Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Niagara Ice Wine Country

Day 35 of 365 Tiny Changes

We’re back from our weekend get away into Niagara Ice Wine Country.  I am not a wine expert, but I sure do like it.  We purchased 11 bottles for ourselves.

I also like Groupon Coupons.  This entire trip was created solely due to a Groupon Coupon offering.  I hadn’t even known that the Niagara Ice Wine Country existed, until I saw this offering.  Now, I am very happy I do.

I had discovered Ice Wine several years ago.  It’s also known as Dessert Wine.  It is an extremely sweet wine that is created from the nectar of the grapes that culminates from picking them when they are frozen.  One drop of nectar is squeezed from each grape, thus the high price of this type of wine.  But, baby, it’s worth it.

The month of December is a month of celebrations for our family.  More than just the holidays.  On December 10th Guy and I celebrated our 12th anniversary of our 1st date.  Yesterday, December 19th, was Guy’s 49th birthday.  These are the reason’s I decided to plan our little get away.

Guy had never been to Niagara Falls or Canada.  I haven’t been to either one since I graduated from high school.  So this discount offering seemed to be calling out to me.

It is a bit of a drive for us, about 8 1/2 hours.  Guy has a brother that lives half way between here and there, so we stayed with them Friday night.

Saturday, we woke up to good company and hot tea, and set out to complete the first leg of the trip.  We got into the American side of the falls at about 1:00 in the afternoon. 

As a travel destination, it is definitely worth the trip to see one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.  The area around the falls is the first designated state park in the nation.  It is well maintained and easy to navigate.  This time of year some of the trails that take visitors close to the falls are closed due to ice, caused by the over spay.  At 5:00 the falls are lit up, by giant lights located on the Canadian side of the river.  These lights add a whole new dimension to the already awesome natural masterpiece.

Hoping to get an even better view, we made our way into Canada, across the Rainbow Bridge.  A better view, it was.  Cold though, very cold.  To visit this area of the world, at this time of year, requires bundling up, like Nanook of the North.  Believe me, we didn’t stand out looking like walking snowmen, we just blended in, with the few die hard winter walkers out and about.

I enjoy going places in the off season.  I feel I get a better understanding of what real life is in these places, versus the facade that is put on during the tourist season.

We left this beautiful place and went on to our bed and breakfast.  The package we purchased included a one night stay and a tour of local wineries.  Due to the distance we needed to travel, I added an extra night.  The real benefit was the fact that we were able to meet more B&B guests.

The first night our B&B partners were 2 couples in their early to mid 30’s.  They had been on the wine tours earlier that day, while we were at the falls.  They were friendly open people, who wanted to spend time together, get to know each other a little better, play cards, drink wine, and go to bed late.  No cell phones, no iPhones, no iPads, no electronic devises, of any kind, were in evidence, the entire evening.  The whole focus was on getting to know each other and the possibility of making new friends.

These B&B partners were up and on their way the next morning by the 11:00 check out time.  By 12:30 our new B&B partners arrived.  These 2 couples were much younger, in their early 20’s.  They too were friendly, but much more reserved. 

At first, I put this down as being the natural reserve that comes along with being in a new place, with new people.  Being old enough to be their parents, I took it upon myself to act as hostess, and initiated conversations that would, hopefully, draw them out.  That is one thing that my years in sales has given me, the ability to get others to talk about themselves. 

We continued our experience by taking the wine tour, all of us in a van.  Polite conversation ensued, but no real connections were being made outside of each couple.  In the evening, we all had reservations for separate dinners.  When we all arrived back to the B&B, we all sat down together in the living room,  as 3 separate couples.  Some inter conversation ensued, but for the most part, each of us stayed to ourselves.  Guy and I were watching the American football game on TV, one couple was playing cards, (but never invited anyone else to play), the other couple was playing Scrabble on their iPad (but never invited anyone else to play).  We were all in a room that was all of 12x15 square feet, and never connected.

The difference I saw, immediately, between the 2 sets of couples, was the electronics.  The first pair, in their early 30’s had put their electronics away for the weekend.  They had learned to turn off their connection to the distractions of the outside world and live in the moment.  They actually attempted to connect to the people living the same experience, instead of just occupying the same general place in the world at the same time.

The second pair, in their early 20’s had their electronics attached to their hands, possibly surgically, because I never saw their hands empty of their toys.  They spent most of their time looking down at the most recent twitter message, or e-mail from someone, somewhere else.  Instead of truly enjoying the experience they were living.

As I have mentioned before, in my opinion, staying in touch with others electronically, is not the same as being with someone, face to face, in the moment.

It’s not just potential real connections, and friendships, these electronically addicted people were missing.  It was the whole experience.  Living in the moment, truly experiencing what was going on around them, and sharing it with the people accompanying them, could not be done when attempting to multitask, and stay in touch with the outside world.

Guy and I spent a lot of time speaking with the sommelier’s at the wineries we visited.  We learned so much about the business of wine, not just the taste, but the whole process of what it takes to make a good wine.  It is a much deeper process than I ever imagined.  I’m not sure what the others learned, their heads were down, looking at their iPhones.  I guess they’ll have to look it up, on line.

I am deeply concerned that the age of electronics is causing people to forgo learning how to build real relationships.   Many of us have already gone inside our homes and locked our doors, in lieu of getting outside and getting to know our neighbors.  From, what I witnessed this past weekend, I’m now seeing some of us retreating even further into our self imposed bubbles, and blocking out even the people sitting in the same room with us.   I see a future of a lot of really lonely people, who will be completely lost when their Internet connection fails.

Tiny Change 35:  I will always put face to face communication over electronic communication. 

A typed message is never as important as the human being standing in front of me.

What is getting in your way of building face to face relationships?

Best Regards,


Tiny Blessing of the Day:  I am blessed to have learned the skills of conversation.

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