Wednesday, July 22, 2009

out of the country, into the water

We had made reservations at a Bed and Breakfast in Niagara-ON-the-Lake (yes, they capitalize the ON) so we could get some space. Sharing a hotel room with kids is a pain. The B&B had a separate room with two twin beds and the boys enjoyed the space of sleeping alone without a brother to kick them awake in the middle of the night. Our inn keeper, Sandy, made fabulous and huge breakfasts - blueberry pancakes or eggs to order or homemade cinnamon buns AND bacon or Canadian bacon AND fresh fruit. We ate well.

Her home was six houses from a park at Lake Ontario, offering a view of Toronto and sunsets as well as a swimming spot. Again, I thought the water was too cold. Apparently I'm a wuss. I'd have gone out in her dingy but it was too windy the day we tried.

A road followed the escarpment from her home to Niagara Falls. I'd done my research for things we wanted to do, but had failed to recognize that all of them were on the US side of the falls. Canada also had a pass to a set of activities but I had my heart set on the American grouping. We'd paid our $20 to park, so decided to set off to the States on foot, across Rainbow Bridge. It was a long hike for Bug especially, but we finally picked up a trolley and arrived at the Maid of the Mist tour.

If you only pay to do one thing at Niagara, this is what I'd suggest. I'd suggest two, really, but that comes later. We donned our blue plastic trash bags and pulled the hoods tight, then marveled at the falls seen from below. The spray and splash is significant; our passports (so painstakingly earned) and the kids' birth certificates got a bit damp, but we loved every touristy minute of it.

We also enjoyed the IMAX movie which demonstrated that even if nine of sixteen people who have gone over the falls have lived, you should not test your luck. The aquarium there was a bust- small and unexciting, but since it was included in our pass, we visited briefly before walking back across the bridge to Canada and eating dinner.

The falls are lit up at 9:30 and there were to be fireworks at 10:00 but signs indicated that the walking had worn Bug out and we were already pushing his limits. He did revive to tell me about the men's room at our restaurant:

We finished our activities Thursday morning, seeing a worthless Science Discovery Center which had the potential to have been good, and taking the Cave of the Winds tour. Fabulous (on a warm day which it was) and well worth doing. We took a 17.5 story elevator down into the gorge by Bridal Veil Falls, then walked on a boardwalk up and INTO the water.

This time we were clad in yellow trash bags, but Bug still managed to be drenched at the end. It felt like an extremely powerful shower massage. I'd have kept my distance from the heaviest downpours if a woman older than my mom hadn't encouraged me- even taunted me- into going in.

The later part of the day I had reserved for a tour of one of the many wineries in the area. They were everywhere up there (along with fresh cherries!) and I really wanted visit. We missed out on a chance to tour however, (maybe for the best with tired kids) but enjoyed a tasting anyway. The boys drank the free grape juice and then managed to entertain themselves sitting on the floor playing Rock/Paper/Scissors. Gotta love 'em for that.


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