Happiness Highlights: Running from Irene

Monday, August 29th, 2011

This past week did not turn out at all as expected and included not one, but two natural disasters.

And yet it was a perfectly wonderful week. Go figure.

NYC Night Skyline from NolitanNYC Morning I started my week still in New York City, reviewing a new hotel in Manhattan called The Nolitan. I was looking forward to a day of exploring the city on my own and two nights sleeping in a queen-sized bed all by myself. I usually sleep wonderfully in a hotel.

I loved the hotel. The location was perfect for a wannabe urbanite and the view allowed me to watch the sun rise and set over an iconic skyline. That being said, I was surprised to find that I did not sleep so well in the big plush bed alone and wandering Manhattan by myself was less rewarding than walking around with my husband and kids. When the hell did that happen? It was relaxing to be able to set my own schedule and not have someone else’s mood or bathroom habits interfere, but I missed being able to share the experience. None the less, I was grateful for the time and space in my favorite city, particularly for the 30 minutes just before and after dark when I got to revel in an amazing view.

Speaking of amazing views…

Mystic CT 081 By Wednesday, we were in Mystic, Connecticut. This was meant to be a quick stop as we made our way towards Providence, Rhode Island and Boston, Massachusetts, where we planned to spend a couple weeks enjoying New England. Thanks to Hurricane Irene, Mystic became our only New England experience. We spent our day at the Mystic Aquarium and a local Native American museum.

I adore taking my kids to aquariums.

They both love animals so much and watching them together in these places has become one of my greatest joys.

I have to tell you, I read sentences like that and have to stifle a yawn and an eye roll. When did I become one of those women who delights in taking her kids to the aquarium? I feel like I’ve spent 11 years feeling guilty for not being “that kind” of mom, and in less than 3 months I’ve fallen head over heels in love with the job. It’s bizarre. But whatever, I was butt-wiggling happy at the aquarium.

And then, three months after leaving Florida, we got our very first hurricane evacuation notice.

We hemmed and hawed about whether or not to take our chances with friends in Rhode Island, but in the end decided we really didn’t want to deal with power outages, high winds, or massive amounts of rain. So we packed up and headed West. On one hand, it was freaky to realize how fragile our home is; our last home was made of concrete specifically to protect us from hurricanes. But with fragility comes agility; it took us less than 12 hours to change course and find ourselves just a few miles from one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes.

Niagara Falls at Dusk Niagara Falls is not a bad backup plan.

Prior to our arrival, I hadn’t been overly excited to see the falls. They were on our list because it seemed like they should be, but I’d never had any burning desire to visit. I had no idea what I was missing. We took the Maid of the Mist boat ride into the horseshoe falls and climbed the wooden paths of the Cave of the Winds, which gave us a chance to get soaked and really feel the power of the rushing water up close. And then, of course, we had the chance to just look for hours and hours, which we did.

Standing in front of this natural marvel stirs questions of all kinds. Where does the water come from? Where does it go? Why in the hell would anyone try to go over the falls in a barrel? What are the most important things in my life? Should I make Emma cut her bangs?

The questions come as fast and furious as the water.

But so does a calm, an awe and peace from knowing that the answers are few and many, simple and insignificant. We can spend time trying to figure it out, or we cannot, and the water keeps pounding on and over the edge. It’s like the ocean that way, another liquid safe haven for me. We matter and we don’t; we are larger than life and not. We are whatever and where ever the hell we want to be.

For that I am constantly grateful.

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  1. The best part about reading you since Blogher? i can now hear your voice and see that half smile as you ponder some of these things. What an experience y’all are having, and now getting stuck in those Mom Boots and all ;)

  2. Whew! I’d rather hear about you seeing the rushing waters of Niagara, than all the rushing waters CNN has been showing in the coastal areas and river basins! Safety first!

  3. Awesome photo of the Falls!

    I grew up there and am still in awe of how amazing it is. So how long are you staying in the Niagara area?

