Sunday, June 30, 2013

June Weddings

If you'll recall, we left Niagara Falls early on a Saturday morning because we had to rush to a wedding. This led to us changing at a rest stop and accessorizing while driving. 

This wedding was for friends of ours from church. I work with Evan, the groom, and actually we started attending Gateway and I got my job because of him... his sister is my good friend Rachel, from Spokane. Small world, right? We've loved getting to know this couple over the past year and are SO happy that they are married now.

We arrived on time, well... we didn't (we were like two minutes early), but we were not the last ones to arrive. But the ceremony began not-too-late and it was one of the happiest weddings that I have ever attended. The groom's smile as his bride came down the aisle? Priceless. Carson took pictures during the ceremony, of course.

You might remember this lovely lady from our time in Spokane - Rachel was the sister of the groom (still is, as a matter of fact)

This is Carson's wedding photography tradition. Don't you love the sock choice?

They did a foot washing, which I'd never witnessed, but it was so sweet.

Carson is sneaky... and it was HOT there. Since everything was outside, I got my first sunburn of the year. It faded into a tan after a couple of days, but my skin matched the color of that dress. In all the rush to get ready and arrive on time, sunscreen didn't enter my mind once. Everyone at this wedding was sunburnt though. It was the other wedding favor, I guess.

 Married! Mr. and Mrs. Storey at last!

See what I mean about happy?

Delicious appetizers, made by a friend of ours from church, were passed around. This is watermelon gazpacho.

We made sure to snag a picture with one of our favorite couples... bonus: they've just moved to the Midwest and are only five hours away!

The week after that, we attended a wedding for friends of ours from Spokane. The bride is from this general area, so they chose to get married in Ohio - yay! We attended church with them in Spokane, school with Bethany, and John was in my Theology class. I doubt I ever talked abou this, but Bethany actually was one of two girls to move into our apartment when we left last August. These two were happy and I think a little teary-eyed as they made their vows.

Carson bought this bow tie the morning of the wedding.

Paper and pencils were on each table, so Carson spent much of the reception drawing pictures. He's quite the illustrator.

I don't think I've ever been to a wedding where they smashed cake into each other's faces... and this was no exception.

A chocolate and espresso wedding cake? Sign me up.

The bench was built by the pastor who married John and Bethany and used as an illustration in the homily. Very cool.

These two were in the wedding party - that's two weddings in two weekends for that groomsman.

Some of Carson's illustrations. Very random, very Carson.

I just think this picture is funny... so random.

My wrinkled dress - I blame a car without air conditioning and a very hot day for that one. I was thankful, however, that this wedding was inside and that it was cool inside.

After both weddings, we went to Rachel's parents house and enjoyed the slip and slide on the property they live on. The house pictured here isn't theirs, but they live right across the pond and are allowed to use the water and that little beach. Great, right?

It was supposed to be a super moon that night but it was too cloudy.

Carson sat around and talked with friends from Spokane until about 1 in the morning. I watched a movie with Rachel and we thought about just spending the night since it was so late, but eventually made the trek home, sleepy-eyed.

That wrapped up two FULL weekends! I'm pretty sure that June contained all the weddings we'll attend this summer, and I have been amazed by the sheer number of people we know who have gotten married this month. Every weekend we knew at least two couples getting married. I didn't even think we had that many friends left!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Niagara Falls

Unintentionally, I forgot to blog about our trip to Niagara Falls!

Clearly, we found the passport. It was, of course, in the house. We were having guests the week after our intended trip so we decided to clean out the guest room and do some organizing. The hope was that we would find the passport, but our goal was also to get the guest room cleaned up. Well, I was reaching into a reusable grocery bag to pull things out of it and my hand touched what I knew was my passport. "Carson!" I said, wide eyed, as I pulled it out. "You know, I almost looked there a couple of times" he said. It was such a ridiculous spot: in a reusable bag with an extension cord and random things to eventually sell at a garage sale.

But our trip was rescheduled, so we set out on Thursday, the 13th. I worked that morning but we made good time on the road and arrived at the border at around 3pm. My hands were sweating a little bit when we handed the passports over, simply because I was afraid that when we called, they'd changed my passport to "lost", which invalidates it. We passed, obviously (and by the way - anyone know how to fix a car ceiling that sags like that?)

I asked Carson to look excited about being in Canada. Apparently, he was.

We pulled in next to our hotel and met this sight. All of that steamy looking stuff is mist from the falls.

Once checked in, we headed to our room and THIS was our view! Woah, color us impressed. I loved the rainbows that formed in the mist.

We explored a little bit, trying to get down to the falls. We saw black squirrels for the first time so I took a picture.

And this is the Skylon Tower, where you can observe the falls and all around the area. We didn't go up it but it looked fun and reminded us of the Space Needle.

This is the American side - American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. And I'm proud of this picture. It's unedited.

This is Horseshoe Falls, the largest of the three (confession: I thought that there was just one waterfall).

Tiny people on the American side of the falls. All times of the day there were people on both sides of the falls taking it in and snapping pictures. Also note the vast amount of seagulls in the bottom left of this picture.

That viewing platform on the bottom is where you go if you do the "Journey Behind the Falls" tour. I think there's more to it, but you clearly get super wet.

