08 September 2013

12 hour Niagara Falls Adventure

At the very last minute we were presented with a free flight opportunity to fly out of Atlanta to Buffalo, New York at 8 am with a returning flight at 8pm that same night.  I couldn't resist.  As in usual Echo style I made my decision at 11:30 pm the night before our 8am flight.

"Ok boys throw a change of clothes in your backpack and get your passports! We are waking up at 5am to go to Canada!"  And in typical Zane and Dude style they threw a couple things in their backpacks and jumped in the bed eager to go to sleep knowing they should be well rested for our next day's adventure.  Unfortunately Big Papa had to work, but he promised to make our next trip.

I woke up at 5 a.m. to prepare and pack a light breakfast.  Hard boiled eggs and toast.  Once that was all packed, I woke up the boys and they put on the clothes they'd laid out the night before.  I knew they'd be groggy still so I wanted to do as much as possible before waking them up.  Once they were ready, we quickly got the kids in the car and Alpha Poppa dropped us off at Atlanta's Hartfield- Jackson Airport.

I just love how seamless travel is nowadays.  I went to Delta's check in kiosk and printed our boarding passes in less tha 2 minutes.  We were making great time and the boys had fully awaken by now, so we agreed that it was a good time for breakfast.  We sat down in the food court area, ordered Orange Juice from Burger King and enjoyed our little breakfast and our time together.  These two little rascals can make anything fun even at 6:45 a.m.!

After breakfast we headed through the security line.  Luckily the kids don't have to take off their shoes, even little things like that make traveling with them less stressful.  We arrived at our departure gate with time to spare so we enjoyed a little photo shoot to share with Alpha Poppa and of coures with our faithful readers ♥.

Dude watching the aircraft being prepped

Zane with a big happy travels Kool-Aid smile

Me trying to contain my excitement about having a 12 hour adventure.
Once we boarded the plane, it took only minutes for us to fall asleep, not waking until landing in Buffalo, NY.  Our flight was approximately an hour and a half.  I swear I have spent longer traffic getting to the Farmer's Market in Atlanta.  I knew that this adventure was going to be a blast.  During the short time I had to put together a plan on how we would get to the Falls from the Buffalo Airport I saw info on taking the city's public transportation for only $3 (or less) per person, hiring a taxi, or taking a shuttle service.  Of course since I'm always trying to save money, my first choice was to take the public bus to the falls.  However, I changed my mind once I saw the cloudy skies over Buffalo and checked my weather app.  I have no problem taking a bus but I absolutely prefer not to do so in the rain, with children.  While trying to figure out what my next move should be I was approached by a fast-taking tourist guide who wisked us outside to a taxi stand. 
The Guide: "Ma'am, the taxi is the best option the public bus will take over an hour and the taxi cost $30 with a 15 minute ride"
Me: "$30!!! That's far more than the $9 I budgeted for...."
The Guide, quikly interrupting: "Oh dont worry, there are 2 ladies here also going to the falls, you can share a cab and split the fare."
No that sounded much more reasonable to me.  What really made my final decision is once I started talking to the 2 ladies.  They were from Spain, and only spoke Spanish, which many of you know is my second language and one of the boys' first languages (along with English,  they have 2 first languages).  They were so excited to meet Spanish speakers to help them in their journey.  I knew the feeling. Whenever I travel and come across what I call a "travel angel" it's the biggest sense of relief.  I knew this was our chance to be travel angels for someone else.  We agreed to split the fare and we were on our way to the Falls.  They were also there for a one day adventure before heading to other parts of the U.S..
Taxi ride from Buffalo Airport to Niagara Falls

            Cloudy skies on the way to way

Zane and his Nintendo 3DS- Technology is a big help when traveling with kids.
When we were dropped off at The Falls we split from our new Spanish friends, eyes wide open and ready to see the beauty of it all.  We spent about 2 hours on the NY side, walking, and snapping pictures.  I was all, and more, than we expected.

The Rapids of Niagara on the NY side

Am I happy or what? In NY with Canada behind me.

After having our fun in NY.  I asked the boys, "Sooooo... you guys wanna walk to Canada?"

Zane: "What!  Walk to Canada! No way!"

Me: "But look, all we have to do is walk across that bridge over there.  On the other side is Canada."

Zane and Dude: "YEY-YUH!! We're walking to Canada!!"

Follow the signs

Selfie on the US- Canada bridge

The walk was exciting and fun.  We met other Atlantans in the immigration line to enter Canada, they seemed just as excited as us.  I was a bit shocked passing through immigration the officer asked for written permission from the "children's father" authorizating them to travel internationally without him.  I definitely was not expecting that!!!  I reassured him that I was NOT trying to kidnap our children and unfortunately did know that a authorization letter was required to spend a couple of hours on the Canadian side of the fall.  I asked that he look through our passport pages to see the different stamps as proof of our travel passion.  He did flip through the pages but was satisfied until he asked Zane questions to see what our true intention was for crossing the border. "Does your dad know where youare?", "Why isn't he here?", "How dropped you off at the airport?".  Zane answered all these questions, like a "big boy", to the officer's satisfaction, he stamped our passports and we were on our way.  He almost cracked a smile when the boys did the happy dance seeing a new stamp in their passports.

Once in Canada we were all hungry again.  We decided on French Fries and Apple Juice from a little restaurant.  We didn't exchange money for this short journey so I asked the waitress is she would let us take a picture of the Canadian Looney for our blog and for my curious kids.  She was much abliged to do so.  Zane thought is was cool that the money is called Loonies.  Of course he did, rt?

Tha Canadian side definitely give a more open direct view at this amazing source of falling water!

It also didn't take much for us all to agree on getting on the Maid of the Mist boat ride.
Now this is something I was ready for.  Many of the online review I read loved the boat ride but did not love the wet shoes, socks, and pants, they were left with after the boat ride.  In each of our bags I packed flip-flops specifically for the Maid of the Mist ride.  Once we got our ponchos on, I pulled our hoodie string tight so only our faces were exposed,  I rolled up all our pant legs, and switched our sneakers out for our flip-flops.  I cannot stress how that was probably the best idea I'd had in a loooong time.  During the ride it occurred to me that the usage of the word "mist" may be somewhat of a misnomer.  At times it felt like we were being hosed down, to the point where poor little Dude could barely open his eyes.  By the time the ride was over water was literally dripping from our chins and noses.  I was soooo fun though. 

After hours in Canada, we walked back to the US side and spent even more time soaking in the beautiful views.  We did'nt see our Spanish friends again, but Im sure they were gifted more travel angels on the way.  We caught a taxi back to the airport and landed in Atlanta at right about 8 p.m..  The boys received so much praise about their behavior on the flight back.  While deplaning the passangers in our section shockingly exclaimed, "I didnt even know there were children in this section!" "They were so well-behaved (unlike the little girl 4 rows back)!"  "Did you bribe them?" "What is your secret?"  "You should write a book!"  We soaked in the complimets and thanked them for their kind words.  Practice makes perfect and prepping them for their responsiblities also helps with their bahavior when traveling.... and who knows maybe someday I will write a book.  I just hope its an inspriational best-seller. 

These smiles and this hug was proof of a successful trip.
Where would you like to see us go on another one day or over-night journey?  We will test out the waters for you and blog about it to prepare you for when it's your turn.  Leave a comment and let us know. 
Thanks for letting us share with you.
Love always,

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