6.24.2003 2003-Niagara Falls
For the past week or so, we've had relatives visiting and staying with us -- Elizabeth's Aunt's family from Houston. Actually, it has been quite the treat. I use the word "actually", because the reality of it all, I really hesitate on entertaining people. My days are often long and tiresome, and when I return home, there's sometimes more "work" to take care of. So, if you can imagine, time is precious. But in this case, things have been a treat and I've really enjoyed their company. With Elizabeth as their guide, they have been taking in many of the sights here in New York and it seems like they've been having a good time too. My participation has been limited to some free evenings and weekends (I know, I sound like a cell phone ad).
(Fair warning -- this entry seems to drone onward, and maybe I'm the only one who may enjoy it, but nonetheless, it had to be documented)
Sometimes I wonder how many habits I?ve inherited from my parents: Whenever someone visits them, instead of my parents showing them around, they usually purchase them tickets for daytrips to places like Philadelphia, send them on the bus, waving, "See you when you get back". It's sort of impersonal, but yet ? just so effective. Elizabeth and I, well, not on purpose, but we sort of did the same thing, but instead we lent Auntie Deetee Knight and family our car for a trip to Washington D.C. We waved, "Have fun!" and didn?t see them for about two days. I had to work and Elizabeth would've gone with them, but due to her ankle, it just wasn?t a good idea.
They did have a lot of fun though. And to make it up to them, I wound up taking the weekend off, renting a minivan, and Elizabeth and I and the Auntie Deetee Knight crew all went up to Niagara Falls. And yours truly did all the driving. And I really don't want to admit this, but driving a minivan, although not at the pinnacle of being a real manly man, is actually really, really fun. I use the word "actually", cause I think people look like dorks driving in minivans. Me on the other hand... ah, never mind.
It *is* actually really cool. One sits in this cockpit like chair and there's this whole panel of knobs and switches known as the environmental controls that adjust things like oxygen flow to differing parts of the cabin. I really had to hold back on the "This is your captain..." speeches. And speed-wise, this thing really moved, I mean the automobile had some kick to it. That was another thing that I had to hold back. There were a few times I had to look in the rear-view mirror only to see a family who were scared wondering if I could slow down at times.
Anyhow, we wound up hitting the road on a Friday night, right after my workday. It was a little tough going at first seeing how I hit my after-work lull period where I just sort of zoned out. During my lull, we wound up picking up a mini-van from Enterprise Rent-a-car, packing it up with Auntie Deetee Knight and the Minivan Jive Crew (all 6 of us), and headed off into Bumper-to-bumper traffic via Staten Island. This was actually quite the accomplishment seeing how I didn't come out of this lull until a little later into the evening. This is when I usually catch my routine second wind, which lasts until about after midnight. And yes, I was grateful for daylight savings.
We drove and drove until about 12:30AM. It was obvious we weren?t going to make it all the way up to Niagara Falls that night, so we made a stopover at one of my favorite places; Rochester. We all bunked up in a couple of rooms at the Super8 Motel. It was just and called it a night. My head just sort of hit the pillow, and the next thing I knew, it was morning.
In the morning, Elizabeth and I met up with the rest of the Auntie Deetee Knight and the Minivan Jive Crew in the lounge where they were serving a complimentary breakfast. It was one of those instamatic buffet style set-ups. I wound up fixing up a bowl of instant oatmeal and coffee -- it wasn't too shabby. I rubbed my eyes and we hit the road.
Niagara Falls was pretty cool. We stayed on the American side. Since 9/11, they've had stricter border controls. Although the border between Canada and America is pretty much open, for the limited time we were going to be there (for the next few hours), it was just better to hang out on the American side. This itself was alright, but at the same time, all the attractions where on the Canadian side which consisted of Casinos, amusement parks, among other attractions.
Elizabeth and I took a breather while Auntie Deetee Knight and the rest of the crew rode the famous Maid of the Mist and performed the walk of Caves of the Winds (the 2 attractions that are proven to be memorable). Elizabeth and I sat out, cause we've only done this about half a dozen times (and yes we remember each and every time).
On our venture back from Niagara Falls, we made another pit stop in Rochester, where we treated everyone to Abbott's Frozen Custard (a real crowd pleaser) by the Erie Canal. See? Educational too.
We were able to drive a couple of hundred miles further, just outside of Binghamton, and spent the night at another Super8, before reaching home the next day.
It was pretty cool.