We are packing to move. Well, more accurately, I am packing. My husband is working and my kids are annoying the heck out of me. Anyway, today is supposed to be my birthday. I keep forgetting. We aren’t doing anything special – I’m saving that for a day when things are less hectic. It’s raining and I’m tired.

So glad I was born.

Actually, I am. Just feeling a wee bit sorry for myself. Getting older, getting podgier, and I can’t seem to acquire enough boxes.

Okay, here’s Trip Update #1: On day one we drove to a small town close to Niagara, New York. That was our first mistake. The first town we hit, there wasn’t a hotel room to be found. We checked several places only to find that the prices were outrageous. Though it didn’t matter because the inn was full (it was Saturday night, some kind of Canadian holiday, and we were close to a major tourist spot- what did I expect?). On to town two…Here we managed to snag the last room at a decent hotel (that means it had walls and a roof). They were hosting guests for two or three weddings on that very day. As you can imagine, we were thrilled to have it, plus there was a Denny’s right across the street – I kid you not!

The next morning we set off in high spirits to see Niagara Falls. Have you ever been? We haven’t. It’s not all that easy to find, at least, not from the direction we came from (and this was after we tried to follow the hotel’s directions, which were typed up, and which led us in a circle, the sneaky buggers). Once in the actual town, I kept looking for a big sign saying, Niagara Falls – This Way! along with flashing lights and a giant arrow. Maybe one of those airport guys with the orange batons waving us in the right direction. No such luck. We ended up in a part of town that looked rather seedy, so we got out of there quickly. Hopefully heading in the right direction now, we passed a couple moving along the sidewalk, one of whom was in a wheelchair. We joked that they were probably going to make it there before we did. I don’t think we were far off on that calculation since we made yet another error in direction and they got way ahead of us (the wheelchair wasn’t even motorized, either).

Finally, after some hysterical laughter and a few smart remarks aimed at each other, we got into the downtown area. My mom tells my husband, turn right! Well, he did. But too soon. She wasn’t expecting him to go two-wheeling it. I’m crying, “Not this way! This is the bridge that goes to Canada!” Now, I don’t think you need passports yet (2009, I believe), but I didn’t want to take the chance. Any day now those Canadians are going to start cracking down on us Americans – payback, I’m sure. Who knows what kind of search they’d put us through…something involving body cavities? Egad. Luckily, the guy at the booth told us we could back up. So we did, though we ended up going out the wrong way and nearly hit a car in the intersection that wasn’t expecting us to be there.

Anyhoo…As it turned out, the next right was the right right. Shaky, but alive, we emerged from the car only to discover that my husband had lost his insulin (possibly at the last hotel). Luckily he had extra and we continued on our way into the welcome center where we were welcomed…until the guy at the counter realized we weren’t going to pay $50 a person to do the grand tour, or whatever it was he was talking about. We wanted to walk – which is free – and only pay for the Cave of the Winds. I asked him which way to go and he waved his hand in the general direction of “I don’t care where you go, just leave my presence.” So we decided to use the bathroom (which could also be called the Cave of the Winds depending upon what you had to eat the night before) and regroup. Parked outside the women’s bathroom was a man hawking his wares. I don’t even know what it was he was selling, but I do know it was rather creepy seeing him there. On the plus side, the bathroom had some toilet paper, though the area itself was not the cleanest. Surrounded by all that water, but none to spare for the bathroom, I guess. At any rate, we regrouped and got better directions from a nicer gentleman who pointed toward the Falls rather than waving in its general direction.

Finally, we found the Falls. I have to say that Mother Nature did not disappoint. They are certainly fabulous and worthy of a visit – I’m a writer, but I’m not going to attempt to describe their majesty. The kids had a great time on the Cave of the Winds tour. We wrapped up in yellow ponchos and cheap rubber sandals and braved the mists. There wasn’t actually a cave – I believe it collapsed some time ago – but that was okay. The views were gorgeous from every angle and the kids liked getting really wet. My mom decided not to do the steps because her knee was bothering her, so she went back to the car. While she was trying to communicate this to me over the roar of the waterfall and down a set of stairs, my husband got really low blood sugar. So they’re gesturing to me and I, of course, have no idea what they’re talking about. Finally, she just left and my husband joined me and we had to wait until he got his sugar back up to normal levels before he passed out. After that, we somehow managed to have fun without falling in. I highly recommend standing on the Hurricane Deck. But be prepared to get wet.

So that was our trip to Niagara Falls. Loved the Falls, didn’t like the service center, or whatever it’s called. I’d recommend going to see the Falls, but pack a lunch in case you get lost like we did. No need for cannibalism.

Oh, by the way, the wheelchair couple made it there before us…

www.KristinaSchram.com