A long trip in a small space
Family vacations could be a recipe for disaster. First of all there are the high hopes ofÃ‚Â a family adventure,Ã‚Â shared experiences and, in this instance,Ã‚Â a college visit for my oldest son, who at the time of our trip, was just about toÃ‚Â start his senior year in high school.
Then there is all thatÃ‚Â time cooped up in a car, which can’t be good.Ã‚Â And finallyÃ‚Â there are the memories of your own childhood vacations, which seemed to take place withoutÃ‚Â tantrums and theatrics from children old enough to know better.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Does anyone know what I’m talking about, or am I the only person who is part of a couple with peridicallyÃ‚Â impaired parenting skills?.
We didn’t leave for our 10-day vacation at 7 a.m. back on Aug. 23, as I had hoped. We gotÃ‚Â on the road about 10:30Ã‚Â a.m., and then IÃ‚Â made the mistake of followingÃ‚Â travel adviceÃ‚Â that recommended going throughÃ‚Â Jersey and PennsylvaniaÃ‚Â on the way to Niagara Falls – a big mistake, There were times in these two states when the cars just stopped and we stayed put forÃ‚Â at least 30 minutes at a time. With 2-3 other stops for food and bathrooms along the way,Ã‚Â we didn’tÃ‚Â get toÃ‚Â Niagara Falls, Canada, untilÃ‚Â 9 p.m.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
WeÃ‚Â also traveled toÃ‚Â Toronto, a city in which IÃ‚Â could imagine living. In someways it seemed American, but with a somewhat disorienting difference.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â The subway thereÃ‚Â still uses dime-sized, the kind that disappeared in New York City about three decades ago. The kids really liked the tour of the Skydome, now known as the Rogers Center and those all-day breakfast places that seem very popular there. They were very useful for a familyÃ‚Â has trouble getting out of the hotelÃ‚Â before noon. And then there are all the Tim Hortons, a chain of doughnut/sanwhich shops founded by the late Toronto Maple Leaf hockey player. I recently read that there are moreÃ‚Â Tim Hortons perÃ‚Â Canadian than there are McDonalds per American. Score one for the Canadians.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Our final stop was Ithaca, a great college town with aÃ‚Â four-block center that’s closed off to traffic, but still seemsÃ‚Â quite lively. It was our jumping offÃ‚Â point for aÃ‚Â visit to Binghamton University, a school that is now on my son’s list of possibles.
AtÃ‚Â Niagara Falls we visited an amazingÃ‚Â butterfly center, Fort Niagara, which I remember from my first trip there when I wasÃ‚Â eight, and stumbled upon aÃ‚Â free jazz festivalÃ‚Â in Lewsitown, N.Y., where John Pizzarelli was about to perform.
And then there wasÃ‚Â Niagara Falls, itself. Though my wife wanted to visit them forÃ‚Â years, I resisted. I thinkÃ‚Â it had something to do withÃ‚Â its old image asÃ‚Â honeymoon capital andÃ‚Â the tackiness that had been described to me as creeping upÃ‚Â too close toÃ‚Â what is truly a wonder of the world.Ã‚Â
Right after a quick dinner, weÃ‚Â walked off to find the Falls.Ã‚Â I pointed out toÃ‚Â wife and kids what seemed to be a pretty huge waterfalls and offÃ‚Â inÃ‚Â the distance what seemed to be a second smaller falls. Having studied the tour books, I explained the big fallsÃ‚Â wereÃ‚Â the Canadian/Horseshoe Falls and the smaller ones were the American Falls.
But as we walkedÃ‚Â through theÃ‚Â mistÃ‚Â the smaller falls were getting bigger, huge in fact,Ã‚Â monstruously huge. TheyÃ‚Â wereÃ‚Â the Canadian Falls.Ã‚Â One of the tour guides later explained that 20 percent of the world’s fresh water went over the falls. I don’t know how they measured that, but I didn’t doubt it.Ã‚Â
TheÃ‚Â next day we put onÃ‚Â the raincoats they handed out on theÃ‚Â Maid of the Mist boat and headed into the Horsehoe Falls, where the pilot seemed toÃ‚Â park the boat. ItÃ‚Â seemed likeÃ‚Â were standing in the middle of a rainstorm. It was great.
Sometimes it’s good toÃ‚Â be wrong.