Niagra Falls

Chasing Waterfalls At Niagara Falls Is Truly A Dream

As I step onto the ferry, they hand me a poncho; I didn't think the mist would be bad.

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The smell is so calming, like nothing I've smelled before. I can feel the mist hitting my face. My smile has reached from ear to ear. I know that I am experiencing something that many dreams of.

On the ride down there, I see so many little shops. I get out and walk the streets, being greeted by all these people; they must have known I was a tourist. Once I reach the city, it's so overwhelming: the tall buildings, hotels, restaurants, and Farris wheels. As I drive around the corner there are people everywhere, some walking in the streets, people on the buses being shuttled, and people riding bikes. We park and begin our walk; as soon as I reach the railing, I see Niagara Falls; my breath is taken away. It's everything I thought it would be and more.

Everyone around me is trying to stop and take pictures, but I'm frozen at the moment. The beauty has stopped me in my tracks. The water is falling off the rocks so effortlessly. It's like a painting in an exhibit, but I am getting the chance to feel the mist hit my face and see the rainbow right in front of my eyes.

As I step onto the ferry, they hand me a poncho; I didn't think the mist would be bad. The ferry takes off, and just knowing that I'm drifting on the water from the Falls is mind-blowing. We go close to the US side and it's so pretty; it's calming. Then we ride over to the horseshoe, this is on Canada's side; it's way more gorgeous up close. The water begins to hit my face I smile. The water starts hitting even harder, and I'm fighting to keep my eyes open. I have to make sure I'm capturing all this beauty.

One ferry ride wasn't going to be enough for me, so now I'm on again it at eight o'clock at night. The sun has finally set, and they are beginning to reflect the lights onto the waterfalls. As we make our way around the Falls, I am just so speechless; it gets better and more beautiful by the second.

The boat comes to a stop and as we wait around I just soak in all the colors being shown. I take a mental picture, I hear the water falling off the rocks, I feel the way the ferry drifts along the water. The fireworks begin, and I can feel the explosion in my chest as they burst in the air. I can even smell the smoke that they give off. During my life time, I have seen several fireworks shows, but this one is like never before. I am on this ferry in the Niagara Falls while the fireworks are bursting into several colors, all while holding the hand of my soulmate. I have experienced something few will in their lifetimes.

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Top 50 Things You'll Hear A Southern Say

Y'all.
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For those of you who may need a little help understanding the slang of a southern, I made a list of the top 50 phrases and sayings, along with their translations.

1. Bless your heart.

My favorite saying. It is an empathetic phrase that is usually uttered when the speaker believes the recipient to be sweet, but misguided or stupid. It can also be used if the speaker believes the recipient needs to grow up and deal with it, when the speaker says it in a sarcastic tone.

2. Barking up the wrong tree.

Means being misguided or mistaken.

3. Aren't you precious?

Mostly this saying is used in a sarcastic tone in response to someone being offensive.

4. Britches.

Pants or underpants.

An example would be, "Your britches are too short, you can't wear those".

5. Coke.

Regardless if it's Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola, or another carbonated beverage, it's called Coke here in the South.

6. Fixin' to.

Simply means that you are about to do something.

7. Get the short end of the stick.

This phrase means that you basically got an unfair deal or cheated out of something.

8. Give Me Some Sugar.

Simply means give me a kiss.

9. Hissy Fit.

A hissy fit is a grown-up version of a temper tantrum that is as bad as one that a toddler would throw.

10. Hold Your Horses.

Be patient.

11. Holler.

When you say "holler" you are basically letting the other person know something.

Example: Holler at me when you are ready to get something to eat.

12. If the creek don't rise.

This saying simply means that if nothing bad happens, everything will go as planned.

13. You're as slow as molasses in the wintertime.

This phrase means that you are being EXTRA slow.

14. Muddin'.

Off-road four-wheeler riding with the intentions of getting mud everywhere and possibly losing control.

15. Skat Cat.

A phrase that can be used instead of saying "God bless you" when you sneeze.

16. There's Not A Pot Too Crooked That A Lid Won't Fit.

There is someone for everyone.

17. Pitcher.

We mostly mean a plastic container that holds sweet tea, not the position of a guy on the baseball team.

18. Reckon.

When you say "I reckon", you believe that something is true.

19. Hoot With The Owls, Soar With The Eagles.

This simple phrase means that if you are going to stay up all night, you should be able to get early in the morning.

20. Too Big For Your Britches.

Simply means that you take yourself too seriously.

21. Stompin' Grounds.

Your hometown or where you grew up.

22. Back In The Day.

Back in the day could be a month ago, a year ago, or 20 years ago.

23. You're A Spitting Image Of (Insert Family Member).

Yes, I know I'm a spitting image of my mother. "Spitting image" simply means that you look just like someone.

24. "Darlin, Sugar, Sweetheart"

These words are simply terms of endearment.

25. Buggy.

A buggy is a cart/basket at the grocery store.

Example: Who wants to push the buggy?

26. Quit Crying Or I Will Give You Something To Cry About.

This phrase simply means to quit crying and if you didn't then more than likely you got a spanking,

27. Where You Raised In A Barn?

If you are from the South, you have probably been asked this more than once, especially when you left a door open.

28. Close The Door. You Are Letting All The Good Air Out.

This southern heat is nothing to play with. It simply means to keep the door closed so the air (or heat if its winter) stays inside.

29. You Are Going To Make Me Lose My Religion.

When you say this phrase to someone, it more than likely means that person has done something to irritate you or made you mad. Thank goodness Jesus saves.

