After everyone was ready, we headed downstairs and hit the sidewalk. The sun was shining, the skies were clear, and it was a wonderful 70 degrees out. As I traveled down the sidewalk I noticed something: I felt different. Gone was my usual shy personality. I found myself ahead of my fellow travellers, just going on my merry way at my own pace, smiling and nodding at everyone I passed. I was completely care-free for the first time I can remember and it felt absolutely great.
We started with breakfast at Denny's...kind of. My food just didn't look like food, so I picked at it just enough to last me until the next meal.
From there we went back to the hotel and piled into the van to get to our next destination. For most of my life, my favorite place in the world was Sea World, but a few years ago our local Sea World was bought out by Six Flags. So while we were at Niagara Falls, I made it clear that I had to go to Marineland, and we did.
It was no Sea World, but I really enjoyed it. Upon arrival, I looked at the map of the place and headed for the killer whale aquarium.
It was amazing, they had an underground observation area! I was completely mesmerized watching these beautiful animals. The aquarium seemed to be divided into two sections, in one section there was an adult that seemed to be sick and a baby, I'd guess around 4 months old. The young one was swimming around the whole time and interacting with the people watching through the glass. A few feet next to me there was a kid with a small, stuffed killer whale doll, this was responsible for my favorite moment. He kept holding the doll up to the window and something adorable happened, the young whale came over and kept gently nuzzling at the glass where the doll was. It was such a cool sight.
In the other half of the aquarium was a mother with an even younger baby, I'd guess about two weeks old. It was so peaceful watching mother and baby gracefully swim alongside one another like that, it was beautiful.
After that we got a bit lost but eventually found the beluga whale viewing area. I was so pumped, I had never seen a beluga in person before.
They're awesome, though quite weird looking, kind of like a dolphin that ran into a wall. One funny moment there was hearing a kid excitedly shouting "Mom! Look! There's a white one!" I kept thinking "...they're all white, calm down." I'm too sarcastic, even when I'm thinking to myself.
When we finished up at Marineland, of course my next mission was...find a mall. There was actually a reason though, I was in search of two Corrs DVDs that had just been released in Canada. I found them and we headed back towards the Falls, to Clifton Hill.
For those of you who've never been to Niagara Falls, Clifton Hill is a hill with the weirdest mishmash of places. Wax museums, haunted houses, arcades, themed restaurants, face painters, everything. Before we left on our trip, we were told by my uncle to eat at the Rainforest Cafe, so that's where we were going.
The Rainforest Cafe is a big restaurant with, you guessed it, a rainforest theme! It was pretty cool, they had a bunch of animatronic animals scattered around that would move occasionally, gorillas, elephants, birds, a cheetah, a snake hanging from a tree, there was even a shark tank with real sharks in it.
Every so often the lights would flash, there would be a thunder-esque rumble, and a mist would briefly drift through the air. The food was okay, but I fell in love with a drink there: The Mango Tango. It was beyond delicious, my mouth is watering as I type this. I was amazed that you couldn't even taste the alcohol in it, later I learned the reason...there was none. It was just a smoothie. But it was a damn fine smoothie.
After we ate, we headed next door to a big Marvel Comics themed arcade type place. I bought a mug and took a picture with a big Spider-Man statue.
If that wasn't cool enough, there was also a little movie shop where I took my picture next to a cool RoboCop statue.
We spent about an hour in a different casino, but I didn't like it much. It was dark, smokey, and just didn't have a good atmosphere to it.
We got back to the hotel around 11:45 PM and watched the lights on the Falls shut off. Then I thought to myself and spoke up to the group. I told them "This is our last night here and I am not going to bed at midnight. I'm going down to the steakhouse for a drink from the cute waitress, who's coming with me?" ...or something along those lines.
So the four of us headed downstairs only to find the steakhouse closed at midnight. Plan B: Fridays. We made our way to the Fridays downstairs and ordered snacks and drinks. I was celebrating a great trip, so I decided to try something new, I ordered the Ultimate Long Island Iced Tea. I was caught off guard when I saw that the glass almost looked like a fishbowl. I couldn't believe the size, but I wasn't going to back down from this challenge.
And yes, I conquered it.
It was nearly 1 AM and between the drinks and us just being tired, we were all completely slap-happy. We were laughing our asses off at absolutely everything and nothing at the same time, even Grandma, who was just drinking coffee was cracking up. I was laughing so hard I looked like I was crying, tears and all. And of course our waitress, who I also thought was cute, chose this moment to show up. I sat there, appearing to be sobbing, and all I could get out was "Can I have some ice cream?"
Again I was caught off guard when she brought my sundae in the same kind of enormous glass as my drink.
Before we left, I felt brave and decided to make a lame attempt at flirting with the waitress. I didn't think I was buzzed until I started to speak and by then it was too late to stop myself. Nodding to the two big glasses in front of me I said "I have to get a picture with you for bringing me these two huge things."
Smooth. Real smooth, Jacob.
But hey, it worked, she took a picture with me.
Exhausted and full, Mom, Grandma, Aunt Karen, and I decided it was time to get back to the room. At about 2:30 AM I closed my eyes and ended one hell of a Day 2 at Niagara Falls.