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Thursday, August 09, 2012

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

This is probably going to be a Thursday Confession unlike any other because this is one that is coming completely from my heart.

It's also going to be extremely short and sweet (there's a first, right?)

THURSDAY CONFESSION #32: Although you might not know this, the last four blog entries that were posted on the blog were post-dated.

That's right, everyone. I wrote the entries dated August 5 through August 8 last week. The reason being that I am currently on vacation this week from my day job, and for the first few days of that vacation, my friend Sharyn from Long Island, New York came up to visit me for a few days.

And let me tell you, that time that we spent together taught me so much about myself, and opened up so many doors that I previously closed that I feel compelled to share my experiences with each one of you reading this blog right now.

I suppose this is what you would call the “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” post. Did any of you ever have to do a composition for the first week of classes at school on what you did for the summer vacation? I know I've had to do that assignment twice in my whole school career, and twice, I've made stuff up to hide the fact that I really spent the summer doing anything substantial.

The summer of 2012 changed all that for me.

I'm afraid that at this time, I do not have any photo proof available to show you exactly what I did on my week off from work, but once they are available, I will show some of them off in future blog postings. 

DAY 1: Saturday, August 4 – My friend arrives in Canada from Long Island, checks into her hotel (which is really a group of tiny cabins lined up along the St. Lawrence River), and we meet up for the first time. But, here's the cool part about everything. We have actually “known” each other since the summer of 2001. We “met” on a discussion group forum that was part of a pop culture themed website, and instantly became friends. Over the last eleven years, we always talked about meeting up in person, and this year, those talks became reality. Of course, we didn't really do much sightseeing that first day. We just wanted to talk, talk, talk! Well, that, plus eating a whole selection of goodies from an American supermarket chain known as Trader Joe's. Kind of made me wish that Trader Joe's was available in Canada. They make some awesome dark chocolate peanut butter cups!

DAY 2: Sunday, August 5 – The time that I spent with my Long Island friend was cut short, due to the fact that I was attending a 14th birthday party for my nephew. However, it's amazing just how much activity that one can cram in a single day! The day was mostly spent in Kingston, Ontario. One of our first stops? Costco, if you can believe it! Anyone that has ever been inside a Costco knows that it can be a very cool, but very surreal experience, as the products that are for sale every day are sold in bulk quantities for impressive prices. I'll admit that I was very much drawn into the energy and the vibe of the place, and I was instantly in a good mood the whole time I was there.

To top it all off, my friend and I were shocked when we happened to get to the checkout line, and saw that the cashier that rang our order through had the same exact name as a mutual friend of ours that passed away just this past December! It absolutely blew us away!

After Costco, my friend was really interested in going to a store that was located in Kingston's Downtown core. Have you ever heard of a place known as “Ten Thousand Villages”? If you haven't, do scope it out, because you have to see the merchandise that is offered. The reason why the store is called “Ten Thousand Villages” is because all the stuff there is all hand-crafted and imported from nations all over the world. Some of the stuff inside the store is exquisitely carved. I admit that I was ALMOST tempted to buy a wooden Tic-Tac-Toe game that was sold there, but she ended up finding a few deals. On top of that, we stopped off at a bookstore where an author was holding signings for a new book that had just come out, and my friend not only bought her book, but initiated a conversation with her for ten minutes, with me only joining in later on! It was absolutely amazing to meet an author who HAD made it, and it gave me hope that I could make it big with my writing one day.

DAY 3: Monday, August 6 – In Ontario, the first Monday of the month of August is a civic holiday, and we decided that the best way to spend the holiday was to go on a boat cruise from Rockport. We researched all the options available, and the cruises that were available were one hour, two hour, and three hour cruises. We opted for the two hour, as one would have been too short, and three reminded us too much of “Gilligan's Island”.

The boat cruise was fun, and the weather was absolutely perfect, though I had to point out photo opportunities whenever they arose. My friend and I were so engaged in chatting that she ended up missing a couple of wonderful photo opportunities.

