Tagged with "travel"
26 Jul
2017
Posted in: travel
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Take a Trip: Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls rainbow

We didn’t fully prepare our children for what we’d find at Niagara Falls in New York. We read books about the history of the falls, from its discovery to crazy stunts performed there. I didn’t make it clear that Niagara Falls is a money-sucking tourist trap. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful and a wonder to view. However, it’s also overrun with people, casinos, restaurants and kitschy tourist-driven businesses.

Niagara Falls

When we began planning our epic road trip, we went back and forth on whether or not to travel as far north as Niagara Falls. Once we decided to do it, we went back and forth on whether or not to purchase passports and go to the Canadian side of the falls. Ultimately, we opted to just visit the United States side of Niagara Falls and felt that was more than adequate.

Niagara Falls sidewalk with pople

Our vision of what the falls looked like was all wrong. We all envisioned the falls flowing from the opposite direction and not quite as wide as we envisioned. As you’re driving from Buffalo, New York to Niagara Falls, you can see the mist from the falls from miles away. That was a good sign we were in for a powerful showing from Mother Nature.

mist at Niagara Falls

We arrived late in the afternoon and the parking lot was full at Niagara Falls State Park, forcing us to park a few blocks away in town. It was a short walk to the park, but the amount of people was similar to a busy day at Yellowstone National Park. Visitors were a little on the rude side, and staff didn’t seem overly interested in helping direct traffic or answer questions. Thankfully, we do quite a bit of research leading into vacations. I was prepared for the tourist-trap vibe, but had not prepared the kids. They were a little shocked by the amount of people traffic. They had linked waterfall with nature and had it mentally situated in a more rural setting. I can only imagine how amazing viewing Niagara Falls would have been before the cities, people and power plant.

Niagara Falls overlook with children

Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest in the U.S., dating back to 1885. Every second, 75,750 gallons of water pour over the American and Bridal Veil Falls. The more famous Horseshoe Falls sees 681,750 gallons every second. It’s a lot of water and intensely powerful to experience from the mist forming a continuous shroud over the falls to the sound of the water crashing over the edge. I cannot fathom the idea of going over the falls in a barrel. People have done it and survived, which is crazy. The Niagara River is fed by four of the Great Lakes which then feeds into Lake Ontario. The Great Lakes are something to behold and worth visiting. Each are uniquely different.

family selfie on Maid of the Mist

We purchased Maid of the Mist boat tour tickets before leaving on vacation. I highly recommend doing that if you visit. It saved us from a long ticket-purchasing line. The line for access to the Maid of the Mist was continually moving, and we had no wait. There’s a large viewing platform before taking an elevator down to the water to receive your poncho and board the boat.

tourists on Maid of the Mist

The vibe on the boat is electric. There are a lot of people, but we felt like we had plenty of personal space. Everyone is so excited to get close to the water. As the boat moves closer to the falls, the noise increases and at one point, the spray makes it difficult to see. We were treated to wonderful rainbows and a five-senses onslaught. It truly was fantastic.

overlook of Maid of the Mist

There is no shortage of tourist activities to pay for including Cave of the Winds, an aquarium, a Discovery Center and theatre. We didn’t do anything more than Maid of the Mist. No one seemed to want to brave more crowds than necessary. I’m glad we decided to add Niagara Falls to our vacation. It truly was a unique experience worth the effort to view.


 
Cuyahoga Valley: An Urban Park
By     |    Jul 20, 2017
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Cuyahoga Valley: An Urban Park

I had predisposed ideas about Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. I knew it was large with an extensive trail system, waterfalls and a covered bridge. What we found was the most urban national park we’ve visited. The park, our first major stop on our epic road trip, is not far from both Akron and Cleveland. It’s a refuge for animals and people alike in the bustling urban sprawl. We visited on a weekend, and the park was busy. The... [Read More]

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East Coast Road Trip Debriefing
By     |    Jul 18, 2017
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East Coast Road Trip Debriefing

5,905 miles. Three weeks. 21 states. I can guess what people will say each time I recite theses details about our most recent epic road trip. People think we’re “amazing” to take our children on an adventure of that caliber, but cannot fathom doing anything similar. We’ve been called crazy. People think there’s some trick for getting our children to travel for weeks and swear their families would not survive the journey. This was the second time we’ve been on... [Read More]

