I suspect that my neck and shoulders were already stiff from stress, and sleeping on the van had made it worse as the center section was raised compared to the section we had our heads on because the storage bins under it were "just" a bit too tall. Oops. So my body was pushing at my shoulders, neck, and head all night. So the muscles were all fatigued and tense anyway, so when I moved wrong they spoinged, and man it HURT.
That plus the mosquitoes plus having no groceries and I was complaining so bitterly that John quietly packed everything up and we were on the road very, very quickly. We stopped at a Bob Evans restaurant right off the highway and we had an enormous breakfast there. Jet had not only his pancake but he also asked for another order of toast, and he polished all of that off as well. That was pretty amazing. I had a stuffed French Toast. John had a bacon, eggs, hash, and toast breakfast.
From there we headed north, up into Ontario, and then over towards Niagara Falls. The freeways up there were clean, well maintained, and relatively less busy than they had been in the U.S.. Right inside the city we stopped at a tourist information center, and John called several hotels until we found one that had a room open. They said that it was the last one, but for a king-sized room with Jacuzzi, so we took the room.
Jet got a pamphlet there filled with pictures of kid entertainments along with coupons for most of them. There were ads for mazes, miniature golf courses, haunted houses, and a Brick City built of Lego. He peered at his magazine over and over, studying each page.
After all the one night stands, John promised me we could stay here, in the heart of civilization, so to speak, for two whole nights and have a whole day here. I needed it badly. The hotel we picked was right on Clifton Hill, the hill just above the walkway that overlooked the American Falls. The Hill, itself, was one huge tourist trap, with gift stores, arcades, expensive bad food, and lots and lots of those attractions that Jet's magazine held.
When we got there, Jet and I sat out in the car while John checked us in. Inside the car with the windows open, we could hear and feel the rumble of the water falling over the various Falls. The rumble was pervasive against the background noise of the street and the hotel itself. It was amazing.
The room was very nice, and was right off the pool area. So as soon as we got most of our stuff into the room we donned our bathing suits and headed for the pool. There was no lifeguard, just lots of people. It was a half-sized pool, three meters deep at the deep end, one meter deep at the shallow end. Jet immediately jumped into the deep end and swam across the short way. Then John and he paddled about from deep to shallow and back again. With my pulled shoulder I couldn't keep up with them, but it felt good to move it through the full range of motion.
So we swam. Jet concocted a race between the two ladders at either side of the deep end, and John and he raced back and forth a few times. I ended up in the jacuzzi, playing the jets against my sore shoulder until it felt somewhat better. I went and showered first, then helped Jet shower while John showered and dried off and dressed. I used Jet's vitamin bottle to really PUSH against the tight part of my shoulder and that helped immensely.
When we were all clean and cool, finally, we went out.
Immediately outside our hotel door was Dinosaur Park, a mini golf park filled with moving, roaring dinosaur dioramas. Jet was taken aback by some of the really big, loud ones, but he wasn't too frightened of anything. Then we got to Clifton Hill and it was an overwhelming display of Tourist Land. Loud barkers, lots of lights, crazy scenarios of toppled buildings (the Ripley's Believe It Or Not), climbing monsters (Hulk SMASH, half mirror, half built on item), music, and lots of place air conditioning the air outside the shop to lure you in. Jet was dazzled. I was, too, honestly, so MUCH to take in all at once. Jet immediately said, "HEY! That's in my book! Look at that, that monster store is in my book, too! It's just like it!"
John muttered to me, "Tell me why I'm here again?" As an echo of what I'd asked him yesterday when I was in the middle of the forest.
I don't think we couild have deliberately found such a marked contrast in places to stay.
We walked up the glittering hill to find the Monticello restaurant after looking at a dozen things that all served the same kinds of food. The man standing outside said that it was likely the best restaurant in town, and that there were plenty of ripoffs in Niagara Falls, but that this place was owned by a real chef and they even had a kids' menu for Jet. So we decided to go in and I'm glad that I did, as it was likely the best restaurant we ate at for the nearly the whole trip. I got the Veal Monticello, which was lightly breaded, nicely cooked, with a deeply flavorful lemon sauce drizzled on it, just enough. There was garlic mashed potatoes and harcot vertes, tender and crisp. Jet plowed through his rice and teriyaki sauce very happily while John enjoyed what he got, a lot, as well. That was very good.
There was no room for the ice cream shop we found there. Instead, we wandered down the hill, across the street, and onto the walkway before the American Falls. They had been lit with colored spot lights, and there were crowds and crowds of people there to see them. Jet said, "Oooo! Look at the Rainbow Falls!" And so we looked for a while. I tried to take a picture and failed miserably. But that was a good walk, and by the time we got back to our room, Jet was ready and willing to go to sleep with a promise that we'd see Brick City, tomorrow.
My gut problems were really getting to me, so after Jet was asleep, John ducked out of the hotel, along a secret path that led right to a real drug store and he bought me some Tylenol for me throat and some Imodium AD for my gut. They both helped immensely. Yay for travel drugs!