The fatigue of flying about four hours from Edmonton, Canada to Toronto in the same morning did not stop our traveling crews from fleeing Toronto and ending up in the small town of Niagara Falls on the same day.
Wasn’t that a rush like a flood? But had no choice to save time on our week-long trip that had a few obligatory things on our wish list to do and cover.
The car to take us around was remotely rented. Plans were all settled among four families to drive to Niagara Falls after we landed and had lunch at Dipak Mama’s place and stay over there for one night.
After landing at Pearson International Airport on the Saturday morning of August 7, we did not waste a second before we got onboard into two cars waiting for us. One was Dipak uncle’s, and the other was his friend Binaya uncle’s, well my dad’s friend as well.
The big ‘Thanks of the Day’ goes to Dipak Mama, Muna Maiju, and my two lovely cousins Ronish and Sophiya, for riding us from the airport home and feeding our hunger-struck stomachs.
My uncle Hiramani and aunt Namita, with their two kids, arrived at uncle Dipak’s home, which was the muster point of the day, right in a moment when we stepped into the house, from the far way another corner of the vast Toronto region.
Cooking, eating, meeting, and chatting with a long time ‘no see’ family people took almost our all afternoon there. The clock was striking at four in the afternoon, but we still had the plan to go to Niagara.
As things went on, we made a replica of an old picture of Ronish, Mimamsa, and me, which was taken some eight years ago when we were all young-looking kids. Ronish is my cousin from Toronto and is around my age. We three were in the mood of having a lot of fun but were all unknown what would be ahead.
Niagara Falls, a gorgeous and wondrous touristic place sitting at the international border between Canada and America, welcomes over 8 million visitors on the American side and around 12 million visitors on the Canadian side each year.
A flock of 16 out of these 12 million visiting people was the group all ready to move to this spectacularly beautiful place on August 7, 2021.
The real reason we were going to Toronto was that my aunt, uncle, and two cousins lived there, and we haven’t seen them in 6 years. So why not visit. Niagara Falls was just a bonus.
On the trip, my mom’s uncle’s family from Edmonton was also going. That meant two families traveling together, each having a same-aged counterpart to enjoy the company with. So I had, apart from my sister Shruti who also had Manyata as the age-alike company, Mimamsa, the same-aged aunt by bloodline relation but more a good friend in a bond. The reason is apparent: we are the same age, go to the same school (and are in the same class), and our families meet often.
My mom was worried about not being able to wake up on time to depart to the airport but most, if not all, caring moms are like that. While my mom was hasting to have everything perfectly organized, my dad keeps shooting his cliche, “Everything is gonna be fit and fine, no worry of anything, I am here with you.”
But I believe, my dad is a good organizer and does things efficiently too. My mom was already packing things a week ahead of the trip. So, standing in between my mom and my dad, I was not worried about anything regarding our week-long trip to Toronto.
Killin my mom’s worry about oversleeping, I had set up the alarm to make us wake on time. And, it did, right at 3:00 am, Saturday, to catch our 7:00 am flight to Toronto. When set out from home in the car, my dad called his uncle, the family that we were traveling with. I knew from their conversation that they were almost at the airport. But we were just lagging behind a few blocks away from home, having the 40 km road ahead to hit to get to our destination, the airport.
Fast forward in around 6 hours of onsetting the trip from back in Edmonton, and we were on our way to beautiful Niagara Falls in two eight-seater vans hitting the highways in Greater Toronto already.
The seating arrangement was the Ghimire families in one van and the Rijal and Acharya families in the other. Dipak uncle, my mom’s cousin in Toronto, was driving his Honda Pilot ahead of us, and my dad was following him, driving a Kia Sedona, the eight-seaters. Both of the cruises had eight people on board, four kids and four adults in each.
The superhighway roads were so vast and smoothly pitched that the wheels were not feeling even a pinch of jerks and jolts. Me, Shruti, and my cousin, Neha, listened to music that I had downloaded on my phone sitting at the car’s rear seat. My mom, my aunt, and my cute little baby cousin were in the middle row. I didn’t know what they talked about but two sisters, a.k.a. my mom and aunt meeting after six years, were, for sure, unconditionally pouring their hearts at their most to chitchat on a broad vary of topics. Uncle was beside my driving dad. They also sounded at the front buzzing a lot on chitchatting about buying property in Toronto, expressing dilemma about migrating to Toronto or not and much more other adult talks.
