Friday, September 07, 2007

August 30th, 2007 - Another Adventure Begins

I managed to wake up at 9:00 AM, which is early for me, but later than I had hoped to be up. Within a couple hours, Mom and I were packed, in the van and on the road, but we weren't aiming for Canada just yet.

While printing driving directions and room information the night before, the power cord on my MacBook up and died for no reason. A couple aspects of the trip required me to be in touch with people via email, so our first stop was the Apple Store. It was a frustrating start to the trip as they told me my warranty would cover a replacement, but only if I had an appointment and they were booked solid for the next two days. Reluctantly, we bought a new one, fully intending to return it before their two-week return limit is up.

We were finally on the road toward Niagara-on-the-Lake at noon. It was a dreary, drizzly day, much like our first big trip which, in an odd coincidence, began exactly three years before. Little did we know how many parallels to that trip would pop up this time around.

Before too long, we pulled into the rest stop in Angola, New York, where we took the opportunity to play with my recently purchased new toy: a bright, shiny, Kodak Z712.

A spider on the outside of the window of the rest stop's overpass

Pictures were snapped, mashed potatoes were devoured, and the road was hit.

As soon as we crossed the border at the Peace Bridge, the sun broke through the clouds as if on cue. It was like an entirely new day. That seems to happen quite a bit on our trips, it seems strange, but you'll not catch me complaining.

I weighed the hotel options over and over again, which lead to me getting headaches over and over again, due to the absurdly high rates over the Labor Day weekend. I love staying at the Falls, but I flat out couldn't afford it, so I decided on the Hilton Garden Inn in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which was way cheaper, a short drive from the Falls, and it looked nice enough.

Upon arriving at the hotel, I was met with a flashback to the 2004 trip. I stared across the street as I got down from the van and wondered why it all looked so familiar. The road, the freeway, the multi-restaurant rest stop, I knew I had been there before.

And then, along with a fit of uncontrollable laughter, it hit me. This was the same rest stop where we had an unforgettably hilarious experience with Grandma, and we were back, three years to the day later.

The rest stop across the way

Still chuckling to ourselves, Mom and I checked in and headed up to our room. It was a bit cramped for my chair, but it worked well enough.

We relaxed for a little bit and unwound after the drive before hopping back into the van and heading to the Falls.

As we searched for cheap (or better yet, free) parking, we noticed everyone on the streets was standing still and staring upward. After parking, we saw what all the eyes were drawn to- a tightrope walker taking a stroll high above the city. A perfect opportunity to try out the camera's zoom.

Without zoom

With zoom

The height of the wire was impressive enough, but when paired up with the distance from start to finish, it was a mind-boggling feat.

The Falls beckoned, so we headed down once the man reached the end of his walk and began to climb down. It was already getting dark as we made our way down Murray Street, but it was a beautiful evening, if a bit chilly. Another nice chance to see what the camera could do.

View of the Skylon Tower from Murray Street

The SkyWheel

The Rainbow Bridge at night

A shot of the Fallsview Casino

Our casino visit was a fun one, though brief and uneventful. We left with what we came in with, which is nice, though a jackpot would have been nicer.

Inside the casino

The fountain

Above the fountain

Bellies were a-grumblin' after a long day and lots of walking. We marched our way up to The Keg for my one splurge meal of the trip. Seated by the giant window overlooking the Falls, I had a glass of champagne and tried filet mignon. I'm not much of a steak guy, but it was tasty and enjoyable.

Then came the one bummer about not staying at The Falls. At the point where we'd normally walk back to the hotel and crash, we had to walk back to the van, load up, and drive back to the hotel. At least it wasn't too long of a drive.

On the way back to the van

Back at the hotel, I relaxed online a bit and got to sleep. Saturday's events would fill up most of the day, so I had to rest up and fit in the rest of our Niagara Falls sightseeing on Friday.

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