Wow. What a weekend. I have to admit, when Linda first invited me to go away this weekend, I wasn’t really sure if it would work out. I didn’t know if I would be able to be away from the girls overnight, but Mark was very supportive of the idea, and so I agreed to go. The plans slowly came together over the course of last week- I booked the hotel and we formed a tentative plan for Saturday night and Sunday, and before I knew it, it was time to leave.
I thought that when the time came for me to head out of town, I would be off like a shot. What parent doesn’t relish the idea of time to themselves, especially when they haven’t had much to speak of for a long time? As I got in the car and drove away, though, it was actually with mixed feelings. Excitement for the coming hours and relief that nothing had happened to thwart these plans were intertwined with guilt for leaving my family behind and worry about how everything would go without me there. The CN Tower wasn’t even in my rearview mirror before I had fished out a pair of Penelope’s socks from my bag and was sniffing them like an addict searching for a fix. And as much as the scent and feel of her little baby socks made me ache for my family, I resisted the urge to turn the car around and I forged on.
And, man, am I ever glad I forged on. I got to the hotel, got checked in and settled in our room, and enjoyed a bit of quiet time before getting ready for our night out.
I met up with Linda and her friends Jessica and Cheryl, and we had a fantastic meal at Johnny Rocco’s. From the moment I sat down, our discussion turned to rice balls, and at the time, I wasn’t quite sure why. How many rice balls could I eat? How many orders should we get? I had absolutely no frame of reference for this, so I took a guess at an acceptable number of rice balls and said that I could eat two. This seemed to satisfy everyone, and so we requested two orders of rice balls in addition to our salads and entrees.
Well, once these rice balls arrived, and I took a bite of one, I immediately understood why they were such a topic of conversation. They were divine- crunchy on the outside, warm and melty inside- I could have eaten five and forgone my entree. In fact, I was only able to eat a few bites of my mushroom ravioli (which was also quite tasty) because I was so stuffed from these heavenly appetizers.
After dinner, we headed over to the Fallsview Casino, where we had tickets to Le Grand Cirque. We played some slots, didn’t win, had some drinks, and enjoyed the breathtaking stunts at the performance. Afterwards, Jessica dropped Linda and I at the hotel, and we watched a movie and indulged in some Girl Scout cookies, just like in the old days- back when Linda and I were roommates, eating chocolate and watching TV were pretty much a daily occurrence. Yes, we were wild like that in our twenties.
More than eight hours of solid sleep later, we found ourselves at Denny’s for a ridiculously indulgent breakfast. Denny’s has an extensive breakfast menu filled with sinful selections, and I opted for the chocolate peanut butter cup pancake Grand Slam, which, in addition to the pancakes laden with white and milk chocolate chips and chocolate peanut butter sauce, comes with two eggs, hash browns, bacon, and sausage. It was quite possibly the largest breakfast I have ever had in front of me. I couldn’t quite finish it all, though I gobbled up every last crumb of those fabulous pancakes in record time.
Next up was the Hornblower Cruise of the Falls, formerly known as Maid of the Mist. We really lucked out, weather-wise, for this- it was sunny and mild, despite the forecast predicting a day of cold rain. I loved this boat ride- it was amazing to get so close to these spectacular Falls. It didn’t hurt that I looked quite fetching in my red poncho, either.
After we got off the boat and ditched our ponchos, we met up with Jessica for a round of Dinosaur mini-putt. This course had some excellent photo ops, of which I attempted to take advantage. Amazingly enough, after eighteen holes, we had all golfed equally terribly and the game ended in a three-way tie. It was started to get quite overcast and chilly, and so after lunch, it was time to bid farewell to Niagara Falls.
By the time I returned home, I had been gone for about twenty-seven hours. Throughout my time away, Mark had sent texts reassuring me that everything was fine, and it was obvious that it was more than fine when I walked in the door. I was greeted with three smiling, happy faces. Not only was the house still standing, but it was tidy- no piles of dirty laundry or dishes in the sink. Everything was great.
I strongly urge any parent who has the means and the opportunity to take some time out for themselves like this. I feel refreshed, recharged, and relaxed. I don’t even feel even a little bit blue coming home after this night away. I am just relishing the fact that I got to spend some quality with friends. And Friends. I love Charlotte and Penelope, but they just don’t get my Friends references the way Linda does (“Why is your family Scottish?” “Why is your family Ross?!”). It was perfect, and exactly what I needed.