Thursday, September 15, 2005

Niagara Falls 2005: Day I

As written on September 6th, 2005 at 11:12 PM

We got a slightly late start today, but that's the beauty of vacations, it doesn't really matter if you're late. Everything was packed and ready, I quickly ate a few pretzels, breakfast of champions. On the way out the door, I grabbed the one thing you should never ever leave home without, I grabbed my towel. Laugh now, just you laugh.

Mom, Kris, and I hit the road at 12:30, not too bad. The sky was clear and the air was warm, a lovely day for a drive. Just like last time, I had my iPod with a seemingly endless supply of music ready to go.
The road was smooth and traffic was minimal, but somewhere in Pennsylvania, something hit me. Y'know how you sometimes see a little something out of the corner of your eye, but when you look, it's gone? This was exactly like that, except that something hit me in the face and that something was a bee. To be more precise, it hit me directly in the lower lip. The little bugger and I met with such a velocity that he broke in half upon impact. His head popped clean off and the remains landed directly on my iPod. A photo opportunity if ever there was one.

At some point after that, a bee flew into the back of the van and stung Kris in the arm. Did my family do something to upset the bee community?

As we made our way through New York, things were smooth again. It was incredible driving past all the vineyards. You could actually smell all the grapes from the freeway, it was mouth-watering.

We took a break at the roadside rest stop in Angola. To get to the restaurants, you have to go through an elevated walkway that leads you over the freeway. A simple pleasure, but I love it.

From above, we noticed smiley faces made of asphalt on the road below.

A quick bite to eat at McDonald's and we were on our way again. We drove through Buffalo.

Then over the Peace Bridge.

And then we circled around to finally reach Niagara Falls.

We quickly found the Marriott and Mom went up to the desk to check in. It was then that Kris leaned forward for some reason, spilling water from the cooler slung over his shoulder all over the floor and my shoulder. Good thing I towel! HA!
We made our way to our room and it was fantastic. The room (a 2 room family suite) was spacious and had an incredible view. Amusingly enough, we were right next door to the hotel building we stayed in last year.

A few minutes after we got in the door, our phone rang. Turns out we locked the keys in the van, so the valet couldn't park it. Kris ran down with the spare set and unlocked it.
A couple quick calls home to let people know we arrived and we were off to explore. Well, not quite yet. I wanted to load pictures to my laptop to free up space on the camera's memory stick. It was at this point we noticed Mom had left the tray for my wheelchair at the front desk. When she returned with it, Kris realized he had left his wallet in the back seat of the van. He had to take a shuttle to the van to retrieve his wallet. We seemed to be having a bumpy start at a pretty classy looking hotel. Anyway, THEN we were off to explore.

We wandered down the street and through the mall area in the casino building.

When we came out the other side, we made our way down the same enormous hill from last year. Murray St.

From there, we walked along the walkway by the Falls. As we got closer, the mist gradually intensified until in felt like rain. I breathed deeply, smiled, and tried to take in the euphoric effect of the negative ions given off by the Falls. Before I knew it, I was laughing uncontrollably. I probably looked like a maniac, but oh well. Kris and Mom weren't quite as thrilled as I was, but I think they enjoyed it.

To get back toward the hotel, we cut through a gift shop. The mist had gotten me so wet, my hand kept slipping off the controls when I tried to drive my chair. Solution? Dry off with my towel. Those intergalactic hitchhikers really know what they're talking about.

We found ourselves at the base of the hill once again. It was a real trial getting my old chair up that hill last year, but I now had my new chair. It was time to show that hill what for. I started out fast and strong, but the farther I got up the hill, the steeper it got. About halfway up the hill, there was a group of elderly folks resting on a bench. Seeing me pushing my way up, one lady spoke up.
"You oughta give an old lady a ride" she said.
"Hop on!" I replied, but I guess she decided to do it on her own.
Eventually, I made it! Now it was time to eat.

We went to the steakhouse we ate at last year because it was so good. Upon arrival, we were given a seat right by the giant window overlooking the Falls. Again, the food was fantastic, aside from my steak and baked potato, I ordered a chocolate martini.

Our waitress was cool, but a little absentminded. She confused us with another table at one point and then Kris had to ask her four separate times before she remembered to refill his Pepsi. The biggest shock was how expensive it was. I won't give a number, but let's just say I made sure I ate every last bite so I got my money's worth.

Right now we're back in the hotel room and I'm watching the Falls out the window as I type this. My eyes are trying their hardest to close, so I think I better let them. More tomorrow.

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