Thinking Back on Home

Sometimes all this traveling is nothing compared to those rare moments you have with people who stick with you for life. Sometimes the amazing facts you learn on a tour through a new historical wonder is washed-out against the everyday moments that remind you why you love those friends and those loved ones. My life seems to take me to many brand new places, that in itself are those moments that are once in a lifetime. And yet, I am sometimes humbled by the simplicity of living a “normal” life, far from the extraordinary moments I always seem to be searching for.

Being home was about seeing people, even for just a night. It didn’t matter where we were…..well actually all that mattered was that we were sharing moments over any kind of Latin food which I have been craving for nonstop. But anyways …. 🙂

What touched me the most, and shook me awake from this transient life that I live, was the moments shared with my family. It’s funny, sometimes being far apart forces us to cherish even more the rare moments we are together. This included a solo trip to Reno with my sister, a first for us, where we were almost “ambassadors” for our family at our cousin’s wedding. Or an embarrassing moment like carrying my sister on my back for two blocks to our house after her flip-flop fell apart. And most of all, relaxing at home with the family and sharing laughs over my introduction of the addictive “Modern Family” show.

Even a first trip to Niagara Falls, though I was in wonder at the force of such dangerous beauty, was nothing in itself. Instead, what is burned in my memory and completes the trip is watching my father relish in a dream-come-true moment and return to his youthful ways as he smiled non-stop at the falls and gave in to his inner-child that was dying to make paper airplanes and boats. Don’t ask, I just stayed back and captured the moments. Because this was what this trip was about. A reminder to step back and just breathe a moment in. Not necessarily the backdrop it is against, but the people itself and how they have captured your heart and continue to on an every day basis. 

Niagara Falls

The Experience

Some shots from my family trip to Niagara Falls. If you are in the area, that place is a must see. It was my dad’s dream come true, and I loved having the opportunity to have fun taking pictures at a leisure pace. My family is made up of a bunch of nerds, including myself. I love learning random facts and tidbits. I would be the dork going along an educational tour and truly enjoying it. 

Niagara Falls, NY

What struck me about Niagara Falls, NY was how different it was than Niagara Falls, Canada. They are the complete opposite. The NY side is a bit more “nature-y”, acting as an introduction to the magnificent Falls. Beyond the gardens though lies the declining city with its dilapidated buildings. It has the feel of a ghost town. Bloomberg Businessweek even wrote an article on the city’s decline. 

Our first view of the falls.

 Ya know that “larger than life” feeling you get sometimes? Where something just feels so infinite and majestic? That’s what the falls looked like the first time I laid eyes on them. 

Just wow.

 The roaring …. it is in the roaring. The water is rushing past you and the sound just lures you closer and closer. You want to be deafened by it’s power. I loved it. 

Just like a postcard.

Even though the day was grey, it was still amazing. My parents were a little trigger happy and wouldn’t stop to just watch the falls for a while until we asked them to stop. They just wanted to take non-stop pictures of us posing in front. Though this makes for great memories, I just want to remember the moment for a second, the pictures won’t capture all of  that.

A classic.

 You have to do the package deal. 5 attractions in total will give you a pretty good picture of what the Falls are all about. We were able to do all that in 2 days. 

The Facts

  • Niagara Falls is made up of 3 falls 
  • The first person to go over the Falls in a barrel and survive was a 63 year old female schoolteacher.
  • 600,000 US gallons of water fall per second on the longest fall within the Niagara Falls.
  • 1/5 of the worlds freshwater lies in the Great Lakes, and most flows over Niagara Falls.
  • Only 1 person has survived falling in Niagara Falls.  A 7-year-old boy in 1961, who went over the Horseshoe Falls

Randomness

Don’t try this at home
Ha, this cracks me up every time. You know the quirks of belonging to a family? Don’t deny it. We all have those random moments that make you either cringe (especially when you were a kid) or laugh because you realize only within the context of family could it ever exist. 
The beginning of our trip consisted of just that. My mother suddenly asks if we want cucumbers with lime and salt. (Again, it should be noted that I am hispanic….and thus this part is not actually weird). When I say yes, she suddenly starts taking out all these supplies from some random Mary Poppins bag she has by her foot and proceeds to act like she is back in our kitchen.
Yes…. she had our very own traditional wooden board thing (I don’t even know what the name is) and had begun to dice a cucumber and cut a lime and even had the freaken salt from our dining room table. Hahaha, only my mom. 

