In June of 2021, Hailee and I made the 8 hour drive from Kentucky on our first trip to New York to visit my best friend Jordan. Let me first start out by saying, we had an incredible time. We spent 4 days exploring some of the best things that Western New York has to offer! I can't wait to go back again someday.
Also, I feel like I need to disclose: This isn't one of those perfect mom moment types of stories. This is the type of story where things take a messy turn, quite quickly.
When traveling with kids, it's not always a rainbows, unicorns and puppies. Like adults they have their own set of feelings, and can sometimes get impatient, scared and a bit...out of our control. Unfortunately during our final day in New York, that's exactly what happened. Our great last day took a turn for the "scary" in my 7 year old daughter Hailee's eyes.
The day started out swimmingly! We woke up early, went to see Niagara Falls, and explored until "The Silo", an incredible restaurant opened. We ate haystacks, The Silo's signature dish, which I can only describe as heaven on a plate, and then went next door to our big adventure of the day; going on the famous Whirlpool Jet Tour. Hailee had waited WEEKS for this, and she was so excited!
First a little information about The Whirlpool Jet Tours located in Lewiston, NY. Created in 1992 (it's the same age I am!), The Whirlpool Jet Tours take you on an up close and personal tour of the Niagara River whirlpools, as well as give you some incredible views of both of the shores of New York, but also the shores of Canada! There are two types of boat tours that they offer:
-Wet Jet Boat Tour (you get VERY wet)
-Freedom Jet Dry Boat Tour (you stay dry)
We of course chose the Wet Jet Boat Tour! Along with the price of admission, you get the use of free lockers, changing rooms, and bathrooms as well as a photographer and mounted go-pros to capture every moment of your journey down the river (pictures are available for purchase after you get off of your tour). They truly have thought of everything!
But. But. But.
It didn't go the way we expected, as has many times it hasn't (and no, it was NOT their fault).
Like I said previously, Hailee had been talking about riding on a Whirlpool Boat for WEEKS. We had watched video after video and she was excited to finally experience it herself. So when it was our turn, we put on our helmets and life jackets (provided by Whirlpool Jet Tours), and boarded our bright pink boat! Because of Hailee's size, we had to sit at least 5 rows back, to minimize the force and amount of water being thrown our way. So when we were given the 7th row to sit in, I highly underestimated the amount of sheer force and water that'd be thrown our way.
First 360 spin and small splash, it was awesome! Hailee was still super excited and happy!
Second splash....well, I'm going to call it a splash, because it was more like a strong beach wave in your face...I knew we were in trouble before I even had to look down at Hailee.
When I did look over, she was not just crying but screaming to a point I knew we couldn't go on like this again. I quickly remembered what our boat guide, Emily, had said previously. If having an emergency, tap your fist on the top of your head. Thankfully the people behind me also knew that we had reached that point and so Jordan, the people behind me and I started waving and tapping our heads to get the boat captain, Mike, and Emily's attention.
So as quickly and safely as humanly possible, they stopped the boat and Emily came over to see what she could do to lessen the severity of the situation.
At this point I must warn you....I was a total mess from a mixture of Hailee freaking out, feeling absolutely awful for the other people on the boat with us, and just my normal mom anxiety.
But even so...It was no excuse for the ridiculous that came out of my mouth next.
While trying to work out with Emily and the captain what to do in this situation, I blurted out "Can you just let us out on the rocks, over there?" as I pointed to a ledge where other tourists were sitting, watching everything go down. Not only was this a stupid question for obvious reasons, but in the words of Jordan, "That's Canada". For a split second, I had forgotten that we were in between countries at that point..
I still shutter at the thoughts coming out of my brain during that. Don't even trust me in a crisis, I'll say crazy things.
Quickly after my craziness, Captain Mike, Emily, Jordan, a very nice lady in front of us, and I came up with a plan! The nice lady in front of us let us have her poncho to completely block any water from entering Hailee's face area (don't worry, she could breath, because attached to the masks were hard plastic shields). Captain Mike was a huge help to shield our side of the boat from any oncoming waves as much as possible, which was incredible! Emily, last but certainly not least, used her own body as a shield to protect Hailee from any oncoming waves by facing her back to the front of the boat, and letting the waves hit her.
Yes, you read the right. She used herself to protect my child. I can't even begin to tell you what the meant/means to me.
I've never had a company go this far above and beyond to insure the safety of their customers. So Emily and Mike if you end up reading this, Thank you. You didn't know me from Eve, but you helped in so many ways!
When we reached the dock, we got off and everyone was okay, and for that I was thankful! It will definitely make for a story to tell literally everyone I meet. In the future, I'd love to come back and experience this amazing attraction again. Next time, It will be just Jordan and I....