Pre-Trip Buddy and Philmonster return to the World!


Resident Redhead
Premium Member
Omg, Phil on the moose pics were worth the price of admission! 🤣
I was already dealing with tears of silent laughter over “Grandfather Time and Grandma Moses” and “maybe they’ll spin him to the moon”, but Phil on the moose brought on actual guffaws. 😂🤪


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Original Poster

So, the next day, Friday, August 30, after not getting anything at our mobbed concierge club level breakfast for the third time in a row, we decided to hit up the Niagara Wine Trail, because ya know, Buddy and the Philmonster might enjoy the wine just a little tiny bit. Here's our modest haul from a recent Long Island wine country trip.
wine 2016.JPG know what they say.......when in wine country, buy wine! Or something.

Anyway, the Niagara Wine Trail is a bit of a misnomer because unlike Long Island where most of the wineries are all in a row on two parallel roads, these wineries were spread out all over the place as you see in this map:


Hmm. I wasn't sure how this was gonna work out, but with the aid of a handy GPS, we decided to give it a try.

Our first stop:


This place was really fun, although the wines were very sweet, and lots of fruit wines. Notice the one called "Sex on the Peach". You can be sure I bought a bottle of that. :)

gust of sun menu.jpg

I'm not sure where this is, but grapes!


On we went to Long Cliff Winery, a super tiny family run place, and it feels like the tastings are in their actual house:


It turned out that the woman serving the wine tastings was a Disney super fan, and she had been scheduled to leave for Florida to board a Disney cruise that very day, but it was cancelled due to the coming hurricane. She said that Disney wasn't even giving refunds and they made her reschedule for something in February. She was pretty bummed, but after she found out I was a Disney boy, our wine tasting pours magically got heavier, and she even let us taste some things that were not on the menu. See? Disney magic at work even in upstate New York. What's next?

Ohhhhhhhh, we went to this very, um, strange vineyard called Freedom Run Winery.

It looked like a bomb shelter.


And when I saw this on the shelf, I started to get the feeling that I might have arrived in Trump country.



Annnnnyway, we quickly moseyed our way right out the door, but not before doing a wine tasting, and I hate to admit, but the wines were not half bad. Alas, the conspiracy wine was not on the tasting menu. ;)

Back in a few......


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Original Poster

Hey, look! A Philmonster!


In case you are going blind in your old age like me and can't see the label, why yes, yes, that does happen to be a bottle of Freedom Run wine that Mr. Phil purchased.....and that's all I'm going to say about that.

Now let's go to Eveningside Vineyards (the names of these places are hysterical) and see if Phil can take another bad picture of me.


Why yes. Yes he can! Try again, Ansel Adams!


Why am I always dancing?

Well, it was time for lunch, and we came across this place:


The inside of it looked like where Thelma and Louise went before Thelma shot the cowboy, but the food was pretty amazing, and dirt cheap too! Not a great picture, but trust me. It was good!


As you see, a satisfied Philmonster. That's always the best kind of Philmonster.


Look! More grapes!


Our final stop on this little wine tour was here:


Cute looking place. I wonder what it's called?


LOL, these winery names were slaying me.

Unfortunately, the wine at this place was pretty nasty and the pours were tiny too. (My food sucks, and there's not enough of it!)

Just as well. Like I said, these vineyards were spread out all over the place and unlike Long Island, where we always drive to the end of the trail and then work our way back to the front where our hotel is conveniently located, in this case, we had a good 30 minute drive. Good thing Phil had been taking it easy on the wine tastes (unlike me, of course), and we had an uneventful drive back to Niagara Falls.

Next it's time for some Indian food for dinner and another trip to the casino!


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Original Poster

Before we left for this trip, we looked up a bunch of Niagara Falls restaurants on Yelp, and one that had amazing reviews happened to be a Polish restaurant called Kobans. Now, I don't know too much about Polish food, but the reviews and pictures were enough to get us to green light this.

