Tuesday, August 1, 2017

"Mini" Cross Country Road Trip: Review/Travel Guide

Massachusetts - Colorado - South Carolina

*Warning* Prepare yourself for a long post!! 
As I said in my previous post, I am moving below the Mason Dixon line again this summer. However, I had a whole month of nothing that I needed to fill. A close friend of mine just moved out to Colorado, and I have always wanted to visit there myself. So what better way to fill up a month than with a road trip?! So on July 7th one of my giant brothers and I headed out to our first stop: Philadelphia, PA. 

Accommodations: If I wasn't staying on a friend's couch then I was staying in a Holiday Inn Express via IHG Rewards Club. We have always stayed at a hotel on the list of IHG hotels growing up, so it was almost natural to go to that for this road trip. It was the easiest way to find a hotel for the night when on the road. 

Good Eats: We mostly ate food on a typical road trip, which is chain fast food (insert cringe face). Because when you are driving in the western states that is pretty much all you can find until you reach your destination. Although, my favorite restaurant that we ate at was in Loveland, CO. It was a BBQ place called Nordy's. They had such a yummy menu that had so many options on it for great prices. So if you are in that area I would definitely recommend them for a good meal.

Road to Colorado: I had certain destinations that I have always wanted to see and I knew this was the trip to see them on. 

So our first stop was Philadelphia, PA. We wanted to see the typical tourist spot of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Which, pro-tip: If you don't want to wait in the long line to see the Liberty Bell walk around the building and you can see it through the glass. Pittsburgh, PA was the next destination. I'm not going to lie, the only reason why I wanted to stop in this city was because I have always wanted to visit No. 14 Boutique. I have followed her Instagram and Snapchat for the longest time and I have fallen in love with the way she merchandises her store. 

Next stop was Chicago, IL! Since I lived an hour away from Boston and four hours away from NYC I visited those two big U.S. cities. So I figured I needed to knock this big city off my list as well. We had family friends who lived in the city, so we were able to stay with them and also have a local's way around the city.

The next two days were pretty hefty with travel. We left Chicago to head to South Dakota. Our initial route was straight to Mount Rushmore, but we were told to stop by Badlands National Park since we were driving by it. Boy was that one of the best decisions we made on our trip. It was so beautiful there! My brother and I were kind of in awe driving through the land. 

Our final stop before we hit Colorado was Mount Rushmore. Y'all, one of the reasons why I didn't get as many pictures as I was hoping on this trip was because the scenery took my breath away. It was to the point that my phone and camera were forgotten on the floor of the car. My brother and I just kept saying how beautiful it was around the mountains. We were lucky enough to arrive at our hotel in time to grab some dinner then hit the monument at the golden hour. Which, that is the best time to go because everyone left to go eat dinner and then they head back in around 7:30/8 because of the show they do at night. The following day we headed back to the monument but decided to pass it and find a trail to hike. We found Custer State Park. It is practically by Mount Rushmore, and it was truly the best part of our trip. We went off road a little and climbed a big rock to a view of a few of the mountains with Mount Rushmore in the middle. Since it was off road we were all alone and it was pretty magical to see that view without anyone else around. All along the road in the park you could get a glimpse of the monument. So if you have a car and time I would highly, highly recommend heading to this state park. 

The same day we were touring the state park we headed to Colorado. Along that route we almost had the typical road trip horror. The scare of running low on fuel, no reception for miles, and many miles until the next town. It was a little nerve racking for us, okay it was a little nerve racking for me, my brother was cool with it because we had a little ways until we actually hit empty. That is one thing I learned along this trip though, which is that I need to take a chill pill sometimes haha! Like seriously, there was no need to worry about half the stuff that I did. Anyway, we arrived in Colorado and had a few fabulous days of visiting with a friend. 

Colorado was spent relaxing. We went from sea level to 11,000 feet above sea level, so I guess you could say that the mountains really did take our breath away! We spent about 4 days in CO, but I had a little bit of a rush to get home due to the school I was transferring to. So, we didn't get to travel anymore on our way to South Carolina like I had hoped. But overall it was the perfect summer road trip, and I think it's safe to say that my 6'5" brother is all set on getting into my little car again haha!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Ontario, Canada: Niagara Falls + Life Update




Hello all! How are you? Been a while, eh? Over the weekend I ventured on a road trip to Canada. Being in the North East of the US it is quite easy to cross the Canadian border. Since my family and I moved up to Massachusetts we have talked about making a trip to see Niagara Falls. Hearing that the view was better on the Canadian side, my family all had our passports ready to go. Which btw, if you cross the border you don't get a stamp in your passport. Could've just been me who didn't know that but I was quite upset that I didn't get my Canada stamp (; Anyway, we didn't plan much to do because that's just how my family and I have learned to roll when it comes to traveling. We spent two days and one night in Canada. The first day we arrived we wanted to relax a little while before we planned anything. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on a hill that lead down to the falls. That hill kicked my butt when it came to the exercise but it was such a pretty walk from the hotel to the falls. My mom and I both agreed that the area the hotel was around had a Vegas feel to it. 

The first day, after resting up, we headed to see what activities we should try. We ended up doing the Journey Behind the Falls, and the Skylon Tower. Which I recommend doing both of these towards the evening. Behind the Falls didn't have many people towards the evening, so it was more pleasant. Canada does a firework show at 10:00pm right by the falls, which happen to be brightly colored from 8:45pm-2am. I heard that the restaurant in the tower is pretty good, but we just didn't make it in time to experience it. 

One thing that surprised me about Canada was that places didn't open until way later than you expect. My family was up and ready at 9am and barely anything was open. The Starbucks didn't open until 10:30am and we didn't have to check out of the hotel until 2pm. That being said half of my family biked by the falls while my brother and I walked around them. Again, it was quite pleasant due to not many people being around at the time. 

There were many activities that you could do, but we decided that the White Water Walk would be a neat attraction, and it did not disappoint. You are right beside the most dangerous rapids and if you go to the lower part of the walk the water will come over the sidewalk, which is pretty cool for kids. 

The last stop we wanted to make was St. Catharines, Canada. Of course I made this a stop because it has the spelling of my name, which is constantly questioned by acquaintances. Yes, yes it is indeed a different spelling of the name, but it does in fact sound the same as any other spelling. We stopped for lunch at a place called The WORKS, which had some pretty darn good burgers and milkshakes. For those of you curious, it is a local chain (if that makes any sense) to Toronto. After that yummy adventure we headed back home to Massachusetts. 

Overall it was a fun, easy adventure out of the U.S. that I was happy we were able to make before I leave the North East. Which leads me to this life update.....

I'm moving!! No not my whole family this time, just me. It is quite a confusing matter if I get into all the details, but I am moving back to South Carolina in hopes to continue my education at the community college as well as a University. As I write this now I am currently surrounded by boxes. The plan is to move myself and all my stuff to South Carolina by the end of this summer. Things have been crazy and I am in that pre-move mood. If you have moved you know that feeling, all the emotions are everywhere. Massachusetts will always have a link to me, and I hope to visit it again, Lord willing that my parents stay up here. A sentimental letter will probably be written sometime soon; because like I said the emotions are running around. 

I know this is kind of a whirlwind of a post, but bare with me. Lots more travel posts are in the future, and if anyone is interested in the moving process let me know and I can do a few posts or even venture into the Vlogging world. Thanks for reading! xo