Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Niagara Falls Vacation – Day 2: On to Niagara

We said goodbye to Mama Dell and Papa Earl after breakfast and set off for the rest of our way to Niagara Falls.

Only an hour after we departed, Kai said that he had to use the bathroom. Or rather, he started screaming that he had to use the bathroom.

I told him that it was only an hour after he went last so he should be able to hold it for a little while until I found a gas station or restaurant. He insisted that he had to go RIGHT NOW!

I pulled off the interstate at the next exit. There was no gas station or restaurant in sight. But I did see a sign for a hospital so I headed in that direction. Kai said that he did not want to go to the hospital and wanted me to find a gas station instead. I have no idea why he was so finicky about where he peed.

Against my better judgment, I got back on the highway to look for a different exit. Immediately, Kai screamed that I get off and find him a place to pee.

I took the next exit. There were still no restaurants, but I saw another sign for the hospital. We drove to it, and I dropped Kai and my wife off while I parked the car.

We were somewhere in Cleveland, and now that I looked around, I realized that we were in an area that tourists usually do not visit. When Kai had done his business, we quickly got back in the car and went on our way.

About an hour later, Kai said he was hungry and wanted to stop for lunch. It was a little earlier than I had planned on stopping, but decided to look for a restaurant when my suggestions to keep going were met with loud protests.

My wife and I conferred and we agreed that we were not in the mood for fast food. I saw a sign for place called The Lodge at Geneva On The Lake, and thought that it sounded like a nice spot.

According to the sign, it was about 8 miles off the highway. When I passed up the McDonald’s that was right next to the highway, Kai started to complain.


His protests got more vociferous as we kept driving. He said he was hungry and wanted to eat RIGHT NOW! In the 10 minutes or so that it took to drive to the lodge, his anger grew immensely.

At the restaurant, we asked for a seat outdoors, while Kai yelled that he wanted to sit inside. The air conditioning inside was running too high, so we decided to take a table outside despite Kai’s protests. We had a beautiful view of Lake Erie (and yes, that is a genuine statement with no sarcasm.)

But it was hard to enjoy the scenery.

Kai kept complaining about everything. This was a bad restaurant, he said. He did not want to eat here, he kept repeating. I was tense, wondering if he would cause a big enough scene that we would be forced to leave.

After ordering our meal, my wife suggested to Kai that they take a walk, which he finally agreed to. They found a bench close to the lake. I wondered if Kai was starting to cool off. My wife kept turning around to check to see if our food had arrived, but fortunately it took a long time. By the time lunch was served, Kai had calmed down and they rejoined me at the table.

Kai’s mood had become jovial. “This is a great place,” he said. “We should come here again!”

He even let us take a walk around the grounds after lunch.

After that, we drove the rest of the way to Niagara. Kai’s favorite part of the drive was crossing the border into New York. His least favorite was the traffic on the toll bridge leading to the Falls area.

We checked in at the Holiday Inn. It was not luxurious by any means, but it fit our budget, and, most importantly, was about as close to the American Falls as any motel. We would be able to walk to the main sightseeing spots.

At any motel we stay at, Kai looks forward to seeing how many floors it has. He also loves to walk up and down the hallway of each floor to see all the room numbers. On this occasion, I got him to wait until the next morning to do so, as he wanted to use the swimming pool right away.

Besides looking at room numbers, Kai loves going to motel pools with Mom and Dad. It wasn’t a large pool, but it served its purpose.

Then we took quick showers and went to find a spot to have dinner.

An oddity of the area is the number of Indian restaurants there. There are no McDonald’s or Burger Kings, no Applebees or Olive Gardens, but there are five or six Indian restaurants nearby. We later noticed quite a few Indian tourists, so there must be something about the Falls that attracts visitors from India.

My wife and I like Indian food on occasion, but were not sure if Kai would eat any. He had never had any before. We also were not sure if the dishes would meet his GFCF diet (gluten-free, dairy free), but we figured there would at least be tandoori chicken.

We asked Kai if he was willing to try some Indian food, and when he said he would we chose the closest place.

Amazingly, they did not have any tandoori chicken on their buffet, or any satay as well. But the dishes they had were tasty. And Kai willingly tried several items without a fuss. After our lunch experience, I considered this a victory on many levels.

After dinner, we walked over to the falls. Niagara Falls is on the U.S.-Canada border and is split into two main parts – the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, and the American Falls. We did not have a passport for Kai so we would stay on American soil. You can still see parts of the Canadian falls from the U.S. side, but on this first night, we went over to where we could get a good look at the American Falls.

Even before reaching the Falls, we could feel its power as we walked along the rapids of the Niagara River.

I was struck by the amount of water that was rushing down the river, and when we came upon the Falls, we felt the power of the water dropping over the edge. Relatives who have visited the falls have all commented about how spectacular it is. But until you see it for yourself, it is hard to appreciate its beauty and power. It was quite a feeling to be able to stand only a few feet away, to see it so closely, and to feel the spray of the mist. And it was especially nice when Kai seemed to enjoy it as much as we did.

After that, we walked over to the observation tower where we could get a better view of the entire American Falls.

And then we sat and waited for it to get dark.

Every night, colorful bright lights are shone on the Falls. And when the light show started, Kai got really interested.

This boy loves colors. And as the color changed, he kept commenting. “It’s red.” “Now it’s blue.” “I like yellow.”

The pictures do not do it justice. You’ll have to take my word that it was both exciting to see the colors, and calming to sit outside on this nice evening, listening to the sounds of the Falls.

I could have stayed all night. And we did stay for quite awhile. But as it got late, we eventually went back to our motel.

There was a crowd waiting for the elevators at the motel. When the next elevator came, we squeezed on.

The door shut. And then nothing happened. The elevator did not move. The doors would not open. It was hot. It was crowded.

Someone commented that there might be too many people on board. Kai saw the sign that said the capacity was ten people. He counted. We had 11.

He started to get anxious. We tried to keep him calm.

It was not pleasant being on a hot, crowded elevator, but that would be nothing compared to the agony of being on it with a screaming boy.

Somehow, Kai managed to stay calm enough for several minutes. And in that time, the elevator finally moved. When the doors opened in the basement, we got out and walked up the six flights to our room. And we never boarded a crowded elevator for the rest of our stay there.

The elevator was a bit symbolic of our up and down day. We had some bumpy moments. But in the end, we survived. And we were happy to be at Niagara Falls.

Tomorrow – The Maid of the Mist, and Other Adventures
See our Facebook page for photos from our entire trip


  1. Great shots. I am looking forward to seeing pictures from the boat. I've been there twice...but I have never taken the boat. I knew Kai would have a great time there. I also loved the night light show.

    1. The boat was what I was most looking forward to doing, and I was not let down. I'm sure you would enjoy it, too.


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