In our family, the last day of school not only marks the beginning of that parental oxymoron, summer holidays, but it’s also the eve of our annual road trip to the magnificent, cascading waters of Niagara Falls. Of course, I’d be referring to the six-story indoor waterpark at the Skyline hotel.
What was originally a one-off end of school celebration in 2008 has since become a seasonal tradition for my kids. Yet from their perspective, the splendor of Canada’s Horseshoe Falls is but a soggy second compared to Fallsview’s manmade rapids shooting down winding fiberglass slides with such fitting names as Kamikaze, Sky Screamer and Canyon Drop.
Our kids were still pretty young that first year at the waterpark, so we hung around the gentle wave pool and kiddie-zone most of the time, which frankly, suited me fine. But as they’ve grown, so too have their thrill-seeking appetites. Six years later they now head straight for the tower slides while I, unable to ride a playground swing without Gravol, try in vain to keep up.
I’m not sure how I got talked into it, but somehow I found myself standing at the entrance to Canyon Drop last Saturday. Fearing the walk of shame if I backed out, I clung to the sides of the tube against the rush of water listening to the attendant say ‘You can go ma’am!’ over and over. I knew the only way I would share this experience with my kids was by letting go. So begrudgingly, I did.
The sound leaking from my body as I descended was pure grade school playground. After the horrifying free fall, I bottomed out into a gushing trough of water, skidding through it like a human tsunami until my one-piece categorically became a thong. By the time I’d mercifully stopped, it was wedged so far past its place of origin that I sat motionless in the water, praying that the nubile teenage lifeguard would respectfully look away so I could stand up, tactfully pull it down from my armpits and vacate the bearing-all strait.
Thirty-six hours and three trips to the waterpark later, the kids’ agenda was complete. But ours still included one final look at the falls. So how did the thrill seekers and their parents compromise? By taking in the sights from the comfort and safety of the Skywheel, of course!