sit your newly-made scarecrow up against the hay or straw. For the finishing touch, place pumpkins around the hay or straw.

Why not have an outdoor pumpkin carving contest of your own? Have each member of your family carve a pumpkin, and delegate one person to judge the pumpkins. (This person can join the fun and carve a pumpkin too, but his or her pumpkin can’t be entered into the contest.) For the judging, you could have two winners if you like… one for the scariest looking pumpkin, and the other for the most creative or unique design. What about the prize? Simple, let one of the winners choose the next family activity, and the other winner could choose the next family outing.

When Christmas draws closer, make the outdoor decorating a family event. Have everyone in your family participate in hanging outdoor lights and etc. Everyone has different ideas, so you could put all ideas together and you just may have the best outdoor decorations in your neighborhood!

Family fun not only takes place at home, but it can also take place outside of your home. Whether you live in Indiana, or your planning a trip to Indiana, there are many events around the Indiana area your family can enjoy together, and following are a few of those events…

Head to Aurora, Indiana for the Aurora Farmers’ Fair (http://www.aurorafarmersfair.net). This event will begin on October 4 and end on October 7. Aurora Farmers’ Fair will have a variety of fun for your family: Rides, games, a giant parade, entertainment, a pet parade, antique tractor and equipment show, pedal pull, a visit from Quacky the Clown and much, much more!

Seymour, Indiana has hosted their annual Oktoberfest for 33 years, and this year they will celebrate again. Mark your family calendar for October 5 through the 7, and on one or all of those dates head to downtown Seymour to enjoy their 34th Annual Oktoberfest (http://www.seymouroktoberfest.com/)! Seymour’s Oktoberfest will have a big flea market, 5k run/walk/wheelchair, baking contest, talent contest, crafts for the children, clowns, parade, hot air balloon race, carnival, free entertainment, polka contest and lots more. Each day the festival will begin at 11:00 a.m. and will last until 11:00 p.m.

Does your family enjoy gardening and crafts? Then you’ve got to load in the family car and make your way to the Hunter’s Moon Festival hosted by Lanthier Winery in Madison, Indiana. While visiting the Hunter’s Moon Festival, you and your family will enjoy gardening, crafts, tours of beautiful gardens and more. Admission is free. Call 1-800-41-WINES for further details.

The day after Thanksgiving would be a great time to walk off the big dinner you had the day before, and why not do that while you and your family enjoy Christmas in the Park in Brazil, Indiana. Not only will you walk off the “big dinner,” but you’ll also get your family into the Christmas mood.

Christmas in the Park has something for everyone! Some of the fun includes a parade, fireworks, musical events, and decorated homes and businesses.

If you’re not going to be near Brazil the day after Thanksgiving you can join the other Christmas event in Corydon. Corydon will have their annual Christmas on the Square, and it will be held the Saturday after Thanksgiving. All the fun of Christmas will take place on 202 East Walnut Street.

Would you like to beat the Christmas rush? Grab the family and head to the Mansfield Village Old Fashioned Christmas Festival on December 1 through the 3. There your family can get some Christmas shopping done, enjoy eye-catching decorations and lots of lights, and the kids will love the visit from Santa. In addition to all that, there will also be a turkey dinner and horse and carriage rides. If you don’t want to walk, there will be free trolly rides. Hours are: Friday, 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Heated indoor space will be available, but limited. For more information call 765-344-1889, or e-mail info@mansfieldhilltopfarm.com.

Also in December, West Lafayette (downtown) will have their annual Dickens of Christmas. This event will take place throughout the day and includes musical entertainment, carolers, vendors, carriage rides, holiday lighting and much more. Call 765-742-2313 for more information.

With all the outdoor activities and the family events in Indiana you should have no reason why you can’t enjoy quality time with the ones you love. Your family is precious, and they should be your number one priority, so enjoy the time you have with them, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

If there’s an area you would like me to cover — an area I’ve not done yet — let me know the area by posting your comment and I’ll cover it for you. If you’d rather not mention an area or events in the comment area, then you can send your request or event information to me via fax. My toll-free fax number is 866-653-9818.

Cherish each and every moment, and live every day to its fullest!