Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tripping the Light Fantastic

Thing 2's Grade 7 class went on their end-of-the-year field trip to Niagara Falls on Friday, and I was able to go along. (Lots of parents were NOT "allowed" to go by their teenage children. That would have been a red flag to this particular bull, but to each his own.) I think I am an anomoly amoung parents, in that I like going on my kids field trips, so long as they are to my taste. And I consider myself lucky that my children see it as a positive thing that I come with them, too. The teacher said she thought I was the only parent she knew who asked to come.
I love Niagara Falls, it is one of my all-time favorite places to go. The stuff that nature made is endlessly fascinating, and the man-made "attractions" charm me utterly, as well. There is no end of entertainment, from the falls themselves to the wax museums to the cheesy gift shops. And the people watching! It's incredible; people come from all over the world to see Niagara Falls, and so you get to see an unbelieveable array of eye-popping outfits, unfortunate shoe choices and bizaare behaviour. It's like performance art.
First, we enjoyed the "Journey Behind the Falls", which is a very fancy name for "tunnels cut into the rock". For some reason, back in the day, someone got the terrific notion that people should be able to see the falls from the back of them. You go down an elevator to some serious clausterphobia-inducing tunnels which smell of years of moisture and cold sweat. It is very loud in there, because there are a few 6x6 foot holes cut into the rock, so that you can see the falls falling from the backside. (Honestly, if they just put a firehose outside of a window, you'd never know the difference. You can't see a thing.) Then they have an outside observation deck, right at the base of the falls. It is also very loud and wet; they give you a flimsy rain poncho which does nothing more than flap around and blind you. It is like standing in a Force 1 hurricane. The kids loved it; except for the girls who straightened their hair that morning. This is the only shot I got that does not have huge drops of water on the lens.
After that, we did another "attraction" that required more rain ponchos, and more more screeching about wet hair. Then it was on to lunch.
Let me tell you, everything costs like crazy in Niagara Falls. Even the coffee I got at Starbucks costs about 25% more than at home. So, when some of the kids wanted to go to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch, I knew I should probably have called my financial advisor before proceeding. I was not wrong: a chicken Caesar salad and a diet Pepsi set me back by $26.00 after tip and taxes. That is the one thing I DO NOT like about Niagara Falls.
After lunch, when we had dried out and set our hair to rights, we drove up the Niagara Gorge to the Butterfly Conservatory. The drive up the Gorge is actually quite pretty, with an impressive view of the American side of the river. (When I told one kid that was the U.S. he was gobsmacked...."that's the UNITED STATES???" he replied, "I never knew we were that close!")
The Butterfly conservatory is a big glass-domed greenhouse with a bajillion butterflies flitting around it. It's fabulous; some of them are as big as your hand, and you can get up really close to them. Sometimes they land on your shirt or your head. I think the grown-ups liked it a bit more than the kids, although everyone appreciated staying dry. While we were standing around admiring all the butterflies, one of the other mothers mused "Imagine if these were all spiders..." There was a huge collective shudder from everyone within hearing. We got home around dinner time, and I thanked the teachers and Thing 2 for letting me go on the trip with her, and she replied that she liked having me along. So it was totally worth the bad hair day.


Mark said...

Oh my! I haven't been to Niagra Falls in, well, let's just say a very long time. All I know is that Ceaser Salads didn't cost $26.00 at that time. Although I was under 10 so a salad would be the last thing that I would eat. In my recent post about my Father's Birthday, I posted a picture of us kids with our faces painted. That was taken at Niagra Falls. I have others that pop up every now and then. Your pictures brought back some good memories for me. Thank you for that.
Your Friend, m.

Jude said...

You must be one special Mom!

For all the time I was living on the East coast, I never made it up to Niagra Falls. I think I missed out on something.