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Monday, March 20, 2017

Niagara Falls

I had seen Niagara Falls as a Girl Scout when I was in high school. Is that snickering I hear? "Still a Girl Scout in high school?" You may be thinking. Heck YES I was! I got to see and do things as a Senior Girl Scout that I may never get to do again. I saw the sunset in the Rocky Mountains. I rafted down the Colorado River. I went on a four day canoe trip on the Upper Iowa River. I hiked in Yellowstone National Park. I built a snowman in Colorado. And yes, saw Niagara Falls. All because I was still a Girl Scout in high school. Stick THAT in your pipe and smoke it.

Anyway, Willie had never seen Niagara. He loves fish tanks and fish ponds. He has built more water feature ponds in our yards over the years than I care to count. I decided it was time for him to see the premier water feature in North America.

The original idea was to park on the New York side and then walk over the Rainbow Bridge to the Canadian side. Well, ideas are just that, ideas. Sometimes life throws curve balls.

We set the GPS in Willie's phone for Niagara Falls, NY. We drove along and as we got closer to the falls I noticed the GPS took us off the interstate and into town. I saw these huge Niagara Falls signs and it was taking us away from them. I thought to myself, maybe there was a wreck down that way and the GPS was taking us around it. We kept following its directions, becoming ever more confused. Until finally it squawked at us, "You have reached your destination." I could see the mist from the falls, but that was about it. Otherwise we were in the middle of town. Then it dawned on me, it had taken us to the middle of Niagara Falls, NY, the TOWN!

So... what to do now. I said, "I see mist! Go that way!" Willie turned the car and we found a sign with a waterfall on it. That was good! We would follow the signs! How could that fail us? We took a turn, and ended up in a line of cars heading into Canada. There was no way to turn off the road or get out of the line. An officer with a drug or bomb sniffing dog was going back and forth between vehicles. Willie, not one to like unexpected turns in events, started to panic. At first I thought he was kidding around, but then realized he was truly scared.

I got out our passports and joked that the worst thing that could happen is if they found the tomato in the back that we got for tacos. This joke backfired, he was now certain that we were going to be pulled over and jailed for a tomato.

The dog came and sniffed out our car. The officer and dog went on their way. Willie seemed to calm a bit. We got up to the boarder and the lady took our passports, asked why we were going into Canada and how long we were going to stay. She gave us our papers back and we were on our way. Willie calmed back down and we followed the signs to Niagara Falls, even though it was right next to us. We finally found a parking place, and ran to find a bathroom. Sweet relief!

We walked to the falls, Willie was in awe. We looked at the Rainbow Bridge and decided someone was looking out for us. I wouldn't have been able to carry my camera bag and walk across that bridge without dying. It wasn't hot, but it was warm enough I was working up a sweat just walking where we did.

We stood and just watched the falls from above. The grandness and the roar holding us in one spot for the longest time. I don't know if I truly appreciated its power as a kid in high school. Now, it just held 
me in place. Feet firmly attached to the ground as it rumbled its rhythmic quakes under my feet. Its sound the song of strength. It was like we dare not move until it gave us permission to do so. 

Apparently, the falls and our bellies were having a talk. Suddenly, we were hungry and the falls let us go. We walked up the street and turned a corner. We saw DQ, a Burger King, I think, and other fast food. I was determined. I didn't want to eat the same old crap we could get at home. Willie kept trying to get me to just go for the fast food, but I was relentless and on a mission. We walked up a steep hill and found an odd little restaurant. I don't remember its name, but we went in. This is what we found. It was like a Chuckie Cheeses on steroids, growth hormone, and what ever Lance Armstrong used all rolled into one. Except there were no games and no disgusting pizza. 

We were shown to our seat. We looked up to find this fellow. 

While he was animated, he didn't sing to us or anything annoying. The food was good. Nothing to write home about, but the atmosphere, it was its own. I was glad we went there. It definitely was like nowhere I'd ever been. 

After lunch we walked back down by the falls to go on one of the boat rides. It wasn't the Maid Of The Mist, as that is on the US side, but the same idea. You don a cheap red poncho, you get on the boat, and you get to feel the absolute power of Mother Nature. I wouldn't get my camera out in the mist, but was brave enough to pop my phone out here and there. 

While we were in Canada, we had turned our phones off, so as not to get any international charges. This meant we had no GPS. We started following signs that said USA. I was driving, and realized I needed to adjust to using kilometers per our instead of miles. Once I had that down I realized we were not on the same road to get out of Canada as we took in. We got a nice tour of a bit of Canadian country side, but still were seeing signs for the US. I wasn't going to panic, because I didn't want to get Willie worked up again. We finally got to the boarder. The agent was not nearly as nice as the one we saw going into Canada. He asked us why we went into Canada, and if we had bought anything. I told him we went to see the falls and bought a few souvenirs for our grand kids. 

"What kind of souvenirs," he grumbled. 

"Just a little ball and three boat whistles," I told him.  As I pulled out the bag, I pondered on how we had all sorts of camping equipment in totes in the back and he's worried about a bag of toys.

"Let me see them," he growled. I showed him the bag, he took it and looked at it and shoved it back at me. Good thing he doesn't know about the tomato, I thought to myself. 

Back in the US, we turned on our GPS again. It took us a completely different way. This was probably because we came out at a different area, I figured. It was a very nice drive. All back roads in the country. No frustrating rush hour traffic. The leaves were starting to turn. It was a much more enjoyable drive than the drive to Niagara. 

We got back to our campsite and settled in for the night. 

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