According to our GPS, it was only a mile from our hotel, so we punched in the directions and off we went. And this is when we learned a sad story about Niagara Falls. Outside the immediate tourist area-----even a mile outside of the immediate tourist area ------this seems to be a dying city. Buildings blasted out all over the place. Storefronts boarded up all over the place. Homeless people sleeping on benches. Stray dogs running around. Old boarded up homes, and houses falling apart. It was a little shocking after being in the Niagara Falls tourist bubble. I really had no idea. And when we got to this Polish restaurant, it was closed or appeared to be closed, on a Friday night. No cars were in the lot, and it was totally dark inside, although a back door to the place was wide open for some reason.

We decided to head back to the bubble.......but there was only one problem: While Niagara Falls had been pretty dead up to now, this was the Friday before Labor Day weekend, and suddenly, the entire place was mobified! We tried to get into three or four restaurants and all of them were at least half hour waits. I told Phil that there was only one solution. We were going to have to go to an Indian restaurant.

Okay. Phil HATES Indian food because he had a bad experience with one curry dish one time. Now he thinks all Indian food is awful, but I have been trying to get him to give Indian food another chance for years.

This brings me to a really strange point. Niagara Falls is swarming with Indians. Not Native American Indians, but Indians from India. They were all great, but I had just never seen so many Indians in one tourist city before. Annnnnnnnd, there is pretty much an Indian restaurant on every corner - not even exaggerating. You can't walk a block without running into another Indian restaurant.

We found one that didn't have a wait, and in we went!


It turned out to be a buffet!



I know it might not looks too appetizing, but it was delicious. Even Philmonster thought so. SO, I think the Indian food curse has been broken with that one.

However, this is a very strict restaurant, apparently:


Well, good for them, I guess. Stops people from wasting.....

Hey, I see Phil still has some food on his weird red tray-plate-thing. Charge him $8.99!


What's next? Casino time?? You guessed it! And guess what! It was friday night, and Fat Tuesday was OPEN!!!!!!!!!!!!



Now off to lose some more money. But then something unusual happened.

Phil and I separated to play whatever machines we wanted to play. And as soon as I sat down at a random slot machine, I did one pull and I won $687.00!!!!!!!!!!!

What?? I have never won anything at a slot machine, ever.

Okay, now common sense would tell me to just get off the machines, not play anything else, and cash out. But when have I ever exhibited common sense on these boards?

I did have to go find Phil to tell him what happened, and when I saw him, before I could even open my mouth, he said: "I just won $400!"


What????? This place was printing money tonight. How do they stay in business. ;)

Well, needless to say, three Fat Tuesday drinks later, Phil and I had each given about half our winnings back to the house. But hey, I still had about $320 left and Phil still had a good $200.

Do you think we'll give the rest of it back to the casino tomorrow night, on our last night in Niagara? Come back tomorrow to find out. And I'll also tell you about how Phil talked me into doing some white water rapids, and how we had an audience with an old college friend who is a former Vegas showgirl and is now a married school teacher with 2 kids, living in the Niagara area. And how we got pulled over by a cop!

See you soon!
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I love the LI wine trail - the couple of times I've gone. I hear ya on how close together they are though - makes it very convenient and just a tad dangerous ("I should go home... but that one is right there"). If you're looking for a quick getaway, may I recommend the Northern Virginia wine trails. They're not as close together as LI, but seem to be closer than Niagara, depending on which you go to. And over the last couple of years there's been an explosion of breweries as well.


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Original Poster

So, for the fourth morning in a row, surprise, surprise, we could not get near the lonely tray of runny scrambled eggs in the concierge room. Nor could we claw our way past the throngs of ravenous zombies to get a bagel, a pastry, or a Fruit Loop.

Starbucks it is! Again!

Ohhh my God, I forgot to tell you guys something that happened yesterday when we went to wine country. Well, actually, when we got BACK from wine country. When we arrived back at our hotel room, the door was WIDE OPEN.

