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Monday, March 07, 2005

Stealing away

In the 17 years that my husband and I have been together, he's only managed to surprise me once — the night we got engaged. But he did so again when, early on Sunday morning he woke me and said, "Pack your bags, I've got a surprise for you." I was sure in my groggy state that I was hearing things, but there he was grinning from ear to ear, clearly pleased with himself at my stunned reaction.

"What about the boys?" I asked.

"It's all taken care of," he replied.

"Where are we going?" I asked as my feet found the floor and I fumbled my way to the shower.

"It's a surprise. I'll tell you when we get in the car."

As I was brushing my teeth I leaned my head out of the bathroom and said, "I really need to know who's taking care of the boys."

"Don't worry, I've got your mom on the case," he said.

I'm impressed to say the least. So while I showered and packed, Danny picked up donuts for the kids. When we hopped in the car, he gave me a printout of the Niagara Fallsview Resort and Casino on the Canadian side of the Falls. Looked very nice.

At the gas station, I thumbed through the pages (I'm usually the trip planner in our relationship) and found Mapquest driving directions. Danny is not the most technologically inclined person, so I leaned out my window and said, "I'm impressed. You even figured out how to use Mapquest."

He started laughing and said, "That's what secretaries are for." I should've known.

With that we stole away for a night. I had two appointments scheduled on Monday and quickly sent emails to postpone them and then settled back for the three-hour drive.

After a bit of meandering through the circus of Niagara Falls, we found the hotel. It was fairly new — and gorgeous. Our room (as the name promised) had a view of the Falls from high above on the 20th floor.

We settled in and then headed down for lunch and wandering. I've never been in a casino, unless you count the five slot machines in the lobby of our honeymoon hotel in Aruba. It is a bizarre world, a virtual microcosm of life, only with two parts second-hand smoke and one-part fresh air.

Neither Danny and I are big gamblers. ("I work too hard to blow my money gambling," he says.) But we did get some tokens for the slots. Within minutes, that was gone. Without saying a word, we knew we'd had enough and found a bar where a band was playing. We lasted two drinks and then were driven back to our room from overwhelming cigarette smoke.

The last time we got away for a weekend alone was in 2001 when we went to Toronto. He and I spent nearly our entire Saturday afternoon sleeping. Sounds pathetic, considering it was June and we were in an incredible, walkable city, but we were just exhausted from years of running around and something about being in another city gave us the freedom to crash guilt-free. And so we did yesterday as well.

When we awoke, it was 7 and the falls outside were illuminated with a blue glow. Though we pride ourselves on eating dinner as a family, it's often a very expeditious endeavor, with everyone done in, oh, about 10 minutes flat. Danny and I sat there for three hours, talking and savoring a grown-up meal.

It was a pleasant little reprieve from the daily grind. Our drive there was filled with excitement about being gone. The way home, we were tired and excited to see the kids. The closer we got to Cleveland, the more out thoughts turned to the busy week and weekend ahead. Good thing we got away, if only for a night.

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