  4. Momma says:

    Best of all, this picture shows, on the other side, the horseshoe falls and the most wonderful place, our home, Canada! A pity you couldn’t have visited the vinyards and beauty of Niagara on the Lake.
    Happy you’re safe. It was shocking to see the rivers which were once brooks in Vermont! Heartbreaking.

  5. Headless Mom says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed Niagara Falls. It was one of my favorite things in the Northeast.

  6. Lisa says:

    Wow that photo is STUNNING! That’s on my list of things I want to see in my life. I’m glad you guys were safe from Irene!

    Pee Ess: you might want to start using an electronic copyright service like Digimark or the one Megan uses so no one snatches these amazing photos you’re capturing of famous places. It’s time, my friend.

  7. Megan says:

    Love that photo of the falls. That’s one place I need to get to sooner rather than later. We didn’t have enough time when we were in Toronto to get over there. I want to see it from both sides.

    Glad you got out of harm’s way and had an adventure!

  8. You didn’t call me! Sad panda.

    Glad you enjoyed it there. But, um. The Canadian side is better… just saying. ;)

  9. Stunning shot of NY skyline and love the one of Niagara Falls you are a good travel photographer

  10. naomi says:

    ooooh – glad you saw the waters! I took my kids there when my littlest little was just 4 weeks old for the 4th of July weekend. It rocked.

    Love that you are detouring … and finding happiness in those changes.

  11. the muskrat says:

    I like visiting the falls, but did you make it to the Alpha Chapter of wings, the Anchor Bar & Restaurant in Buffalo, NY on the way to Niagara? I hope so. Because that shit is good.

    The picture of the falls looks like a postcard.

    • Tracy says:

      OK, now you have started the wing debate! Anchor Bar vs. Duff’s. I’m a transplanted Orange County, CA girl, and picking a side is like picking a team. You stick with them for better or worse!

  12. Kelly says:

    Love that shot of Niagra Falls!

  13. damn, that photo of the falls is tremendous. absolutely incredible capture.
    just this weekend i realized that i have only spent time on the canadian side, never the ny side. bad, bad becky!
    love maid of the mist…so thankful you rode her.
    who the fuck is rolling their eyes at you appreciating your kids? only assholes. the rest of us are thrilled for you. and them.
    xoxo

  14. Sandi says:

    I see you are cruising Upstate NY. If you are in the area here is a GREAT RV park to stay at. Tell the boys Sandi & Cheryl from California sent you. You will love it!
    http://www.frostridge.com

  15. Robin says:

    I guess you won’t be stopping by MA, that sucks but I would love to see Niagra falls, cool!

  16. Nanna says:

    I love this post so much. :)

  17. MB says:

    Damn Irene! I hate that Bitch! I’m glad you got out of her way but I’m so sad I will not be able to show you around Boston. I’m so disappointed. ;(

    We drove home from Vermont to Boston late Sunday afternoon and luckily didn’t run into any problems although our neighbors in Vermont are dealing with massive destruction.

    Glad you and the family are safe. Happy Trails!

  18. {sigh}
    <3
    Glad y'all are safe and sound, and I love the reveling in the everyday xoxo

  19. Such a beautiful time! I loved taking my children to aquariums and history museums. Now they are grown and I have to find another excuse to go!
    I long to see Niagra Falls!
    Bernice
    Are you TOO busy to take care of YOU?

  20. Tracy says:

    You don’t know me, and I only know you through your blog. I wish I didn’t travel so much and could have spent some time showing you the Falls. I am 10 minutes away from the border, and yes, while the Canadian side is much prettier, the Falls are amazing no matter your vantage. Lovely photos, and they remind me to go back and see them again, soon. You tend to forget what’s in your own lovely backyard. Safe travels!

    • Miss Britt says:

      That’s so true. When we moved to Florida four years ago we said that we were going to make a point of taking advantage of all the awesome stuff near our home.

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