Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Travel Recap - Niagara Falls

Took an unexpected month-long break there, didn't I? I've been in a weird funk for the last few weeks (for various reasons) and I guess I needed a break from most things. Oddly enough, this little weekend trip I took with my mom and siblings over Columbus Day weekend came at a great time, as I definitely needed to get away.

We flew out of Chicago Thursday morning on the shortest flight I think I've ever been on (although I finished an entire issue of Glamour which was magical). 

Our hotel in Niagara Falls was a few minutes walk from the falls themselves which made for a cool location. 

On our first day, we walked around town before grabbing dinner.

The town is kind of a strange mix of super touristy stuff mixed with areas that are under construction mixed with charming little nooks and crannies. 

We had dinner at Kobans where we all ate platefuls of pierogis. 

Like the town itself, this place was a mix of randomness. It was nautical themed with a hint of Halloween in its decor ;)

On Friday we ventured out on our four-hour tour of the falls which started at the Maid of the Mist. 

We came down from the observation area where we collected our ponchos and boarded the boat.

The falls coming up around the corner!

It didn't help that it was a cloudy day, but the boat gets you so close to the falls that it becomes almost impossible to see anything. It gets SO misty. Therefore, my pictures aren't that great, ha!

Siblings in our ponchos. We had such a fun time laughing and being goofy while getting pretty wet. 

The view from back up on the observation platform/area.

Next our guide took us over to the Cave of the Winds which is also located in Niagara State Park and allows you to get up close to the Niagara Gorge.

They've recently added a small section with hands-on exhibits and a movie to watch before heading to the gorge. There's also a bunch of information about Tesla who built the first hydroelectric power plant which started the electrification of the United States by harnessing power from the falls. To me, the history behind the falls is honestly almost more compelling than the falls themselves.

We got these cool ass shoes ;) which actually came in handy when we went on a boat ride over the rapids later that weekend.

Every fall they take these stairs and decks down to protect them from the harsh winters, and then in the spring, they repaint and waterproof them so they're ready for the summer tourists. 
I can't imagine how soaked the workers get every time they tear them down and then rebuild.

That's how close you get to the falls! You can reach out and touch them.

Here are my dorky siblings getting soaked on the Hurricane Deck. It's ridiculous how much energy you can feel from the falls radiating off that deck. It's no wonder that kind of power has been able to electrify a whole city (and then our country).

A little calmer back up above.

Loved getting to see some of the leaves changing color.

The Cave of the Winds is actually located where the power plant was originally located.

To finish our tour, our guide took us to a look-out point to see the rapids that are created some miles past the falls. Some are category five rapids which is crazy. 

The boat we were on on Sunday took us to this exact location and it was awesome to see the rapids up close. 

On Saturday we got up leisurely and had breakfast at Third Street Retreat which was a cool diner find. 

They had shelves of books and records all over the walls which made for interesting conversation.

I got a fried egg sandwich and hash browns which we think was just chopped up tator tots and now believe that to be the most genius idea of all time. They were SO good. 

We didn't have major plans for the day, so when we saw a listing for an outlet mall about ten minutes away, we decided to check it out. It ended up being a really nice mall (better than any of the outlets I've been to at home quite honestly) and I found a bunch of deals at Loft, New York and Company, and the Cosmetics Company Store. 

We hit up DiCamillo's Bakery on the way back to our hotel and then stopped at Donatellos for personal pizzas.

On Sunday we did a whitewater rapids tour with Niagara Jet Adventures which I ended up LOVING.

We sat up in the area that isn't enclosed which made it even more fun. I'm typically not someone who likes to get wet (water parks and rides are not my idea of fun...) because I hate being in wet clothes afterward. But we brought clothes to change into and it ended up not being a big deal at all. 

When we visited the Grand Canyon last year, Sammy really wanted to go whitewater rafting and I was terrified and absolutely refused and now I really regret it. I texted him after and said this gave me the courage to do it. I'll get on the rapids any time I'm near some (and am with an experienced guide ;) ). 

I weirdly got emotional being on them. They're so powerful and strong, but they're gorgeous. Seems like a weird thing to say or think about waves, but they're unlike anything I've ever seen. Nature is crazy, man.

The company is located right off a really pretty dock, so we enjoyed the view while waiting for our Uber.

We hadn't eaten all day, so we headed over to Michael's which was a restaurant recommendation from my dad.

It was an old-school style place and right up my alley. I wish my dad had been with us because he would have loved it. They also had the cutest wallpaper ever.

