[[ Roadtrip Adventures ]] Part I: Buffalo Wedding

About six months ago, my mother-in-law casually mentioned a family wedding [on the husband’s side] she was attending in Buffalo, New York. It perked my interest. Granted I had never actually met the bride or groom, it was one of Steve’s [many] cousins. Different hometowns, military life, and spread out family hasn’t given us many opportunities to meet and visit family. But this one event would draw all his family to one place where we could see them all! Add in the fact that none of them had met Mitchell and I haven’t met many of them. The next thing out of my mouth was, “Are we invited?!” Classy, right? But a few days later our invite showed up in the mail and I was so excited for the opportunity to meet [and for Mitchell to meet] Steve’s side of the family!
We loaded up the Exploder. And when I say loaded up, we used that SUV to its full potential. We have an ambitious calendar of events for this trip, which includes, but is definitely not limited to – two visits to the Shank’s Pennsylvania mountain home, a trip to Brigid’s farm in New York [and a little stay there for Loki], a family wedding, Mitchell and I’s first ever trip to Niagra Falls, a Connecticut College Women’s Ice Hockey [COCOWOHO] reunion, a trip to the Erie County Fair, an eight hour road trip to Boston, a reunion with a Connecticut College Women’s Rowing [COCOWOROW] teammate in Boston, a night at Grandma Martin’s in New Hampshire, another trip to Martha’s Vineyard with Grandma and Grandpa, a visit from Mitchell’s girlfriend Maybree and new best bud Tanner on the Vineyard, the Martha’s Vineyard fair, lots of photoshoots, annnnd finally a road trip back to Florida – all in the company of a 13 month old, a growing baby belly, and my terror of a puppy. And any other events we decided to add along the way. Try packing for that trip. Whew. I figured, if we’re driving from the Gulf Coast to the Canadian border, we’re going to make the most of it. And I will say in this two and a half weeks, that’s definitely the plan. So here is Part I of our August adventure.

Can I pause and take a minute to thank soooo many people for their hospitality and open arms? We seriously could not have made this trip without you. There are so many friends and family we were able to visit that we haven’t seen in years, we’ve never even had the chance to meet, or we just don’t see enough, and I am so grateful for the opportunity!
A lot of the time when Mitchell and I travel, Loki gets to tag along. I even had somebody ask me the other day if we got rid of Zoe. I gasped, and replied, “NO!” But I can also see where the confusion is because she gets to stay at home with Steve while Loki travels the country. This dog has been to 21 states and he is nine months old. Zoe, aka the “good dog,” is fine to wander the house during Steve’s 12-13 hour day without any accidents or chewing mishaps, and is usually sleeping on our bed when he gets home. I don’t want to begin to imagine what the house would look like if we left Loki there. I know he’s a puppy and he’s getting much better, but he is no where near ready to stay home all day unsupervised. Thus, he gets to tag along on the road trips. Zoe has to stay and keep Steve company too, so he doesn’t miss us too much 😉 Although Loki is not a stay-at-home dog yet, he is an excellent road trip companion. And he was welcomed with open arms by everyone on our trip, which was soooo nice and soooo helpful – even getting an offer to stay with the big dogs on Brigid’s family farm in Buffalo for a few days during the family wedding!
Our leg from Florida to Buffalo… I didn’t really realize we were little driving from the South end to the North end of the United States when I planned this trip. Until I looked on a map for our hotel and realized Niagara Falls was literally across the street. The bridge to Canada was within walking distance. And half the businesses I googled in the area had Canadian addresses. We drove it in two days – much more manageable. Mitchell was a rockstar on the road trip and a huge shoutout to the Shank’s for letting us make a pitstop at their beautiful Pennsylvania mountainside home! We are so happy they’re joining us at Martha’s Vineyard in a few days, and fully intend on taking full advantage of them on our way home 😀

This iPad showed up in time for me to load it up with Disney cartoons and the Lego movie [Mitchell and Steve’s favorites, respectively]. Thank you CJ!!! Which made this road trip even smoother than our last. My fingers are crossed that little Julia is as good of a car rider as Mitchell. He was crammed in his little corner of the car but did not care in the least because he had all his essentials – blankie, pacifier, cartoons, goldfish, some comfy pajamas, and a sippy cup. He could have sat there content all day. Oh wait, he did 😉

Mitchell and I checked into our hotel for nights two and three of the trip. For the record, I am a Pack and Play pro. Which will come in handy when we need two of these things anytime we travel in a few months…. going to make things a little more interesting.

Just a little ride on the suitcases!