When we got to the town of Niagara Falls, located by the Falls itself after driving on the high-speed highways for about two hours, wheels on the cars never stopped but went round and round all through the town. That was actually in search of a parking lot in the unknown world of us.
Our cars drove past the streets by the falls to try to do the impossible task of finding a parking lot, which, mind you, wasn’t even to ‘park and see the falls,’ but was to ‘park and book a hotel.’
Dipak Mama was leading the crews steering his wheels to all bends and corners of the street with a faint hope of finding a parking spot by any luck, and my dad was following him like a trailer hooked up behind.
Hotel rooms were not booked in advance for sixteen people of four families on the common understanding that we would find ones instantly. By our choice, we would be the walking-in customers of any unknown hotels of the day. It was getting darker, and we had to manage our night stay there, bringing ourselves from the street into the warm and cozy hotel rooms.
As we drove past, I couldn’t see the falls from the back of the car and everyone else because I was at the very back of the van, where the windows were as small as the middle seat.
We eventually found parking. But we parked in one of the undesignated spots, which we found out only when we were leaving that it was an ‘Only Staff’ parking zone. My dad and three uncles spent about an hour struggling to find hotel rooms by telephone booking at the parking lot. Finally, Dipak uncle’s one call to a hotel signaled that there were rooms available of our need if went hurriedly and grabbed on time.
We left the ‘V.I.P.’ parking spot in a rush that we claimed to go to our hotel without any knowledge of it but guided by the G.P.S.
Getting there, another problem arose; there were not enough rooms for everyone. Fortunately, the manager was friendly enough to make something work for us, so it was all good in the end.
For a while, everyone just ate, talked, laughed, and took pictures of random ‘events’ like holding an electric kettle in the air because there was no table to set it down.
Four fathers in the group cracked their drinks and snacks on the picnic tables at the rooftop patio at night while the rest of us bunched together in one of the rooms and ate and celebrated.
When everyone finished doing their own thing and filling their bellies with the home-cooked food transported there keeping at the tail of the cars as usual as one of the inevitable parts of our way of vacationing, we decided to go for a walk down to the falls and hang around at the glowing and glaring Night Carnival beside the falls.
We didn’t want to miss it as someone had suggested that the scenery of the rainbowy light projected over Niagara Falls at nighttime is something magnificent to view at. So, we each grabbed a sweater, just in case it was cold, and went about our way.
When we got to the end of the block and turned right from our hotel, we saw New York. Obviously, it wasn’t actually New York City, but what we saw when we turned is how I imagine New York would be but like ten times bigger.
It was so chaotic but in such a good way. Blinking and brightening lights were everywhere. Muti-ethnic-specific food aroma flew on-air and came to strike our noses every time we would walk past stores or restaurants. I smelled fried Samosa and steaming Sushi, hot pizzas, Mexican Burritos, and much more as I walked.
People of all ages were drinking and munching the joys of life at the crowded roadside bars and pubs. We kept walking past in our own Nepali style, maybe staring at the ways of North American life until we turn our heads to keep the balance of our feet on earth.
There was a carnival/fair-looking thing, and it was so crowded, and there was so much chatter! Fear was on air of losing parents and the group in the crowd, at midnight and in the distant place of the brightly lightened world. We walked past it, constantly checking and keeping an eye on everyone to ensure no one is missing.
When we finally made it through all the thrilling chaos, we saw the falls. To my surprise, they looked better when I caught a glimpse of them in the ‘drive through’ earlier than they did here at nighttime. The falls didn’t look natural because of the lights flashing on purpose on them from across the river. But, I liked that they based the lights on the theme of the country’s flag by shining red, blue, and white lights on the American side of the falls and red and white lights on the Canadian side.
After a ton, and by a ton, I mean taking an excessive amount of pictures, we decided to walk further up to take photos with the Canadian falls. And that’s where things started to go wrong.
First of all, everyone started to get tired, and within 20 minutes at the midnight, everyone was exhausted. Then my aunt and uncle disappeared from the group and got lost in the crowd of fallsgoers. My dad and uncle were constantly connecting on the phone to inform each other about the whereabouts of each other. Every time they spoke, we listeners heard them making an easy-going solution to meet at a point, but it nearly never happened. To put the cherry on top, all the little kids started to fall asleep because it was like 12:20 am.
