Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Five days and almost 2,400 miles later...

Destination: Niagara Falls (and Boston)
Total Miles: 2,391 (driving total)
Total Cost: $350 a piece

For a while now, my friend, Chenille, and I have been talking about going to Niagara Falls. It's been on my bucket list for a very, very long time. Back in March, we decided to opt to take a couple extra days off around July 4th and roadtrip somewhere.

Enter Niagara Falls.

What could be more patriotic than Niagara Falls? Actually, Chenille suggested that Boston and the Fireworks Spectacular show they hold annually could be more patriotic. And since I know people, it was then decided that we could drive up to Niagara then drive over to Boston.

In order to understand a little better how this all came about, there is something you should know about Chenille and I: we share a love for randomness (as long as it includes some quality time and Starbucks).

With a basic plan in place to leave after we got off work on Thursday, stop somewhere along the way to Niagara Falls to spend the night, then stay at the Falls in a quaint B&B (on the Canadian side because everyone says it's better), then drive across New England to Boston, see the fireworks and spend the night with my friend, and then head home, we looked forward to our northern trip.

To begin with, we started out a little later than planned due to some last minute work issues. Once we got on the road, we realized it would be better to follow directions not on our phone maps which would eat up data, so we took pictures of the directions. Which turned into a hilarious adventure since there were several places that the road signs were not clear.

A little random tidbit of deja vu: once we hit onto 77 in NC, I realized that it was the exact same road I had taken Sunday to get to Winston-Salem for a day trip.

As we traveled, we got to talking so much that before we knew it, it was pushing 1 a.m., and we were in the middle of No-Where, West Virginia. We finally found a somewhat decent looking motel at a decent price near Clarksville (I think), and by 2 a.m. we were checked in and reassuring ourselves that the closest Starbucks was only 20 minutes away.

Back on the road again, we headed northward.

Remember the whole "follow the picture of the directions" thing? Yeah. We ended up crossing the border into Canada much sooner than we planned. At which point, Chenille was reading off directions to our B&B when our phones dinged with warnings that we were on foreign soil and would be charged roaming fees.


We quickly switched over to Airplane Mode. Only to realize we had no clue where we were or where we were going.

Much laughter ensued, and thanks to our awesome navigation skills, we managed to find our B&B which was 30 minutes away, in sufficient time.

Then to get back across to the American side so we could ride the famous Maid of the Mist, we walked 1.2 miles, crossing the border on foot (another adventure!). And after a 2 hour long wait in line, we boarded the Maid of the Mist dressed in the blue rain ponchos that were given us (I actually wore my yellow raincoat over top of mine which was a fun contrast to the 599 other people on board).

Surreal. Phenomenal. Breath-taking.

Words truly cannot capture the magnificent power of the Falls.

That evening, we had the pleasure of watching some beautiful fireworks over the Falls (and meeting a couple from Winnipeg, and realizing that people from the Orient have NO concept of personal space!).

The next morning, we were served breakfast right to our room and enjoyed lounging about for a few minutes pretending we were rich socialites.

After breakfast, we hit the road, crossed the border, and commenced the reading of our study book: The 5 Love Languages for Singles. It took us 3 days to make it through the entire book, but it was well worth the hours of reading aloud and discussions that ensued. No, I will not go into all our discussions, but suffice it to say that it was thought-provoking and that I look forward to the application of the principles learned as I seek to love those around me. :)

Boston...my dear friend from nursing school, Katie, opened her home to me yet again. Her husband was awesome enough to map out an entire plan for getting all of us down to Cambridge for the fireworks show. The show was even more fantastic and spectacular than I or Chenille had even imagined. But, I think my favorite part was just the adventure of hanging out with old and new friends. I will say, if you opt to go see the fireworks, make sure you are standing across from the barge that they are shot off of, and also make sure you stick around for a little bit after the show is done because then you can stand by the railing and get cool pictures of the Boston harbour with fireworks that are shot after the crowd leaves because they did not fire off correctly during the show.

The next morning after a delicious breakfast (Katie is one of the most amazing cooks!), Chenille and I headed toward Maryland. Except that we got turned around and found ourselves on northbound lanes out of Boston. To which we turned in to an excursion to find a Starbucks with a drive-thru.

Southbound again, we managed to make our way out of the city without using the GPS. At some point, I offered that we could take a detour to see one of my aunts' farm and get some ice cream for lunch. Another adventure ensued and after traversing the lovely countryside of Connecticut, we finally found our way back to the main road and opted to make our next stop Philadelphia.

Somewhere along the way, we managed to navigate ourselves straight into the middle of the Bronx, and I have now crossed "Driving (and staying alive to tell) through the Bronx" off my bucket list only after having to put it on there involuntarily. Got some lovely views of NYC and also some great laughs and memories with Chenille.

Once in Philly, we enjoyed making some stops to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall before heading down to Geno's Steaks for a taste of delicious and atherosclerosis-inducing world famous Philly Cheesesteaks.

Last stop on Sunday was at another aunt's house, where I am fondly known as "Dora the Explorer." We spent the night up the street at a church member's house, and before we knew it, it was Monday morning. Aunt Cindy prepared a delicious breakfast (can't compete with biscuits and gravy!) for us to partake of prior to heading home.

As we left, we decided since we were apparently on a somewhat "Patriotic City" tour, it would only be fitting to stop in Washington DC and check out some memorials (and Starbucks) before heading the rest of the way home. Except that, per my normal DC-traffic-issues, it took forever to find parking. The day was warm, but the sites were, as always, worth the walk.

The road home was littered with traffic, cops, and not enough coffee places. But home we arrived in one piece, about 2 hours later than planned, but in one piece and with hundreds of pictures and even more memories made of our adventures.

So, here's to adventures both planned and unplanned, the randomness of crazy music (Crayola doesn't make a color for your eyes?), the spontaneity of no GPS, and the fun and memorable bonding moments with a great friend.  May the road rise up to meet you.

Greenville, SC