Thursday, 20 April 2017

Not-So On-Terrible After All

I found it surprisingly difficult to leave Mike and Scott and head through security at the Halifax airport. I alluded slightly to this in a previous post. However, there was also an issue with my Ugandan house key... in that they thought the keychain (a lock) was a weapon, and for a few moments didn’t seem willing to let me pass through with it. But this was only one of many odd occurrences on route to my vacation destination before heading home - Ontario.

I was super excited to fly WestJet, since I’m rarely given the opportunity*. The staff at check in were incredible and put up with my overly​ enthusiastic attitude about using their airline! But, once I boarded the plane, I began to realize that I was the “one” out of all the other “things” that didn’t quite “belong.” I mean, I don’t want to be judgy, or imply that I’m better than anyone (because I’m most certainly not!), but the majority of the folks I found accompanying me on this flight were... different. My favourite was the guy sitting next to me who spent the entire duration of the flight selecting and/or updating his fantasy football team**. There were a great many other stories I could share, but I’ll let those wait for another day, perhaps.

Just before the plane landed, we found ourselves in the middle of a thunder and lightening storm. This prompted most of the people around me to show signs of fear and anxiety. I, on the other hand, was super excited! And, this excitement became even greater when a few minutes after the seatbelt sign began to flash, the captain called out over the loud speaker “FLIGHT ATTENDANTS SIT DOWN! FLIGHT ATTENDANTS SIT DOWN!” and several passengers screamed, and it was all a bit over dramatic, though given that I’d been watching Lost, and hadn’t learned of its ending yet (of which I'm still pretty confused!), I was PUMPED! But then moments later, I felt the plane connect with the tarmac in one violently swift act, which again prompted the folks around me to be frightened, but I was loving every minute of it!!!

And if you think that was the end of it, you’re wrong! You see, it turned out the lightening was directly over the airport, and we, the contents of the freshly landed plane, had to walk from the plane, onto the tarmac and into the terminal. But, because of the lightening, this wasn’t able to happen, so we weren’t allowed to exit the plane, which switched everyone’s tension to transition from fear to anger, all the while I sat in my seat laughing and feeling thankful that for once I was smart enough to pack my raincoat in my carryon!

Now, onto serious business, because obviously I made it off the plane, and found my friend awaiting my arrival soon after.

On a spir-of-the-moment decision, I accepted an offer to spend a few days in the Niagara region of Ontario, where my good friend Lyndsay has been living. This was a decision that in the moment I wasn’t so sure of, because of the stresses of my short time in Nova Scotia, and my longing to be back in Uganda, but in the end, was the best decision.

My flight arrived quite late at night, so by the time we reached her place, it was a quick catch up and then off to bed. The next morning I awoke to a beautiful sunrise...WAY earlier than I wanted. I spent a little while reading and enjoying the comfort of her apartment, before we were both awake and preparing to set off on our first day of adventures; the first stop being, breakfast, of course!

Next, Lyndsay was kind enough to oblige by one request - to see Niagara Falls for the first time since 1993, and sans three older brothers that spent the entire time trying to push me in to said falls! I was pretty excited to see how things had changed, but more importantly to find out if, like many other things I’ve revisited in my adult life, they were as big as I remembered them being!

When we first parked, we were in front of a dinosaur-themed mini-golf park. I, of course, was pretty excited about this, and insisted we take picture after picture***. Then we moved on and I was able to catch my first glimpse of the Falls.

A panoramic of the golf course. It was in great need of repair, but I didn’t care - DINOSAURS!
Despite an overcast day, seeing these beauties was even more incredible than the first time!
Once we made our way towards the walkway along the river, I spotted a Hershey’s**** store, so naturally we had to pay a visit...and Lyndsay was kind enough to indulge in my need for Hershey Kiss photo-ops!

 Photo credit: Lyndsay Sprado

After consuming more Hershey’s products in 5 minutes than anyone ever needs to, we decided to take a tour of the Falls on whatever the Canadian side aimed to call itself*****. It was pretty clear that we were the only Canadians in that line-up, which made my naturally weird demeanour seem out-of-place, once again. But, we embraced it, and I began a long, foolish rant about all the things “they didn’t tell us” about the tour******.

