On my summer vacation, I took Danielle and the kids to Niagara Falls. I'll always remember the first time I saw the Falls - on the way to a Rolling Stones concert in Buffalo in 1981 - and how impressed I was by the majesty of it all. They made less of an impression on Danielle, who remarked "I thought it would be a lot bigger." Not the first time I heard her say that...
The Niagara Falls tourist district is as tacky as the Falls themselves are breathtaking. There's a wax museum on virtually every corner. We actually checked into a wax replica of a Marriott hotel, adjacent to a wax Keg restaurant, where I enjoyed a wax steak with a side of wax mushrooms.
The town was packed because it was a long holiday weekend in Ontario, and while I understand the business philosophy of making hay while the sun shines, that still doesn't excuse some of the price-gouging that was going on. One chain restaurant that I won't name - but its initials are TGIF - had the nerve to charge five star prices for three star fare, including a potato skins appetizer for 17 dollars. I don't even want to think about what a whole potato would have cost.
Of course, it's all about the family, and Sam and Charlie are at the perfect age for Niagara Falls, which is kind of like Las Vegas for kids, without the hookers (or at least the workings girls are less conspicuous in Niagara Falls). The undisputed highlight for the boys was Marineland, where Charlie went on a ride called the Sky Screamer, which he said was ten times scarier than he thought it would be. This from a kid who doesn't scare easily. Sam, on the other hand, decided discretion was the better part of valor and watched from the ground. I decided isolation was the better part of valor and stayed at the hotel, where two year old Allison and I tested our courage and resolve with whiteknuckle rides on the elevator.
I figure we spent more money in two days in Niaraga Falls than we spent in the better part of a week in the south of France a few summers ago. I'm not complaining - I'm just saying that for my money, the view from a castle hotel overlooking the Dordogne River valley beats the House of Frankenstein every time. But what do I know? I'm just Dad.
And that's what I did on my summer vacation.