In all seriousness though, if you are ever in the Rockport, Ontario area and you want a real experience of the Thousand Islands, you should definitely take a boat cruise. You won't regret it.

After the boat cruise, we made a visit to Rockport's General Store/gift shop, and there's a lot of Canadian themed souvenirs that one could take home with them/ Everything from maple syrup jars to clothing items. Seriously, I recommend it. So does my friend from Long Island!

DAY 4 – Tuesday, August 7 – This was a fantastic day. It was the day that my friend and I fled the country!

It's true! We headed up to the North Country to visit the small town of Canton, New York (beautiful place, by the way) to visit a couple of Sharyn's friends. Jon and Kathy were probably two of the most gracious people that I have ever met, and the four of us had a fantastic time. We sampled food from their organic vegetable garden, we had a tour of their house (which is truly unlike any other house that I have ever seen in my whole life with rock face walls on the INSIDE of the home), and Kathy even taught us the craft known as felting using hand-dyed sheep wool. I wish I had a picture to show all of you, but take my word for it, it looked fantastic.

Here's one more piece of trivia. Did you know that Jif peanut butter is only available in the United States? I ended up buying a jar for my sister, who insists that Jif is the best peanut butter ever made.

After we got back home, I coerced my friend to try her first taste of Canadian pizza and the Canadian delicacy known as the poutine.

The poutine, of course, being french fries, gravy, and cheese curd.

To my surprise, she enjoyed the poutine very much. I had fully expected to have to finish it myself!

DAY 5 – Wednesday, August 8 – This was our last full day together, and we really wanted to make it memorable. We toured the downtown area of my hometown, and took pictures of the older buildings of the area while I was doing my best to try and describe the history behind them. We ended up taking a lot of great shots, and I think that I ended up seeing my hometown in a completely different light. And, to top off the whole experience, my mother made us some homemade ribs. Since my friend was departing the very day that our annual rib festival was kicking off, she now didn't have to feel guilty for missing it!

So, as I post this entry, my friend from Long Island is on her way back home, and here I sit, reflecting on what the last five days meant to me. I certainly hope that she is doing the same as well as she reflects back on her last few moments in my hometown when she ended up finding a lemur figurine in the display case of a collectables store and squealed in delight over finding it.

I realized from spending time with her that I am deserving of having wonderful friendships.

I realized that there can be newfound beauty in something a simple as a city street, a serene pond, or a beautiful garden.

Most importantly, I learned that I need to open myself up a LOT more than I have been. Let me explain this for a second.

This has really been the first time that I have ever really done something adventurous on a vacation. In a way, I really stepped out of my comfort zone to take this vacation. I went places that I never thought that I would go. I even left the country!

And all the while, my friend, who is a lot more bubbly and open than I am was chatting to salespeople, customers, budding authors, the captain of the boat cruise, and just about every random stranger that passed by. It was really incredible to see her open up to so many people.

And it hit me like a ton of bricks. She had the personality that I always dreamed of having. In my whole life thus far, I lived life extremely guarded, and didn't let people in for fear that I would be hurt.

But now I see first hand that the way I was living life was completely wrong. And I think that she knew that, and wanted to help me understand myself better. I believe that the term that she used during our correspondence before my vacation began was “open-heart surgery”.

Well, I've been under the “knife”, so to speak, and I have seen the light. I think having her come up to visit was one of the best things that I have ever experienced. And, I now see life through clearer eyes. I still have some ways to go, but I am going in the right direction. I know I am.

And, that's what I ended up doing on my summer vacation. Hope all of you enjoyed the read!

To close off this blog entry, I thought that I would insert a quote that she often said to me during the whole vacation.  She believes that things always happen for a reason, and that when things go incredibly smooth, we should do this...and this happens to be the quotation that I plan on living by for decades to come.


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