I’m not going to give you a day-by-day account of our two week road trip, as tempting as that is to me (hey, sometimes it’s hard to come up with a new blog post every day.) But let’s pick up in Niagara Falls, where we left off.
We crossed the U.S. border at Lewiston and headed for the Niagara Power Project Visitors’ Center (yes, I spelled “center” wrong. American spelling, people!) — I can’t say enough good things about this place. I can’t speak for the kids, but I learned a lot about how electricity is produced and transported. We took part in a simulation of a day at the power plant — each of us at our own station focusing on different aspects of the job. And my favourite, the very cool table where you try to create an electrical grid by placing homes, businesses, generators, transformers, and towers in the appropriate places. We were there for three hours and the kids didn’t want to leave. And did I mention that it was free? Seriously, it’s worth the drive to Lewiston (when the borders open back up, of course.)
Later, at the Corning Museum of Glass, K and I made our own glass pendant necklaces while Mr. December and the others tried their hands at sandblasting ice cream goblets.
We finally rolled into Scranton, PA late that night after going to the wrong Courtyard by Mariott Scranton (couldn’t they have come up with two different names?), where E showed us the sore toe she’d been whining about since Niagara Falls. I was shocked to see that her entire toe was swollen. I felt like the world’s worst mom for spending two days telling her, “I hear that your foot hurts, but that’s because we’re just walking more than usual. You’ll be fine tomorrow.”
She wasn’t; by the next morning, E’s toe was enormously swollen, shiny, and very painful. Mr. December took her to a doctor while we cooled our heels in the hotel lobby. Eventually they returned with a diagnosis of cellulitis, a bottle of antibiotics, and instructions to keep tabs on whether the redness was spreading or receding.
We rushed straight over to the Lackawanna Coal Mine (listening to my themed playlist that included Coal Miner’s Daughter and Workin’ in a Coal Mine), hoping to catch the last tour before it was too late. Thankfully, we were on time and they had a wheelchair down inside the mine, so we wouldn’t have to carry E on our backs. I spent most of the mine tour (and the rest of the day) saying, “OK, kids. Remember this next time you want to complain about having to load the dishwasher. You could have been born in another time and be that kid sitting in the dark all day long!” To this day, when they complain, I say, “At least you’re not working in a coal mine.”
I wish we’d had more time at the mine. Right next to the mine shaft was a Museum of Anthracite that we didn’t get to see, and the chance of us returning there at any point is almost zero.
We got to our destination later than we wanted to that evening, since our medically necessary late start meant that we hit New York City rush hour on the way into town. It was okay, though — we listened to a few episodes of the Tell me Something I Don’t Know podcast (which is highly entertaining.) As we inched through the tunnel into Manhattan, we turned on a playlist I had compiled of songs about New York. Know who noticed and/or enjoyed it? Nobody.
Since we would be parking our car for the duration of our stay in the city, we had to take out everything we might want. So the big bins with our shoes and sweatshirts got loaded onto the luggage cart, along with the two suitcases, the schoolwork box, and everyone’s backpacks. And the stuffies. Also pillows. Passers-by on the sidewalk seemed entertained by our attempts to keep everything from falling while children exited the vehicle one after another; it was a bit like a road trip clown car.
I dropped the car off at one of those parking garage towers where they take your car at the entrance and put it on an elevator to some other level, then enjoyed the relative peace of a two-block stroll without any whining, arguing, or begging for snacks. I rode the elevator up to the top floor, where we had booked what Manhattan hotels call a “suite” and hotels everywhere else call a closet. It actually was large enough for all of us, but just barely. At bedtime it was basically wall-to-wall mattresses and beds.
It was too late to do anything or go anywhere. That night was an ETB (Early To Bed) for all of us — the next day we’d be exploring
the m&ms store Manhattan!