Carson kept wishing that they'd pass out barrels for people to take a trip down the falls. I am glad that they didn't because it's pretty but treacherous.

We stayed in the Marriott to the left of that funny looking tower.

Our hotel gave us bus passes, so we parked the car in a nearby parking garage for the weekend (cost us $5 total instead of the insane $30/night our hotel charged) and we hopped on the bus or walked. Do this bus thing if you visit Niagara Falls... stops anywhere you'd like to go and you don't have to find parking.

So we were on the Blue Line bus as we were supposed to be, but there was a TV screen telling about different attractions along each bus line. It focused on the Green Line and I didn't realize that it was advertising and not saying what was next on the route, so we pulled the lever to get off, realized as we stepped off that we were on the right bus all along, and were too embarrassed to stop the bus and get on again. So we walked 45 minutes back to our hotel.

It worked out alright, because we saw Clifton Hill which was totally wonderfully touristy. Streets like this are so fun, don't you think?

We got ice cream (of course) and browsed stores. We collect Christmas ornaments, so I was on the hunt for a perfect one.

Carson really, really liked the idea of the dinosaur miniature golf, but it wasn't in our plans (i.e.: budget) so we just got this picture.

And then I wanted to take a mirror picture in the elevator at the hotel, so this happened.

Included in our stay was the breakfast buffet and it was amazing. Pastries, fruit, meats, cheeses, even a chef to make omelettes however you'd like. We wouldn't have done this if it wasn't included in the package we bought because it cost $50 for two people. Whew.

One of Carson's many plates of food.

He asked for ketchup and this is how it came: so fancy.

His breakfast dessert plate.

Carson enjoyed a cup of coffee in front of the view in our room and then we headed out. It was a foggy morning.

Influenced by everyone who's told us what to do in Niagara Falls, we bought tickets for Maid of the Mist (and by the way, it isn't cheap and it's hard to find discounts). We were given blue ponchos and I couldn't help but laugh at the sight of so many people wearing exactly the same thing. It was a rather strange sight.
And a word of warning: people say "oh, you should do it!" but they do not say "You will get absolutely drenched!" If possible, wear shoes that dry out quickly. I wore tennis shoes and we had to go back to change.

We felt some mist at the base of the American Falls but nothing compared to what we were gong to feel.

I don't know what tour this is, but I know these people are WET.

Things were balmy and nice at this point. And then...

It was WET. I know that we weren't on a voyage out to sea, but I feel like it might have been similar. There was chaos and more water than I've ever seen. I took this through the poncho.

All was well in the end though. My camera's lens couldn't help but get a few water drops.

Wet camera picture.

A French man took this for us and then proceeded to tell us all about his travels and the times he'd been to the Falls. We talked until we reached the elevators taking us back to where we'd begun.

Don't they look strange wearing the same thing? I promise, you'd giggle about it too.

We found a Christmas ornament that suited us, then boarded the bus that took us back to our hotel. My soggy shoes necessitated that. Since we were already wet, we decided to visit the pool. There were people in the pool, so we went for the hot tub instead, since that was empty. The hotel had a steam room and sauna too, so we checked those out but it was all a little too much.

We decided to do more exploring after dinner, so we enjoyed the cable at the hotel before having an early dinner back at the hotel restaurant where, you guessed it, we had a voucher. We enjoyed a delicious dinner (we had a crabcake entree -and yes my seafood hater liked it - then I had a lobster pasta dish and Carson enjoyed a steak) and then our waiter brought out a dessert for us in celebration of our anniversary (no pictures of the dinner because I didn't bring the camera, but I made Carson run up to our room for it when the dessert came).

We decided to do the SkyWheel since it was cheaper than the tower thing and probably more fun. It was next to the mini golf that Carson loved so much. The volcano really lets out a puff of fire (I'd just missed it in this picture; you can see smoke)

Nicest Ferris wheel ever - there's air conditioning, a little background music, and you go around three times, pausing at the top. For some reason, we went around six times, and we were okay with that.

The mist from the falls made my hair extra big...

We'd heard about Tim Horton's (it's a coffee shop) so we tried it. All this for less than $3, which we thought was great, especially since nothing in Niagara Falls (even McDonalds) is cheap.

We walked along the strip, browsing and laughing at the fun tourist things.

This casino was on our walk home and was really pretty inside (our parking garage was next to it so we accidentally walked through).

On Fridays, Sundays and holidays, there are fireworks.

And every night, they light up the falls until midnight.

We woke up early the next morning, got ready, packed the car and ate quickly because we were headed to a wedding in Cleveland that afternoon. We would have loved that extra day to explore some more, but I guess that's why you shouldn't lose your passport... your time to go is limited.

We passed these buffalo in Buffalo, which, Carson remarked, "Looks like the ghetto".

We stopped at Steak and Shake for lunch, and we were ahead of schedule so we thought we could sit there and chat, but apparently not, because we got into the car and had to really step on the gas.

So we changed at the Ohio welcome center, which felt funny, since everyone else was wearing sweatpants and we were dressed up. Carson tied his bow tie as we drove.

But we made it on time! More on that later...
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