Hitting two birds with one stone, we decided to wait for my aunt and uncle by taking a break from walking. So we waited for them by sitting and leaning randomly on the concrete blocks around there.
We waited for them having the sleeping kids on laps, arms, and shoulders until my lost uncle and aunt appeared walking relaxed at their own pace. My dad and uncle laughing and giggling started clarifying what and where things went differently, which caused the group’s separation.
Even though everyone was sleepy and tired at midnight, it was a new and refreshed experience for all of us visiting the nighttime Falls, Carnival, the crowd of tourists pouring into the streets, shops, restaurants, hotels, and everywhere.
Now we walked through the ‘mini New York’ and back to our hotel. The hotel was just a basic economy class shelter for a night. So there was not much to do the fun thing in there. At 1:00 am after midnight was also not a reasonable time to stay awaken farther. We all just went to our rooms and slept right away.
On the next day, we woke up early; I would say, at around 7:00, ate a quick breakfast consisting of tea and cookies, and debated whether we should go to the carnival/fair-looking thing or the cruise that would take us to near the foot of the falls.
Everyone had decided that we would go to the carnival until we found out that it wasn’t open until later that day. You would think we would have just hung around until it did open, but we didn’t have that kind of time because we were supposed to go back to Toronto that same day. So we two families visiting from Edmonton settled on the cruise. The rest of the two families from Toronto said they would not go for the cruise ride because it was like a ‘water well of everyday use affair’ for them doing it accessively time and time again.
Holy crap! The cruise was expensive for not even like a 20-minute boat ride, but it was worth it in the end, though. We packed up all our stuff from the hotel and returned to the ‘V.I.P.’ parking spot, obviously, not the exact location we accidentally parked last time, but around there.
From there, we started walking to the place where you would buy the tickets for the cruise. The day was sweltering and bright even if the sun was hiding behind the clouds. I’m not too fond of this kind of weather that makes eyes squinty and body lazy to walk. Mimamsa and I talked randomly about the falls cruise ride and the amusement we would have there as we walked towards the ticket booth. The sun was behind the clouds all day, but it was so hot and bright that the mist from the falls that occasionally appeared out of nowhere felt like literal heaven.
We finally got there, bought our expensive tickets, and walked down to the waiting area, which, by the way, was also in the scorching, hot sun.
They gave us a plastic body cover for each person to stay dry, entering into the mist of sprinkles of the monster-looking falls falling like a gigantic milk stream from the sky.
When you look down from the boat, it seems like the boat was moving against the running bluish water, but it wasn’t. It was only the water that’s moving.
My dad threw his wonder at least five times to the group. “Is this already moving ?” “Is this already moving ?” “Is this already moving ?” Mimamsa’s dad kept solacing my dad, saying, “No, it is not,” “No, it is not.”
It was so windy on the boat that my high-quality, branded raincoat was flying over my head. As we went closer to the falls, the mist doubled in size and power to the point where it felt like it was raining super hardcore. Everyone’s eyes were burning, you could barely open your eyes, and if you succeeded, you couldn’t see anything. Everyone was soaking wet by the end of the ride, but we didn’t have to worry about anything thanks to the scorching, hot sun.
I saw my dad’s filming phone was taking a shower of the misty droplets of water blown away from the falls.
“We came down here to wash the hat only?” everyone shot a burst of laughter as dad sarcastically carped about the falls, showing his water-dripping hat in his hand.
While we all were having fun floating and flying with excitement in the river, Shruti was not speaking at all on the vessel. She looked like she was trying to figure out what the adults were trying to have fun out of that cruise ride which merely took us to the streams and left us all wet at the end of the day and nothing!
“Are you having fun?” I teased her as the vessel was taking us back. Her hair was all wet, water was draining down from her face, and she was very innocently watching around, speechless.
Two families were desperately waiting for us at the bank of the river in the day later where there were twelve suns out in the sky. We met them and hit the Highways back to Toronto.
There is nothing fabulous and rewarding than making a family trip having your best family people on the team.
Writer is a 9th grader student and lives in Canada.