Vacation Day 4: Butterflies and Frank Lloyd Wright

The Hooligan Bacon Hogs.

First, let me note here that the breakfast buffet at our Holiday Inn has worked out great for the Hooligans. These kids inhale bacon, so for them to be able to chow down on entire plates of bacon has been a dream come true for them. S.Hooligan has also been insisting on a little coffee in a spare cup because she likes to pretend we’re at a breakfast business meeting and she thinks it makes her look “sophisticated.” She doesn’t like the coffee, of course, but that doesn’t stop her from holding the cup and talking about who she’s going to fire and the magazine she’s publishing.

It just figures that each kid had something she/he wanted to do today; and when we did it, each child was terrified of her/his activity, the little wusses. We headed back across the border, going first to Clifton Hill because S. wanted to visit Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks. Since it was early, parking was easy to find in a municipal lot behind the attraction. We paid our admissions and entered—and immediately S. freaked out at the site of all those staring, realistic-looking figures. She wouldn’t pose for any of the corny pictures we were taking or even for a fake “over the falls in a barrel” set-up installed in the same room as the three-phases-of-Michael-Jackson display (I don’t understand the relation, but whatever).

When we reached the horror movie party of the museum, there was a bypass door so the jittery wouldn’t have to go in and see the scary stuff. S.Hooligan went into such hysterics at the thought of Diamondqueen or me going in there that we took separate turns, although that didn’t quiet her down at all. (It wasn’t that scary. I did jump when I rounded a corner and saw Jack Nicholson leering out at me from the busted door from “The Shining.” There was also a pod from one of the Alien movies that suddenly hissed air; I kind of jumped at that.)

S.Hooligan continued to whimper once we were out of the museum and heading back to the parking lot. She’d been pestering us to go to one of the haunted houses, so we figure she’s been cured of that forever.

We continued up the Canadian side of the Niagara River to the Butterfly Conservatory. I’ve never been intrigued by butterflies and am absolutely turned off by them as decorative motifs. This was something completely different. I was enchanted the minute we stepped into the jungle-like domed room where hundreds of butterflies flitted everywhere. Maybe I don’t appreciate butterflies because I so rarely see amazingly beautiful ones. These ran the gamut in sizes and colors and designs of their wings. There was also something very peaceful about watching them, at least for me. J.Hooligan, who’s scared of insects, was tense and wary the entire visit, ducking when one of the floating lovelies swooped too close to his head. The Butterfly Conservatory had been his idea or we wouldn’t have even thought about going. It’s a shame he was so nervous. Diamondqueen and I loved it, and neither of us had cared a bit about it when we’d heard about it.

The aero car and the whirlpool below.

Our last attraction was something called the Whirlpool Aero Car. Basically it was a cage-like cable car that crossed the Niagara River and back over a whirpool basin. J. was pretty rattled by this as well, but it didn’t last long and there were spectacular views of the gorge in various directions.

It was still early in the afternoon. Diamondqueen announced she wanted to head back up to Buffalo so she could see the Frank Lloyd Wright house after all. S.Hooligan was incensed, but J. was remarkably sweet about his mother not being disappointed by missing this visit. We crossed back over to the U.S. and headed up I190. It wasn’t really that long of a drive, and it was well worth the effort.

The Darwin Martin House by Frank Lloyd Wright is located in a lush neighborhood called Parkside, full of huge, impressive but traditional homes. The Martin House is an enormous complex designed in Wright’s signature Prairie style. Diamondqueen has always been a big fan of Wright’s designs, and the house didn’t disappoint.

One part of Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House.

Since it’s being restored, we weren’t sure how much there was to see, but it was very interesting (or, in Diamondqueen’s case, thrilling). Originally the windows had been filled with Wright’s art glass windows, including the Tree of Life design, but they’re being recreated as part of the restoration. Even the site of decal-applied designs was something thrilling, especially if you could imagine the original windows all around the house. I was very relieved Diamondqueen was able to make this pilgrimage, and she admitted this was her favorite thing on the trip.

By then it had been many hours since breakfast and we hadn’t had lunch. Rather than try to find a restaurant, we decided to head back toward Niagara Falls and stay on I190 and return to Honey’s. I was too thirsty for the Black Lager so I went with Diet Pepsi, but the beef on weck was just as tasty the second time. (I also scalded my brain lining with the horseradish again.)

Back at the hotel, even S.Hooligan took a nap, falling asleep cuddled up next to me with her head on my arm. We woke up around 7:30, and by eight o’clock we were down in the pool. (J. and Diamondqueen stayed behind.) S. is now able to swim all the way across the pool under water, holding her nose with one set of fingers and wearing goggles. She met a little Asian girl last night who returned to the pool with her family this evening just as we were about to leave. I let S. stay in the water so she could chat with her new pal, Victoria. I finally intervened and said we had to go back upstairs. It’s our last night in Niagara Falls and there’s packing to do.

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