An Ideal Vacation: Ontario: Niagara Falls!

Hi folks!

Today’s Ideal Vacation location is my own dear province: Ontario!  Since I have visited a few places around this province, I’ll start by introducing the one I know best:

Where to visit:

  • Niagara Falls

What to do:

  • Butterfly Conservatory (as long as you’re okay with butterflies maybe landing on you!):  It’s a lovely slice of enclosed rainforest with a vast selection of colourful butterflies to stalk.  It’s hard to go and not leave a happier person!
  • Journey Behind the Falls:  Here, you really get a sense of how powerful the Niagara Falls Horseshoe waterfall is, as well as the tremendous speed with which all that water falls every second.
  • Maid of the Mist:  Although locals tend to roll their eyes at this one for its “hokeyness”, you really get different perspective from a boat about these falls.  I lived near Niagara Falls all my life and only truly understood the immensity of them when I went on the Maid of the Mist when I was about 16.  You won’t believe the wind!
  • The “old casino” (Casino Niagara):  More unique and pretty than the new casino on Murray Hill, Casino Niagara at 5705 Falls Avenue still houses many slot machines (the only thing I’ve ever dared to play), as well as some tables for that other gambling stuff.  It also has an interesting and functional art display of different-sized flat screen TVs so you can keep up-to-date with your favourite sports teams.  Plus, it’s just a few steps away from…..
  • The Hershey Store:  While everything is expensive here, if you have a few extra bucks to splurge in the summer, try one of their chocolate-dipped strawberries (ask for it *freshly* dipped, trust me!) and/or a chocolate milkshake.  No matter your chocolate tolerance, you will get a sugar overload!  It’s an awesome place to take a date, hint hint.
  • Go up to the Observation Deck at the Skylon Tower:  Sure, it gives you an amazing view of Niagara Falls, but what people often forget is that the viewing deck is all around the tower, so you can see far into the distance in all directions and can admire all the local landscape.  This used to be the tallest building at Niagara Falls, and is starting to be dwarfed by the (kinda ridiculous, if you ask me) massive hotels….. so if you’re one to appreciate history and architecture, this is the place you want to support!  If you’re feeling like an unforgettable meal, make sure to go to the restaurant up top too; they have incredible food!
  • Margaritaville:  This restaurant is new as of last summer, but had my attention from the beginning.  One of the famous international chain of Caribbean-themed restaurants created by everyone’s favourite beach bum, Jimmy Buffett, has opened across the street from the new casino on Murray Hill.  Everything I have ever tried on this song-inspired menu has been sensational, and served in the most amusing atmosphere you can imagine.  Pirates on stilts making balloon animal hats?  Sure!  Giant tequila bottle pouring into a monster-sized blender?  Of course!  Every restaurant is themed uniquely for its location, so there’s even a shout out to Niagara Falls by way of enormous large screen waterfall projections.  I believe they have live music every night, and Jimmy himself has been known to show up and play a spontaneous set!  (Just don’t expect it — that’s only happened once so far!)


Well, I’ve got a list started anyway.  I do love playing Tour Guide for friends who’ve never been, so expect to see more updates to this list in the future.  Feel free to add your own as well!

As this was only about Niagara Falls, I will try to get to other cities in the coming days, but I’ll need your help too!  Tell me which cities in Ontario you love to visit and why!


Last Days, Love-Haters, and Jimmy Buffett

  Well, I’m back in Kingston, my vacation over.  I have a bit of a tan, the weather isn’t bad, and I get to see my friends again.  I miss Florida already, and my parents and sister too, of course.  Everything went fine over here while I was gone; my kitty was well looked-after thanks to my friend Cyndi, and my landlord.