What the living hell?!?!?!?!?

I'm serious, it was wide open as if we were having a hall party and had invited the entire floor to attend.

My first thought was that someone had broken in, but nothing was stolen, and all was in order. Apparently, the housekeeping (who we had been tipping generously daily) just forgot to shut the door.

Now, I don't know if any of you have read my opinions of service staff on tipping threads, but I'm a slight bit outspoken and always defend housekeeping, waiters, etc. But this was a little much. For the first time ever, I called the front desk and complained about housekeeping. I mean, the door was wide open. While I don't think there were any bank robbers checked into to Niagara at the Falls, ya never know!

Anyway, remember this, because it comes into play later.


No concierge breakfast. Starbucks it is!

And while he was waiting for his coffee, Phil found a brochure for a white water rapids adventure in the Falls. He decided we had to go on it, and coincidentally, it was in Lewiston, about 15 minutes away from the Falls and where my old college friend, Annie DeFazio lived with her extremely hunky husband and her two kids.

Annie had all the leads in our college theatre productions and everyone thought she was going to be a star. She even played Mame!

As a matter of fact, she was currently in rehearsals for a production of Hairspray at a professional theatre in Buffalo that was opening the week after we left.

But her big claim to fame is that she got cast as a showgirl in Vegas right after college. I have no idea what the name of this show is, but this is the one she was in. I also have no idea which one of these is her, but she is one of them.


Anyway, she had seen on Facebook that we were going to the Falls, and she'd been nagging me for weeks to meet up.

I had not seen her since college, and it's always a little weird reconnecting with someone you basically knew a lifetime ago, but she kept nagging and nagging and finally I said sure, we'll meet you.

But before this little college reunion, Philmonster and I had some rapids to conquer, so welcome to Lewiston Landing, who's mascot is apparently a fish.


Looks like a nice enough place, although I have no idea what is hanging from the bottom right hand corner of that sign.

We didn't take 30 steps before we passed this:


It was starting to get very fishy around here. ;)

Time for some lunch! Phil had heard about this place called The Silo, because it was featured on Man vs. Food, so of course we had to go. It was right on the water, but it was really just a burger and fries shop. Okay, but nothing spectacular. I think the reason it got on Man vs. Food is because Adam ate 15,000 hamburgers or something.




That's Phil, outside the Silo, excited to be going on white water rapid, but first he did this:


Errr, the Philmonster meant well, but this is actually called the Freedom Crossing Monument and it honors the historical importance of the Niagara River as a gateway to freedom on the Underground Railroad during the mid-19th century, so I hope he wasn't being too disrespectful. :rolleyes:

But before we can even think about that, it's time for us to get absolutely soaking wet, and I bought all the pictures......just for you......just for you! They will be in the next post, in just a few minutes. :)


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Original Poster

Well, there is really nothing more to tell you except that this rapids thing was called Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours and it was a one hour high-speed trip upriver into the Niagara Gorge, and they specifically said that we would end up soaking wet, even though they gave us these cute little raincoats.

Buddy Phil boat cropped.jpg

And soon we were in the boat! We're in the third row, in case you didn't notice. Pirates of the Caribbean, this is not.

Boat full of fools 2.jpg

Off we went.......and wet:




And wettest!


water.JPGback view 1.JPG

Okay - this was very fun, but it was as if a giant came around and decided to dump swimming pools of water on top of you,

The rapids are not joking around.

Oh also, if anyone is thinking of doing this, it was $70.00 each (minus a five dollar coupon we found), so not cheap. Plus, you might drown.

But remember, we had won some slots the night before, and we were feeling a little rich (that will change soon, don't worry).

Hmmm, it's later than I thought. I better get to the rest of this in one final chapter that I will probably not have a chance to post until Monday. Phil's birthday is this weekend, and we have all sort of hijinks planned, as he turns 978 years old. ;)
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