Summer is coming to an end, folks! Overall, mine was pretty good, though I could have done with less rain and more fireflies.
I mentioned previously that Marc and I celebrated our three-year anniversary this year. We decided to commemorate this milestone with a trip to Niagara Falls, Ontario. Not only was this my first time to Canada, it was our first real trip together, just the two of us. We’ve been a lot of places over the past three years, but never had we taken a vacation to just kick back and enjoy each other’s company.
It turns out we’re not really “kick back” kind of people. Who knew?
So we get to our hotel, and the first thing we realize is that we have the kitschiest hotel room in history, complete with crazy, patterned wallpaper and Gone with the Wind memorabilia. Man would I love to climb inside that decorator’s mind. But by far, the most interesting thing was the heart-shaped Jacuzzi smack-dab in the middle of the room. Yes, you read that correctly: heart-shaped Jacuzzi. Here’s a picture for your viewing pleasure:
When we booked the sweetheart package, I don’t think we realized how literal it was. I was just in it for the included wine and box of chocolate!
Whilst after the six-hour drive, climbing right into that tub was tempting, we were eager to start doing things, to have experiences dammit! After all, this was one of the natural wonders of the world. We decided to start off the with famous boat ride through the falls. Our burst of energy guided us seamlessly toward the boat. We bought our tickets, put on our ponchos, and boarded the vessel no problem. And as we got soaked in the beautiful majesty of the Falls, families trying to push us out of the way in order to get the perfect selfies, we felt tranquil, at peace, bathed in the mystery and beauty of nature. It was glorious!
Then we got off the boat. And wondered, “WTF do we do now?”
We looked around the main area and quickly realized we were in the tourist trap to end all tourist traps. We were surrounded by arcades, mini-golf, those ever-disappointing simulation rides. None of it exactly screamed, “Romantic getaway.” Ultimately, I was getting hangry, so we decided to grab something to eat. In addition to a tub and some caramel chews, our romance package came with some very romantic coupons to the Outback Steakhouse, TGI Friday’s, and IHop. We chose the Outback so I could have the pleasure of a blooming onion and Marc could have the pleasure of sleeping next to me after a blooming onion.
We sat down in a booth at the Outback, grateful for air conditioning and for the promise of food, when we made the painful discovery that tourist trap restaurants came with tourist trap prices. Our coupon was good for $20 off the bill when you ordered two entrées. Which we thought was pretty good for the Outback. Turns out, a Niagara Falls Outback entrée was at least $40. Even with the exchange rate, that was a tad expensive. We’re both a bit anxious about money, and while we might have thrown caution to the wind at another restaurant, the audacity of the Outback charging $40 for a chicken Caesar salad just made us angry. It was the principle of the thing! We ate our blooming onion and drank our watered-down drinks in annoyed, tired silence, and then left, hopeful to find a better way to close our evening.
We wandered around aimlessly for awhile, on sidewalks, across parking lots, over bridges, waiting for the inspiration to strike us. My fitness app said we walked over six miles. We tried a casino and quickly found out we don’t like to gamble. After losing $10 at the slots in about as many minutes, we realized we probably weren’t going to experience the same adrenaline rush as those around us, who had clearly arrived at this casino anywhere from several hours to twenty-two years ago. We decided to call it a night and walk back to the hotel. At least there was still time to fulfill my dream of having a glass of wine in that bathtub.
Here’s the thing: I love baths. I love sitting in a nice, warm bath until I get all pruney. And then I love adding in more hot water and continuing to shrivel up until I look like that guy in Indiana Jones after he drinks from the wrong cup. I don’t get a bath experience very often, however, because the opportunity rarely presents itself to me. After a long day of unsureness, I thought a bath might be a gateway to embracing the vacation spirit.
So we go back to the room and I put on the Jacuzzi and climbed in, glass of wine in hand. As I felt the calm, warm water brush over my ankles, I finally felt relaxed and at ease.
But then, it came time to sit down.
Suddenly, all I could think about was how many people had been in that tub. Easily, this entire hotel was designed in the 70s when people were doing a lot of acid. That’s four decades of stray bums in this tub. And even though it looked perfectly clean, was it really clean enough? What if I got a fatal disease? That would teach me to enjoy myself!
So there I stood, panicking in water that was quickly turning cold. You can do this, I told myself, You can have it all! After all, I knew I was being totally irrational. No tub is perfectly clean, and exposure to new bacteria is good for you! With a deep breath, I forced myself to sit, grimacing as my legs, arms, and back made contact with the hard, red porcelain.
“Want me to turn on the jets for you?” Marc asked. I nodded, thinking then it would feel more like a hot tub and it would help to not see the inside. He flipped the switch…
Cue the most powerful jets in all of history. These jets could have taken me to Hawaii and back in minutes. I felt like I was going to take off. I struggled to find a comfortable position, but the only thing that seemed to work was to try and float on top of the water, like a plastic bag on the ocean (Use canvas, folks!).
“Turn them off!” I pleaded, “Please, turn them off!”
“I don’t think I can,” Marc replied, staring at the dial on the wall. They were on a timer. I stared at the ceiling and waited for death.
I spent the rest of the evening reading horror stories about hotel tub diseases on the internet while Marc watched TV.
We gradually got the hang of vacationing as the trip progressed. We went wine tasting, to a chocolate factory, played mini-golf, ate ice cream, watched fireworks, and found a better restaurant that had a man with a handle-bar mustache teaching kids about science. I even got back in the tub on the second night! Plus, any time I get to spend with Marc is a gift in and of itself.
Still, we continue to laugh about that first day of our first vacation and all of the stress of our making that came with it.