When in school, every child looks forward to summer – days off to sleep late, read a good book, play outdoors… As we grow older, our love for summer increases, as do our activities. The Hamilton community is no different. We found that many people enjoy the same summer activities – going on great vacations, reading a good book, cruising around in cool cars, listening to good tunes, gardening and many other outdoor activities.
If you want to check out our online car show and hear some stories … please continue.
From April 4-10, 2012, Jelena Lacelle (me) and my mother Linda Lacelle went on an unforgettable adventure! It was mother-daughter zoo/aquarium/museum vacation. It began as my mother’s yearly conference in Washington D.C. My mother invited me to join her, and I asked if we could visit some places on our return trip home and she agreed. So, I researched zoos, aquariums, and parts of the Smithsonian to visit. I chose the air and space, natural history, African art, and sculpture garden parts of the Smithsonian. Everything amazed me. I took pictures of every single little thing.
But my favorite was the natural history museum. After seeing the African art, we got a magazine and on the front it showed the discovery of the longest snake ever found! It was on display right in front of the museum, so we said why not. And luckily we did, because it really put in perspective on how big this thing was, 60 feet long, and about two feet wide. I was happy because most of the displays had to do with animals, and I am a major animal lover, so my excitement was over bearing.
As for the other museums, the African art was awe-inspiring, Air and space was spectacular and an eye opener as well, and the sculpture garden was beautiful in every way. I almost forgot that I saw the White House, which was cool. The next visit on the list was the National Zoo, obviously. To be frankly honest, it wasn’t all that impressive, and it was a maze to get anywhere! The only real attraction was the pandas, but it was so crowded it was impossible to get a good picture. Not to mention, the staff didn’t seem people friendly. I say this because the online zoo and posters hanging everywhere said that the zoo closed at 6 pm, but we were asked to leave around 5:30, and didn’t have time to visit the gift shop and get a little souvenir. So we came back the next day to get a magnet.
On our way back to the car I noticed several ads for the National Aquarium advertising an albino alligator. And like before, we said why not. It was worth every penny. The white alligator may have been the main attraction, but the rest of the animals were amazing. Even though it was a small selection of animals, it was still very enjoyable. The staff was very friendly and informative. We visited the Baltimore Aquarium the next day. Let’s just say we picked a perfect day to go. Traffic was backed-up every which way and it turned out the day we were there was the opening day for the Baltimore Oriole's baseball team. Thank goodness the hotel my mother chose for us was within walking distance of the aquarium. Anyway, back to the aquarium – it was awesome. All the animals were along the pathway and the selection was big. I especially loved the variety of sharks.
Next on our list was the first zoo ever, the Philadelphia zoo. I loved it. Unlike a lot of zoos, the zookeepers stood by the exhibit to answer questions and prevent kids from throwing in food. And I remember my mother asking a question about the African wild dog as I was taking pictures. The dog was alone, and I know for a fact these are pack animals (I was too nervous to ask why or where the rest of the pack was). Turns out she had two sisters that died and they were thinking of introducing a young male but decided not to, so they put in a mirror so she thinks she isn’t alone, and she seems very content with that. The Philadelphia zoo was a good size, and the animals were healthy and had a lot of room and enrichment.
The next day we went to the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania. It was amazing. We were in awe the whole tour. Our guide fed the wolves through the fence without fear and you could tell these wolves knew and respected our tour guide. The wolves were pretty lazy, but that’s because a wolf’s favorite time of the year is winter. Even though it was nothing but wolf packs, it was still amazing to see and experience all their personalities and learn about their history. My favorite one there was Frodo, because of his beautiful coat and because he kept stealing everyone’s food, crawling underneath everyone - so funny to watch.
Then last, but certainly not least, was the Bronx Zoo. This zoo was enormous. I was amazed my mother and I went through the whole zoo in a day. One thing that upset both my mother and I was the fact that we had to pay extra to see other animals, based on the theme. The theme that month was jungle habitat. Although we had to do that, it was just so cool how they presented the animals to the public, and without pits! All in all every zoo, aquarium, and museums were very good choices in both my and my mother’s opinion. The only one I didn’t really enjoy was the National Zoo. I would like to mention that I never want to see another poison dart frog ever again. In every zoo and aquarium we went to before, during and after this trip had them. After the first two places we went to, we passed the little creatures without a care. And that is the conclusion to my mother and my amazing, unforgettable vacation.
Karen’s favorite vacation is staying at North Country Cottages on Black Lake near Alexandria Bay in the Thousand Islands. The cabins are very rustic and Black Lake is a quiet lake with great fishing. Plus, there are many Amish farms in the area, so the roads have wide shoulders for carriages which makes them great for bike riding. She reports that it’s great to bike in the early morning when you can see the ospreys nesting and smell the bacon cooking in camps as she passes by. A peaceful place where her kids love fishing off the dock, Karen says you can almost scoop the little fish up in your hands.
Karen recommends reading Unsaid, by Neil Abramson, especially if you love animals. But, her favorite thing about summer is riding her horses in Brookfield State Park.
Amit’s favorite vacation spot is Niagara on the Lake (NOTL), which is a small arts town 15 miles from the Falls. An avid biker, he takes a bike trip from NOTL to Niagara Falls every year. Amit reports that this 30-mile round trip takes a whole day, but is very relaxing and the view is amazing. He highly recommends it!
His favorite summer activity? You guessed it, biking! That and, running outdoors.