Korea in NYC: Social Eatz

The Place:

I headed to the infamous Social Eatz in Midtown East to try the famous “Bibimbap Burger”, which had been named as the Greatest Burger in America. As you recall, I had a goal to try it out and see how authentic it really was to Korean cuisine. Fusion places are always iffy – you can never tell what you are gonna get. Social Eatz was started by Angelo Sosa, a Top Chef contestant. You can read more about the opening here

The Food:

My friend Patty initially joined me in this food adventure and we started our night with a pitcher of white sangria. For $38 I was expecting more of a kick. It had sounded great, mango mixed in with Bacardi and white wine and surprisingly cloves and a cinnamon stick tossed in as well. But the expectation fell flat….it tasted too bland and innocent. I always feel like sangria is a feisty and festive sort of drink and this just really didn’t make my night. The Max Beer pitcher did add a bit of Korean nostalgia to the moment at least.

Patty ended up getting the Chili Kissed Tilapia Tacos. The fish is brushed with thai chili, sauteed and garnished with fresh green tomato salsa and avocado. Great light and tasty dish. 

This burger is the perfect fusion of Korean and America. It has that smoky soft flavor that I find distinctly in bibimbap, while maintaining the all-american beef which we let the chef decide just how to cook. Watch the video below to get the full review. 

End Thoughts

Adelaida and her husband Paul surprised me and joined us for dinner. I thank them for their patience as they didn’t realize what a blogger I am and the experience had to be recorded. The atmosphere was perfect for a summer in New York, the food came pretty fast, the waitress was pleasant and the company was great. I would go back and try the rest of the food in a heartbeat. 

The Video:

Moving Too Fast

Goin' back to the heatwave in America

I know, my writing has been lagging but it has really been a hectic time in my life. Can’t even begin to explain, but will do with the eventual posts that will update you on my life in Korea. For now though, I am back in America! Vacationing for the month of August and then I am back in Daegu.

But let’s backtrack. Here is the insane trip from Korea to America. It took me 6 grueling hours to the airport from my house. With a large suitcase, and a heavy backpack carrying my precious electronics, lets just say I was a hot mess by the time I got onto that customs checkpoint/body checkpoint. There was no gleam, it was pure gross sweat. I literally stank and felt bad for the girl who got stuck scanning me. It took me two seconds to get through. So if you ever want to get through the airport as fast as possible, be that sweaty and smelly passenger.

In Japan things began to look up, even after my 9 hour layover. Something went wrong on their part, and being nice as most countries in Asia are, I got bumped to Business class because they felt bad delaying me. Once you go business it is hard to go back. The luxuries! They give you a lil baggie filled with goodies – including Burt’s Bees products! Then you get those massive headphones that block out all sounds. And they feed you like 5 times over from this amazing menu in which you have amazing choices. And of course, the seat. State-of-the-art reclining chair that is complimented by the actual pillow provided with the complimentary comforter. Best flight EVER.

My seat for the next 14 hours

It hasn’t helped getting back into the rhythm of things with the massive jet lag I have experienced. I literally slept on and off every few hours for three days straight after I landed in NY. I don’t  know, but I really thought I could pull it off but it seemed that major jet lag was unavoidable. I thought I had it down when I got bumped to business class and finally slept without having to drug myself with Tylenol PM. It seems to be though that life never matches up with what you desire at the moment and you just have to be flexible and go with it. Time moves too fast to let it slip by, so I am just ready to relax and play and do everything in between.