Sunday, December 17, 2006

Canada (Better Late Than Never)

It's been bugging me that it's been two weeks since my trip and I haven't blogged about it yet, so I'm taking this opportunity to remedy that.

Day 1 - November 28th, 2006

I woke up still coughing, but determined not to let it derail my plans. While coughing, I hopped online and booked our room (last minute, I know) as Mom made sure everything was packed and ready. After some more coughing, we hit the road around 1:30, a little later than I'd have liked, but good enough.

The ride was nice and uneventful, not many people traveling on a Tuesday in late November. We pulled into the road stop nearing 4:00 and headed into Denny's. I was hungry, but worried eating would irritate my throat and make the coughing worse, so I took it slow. Everything went well until a tiny sip of Coke went down the wrong way and triggered a really bad coughing fit that kept us at the rest stop much longer than planned.

Once we finally made it to Niagara Falls, we missed a turn in the dark and ended up driving the exact same path we walked when we got lost back in September. There was an eerie feeling as we drove due to the thick fog/mist rolling across the road and the lack of people around. I could hear the Silent Hill theme in my mind. Through the fog, and in complete contrast to the creepy vibe, we could see the big display of Christmas lights they had set up along the road, which was pretty cool.

We ended up getting to the festively decorated Marriott around 8:00 and quickly settled into our room. And coughed. I was okay though, I was in Niagara Falls, I was comfy, and Veronica Mars was going to be on shortly. I switched to the channel to get ready and found...a rolling picture. It rolled through the entire show, but I was still able to follow and enjoy it.

Before too long, I took my medicine, had some soup, and called it a night.

Day 2 - November 29th, 2006

This was it, the day I had been looking forward to for months had finally arrived- the day of the Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida concert. I was still coughing, but my spirits were high.

We were up early and had a few hours to kill, so we loaded into the van and headed to the Pen Centre in St Catherines. It was surprisingly crowded for the early afternoon of a Wednesday, it took fifteen minutes just to find a place to park.

I'll admit, I spent a little too much on DVDs, but hey, I'm allowed to every once in a while. I got myself Superman Returns, Trailer Park Boys: Season 5, Trailer Park Boys- Xmas Special and did some Christmas shopping as the music of Our Lady Peace played over the speakers in HMV.

We nibbled a bit in the food court, restocked our Kleenex supply at the drug store, and were on our way to the Centre for the Arts at Brock University, thanks to the helpful directions of a kind taxi driver.

We arrived just before 4:00 and made our way to the Sean O'Sullivan Theatre. You might be thinking that's pretty early to show up for a concert, but as I've said before, Chantal and Raine have always been extremely kind to my family and I, this time they invited us to the sound check. I couldn't fully wrap my head around it until we were actually in there. It was an amazing evening, most of which we were lucky enough to spend actually hanging out with Raine and Chantal.

The concert itself was fantastic and very intimate in the small venue. Raine opened with a poem before playing a handful of songs from his upcoming solo CD and a great acoustic version of Innocent. Chantal played a nice mixture of old favorites and newer songs from her most recent release, Ghost Stories. They both sounded absolutely great and put on an excellent show.

Many many MANY thanks to both of them for all of their kindness and such an unforgettable experience.

Chantal & Me

Me & Raine

After leaving Brock University, we headed back to the Falls, got takeout from Fridays, and headed up to the room to eat and sleep after a long and amazing day.

Day 3 - November 30th, 2006

Before heading home, I had one last mission: find out the name of the delicious wine I had on my birthday. Mom and I headed downstairs to the Terrapin Grille, I looked at the menu, and found it. Jackson-Triggs. Fantastic, I tell you.
We were told we could find it much cheaper at a liquor store or the duty free shop. Works for me.

On our way back to the room to pack, we discovered we were locked out of our room, despite having requested a later check out time. Turns out it was just a mix up and they forgot to update our keys, a quick visit to the front desk fixed that.

I gazed out the window as Mom packed and made a couple quick phone calls. The weather was mild, hovering around 60 degrees the whole time, but the grey look of winter was always lingering on the horizon. It was very strange to see Niagara Falls so devoid of tourists. We never saw more than twenty people on the walkway overlooking the Falls.

Before long, we were on our way. It was funny, the bellman who helped us get our stuff from the room to the van actually remembered us from our last visit.

We made a quick stop at the duty free shop and grabbed some of the wine before crossing the Peace Bridge and heading home.

It was a much quicker trip than two days before, but the weather made it a bit less relaxed. We had heavy winds the whole way through New York. It felt like a giant had the van in its grasp and would randomly give a violent shake.

As we crossed into Pennsylvania, the winds died down and were replaced with dark clouds and torrential downpours. The rain stayed with us for the rest of the drive.

We arrived home just after 5:00 to share our travel stories and relax after the drive. Looking back, I know I normally never would have left the house with a cough like that, but I'm so glad I pushed myself. This experience was 100% worth it.

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