  Before I forget, I should add a belated final list from the beach:

  • 1 octopus.  Not kidding!  I think he was less than a foot in length, including tentacles, but it’s very strange to see one on the beach there.
  • 1 perfect sand dollar.  Considering the lack of seashells this year, and the lack even on that last day, this was a veritable Beautiful Blue, if you know what I mean.  It was gorgeous, and absolutely perfect.  I ended up accidentally breaking it (ahh, how beauty is fragile….. take note, boys  haha), replacing batteries in my camera to capture my last sunset of the vacation….. but I got to enjoy its beauty while it lasted so I’m still happy about it.  Plus, I have no idea how I would have transported it back home.  haha.
  • many ex-horseshoe crabs
  • a lot of seaweed (the tubular kind as well) as it’d been windy for a couple days by then
  • a few regular crabs including a tiny tiny one….. all ex-crabs, but still.
  • 1 gorgeous setting Sun

  Now that I’m home again, I’m trying to keep myself positive, but it’s a little hard when you’ve just gotten used to spending time with a family that keeps you constantly busy.  I’m having to clean this place up as I’ve let it become a mess, I’m having to sort myself out for classes, and I’m having to finish my grad school applications….. none of which is that happy-making.  I mean, I should be happy to further my education, but it’s a big change….. and though I’m a fan of new things, big changes are still a bit nerve-wracking.  I’m also not looking forward to moving away from so many good friends I’ve made here.  I’m not being all doomsdayish or anything; I doubt I’ll be a loner when I get there or anything, it just will be sad saying goodbye to people I’ve come to know so well.  It’s not like high school, where there were maybe 4 or 5 close friends, and the rest merely casual friends.  I’ve always been very selective about people I spend time with, and I guess my coming here happened to introduce me to people with more in common with me than back then.  Okay, I’m being sappy, someone smack me upside the head.  At least I’m being honest.  This is the main reason I was a bit sad tonight.  Much like my friend Andrew said, “I’m tired and a little sad, but not unhappy.”  I agree, though for much different reasons.  I hope you’re feeling better too, Andrew, if you’re reading this…..

  Well, I’m just along for the ride.  To quote a role model of mine, Jimmy Buffett, “If it doesn’t work out there’ll never be any doubt, that the pleasure was worth all the pain.”  I was just searching for a good Jimmy quote to put in there (as I’m sure many of his would do just as well), and I found a quotations site that suggests other quotes you might like based on other people’s tastes….. anyway I just read this one and it made me laugh, but it’s true:

“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.”
— Neil Gaiman (English born American Novelist, Journalist, Screenwriter, Children’s author and Comics writer of American Gods, amongst many others, b.1960)


  Anyway, funny how that was recommended for a Jimmy Buffett quote fan….. !

  Something tells me to keep writing, so I guess I will.  I’m not sure what I’m trying to get at here, and maybe I’m just rambling.  Maybe I’ll explain why I’m such a fan of Jimmy Buffett.

  Some call Jimmy a hedonist.  Some call him a country singer in a perpetual midlife crisis.  Some just call him Bubba.  I call him inspiration.  See, Jimmy lives the life a lot of us dream of living, and he somehow got there without unrivalled vocal talent — at least not like others in the business who don’t get 1/100th of the fame he does.  It gives people like me hope.  His two biggest talents (that I can tell), are as a businessman and a storyteller.  If you’ve read any of his books, you’ll understand what I mean.  The characters are typically searching for a way to a new life — to skirt conformity and glide along on the waves life created for us to surf on.  There are a variety of social rejects met along the way, or “fruitcakes” as Jimmy affectionately calls them, who serve as reminders that life can be enjoyed in more ways that the typical.  In fact, it’s clear he prefers this sort of company, since he, himself, is one of them.  He’s the type to get mad at cinema concession stands for carrying jumbo-sized everything, but not his precious Junior Mints.  He’s the type to give kudos to the guy rollerskating naked through a crosswalk in the middle of the week.  Living life to the fullest seems to be his motto.  He’s done quite well with his message; he’s a multi-millionaire, constantly one of the highest-grossing entertainers, and he’s got a fanbase quite possibly as devoted and passionate as the Rolling Stones’.  It seems people like his message.  Live life to the fullest.  And hey, “if it doesn’t work out there’ll never be any doubt, that the pleasure was worth all the pain.”

Parrotheads unite!

 For more on Jimmy:

(For anyone interested, the Jimmy quote I used is from the song “The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful”….. hehe)…..