After we were settled in the hotel, being the Buffalo rookie I was, I requested a walk to see Niagara Falls. It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly being able to walk out our hotel room and across the street to be a tourist for a bit. Grandpa Martin actually grew up in Buffalo, so we had our own tour guide to show us around the whole time too!

Just a casual stroll with my blankie 😉

We found a little park for Mitchell to run around in before dinner! Soooo I took some pictures.

After our excursion to the falls, we headed out for a family dinner at the Anchor Bar, which is apparently the bar that originated the Buffalo Wing. We met so many members of Steve’s family who Mitchell and I have never met, so after being married for just shy of four years, it was about time!

Mitchell loooooved his cousin Jasmine, and after two hours of sitting nicely at the table while we were eating, they were happy to share a few minutes of cartoons on my phone!

The next day it was wedding time! Just a little selfie of Julia and I before we headed out 🙂 Side note – apparently I’m trying to start a trend of only showing up at weddings if I look like I’m smuggling a basketball under my dress. Don’t believe me? Here’s a little proof from a few recent weddings I’ve been to.My last four weddings I have been… Seven months pregnant (Bonomi’s). Eight months pregnant (Vincent’s). Four months pregnant (Parker’s). Five months pregnant. Here’s to hoping at the next one I won’t look like a whale. Unless of course someone decides to get married in the next few months because I am always up for a good wedding 😀

Mitchell and his cousin Sian! 

Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, and Uncles galore! 

Seeing Mrs. Stephen Martin never gets old 😀 

More time with cousin Jasmine ❤
After two long ceremonies and a dinner, these two were more than thrilled to run around and dance their energy out.

So. That’s the wedding news. We had a blast. But the Buffalo fun didn’t stop there! The other reason a Buffalo wedding perked my interest is that my good friend Brigid [more about our friendship HERE] lives in Buffalo! She drove all the way down to North Carolina to visit us while we were living there – twice! I hadn’t made it up there since college, and it was definitely our turn to do the visiting, so this wedding gave me the perfect excuse to visit!
Let me pause for a minute to brag about Brigid starting medical school this fall! She’s following in her father’s footsteps [at his alma mater!] on her journey to becoming a doctor! I’m so excited for her, especially since she’s been talking about this since we were wee college freshman. And Mitchell got to meet her parents!! They watched nearly every hockey game I played in our four years at Connecticut College, and literally are always smiling. I was so excited to bring Mitchell up there and reconnect after far too long! We got our own personal tour of the farm!!!

I was a liiiitle nervous about what Loki would think of the horses, but he didn’t really pause to think about them. I think he was so thrilled to have free roam of running around the farm.

And then, we got to go upstairs to see this view.

In college, Brigid and I played college hockey and shared an apartment with a few other teammates – a few of them pictured below. Spending that much time together kinda forces you to be friends – just kidding guys, I love ya! Update on Robin – she’s married to a Coast Guard man and living in Michigan. Which isn’t very close to Buffalo. But she traveled all the way to Buffalo to see Mitchell and I! I feel so blessed to have so many amazing friends – and it’s so fun to have them all over the country when you can link up like this and visit them! I hadn’t seen Robin since she teamed up with Brigid and threw me a mini-baby shower the day after Robin’s wedding [yes, she was thinking about my baby on her wedding weekend]. 
So what did we do? Decided to crash Brigid’s new apartment that she literally moved into a week ago the night before she  started med school. With three of her favorite people, one of her favorite little people [Mitchell], and a dog. You’re welcome Brigid! Just kidding – thank you 😀 It was just like old times! Anyone that knows Brigid for more than five minutes knows her love for the country and her hometown fair. And as luck would have it, the day Robin and I were there visiting was the very last day of the Erie County Fair! So there was really no questions as to what the plan for the day would be. And it was Mitchell’s first fair! He was pretty excited.

We saw a parade at the fair while we demolished some pizza and curly fries (this pregnant girl was looooving the fair food), and Brigid’s dad seemed to be pretty important, as he was a guest of honor in the parade!

To top off his personal golf cart, we got to use his designated RV to hang out and wait for the car derby to start! Brigid hung out with her brother and cousin up top, while we waited inside for the excitement to start. 

Yes, those are fire fighters, and yes we saw them put out a few fires in the short time we were watching. The men in the audience seemed a little more enthusiastic than the women. I guess crashing cars and setting fires doesn’t get old even for grown-up boys.

On Monday morning, we sent Brigid off to her first day of medical school before we hit the road. I felt like a Mom sending her kid of to the first day of kindergarten – I’m already dreading when it really happens! I resisted the temptation to pack her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and write her a note. The first leg of our giant circle of a road trip was over and we left for New England! See ya later New York! 😀

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