Example: You are going to make me lose my religion.

30. You Look Like A Chicken With Your Head Cut Off.

This is said when you are running around like a crazy person. It can be said if you are looking for something that you are searching for or if you are just really busy.

31. Y'all.

The southern way to say "you all".

32. You Can't Carry A Tune In A Bucket.

If you've ever been told this, it means that you can't sing.

33. Have Their Feathers Ruffled.

You normally have your "feathers ruffled" when you are pouting.

34. Two Peas In A Pod.

When you and someone else are "two peas in a pod", it means that either you almost always together or that you two are almost identical in the way you think and do things.

35. Well Butter My Butt And Call Me A Biscuit.

This saying can be used when you are surprised or excited.

36. Don't Let The Door Hit Ya Where The Good Lord Split Ya.

When someone say this they typically mean to get out and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

37. You're As Good As Gold.

When you are "as good as gold", it means that you are well-behaved and obedient.

38. It's Raining Cats And Dogs Out There.

This simply means that the rain is really coming down hard. It's not actually raining cats and dogs, people.

39. I'm Full As A Tick.

This phrase means that you ate too much food.

40. I'm Sweating More Than A Sinner In Church.

When someone says this, it means that they are really hot and sweating A LOT.

41. Pot Calling The Kettle Black.

This phrase is used when one person is guilty of the very same thing of which they accuse another person.

42. There's More Than One Way To Skin A Cat.

It means that there is anyways more than one way to fix something.

43. Shut Yo' Mouth.

Means to be quiet or hush up.

44. Whatever Floats Your Boat.

This saying means to do whatever you want to do.

45. Slap Yo' Momma.

This phrase means that something is good.

Example: This BBQ is slap yo' momma good.

46. She's Like A Bull In A China Shop.

When you tell someone this phrase, you are telling them that they are clumsy or careless in the way that they move.

47. Cuttin' A Rug.

Cuttin' a rug is used to describe dancing.

Example: Let's go cut a rug tonight.

48. Clicker.

A clicker is another name for a TV remote.

49. Slow Your Roll.

This also means to be patient.

50. You're A Hot Mess.

When you tell someone that they are a "hot mess", you are simply telling them that they don't have it together.

Cover Image Credit: silhouetteamerica.com

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Beyond Mardi Gras: The Untold Story Of New Orleans And Hurricane Katrina

Almost 14 years after Hurricane Katrina, this city is still recovering.

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This past week, I had the amazing opportunity to go down to New Orleans with a wonderful group of students from my college. This city is undeniably bursting with life, culture, and fun.

But there is so much more.

My first encounter with the Big Easy was last summer on a similar service-oriented alternative break run through JMU. Before this break, I thought Hurricane Katrina was just a really bad storm, but I was so wrong. Katrina highlighted the mistreatment of the lower-income areas and minorities of New Orleans. Homes were destroyed. Families were forced out with nowhere to go, and still no home to come back to even 14 years later.

When I went to New Orleans for a second time this past week, I learned even more about this not-so-natural disaster. It was so frustrating for me to learn that Katrina was made exponentially worse due to the blatant disregard of the people.

There was a hurricane simulation done months before Katrina struck, named Hurricane Pam. The purpose of this simulation was to warn people about the potential hurricane crisis and its outcomes. The Hurricane Pam simulation predicted that over 60,000 people would be killed with several thousand more becoming injured or ill. Even with these alarmingly high numbers, there was a shocking lack of response.

Another man-made issue that drastically increased the devastating effects of Katrina was the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, otherwise known as MR-GO. MR-GO was constructed in order to provide a shorter route between the Gulf of Mexico and the Industrial Canal, New Orleans' inner harbor; however, when Katrina hit, MR-GO channeled the storm surge into New Orleans and significantly contributed to the breaching of the levees. The levees were not properly designed, constructed, nor maintained and when they failed, several billion gallons of water flooded into New Orleans.

When I told people that I was going to New Orleans to volunteer, the most frequent response I got was "Oh, did they have another hurricane?"

No. Almost 14 years after Hurricane Katrina, 35,000 abandoned lots still remain where people's homes used to be.

I still have a lot to learn, but that is exactly why I am writing this article: to invite you all to learn with me. It is so incredibly important that we are educated on this topic because a lot of people fail to realize that New Orleans is still recovering. Many people who I have spoken to thought that everything was fixed immediately after Katrina, but that is not the case.

Driving around the Lower Ninth Ward and seeing all the empty lots that are now overgrown with tall grass and trees, it is hard to imagine that someone's home used to be there. A home that was passed down through the generations. A home where memories were made.

And then it hits you. And it is heartbreaking.

So, what now? The first step that everyone can take is doing their research. Learn about New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina so that you can be better oriented and prepared to give what is needed, not what you think is needed. A lot of the rebuilding that has happened since Katrina has gentrified the lower-income areas of New Orleans. So now, the people who once lived there can no longer afford it.

The next step is to get involved. Whether it's sacrificing a Starbucks run or two each month to donate a few bucks to non-profit organizations that help in rebuilding efforts or physically going down to New Orleans to give some hands-on help. Any little thing you can do to help is so impactful even if you don't realize it.

SBP is a wonderful non-profit organization that I had the pleasure of working with this past week. Their mission is to shrink the time between disaster and recovery through five interventions: Rebuilding, Sharing, Preparing, Advising, and Advocating. To learn more about SBP and to get involved, check out their website here.

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