Amazing chicken soup with cavatelli.

Ugh, I loved this old-school vibe. From the looks of it, you would never know the food would be as good as it was. I got a huge plate of pasta and enjoyed it to an embarrassing degree.

We ordered fried dough for dessert and this is the plate the waitress brought us--ha! We took like half of it back to the hotel and snacked on it later.

Loved that picture of the original sign. 

On Monday we had some time to kill before our flight, so we walked around town some more and wandered back into the state park.

I would spend so much time in there if I lived in the area. It was so peaceful being that close to the water and it's clean and kept up really well.

It was a nice weekend away especially since it was a perfect balance of leisure and activity. We slept in every morning, took our time, and didn't feel rushed to get to anything because my mom booked all activities for later in the afternoons. 
I spent a lot of time reading Harry Potter (much to my dismay ;) but everyone at work seems to be thrilled) and was able to start and finish the second book and most of the third. 
It was also somewhat of a bittersweet trip as it could be the last time the four of us take a trip just the four of us. Next year, Sammy could be available to come with and my siblings may have significant others of their own that can join, which will be great (!), but it was nice to just be our goofy selves that we kind of only show each other.
And it was nice to come home feeling refreshed after the last few weeks of feeling anxious and a little out of whack. 

Definitely recommend seeing the falls. It's just one of those things you "have" to see, even though I loved the rapids and all the food-finds a little more ;) In my opinion, it doesn't hold a candle to the Grand Canyon, but definitely worth the trip, especially for the history.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday Favorites

Hi all! This has been a bitttt of a week. There were some major changes at work this week that were shocking to say the least and the last twenty-four hours have been pure mental adjustment on my end. After a few conversations within our department, I'm more at ease and am tentatively optimistic, but I'm still so, so, so happy to see Friday come around. A much needed break awaits. 

Since this week was somewhat of a shit show, I'm simply going to do a photo dump and call them all "favorites" ;) Sorry for the laziness, but it's warranted this week. 

Forever saving screen shots of Jessica Garvin's style (and everything else for that matter). She's my favorite blogger for sure and I can't get enough of what she posts. I love this look for fall.

I spent one weeknight folding laundry with some white cheddar popcorn and one of my favorite movies of all time. Gene is just too good...*sigh*

This quality photo is brought to you by me taking it sideways while walking incredibly fast. 
You're welcome. 
Last Friday I surprised my Grandma by bringing dinner (obviously a really classy dinner as evident by the Stove Top I have in my bag there, although, I'll always defend Stove Top because it's just GOOD. I don't even care.) and spending the evening with her. She totally lost her mind and was so happy to see me...even though I see her every single week haha.

Last weekend my girlfriend had us over for brunch. She led us outside and handed us each one of these super pretty boxes. 

Inside there was a clear balloon we had to pop and when we did, a little rolled up piece of fabric and gold confetti flew out! She asked us all to be bridesmaids in her wedding next June and it was so sweet and cute. 

This was her spread and I went back about three times because I have a death wish.

She served bagels, pumpkin cream cheese coffee cake, a fruit plate, a cheese plate, some pastries, and a cheesy hash brown casserole. We sipped on mimosas and raspberry spumoni all morning and afternoon and it was so lovely.

She gave us the rundown of some wedding details she's been keeping from us, one of which is our bridesmaid dress. She'd like us to wear this dress alternating in traditional gold and rose gold. I absolutely love it and think it will go perfectly with their Gatsby theme.

Later that night my mom, grandma, and I headed over to our cousin's for a girl's night she threw so we could all see her new home. It's so cute and they've made such pretty updates to it. 
There was also this fun spread as well.

And that would be my grandmother doing a jello shot with a spoon. 
OBV a favorite.

I finished We Are Never Meeting in Real Life and loved it. I mentioned it here before, but it's worth repeating: definitely, definitely recommended.

Some morning views on my walk to work this week. Our building is next-door to a communal garden and I love peeking over the fence to see what they're growing. 

About a month ago, Chelsie and I realized we needed one of "our days" together since we haven't had one since before her wedding, so we bought tickets to a Cubs game for tomorrow since neither of us have been this season and I am absolutely jacked up about it.

Since we haven't been yet this season, we haven't been since they've won the title and I can't wait to be in that space with all that energy, especially toward the end of the regular season. 
Can't wait to get a glimpse of that gorgeous ivy. 

I hope all of you are looking forward to some fun plans this weekend!