Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Before the World Turned Upside Down

A week ago today, life was relatively normal.

Why does it seem like a different lifetime?

I held a few reservations about our decision to travel for Spring Break, but it was more irrational fear at that point, and so the five of us flew to Rochester, NY,  and crossed the border into Canada. After checking into our hotel, we ate dinner at TGIFridays, watched two hockey games on different screens, then went swimming in the hotel's pool. 
Alone in a Canadian arcade, playing hockey--what else?

(Putting this all in perspective: Those were the last two NHL games played. The restaurants and bars are closed or closing. We made jokes about coronavirus as we soaked in the petri dish hot tub without fear. Yesterday the Canadian border closed.)

Wednesday morning we took a mostly deserted tram from the hotel to mostly deserted Niagara Falls, where five AZ desert rats shivered in the mist and marveled at the sheer water volume crashing over the rocks. 

We wandered the practically empty shops, taste tested (and bought) several maple syrups--when in Canada--and headed back to the New York side.

(Perspective check: Our experience was mostly deserted because it is the freezing off-season. Now, the tram is closed, and if the shops aren't closed yet, I'm sure they will be soon.)

Brad drove us to Fort Niagara, where the cold once again limited tourists. 

We only saw one other group the entire time we were in the fort, and the boys took advantage of this time to wrestle and shove and banter. 

I took advantage of this time alone by not forcing them to be staid. It was a win-win for all of us.

(Perspective check: As far as I know, national parks remain open, but who knows how much longer that will last.)

My kids loved rolling down all the big hills they found. Just outside Fort Niagara was a huge hill, and they hiked to the top and repeatedly rolled down, getting coated in mud and grass stains and loving every pass down the hill.

Brad, Eve, and I were freezing, but the die-hard boys stayed on the hill much longer. We pulled the car around to pick them up, and when I rolled the window down to call them, Micah shouted, "Wanna see some real speed? I'll show you some real speed!" As he bolted to the car, Brad squealed the tires and sped away. I haven't seen Brad laugh that hard in forever. By the time we circled back through the roundabout, the boys were standing in the middle of the deserted street with their hands up to stop the car.

What a funny memory.

After a quick stop for a Chipotle burrito, and Girl Scout cookies and groceries at Walmart, we drove south to Palmyra, ready to spend a few days seeing Church history sites. But no bed until we watched "Man from Snowy River." I don't know how I've neglected to share this classic with my kids . . . My dad must be shaking his head in disbelief at this revelation.

It was an exhausting day.

(Perspective check: In hindsight, I wonder how much of the emptiness was seasonal and how much was situational. Wednesday was the day everything suddenly became harsher, scarier, and increasingly more restricted. That's the day March Madness was cancelled. Gobert tested positive. Harvard emailed and said campus was closing. And Thursday was even crazier.)

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