What a day! The day started with us needing to be pulled away from the Hotel Monaco in Pittsburgh. It was really hard to leave the room, but we did. After saying goodbye-for-now, not goodbye-forever, to our Pittsburgh Kimpton friends, we headed out of the city toward New York.
It was a rough beginning, as I needed more coffee and the car needed gas. The exit we chose had a Starbucks and a BP, but unfortunately we made a wrong turn at the end of the exit ramp, causing us to add many minutes through a local Easter egg hunt to get to the Starbucks. Then the gas station was closed for remodeling so we had to go quite a bit out of our way to find gas. And we got stopped at every single red light. It was a loooong detour and I thought Zak was going to go bonkers, but we did eventually make it back onto the interstate, both the car and me happier.
We hit the New York/Pennsylvania state line, a new one for the girls. Zoe tried really, really hard to convince us to head south to NYC, but it would’ve added way too much to the trip. In fact, we looked it up, and the NY/Penn state line is halfway between our house and Manhattan. The rest of the drive through Buffalo to Niagara Falls was uneventful.
Since the Falls were our big activity for the day we decided to do both the American and Canadian sides. We made our way through a crowded Visitor’s Center toward all the excitement. Thankfully Ellie was with us, as she is a self-proclaimed map reader master, and she had found a map of the area in the Visitor’s Center. I’m not sure we would of found the falls if it weren’t for her expertise.
The American side was full of crowds and it brought be back to the uberpopular areas of Yellowstone. I don’t want to say there were a lot of stupid people, but when you see more than one party of people trying to handfeed squirrels while taking selfies you start to question. Regardless, the Falls are quite beautiful. The fierceness of the rapid water forces one to think of the power of nature. Sounds cheesy, but this waterfall is just so big. Zoe even noted that this is the largest waterfall she has EVER seen in her WHOLE life.
We snapped a few pictures, without a selfie stick, we were of just a handful who didn’t have one. Then we headed toward the border. Now this really caused Zoe to have a lot of anxiety. We have friends in Eau Claire who tell this awesomely fantastic story of them being stopped at the border and being held for hours just for having cheese. Now it was a giant wheel of cheese from some far off land, and I know I’m missing key pieces of the story, but Zoe’s take away was the border patrol are mean, awful people and there are a heck of a lot of rules that need to be followed. And we all know how Zoe is with rules. So as we pulled up to the guard station, Zoe was beginning to break out in hives, but we answered a few simple questions and showed our passports and we were in. They didn’t even ask if we had cheese!
We found parking and started a simple walk along the falls. The Canadian side sure is much more beautiful. The view is simply unmatched and the whole area is much less commercialized. The path itself is lovely and to make the experience even more memorable we were greeted with a rainbow. The kind that you can see both ends as the reached toward the giant falls. Ellie quickly noted that there was no pot of gold at either end. However, it sure was magical.
We then hit the road for about 90 more minutes to get to Kitchener. It took me a bit to rememer to look at the inner ring of the speedometer noting the kilometers per hour not the miles. It was a good drive and both Zak and I noted how easygoing and good the kids are in the car. They spent the last portion of the drive making videos to post on YouTube about baby animals along with facts, stories, and so on.
We had a touch of trouble finding the hotel, but that’s only because neither of us realized our phones wouldn’t work in a different country. Should of thought of that. Anyway, I can rarely get the three blocks from our house to work without relying on a GPS, so this was tough. But we did it. We found the Crowne Plaza in Kitchener. It’s quite lovely, has reliable WiFi, and the girls have enjoyed getting some energy out in the pool. We ordered pizza and salad in from a local spot that had great reviews on yelp and ate on the pool deck.
I’m not sure the next time any of us will be back to Niagara Falls, but I’m glad we will all have great memories of it from today.