Contemplating life is an important activity to undergo before feeling left out of the crowd snuggled together below the Falls. 
Photo credit: Lyndsay Sprado

I’m going to toot my own horn for this one, given that I had
no idea what my camera was looking at when I snapped it!
I will say this about the tour, and the falls more generally - it is unbelievable! When I’d gone as a kid, I don’t believe we went on the boat. The result of this was how overwhelmingly powerful Horseshoe Falls is once you’re basically underneath it. It looked like we had just fallen over the edge of the end of the world! It is stunning in its power and natural beauty, and yet, for the first time in my life, felt it appeared much larger than I’d remembered it as a kid. I am truly thankful to have had this opportunity!

Our next stop was a little ways down the road to see a calmer view of the river. And we were in luck too - the skycar had just set off when we arrived!

Amazing to see the rapids even this far down, but also what a spectacular view!
We returned to Lyndsay’s apartment shortly after, and spent a little while relaxing and chatting, and most importantly, trying to sort out dinner plans!

We ended up at this epic restaurant called Syndicate, which included a dining area in a secret room! The food was delicious, the background tunes were perfect, and the all around evening was awesome! Afterwards we attempted to go for a short walk along the falls, but it was too cold, so I quickly jumped out of the car and snapped this bad boy:

The Falls at night! Hauntingly beautiful!
The following day started with donuts. But not just any donuts, homemade, vegan, local, small business donuts. And they. Were. Delicious! 

You will notice from the shot below (thanks Lynds!) that the two I am holding are not 
in the box...well, one of them is, but only because we went back and bought 3 more!

After perusing some of the local shops and enjoying a tasty cup of coffee (following cramming as many of those donuts into our mouths as humanly possible!), we decided take a trip to wine country and see the area known as Niagara-on-the-Lakes.

A sweet view of the river from a look off. The land on the other side of the river is the US of A!
The day exploring a few of the wineries, and the town of Niagara-on-the-Lakes was wonderful. There were so many flowers and new growth coming in (sorry Nova Scotia! Your day is coming...maybe...).

In the evening we had, what I like to refer to as "family dinner”, where we got together and cooked my “Last Supper” in Canada for a while. And it was delicious!!

Awkward...no one told any of us that family dinner came with a dress code! 
Lyndsay made amazing aged cheddar and dill biscuits, and together we made a pork roast with a mustard gravy, smashed tedders, and LOTS of veg!

Following dinner, we went for a short walk, where we were fortunate enough to catch a stunning sunset. Between the two of us, we filmed it, and it took less than 4 minutes from when we arrived at the water’s edge to when the sun was no longer in sight! Incredible!

A stellar sunset, on a beautiful night, to end off an incredible few days. 
Also, I became a trained sun thrower. Don’t mess with me!
Photo credit: Lyndsay Sprado
The next morning came early, but with leftover donuts, so it wasn’t all bad. I had a morning flight to catch, which meant my time in On-terrible was over, and I was about to part ways with Canada once again. Interestingly, around the area where I had to clear customs, we stumbled upon a number of paintings that represented numerous countries, and low and behold, what did we find... 

I think she was calling me home...
I struggle, frequently, with the political aspects of Canada (and a few others...). But when I get to have experiences like the ones I had over these few days I spent in Niagara, and even in Nova Scotia, I can still appreciate the beauty my home country has to offer. I’m really glad I made the decision to come visit my truly amazing friend! 

Cant wait to see you in Japan!

-the Orange Canadian

*Most international flights I take use Air Canada’s parent-company, Star Alliance. 
**Nothing against fantasy football, I don’t really know what it is, but I just found this to be a bit of an odd in-air activity! He was also really trying to make sure no one around him saw his picks - he was serious!
***A refreshing switch to my usual catalogue of goat pictures that are stored lovingly on my phone!
****Which is a completely underrated chocolate company, by the way.  
*****It used to be called the Maid of the Mist, but the US has since taken that over... Jerks! Ours is now called the Hornblower, as per my glamorous poncho, but also, what kind of a name is that?!
******A play on the ridiculous tourism feedback complaints, that usually come from our neighbours to the south. For example, they didn’t tell us we’d have to get onto the boat ourselves, or they didn’t tell us we’d get wet when we were under the falls, etc., etc. Lyndsay is the most patient human being I’ve ever encountered. I would have pushed me in. 

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