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Birthday Weekend in Ellicottville

I had the extreme pleasure of spending a couple days in Ellicottville, NY. It feels like it is “up North” when it is, in fact, a Ski-Town South of Buffalo. The city is best known for the Holiday Valley Ski Resort not too far from the “downtown” area. It is a small village, but it is a lovely place to visit. My boyfriend’s grandparents have had property there for decades and he says the little town is becoming more of a destination throughout the year

Ellicottville Weekend.

They have a great brewing company in the main stretch, and I wanted to tour their facilities. They offer a tour that lasts about an hour, AND it came with some great samples of their new and seasonal beers…and a cute little engraved glass.

Ellicottville Brewing Co

The young man in charge of the tour was a wealth of information on the brewing process in general, and the specifics of EBC. It was really neat to see all of the equipment that they had…some of it was very old, others were state-of-the-art.

Ellicottville Brewing Co

One of the other great things about the tour was the upstairs/banquet area. The addition is newer (it still smells like fresh-cut wood) and is generally reserved for large parties or weddings. The guide showed us some of the large planks of wood were put together using traditional Amish building techniques without the use of metal screws or nails. The beautiful coloration on the ceiling planks is due to beetles and pests that have been causing damage to trees in the Pacific Northwest… Apparently the beetles dig into the wood and eventually die there, leaving their pigmentation in the wood.

EBC tour

After admiring the woodwork, we went on to sample some delicious beers. They had a small upstairs bar where they offered some of their signature beers and some new seasonal options. Sadly my favorite, the peach beer, is available only at the brewery. **Obligatory birthday photo. Look at my cute little EBC glass!**

The next day we woke up (sort of) early and went on a hike. There is a lot of greenery in Ellicottville, which is great. This area was not far from where we stayed. We went on a short hike here, but had plans to visit the Arboretum, so we did not go too far.

Ellicottville Weekend

There were loads of toads and other wildlife. We didn’t see any foxes, though. That would have really made my day

.Ellicottville Weekend

After our hike, we went and got coffee, a most important ingredient in my mornings.

Ellicottville Weekend

At the coffee shop, we got directions to the Arboretum. The Arboretum was lovely, although it was small. There were many different plants and birds that we saw along the way. My favorite part of the space was the Torii Gates. We have a tiny Torii Gate for the Hermit Crabs, so it made me think of the little guys.

After the Arboretum, we went to Holiday Valley.

Ellicottville Weekend

In the summer and early fall, Holiday Valley has a fun action-filled set up called “Sky High Adventure Park”. The weather was not supposed to hold up all day, so we decided to do the most fun option available. They have this awesome little roller-coaster called the “Mountain Coaster”. It is basically a tiny roller-coaster down the mountain in which you are able to control the brakes and the overall speed of the ride. It was super fun and a little scary in parts. The ride is nearly a mile in length, and my boyfriend and I were able to ride it with no other people on the track. It was so fun, and the perfect end to a lovely birthday weekend.

Photography, Travel

Trip to Guatemala: Visiting the Mayan Ruins

The Last day we were in Guatemala we visit the Mayan Ruins of Iximche. They are located about an hour-or-so outside of Guatemala City. Our earlier flight was canceled or delayed, so we opted to visit the ruins before heading to the airport for our evening flight. We had a wonderful time seeing the ruins. We hired a young man who is knowledgeable about the ruins. Our contact at the company who went with us to the ruins said that he believed the young man to be of Mayan decent. Our guide gave us a verbal history of the ruins. I was able to translate most of it from Spanish for my boss to better understand the history of the place.

It was a  place full of memories. I took a number of photographs of the ruins, but these are my favorites.

We’re getting closer!

Almost there!

“Welcome to the ruins of Iximche”

Just outside the entrance to the ruins.

A model of the ruins as they once stood.

Before visiting the ruins, we stopped in their small museum.

They had a number of artifacts excavated from the site as well as this model.

It shows the size and scale of the city as it once stood.

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This poor fellow was not injured by the Spaniards, but by his own kin during a game of Pok Ta Pok.

In the far left corner you can see burn marks on some of the stone where the city was burned to the ground by the Conquistadors.

Entering the ruins. You can feel the energy of the place.

Temple in the ruins. There were a number of temples in the city.

One for the sun and one for the moon… and several others.

Close-up of temple.

Can you can see the burned rock at the top?

That is where the Spanish Conquistadors burned the (wooden structures of the) city to the ground.

“No climbing the structures”

The “Tree of Life”

Tree of Life:

This tree sprouted up from the ruins after the earthquake of ’76.

Our guide suggested that the seed had been buried in the ruins when they were destroyed hundreds of years ago, and that the earthquake made it possible for the seed to grow. It is the only tree of its kind within over 200 miles of the ruins. He also suggested that the Mayans either brought the seed to Iximche or it was a gift from far away.

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Breathtaking.

An Altar

Circular Altar:

Many sacrifices were performed here. Next to this altar there was a small hole almost like a small well. Our guide said that the hole was where the “liquid offerings” were presented. Often the blood from this altar was poured down there.

The threshold into the unknown

Only part of the city was excavated. The man who started excavating the city passed away before further work cold be done…apparently there is not enough funding to continue. The further away you got from the entrance of the city, the more earth covered the rock. They said that over 50% remains uncovered!

Our guide said that the city was home to at least two “ruling families”. They were peaceful people and, he said, that ultimately lead to their downfall when the conquistadors came. They took them for friends and welcomed them. I’m not sure how long after, but they eventually took over the city, killed many of the residents, and burned it to the ground.  Our contact at the company suggested that had the Mayans in neighboring cities not been either too proud or too stubborn, they could have easily banded together to form an alliance and defeat the Spaniards. Unfortunately that was not the case and history happened as it did.