As usual, I had planned to leave early in the day, around 9 or 10 AM. Also as usual, we got off to a late start, leaving the house around noon.
Our first stop was a couple streets over to pick up Granny. We grabbed Granny, then Maude called just as we set out to pick her up. She called, saying that the news was reporting Farrah Fawcett died. It's weird, celebrities seem to die when I go on vacation. Anna Nicole Smith, Steve Irwin, etc. Kinda creepy.
So, by the time we drove out, picked up Maude, and really on the road, it was somewhere around 2 PM. Definitely later than I had hoped.
The ride started out pretty smooth, despite the hot (especially hot for this summer) temperatures.
As we drove through Pennsylvania, approaching the New York border, the skies in front of us grew dark.
A few minutes later, we were driving through a downpour, accented by heavy winds and some wicked looking lightning. Thankfully, most of it had stopped by the time we reached the rest stop in Angola, save for the occasional stray drizzle. We popped in, grabbed a quick bite at Denny's, and got back on the road.
We finally crossed the Peace Bridge into Canada, rode into Niagara Falls, and arrived at Hilton around 7 PM. As we pulled in and waited to unload the van, Baytosh called to tell us that Michael Jackson had died.
See what I mean?
That one was a bit of a shocker.
We unloaded and headed in. I was pumped. The Hilton had been renovating for a while and the room I booked was part of the brand new wing, which opened less than a month earlier.
Only three of the six elevators were up and running at the time, so there was a bit of a wait, but I figured it's just one little inconvenience.
The bellman that helped us to our room, Stu, was really cool. He kind of looked like Simon Pegg. All was going well, the room looked great. Excellent view of the Falls, fireplace, flat-screen TV's...then we found a sizeable problem. To summarize, the bathroom door wasn't exactly handicap-friendly and I'm fairly sure I wouldn't have been able to hold it all weekend.
Stu went from room to room, checking to see if any of the bathroom doors were different, but no luck. He hung around with us for quite a while, calling down to the front desk, searching for any kind of solution for us.
Finally we ended up downgrading and moving over to a room in the older wing. We got into that room around 8 PM.
As they unpacked, and helped the confused lady who thought our room was hers, I flicked on the TV and saw that The Dark Knight was on and it was right at the pencil scene. That was an enjoyable little moment of relaxation.
It was starting to get dark out and I wanted to do something, so we left the room and aimed for the Falls. We decided to cut through casino, so we took the walkway that went over the street that connected our hotel to the casino.
So, we walk cross over the street...and find stairs on the other side. Besides turning around and going back, the only way into the casino was through the parking garage, so through the parking garage we went.
Through the casino, down the hill, and we were down by the Falls. We made our way up the sidewalk and through the mist and looked at the Falls, illuminated in the night.
Once at the top of the Falls, it was getting a bit chilly, so we shuffled into the Table Rock building to warm up a little. While inside, I consulted the all-knowing mystic, Zoltar! And before you ask, no, I didn't wish I was big.
It was getting late, so we headed back up the hill and had dinner at the Keg inside the Embassy Suites. As always, it was delicious.
Totally stuffed, we made our way back up the street to our hotel to get some shut-eye and prepare for a full day.