Former columnist for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, the Baltimore Post Examiner, and Gatehouse News Service

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Niagra Falls

Our recent trip to Niagra Falls was amazing.  My husband planned out a 5-day excursion to celebrate a big birthday with me, and off we went to do as we pleased for a while, staying at inns and eating lunch at beautiful places and watching the scenery go by. The freedom to do that was amazing and much appreciated, as hard as we all work these days.  (Youngest son was at a hockey camp that he loves, so the trip was guilt-free, as well.)

I have wanted to see Niagra Falls for a few years now.  I love the Marilyn Monroe film "Niagra," and I saw a television special about people who have tried to "conquer the Falls" that was really interesting.  While I thought that the would-be conquerers were pretty stupid, what I did appreciate was the Falls themselves; so powerful, so wild, so...unstoppable.  Nature at it's beautiful best.

Of course long ago, humans came around, saw the Falls, and thought, hey, we could build towns here and make some money offa this!  So, on both the Canadian and American sides of Niagra Falls, commercialism was born.  Stairs and concrete scenic vistas and boat docks were built, to bring people as close a possible to the magic.  My favorite thing about the experience was a trip aboard the "Maid of the Mist," where you don a rain slicker, climb on a boat, and get as close to the Falls as is humanly possible.  At one exciting point in the ride, when the captain has brought you almost under the Falls, all you hear is a roaring and thundering of water, all you see is falling water and mist and spray, and you can feel the Falls in your own heartbeat, like when the bass of a good sound system is really cranked up. 

My mother-in-law said to me, "I remember thinking, even now that I'm back home, the Falls is still there, still falling.  Never stopping."  Now that I've been there, I know what she means.  it's reassuring.  A beautiful destination (we stayed on the Canadian side, which I recommend), a great trip.  I won't ever forget it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tall Ships Field Trip

The tall ships came to Boston Harbor over the 4th of July, so yesterday we went down to see them, taking our 13 year old James, too.  Let me say right now that there is nothing that a 13 year old boy would rather do than go see the tall ships with his parents. It's like a field trip - but with your parents.  Standing for hugging photos, learning interesting facts about merchant marines from Ecuador, staring up at the masts until your eyes hurt; it's all part of the rich pageantry of a family outing.

The tall ships were amazing.  I saw them in Baltimore in 1976, which prompted me to say to my dad, "What's the job that gets you on one of those ships?"  He answered, "Merchant Marine."  I said, "Then that is what I'm doing for a career."  And for two or three years, I meant it.  In fact, whenever I got in trouble, I'd think, "You'll miss me when I'm a merchant marine, folks.  You'll wish you hadn't been so tough about my sneaking a peek at "Love American Style" while you were at your bridge party, when I'm in Asia or Europe on one of the tall ships."

My dream career as a merchant marine had displaced my former dream of dolphin trainer, where the thought was, "OK folks, you'll miss me when I'm in a lagoon in Florida, putting sonar tracking devices on dolphins (I read a lot about dolphins back then).  Was flushing my sea monkeys down the toilet so bad, worthy of grounding, people?  They were practically invisible, and definitely did not wear crowns."

So, no one was surprised when I ended up in New Mexico for college, and Boston for my life.  The best part?  A great family - both the family I grew up with, and the family I made - to keep me safe and happy while I live it.

Next week, Niagra Falls with my sweetie...I'll be reporting from the edge.