Sunday, July 8, 2012

What Happens at Chateau Motor Lodge...

There's nothing like getting away from it all, and for this California girl, a trip back east to New York and Pennsylvania was just what I needed. For years, almost all of my trips have been to cities that are packed with sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and artwork that I need to experience and James and I end up returning home more exhausted than when we left. So when my dad started putting together a family reunion in upstate New York, I was totally on board. Just think - nothing to do but relax and spend time with family that I haven't seen in about 10 years or more? Yes, please!

We flew out on a Friday morning. Early. Like 6am. Which means we were dropped off at the airport at 4am. And the check-in desks weren't open yet.

Grand Canyon

Beautiful Chicago, where the sun is shi-- oh, wait.
We made a connection in Chicago. Because the weather was so bad, many flights were delayed, and the descent was turbulent. Very turbulent. Someone (not me) threw up, and when you're a nervous flyer who feels sick during each and every descent, you don't want to hear someone throw up, because then all you can think is "someone just threw up" and then all you want to do is throw up. It's like if I tell you "Don't think about a pink elephant." What are you thinking about now? Exactly.

Buffalo to Grand Island
When we landed in Buffalo, the sun was shining and it was hot. All we had to do then was get ourselves onto Grand Island and check into the Chateau Motor Lodge. Which boasts color tv by RCA. Apparently.

All New!
The plan was simple. Relatives from Florida, New Jersey, and California would all converge on my uncle who lives on Grand Island, where we would have plenty of time to catch up over a casual dinner. The next day, all 15 of us would go into Canada to see Niagra Falls and spend part of the day at Niagra on the Lake. Then the weekend would end with a family BBQ in my uncle's backyard.
Niagra Falls, Canadian side. See that tiny boat? That's how close I got to the falls.

Niagra Falls, American side

Welcome to Canada

Lunch at Niagra on the Lake

James was given a really bizarre onion ring. I made him pose for a picture, because come on - how can you not?
On the bridge waiting to re-enter the US
 Canada was great. We all managed to cross the boarder in 3 cars and not get separated, and we all went on the Maid of the Mist right up to the base of the falls. James found a Mountie and had his picture taken with her. He learned several "Mountie Factoids," like the mounties were originally set up to help protect the North American whiskey trade (Disclaimer: This may or may not be correct). We also had lunch in Niagra on the Lake, which was a miracle because it was the day before Canada Day and the entire population of Canada was in Niagra on the Lake to celebrate. (I may or may not have slightly exaggerated that statement.) Basically, Niagra on the Lake felt like the love child of American and England, which was rather surreal.

Nighttime on Grand Island
James and I had drinks with my cousins to celebrate our return to the US. There are no pictures of that, because what happens at Chateau Motor Lodge stays at Chateau Motor Lodge.

American runs on crappy coffee, apparently.
 After a "reviving" cup of coffee and a bagel and some doughnuts, we all headed over to my uncle's house for our family BBQ on our final day in Grand Island. I turned into a bossy photographer and took probably too many family pictures, some posed, some candid. I think I got on people's nerves after awhile. You know what? Too bad.

The Killer Toad of Death
 The Killer Toad of Death made a guest appearance. Sadly, he did not feast upon brats, steak, burgers, and strawberry shortcake like the rest of us did.

Strawberry Shortcake with POUND CAKE
 Once it got too dark to see anything but the occasional firefly, we helped take in all of the chairs and tables, we put the food away and sadly made our way back to the motel.  It was a fun weekend with lots of jokes and laughter. For James, it was the first time he'd met most of my relatives since we're so scattered around the country. After several rounds of goodbyes, it was time to head out to our next destination: my grandmother's house in Pennsylvania.

Heading East
 Have you ever had a family reunion? What did you do? Do you plan everything or just let people do things spontaneously?

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