Monday, August 13, 2012

Niagara Falls 2012: Prologue

Falling with Dinosaurs
Slowly I Turned

Although it has long been on the “we should go there” list , we sort of went to Niagara Falls by accident.

I’m sure this is not a surprise to anyone who knows us.

We had been talking about, and doing preliminary research into a Washington D.C. trip once Anabelle had reached the age where she showed some interest in, and patience for, American History and museums in general.  Unfortunately, her spring vacation snuck up on us.

It wasn’t that we didn’t know that it fell on the week after Easter. We had checked that at the beginning of the school year. 

It also wasn’t that Easter fell earlier in April than we thought.  That we knew around Christmas time.

Basically the fact that April fell IMMEDIATELY after March was what caught us off guard.  Suddenly we were staring down the barrel of Anabelle’s week off with no reservations or plans for the nation’s capital.  Fortunately, panic kicked Rosa’s travel arrangement skills into high gear, and she learned that the warm winter meant, even though it was the end of the “off season,” a large amount of Niagara attractions were open.

The first task was to decide which side of the border to stay on.

Actually that’s not true…

The first task was for me to scare the hell out of my daughter. 

She came into the room and said something about going to Niagara Falls, and I immediately spun around and yelled,


But before I got to “step by step, inch by inch,” she screamed and ran away.

After a great deal of apologizing on my part, and a bit of cultural education, she understood the joke and started becoming a Three Stooges fan. (I prefer the Howard-Fine-Howard version of that routine…saving Abbot and Costello for during the trip when I scared the hell out of her again when we drove past the town containing the Susquehanna Hat Company…Nice parenting there, Jeff.)

Once that was cleared up, we did need to figure out which side of the river to base our camp.  There were attractions in both nations we needed to see. Therefore, the idea occurred to us to split our nights between hotels, switching countries mid trip.  After considering this for about thirty seconds and realizing it was IN-FREAKIN-SANE, we decided to follow the advice of darn near everyone and everything and stay on the Canadian side.  Not to ruin some dramatic reveals later on, but we made the right choice.

Scoping out a few locations led us to decide on a Comfort Inn on Clifton Street, which sounded like the center of the fun stuff to do.  Double checking some reviews saddened us as there were several negative comments…until we realized there were two Comfort Inns within walking distance of each other.  I called the very nice and VERY patient Canadian hotel lady who answered all my “is this the hotel that…?” based questions to insure we had the right one.

To prepare for her role as Navigator, Rosa prepped some written directions from a friend in the Rochester area, a Smartphone with location abilities, and our GPS – Talky Tina.

To prepare for my role as helmsman, I weaned myself back onto caffeine in order to add Mountain Dew to my normal car snacks of pretzels and jujyfruits.  This insured I stayed awake and alert for the times when the three navigational aids disagreed with each other.  Rosa did a heck of a job getting them to play nice together, especially since she was also taking pictures of every sign documenting whenever we crossed a national, state, or occasionally town border.

We prepped Anabelle by having Dramamine on hand to deal with her physical issues on long car rides. Grandma provided a benefit to deal with Anabelle’s (and by extension our) mental issues on a long car ride.  She gave our daughter a copy of the license plate checklist sheet she’d been using since my sister and I were kids.  Anabelle had a great time hunting for names and didn’t get bored, or even nap on the whole trip up.

Before the official start of chronicling our adventure I must pause and pay tribute to the driving and observation skills of my father and mother.  The ability to catch up to the car that just passed like a bat out of hell while your child yells from the back seat, “Which license plate was that?” is a level of difficulty that can only be known when experienced firsthand…

And they didn’t even have “Portable Pocket Internet” to do a quick visual confirmation.

Click here for Day 1


Brian said...

I recall my trip to Niagara Falls as extremely dull as a driver. In fact, just about any cross-New York State driving trip tends to be like this. Kudos to that kid of yours for hanging in there!

Jeff McGinley said...

Many thanx for reading. As you saw in day 4, my wife and I share your view of the drive.