The building itself is 32 stories, and the observation deck is on the 27th floor. Before the HSBC tower was built, City Hall was the tallest building in Buffalo. I do not deny my fear of heights, but with the large Plexiglas enclosure, I had a bit more confidence than I would otherwise. Mid-day is the best time to go on the observation deck, to see the bustling people below. It's also closed after business hours, but it is open on the weekends.
On our way to Goat Island, a little island in the Niagara River connected by bridge to the Niagara Falls State Park (US), my friend Nicholas told me that he had a special secret place to take me. At his insistence, I will not disclose the actual location of this spot. However, somewhere on Goat Island we were able to make our way to the Niagara River, just FEET away from the drop of the falls where it is eerily calm. I sat on a large rock, just off the shore and was able to dip my feet in to the water that would soon fall 165 feet! I searched for pretty shells and had a nice, relaxing chat with Nicholas.
We continued on to Luna Island, connected to Goat Island by bridge and the views were fantastic. Luna Island separates Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls, so you have water falls on either side of you. I believe Bridal Veil Falls is where the Cave of the Winds tour takes place. For that, people travel behind the falls and can see the marvelous curtain of water rushing in front of them!
Nicholas and I had such a great time, and it was lovely to see a different view of the falls, since I've been there so many times. A lot of people bash the view that the American side has, preferring the Canadian side, but I rather enjoyed the view from Luna Island. It was such an awesome vantage point.
Movieland 8 hosts $2 movies on Wednesday and Friday, and discounted movies on the regular. It's a second-run theater and I love it. I don't often see movies right as they come out, and honestly, they are just so damn expensive! There were a few movies I wanted to see, but Nicholas and I decided on Malificent.
Malifcient is the un-told story of Sleeping Beauty, and without spoiling anything, I really like how recent Disney movies have focused less on happy endings involving finding true heterosexual love, and more on relationships with family and friends, and making the right decisions. All in all, it was well-made and held my attention. Would I pay $10 to see it? No.
One of my absolute favorite hobbies is thrift store shopping. I don't have a lot of expendable cash, and I feel like consumerism is a bit out of hand. I don't see why people wouldn't buy a complete set of dishes at a thrift store that are a fraction of the cost of those at Target or Walmart, or even more expensive places like Macy's and Bed Bath and Beyond.
There are certain aesthetics that I just adore, like mid-century modern, and art deco. Whenever possible, I buy vintage. I love the craftsmanship, the details, and hunting for great pieces is a wonderful game. Now that I have a record player, I'm hoping to find some good music.
I ended up with a small mid-century alarm clock for my bedroom and a pair of open-toe sandals that have a slight grandma vibe. Unfortunately, on the first wear the shoes lost their soles on the heel, so I have to take them to a repair shop. I know a good one on Hertel Avenue.
We went to a more high-end vintage shop with a lot of special pieces in Kenmore, called Josie's Antiques, and a new discount thrift store called Savers on Sheridan Drive. We had loads of fun at each of them, though since Nicholas, Sophia, and I are all on budgets, we only purchased from Savers. I don't always buy when I go thrifting; somethings I just like to look and gain inspiration. I was surprised with how organized and clean Savers was.
I also stopped at a friend of a friend's lawn sale and picked up a collection of books with short stories by different authors, divided by country. I finally found a pair of vintage salt and pepper shakers that I adored: small metal apple and pear replicas. And, I brought yet another typewriter home. This is a white one from Sears. I couldn't resist.
I think it's safe to stay that I love going on tours. I love learning about the history of objects and places, the story that made today what it is. So, Nicholas and I went a tour of Larkinville, the Hydraulics and the Valley put on by Open Air Auto-bus. The tour guide is an urban planner for the City of Buffalo and it was clear that he is really into restoration and preservation. It was so cool to learn about the major industries in Buffalo and how drastically it has changed. The steel, grain, and airplane industry were such a large part of Buffalo in the early twentieth century. I plan on going on more tours in the future. The Whirlwind Tour focuses more on architecture and is a little longer, so I think that will be my next one.
Burchfield Penny Art Gallery opened its Elmwood Avenue incarnation in 2008 and I have been meaning to visit ever since it opened. Located on Buffalo State College's campus, it hosts a large collection of works by Charles E. Burchfield, as well as many western New York artists. It is really great to see local artists being appreciated for their innovations. I know so many talented artists who live or have lived in Buffalo, and I feel very fortunate to be inspired by them.
Bike enthusiasts in Buffalo ride the Erie Canalway Trail from Tonawanda to downtown Buffalo and Canalside. Riders can take a detour over the Peace Bridge to Canada's Niagara River Trail. My friend, Derek and I began in the West Side and made our way to Niagara Street, passing through LaSalle Park, Riverside Park, and ending at Canalside. The trail is along the river, and is just beautiful. There is a pedestrian bridge that extends above the highway 190 and offers great views of the river and the Peace Bridge. We did a late day ride, so it was not too hot and we could really appreciate the setting sun.
On the way back, we took a detour to view the Fontana Boathouse. Designed in 1905 by Frank Lloyd Wright, it was not actually built until 2007. It was the only boathouse that Wright ever designed, and it is completely functional, housing row boats. There was an event taking place, so we were not able to tour the facilities, but the exterior is beautiful and clearly a FLW design, bringing the outside in, roof extending horizontally, prairie style at its finest.
I worried about "wasting" my vacation on Buffalo. I worked so hard, so many hours, to accrue time off. It was hard to not be stingy with it. But I reminded myself that it is important to not be so precious with what you have, and to appreciate what you have in your backyard. I am lucky to be where I am, and to have the resources I have at hand. I ended this vacation feeling so inspired by all of the beauty around me, like Lester Burnham says in his final scene in American Beauty,
"But, it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life."