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Fighting Through Travel Anxiety
By     |    Jun 16, 2017
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Fighting Through Travel Anxiety

I’m at the point in vacation planning where I think it’s best to cancel our plans. This happens every time we travel, whether we’ll be gone for five days or three weeks. I’m overwhelmed by the planning process and dreading the packing. My anxiety has me worrying about everything from flat tires to lost hotel reservations to vomiting children to terrorists and everything in between. I can’t even think about the crowds of people and lines we’ll encounter. We’ll stay... [Read More]

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Five Favorite Family Vacation Destinations
By     |    May 25, 2017
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Five Favorite Family Vacation Destinations

My list of places to vacation is extensive while the allotted vacation days are finite. I like picking the brains of fellow travelers for tips on destinations we have planned and will talk your ear off if you venture to ask for ideas of places to visit. This is the time of year I’m asked quite often for vacation ideas. Most of my suggestions are for outdoor lovers and those who don’t have a fortune to spend on vacation. We’ve... [Read More]

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Big Push to Finish School Year
By     |    May 4, 2017
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Big Push to Finish School Year

The month of May is one of my favorite and least favorite months. Summer is right around the corner and the weather is improving. There are 22 days of school remaining and 50 days until we enjoy another much-anticipated epic vacation. But May is also the month when everyone has everything on every day…all month long. It’s inevitable with four children that our evenings will be full of recitals, concerts, track meets and practices. It’s never one thing at a... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Badlands National Park
By     |    Apr 3, 2017
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Take a Trip: Badlands National Park

We visited Badlands National Park for the fourth time this weekend. After several friends mentioned not knowing about the park, which is four hours from our home, I thought it needed some love. Our first three visits to the park were in the summer months when it’s crowded and hot. A spring visit was much more to our liking. There were no crowds. We didn’t have to circle around for a parking spot at the visitor center or any trailhead.... [Read More]

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Joy in a Staycation
By     |    Mar 27, 2017
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Joy in a Staycation

My preference is to leave town whenever possible. I like to explore and discover new places. We’re on a staycation this spring break, and I was dreading it. I longed to spend our five school-free weekdays somewhere other than here. We’re stockpiling vacation days for an upcoming summer road trip, so home is where we are for the week. Technically we have small getaways planned for the weekends buffering spring break week and a small excursion mid-week. We’re only partially on... [Read More]

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40
By     |    Feb 20, 2017
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40

Forty years…that seems like a lot of life and yet not much at all. I won’t shed tears over this milestone. I’ve been celebrating this birthday since last month when we visited California. We spent my birthday weekend snowshoeing in Grand Teton National Park. I said goodbye to my 30s and hello to this new decade with multiple adventures. Growing older has taught me to make experiences happen, and I’m abundantly grateful to have another year of living written in... [Read More]

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Different Side of Las Vegas: Valley of Fire State Park
By     |    Feb 12, 2017
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Different Side of Las Vegas: Valley of Fire State Park

Quite a few people in our circle of friends will be spending Spring Break in Las Vegas. I’ve replied to a few inquiries about family-friendly ideas in Vegas on the cheap and outdoor activities that don’t include sitting poolside. We’ve been through Las Vegas numerous times one our way to and from other adventures like Disneyland, Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park. My go-to suggestion for people staying in Vegas who want an outdoor adventure is Valley... [Read More]

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Reasons to Tour Warner Bros. Studio Hollywood
By     |    Feb 1, 2017
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Reasons to Tour Warner Bros. Studio Hollywood

I’ve always been drawn to the magic of movies. My parents owned a video rental store when I was growing up, back when VCRs were just hitting the market and movie night meant watching a video tape. When we decided to spend a day around Hollywood during a recent California vacation, I knew a movie studio tour should be on the agenda. We chose to tour Warner Bros. Studio based on a Harry Potter exhibit, a Batman vehicle exhibit and... [Read More]

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Tips for a runDisney 5K
By     |    Jan 18, 2017
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Tips for a runDisney 5K

Our latest adventure began with me despising winter and ended in a galaxy far, far away at a runDisney event at Disneyland. Living in the middle of Wyoming means roads leading out of the state can be closed for heaven knows how long throughout winter. Weather forced us to drive to California through New Mexico and Arizona. It was ridiculous. I am blessed with fantastic traveling companions. I don’t ever want to do that again, but it was completely worth... [Read More]

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