OUTRAGEOUS

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There were five of us who arrived at the elevator at our hotel at the same time. As we waited for the elevator to descend, I attempted to make small talk. There was an older couple (I started to say “old”, but “older” sounds more socially appropriate) and a younger guy. The younger guy was personable and friendly. The old couple (oops – I couldn’t help myself) hardly dared make eye contact with me. I had the thought that they were wound up tighter than a drum. Their body language was pretty intense and I sensed they valued their privacy.

The older couple stepped into the elevator first and stationed themselves next to the floor selection panel. Stepping into the elevator, the younger guy asked: “Would you mind pressing six for me?” I added: “We’re on ten.” The older woman made our selections for us. The selection panel already reflected that the older couple was on their way to the top. They were on the eighteenth floor.

In reality, the older couple probably weren’t any older than the General and I, but they weren’t nearly as relaxed. I had the thought: “Please God, never let me get like that!” I much prefer to wear a smile than have my jaws locked together in a grimace.

After getting settled in our room, I suggested to the General that we go down and talk with the hotel’s concierge. He would be the best source for information. Surely, the falls were within walking distance. I was ready for us to go exploring. She suggested that I simply ask the concierge how far it was to the falls rather than ask if it was in walking distance. She wisely pointed out that some people can’t walk very far. Consequently, he’d be at a disadvantage because he doesn’t know our ability. When she said that, I had the thought that the older couple on the 18th floor probably wouldn’t be able to keep up with us.

The concierge came across as very helpful. At least, that was my initial assessment. He said, “It isn’t far to the falls, but I’ve got a better deal for you. Let me set you up with a tour package. It only takes four hours and you get to…”. He went on to say, I need your credit card number. It is already 6:00 p.m. In order to make this happen tomorrow, time is of the essence. The General didn’t say anything, but I sensed she wasn’t on board with the tour idea. I said, “Give us some time to think about it. I will get back to you. Do you have a map and can you tell me how to get to the falls?” He repeated, “The tour will take you to both the Canadian falls and the American falls. If you want to go on the tour, you need to let me know very soon. I countered that I wanted to think about it first. At my insistence, he then provided me a map and charted a course for us.

Truthfully, I had no idea that Niagara Falls includes two different waterfalls. I always mistakenly assumed that the falls separated the two nations. It only goes to show you, that I don’t always get it right. I could hardly wait to see them for myself.

The General and I went back upstairs to get my phone. I wanted to make pictures as we walked. The General wasn’t impressed with the hotel’s concierge. She added: “Do you remember the tour packages you bought from the hotel’s concierge when we went to Cozumel? This guy reminds me of that guy. He is a quick talker and if you’ll remember, you paid beyond fair market value for the stuff you signed us up for in Cozumel. She described him as a shyster.

Hey, I hardly remembered that we went to Cozumel, much less the concierge. Of course, how could the General forget? I signed us up to go snorkeling. The General was a good sport and made an honorable attempt, but the reality was we were in water way over our heads. When we got out of the boat, she was struck with a sense of terror. Life jacket or not, she can’t swim and she was genuinely terrified. It didn’t merit a 911 call, but she was hyperventilating and mumbling something under her breath about her disdain related to the experience. I am only assuming that both the concierge who sold me on the idea and I were temporarily on her list of “America’s Most Wanted.”

With map in hand, we went back and pressed the button to take the elevator. When the door opened, the older lady from the 18th button was on the elevator. She said, “We meet again. I forgot something in the car.” She asked if we were just arriving? I explained that we were. She said they arrived early the day before. I asked, “What have you done or seen that is a ‘must do’ for us?

She said, “We took the tour the hotel concierge recommended. It was four hours long and we didn’t have lunch. We should have done that differently. We took the boat ride that went next to the falls. It was outrageous”. So was she complaining about the boat experience or was she praising the boat experience? I was confused and asked for clarification. I’ve never heard the term “outrageous” used in a positive fashion. She said, “Being in the boat near the bottom of the water falls was outrageous (there was that term again). It was the most incredible experience. You have to experience it to describe it. It was my favorite thing.”

As it turned out, she was truthfully describing the experience. The General and I discovered that the lady was right. There aren’t words to describe the experience. Looking almost straight up at water thunderously cascading over the falls toward you is beyond belief. We had on plastic rain coats, but our faces and hair got pretty wet. Hopefully no one heard me singing to the General, “Rain drops keep falling on my head.”

The grand finale’ of the evening was the fireworks display that seemed at eye level. From the vantage point of being on the tenth floor, they seemed like a stone’s throw away. I’ve never seen fireworks as vibrant. It was awesome or perhaps I should say “outrageous”. It was something you had to experience to believe.

All My Best!

Don

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