Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Legends of the Falls

As I said in my post about Thing 2's class trip to Niagara Falls, I love Niagara Falls. It's only about a 2 hour drive from here, and we've gone fairly often, over the years.

When I was a kid, we seemed to have relatives visit from overseas almost every summer, and every one of them wanted to go see Niagara Falls. And why not? If I was that close to Victoria Falls or the Grand Canyon, I'd want to go see it too. I'm pretty sure my father does not enjoy Niagara Falls, because my memories of those trips involve getting up at 4 in the morning, hammering down the highway at Mach 1 to "beat the traffic", and actually standing and looking for the falls for about 5 minutes before piling into the car and heading back home. I swear we did the entire 5 hour round trip all before lunch, once.
My brother and I would spend the endless search for a parking spot looking for out-of-province licence plates. There would be cars from all over North America in those lots, and the person who saw the plate from farthest away, "won". This lead to incredibly heated exchanges about who saw the licence plate from New Hampshire or Texas first, and then, because of my brother's vast intellectual superiority and general knowledge of geography, he would convince me that New Hampshire was farther away than Texas, and I "lost" every time.

We took the kids to Niagara Falls a few years ago, and for the first time ever, went on the Maid of the Mist. Just to tell you, the Maid of the Mist is a fabulous; a huge bang for the buck. You have no idea how high those falls really are until you sail right up to the bottom of them. And despite the blue plastic burka they give you to keep you dry, you get totally soaked and end up looking like a particularly well-dressed homeless person for the rest of the day. (I went into the bathroom when we got off the boat, to see if I looked as bad as I thought, and while I cleaned mascara off my collar bone, decided I looked worse.) And the Maid of the Mist is only about 15 dollars for a half hour ride....totally worth it.

Not far from Niagara Falls is one of the loveliest little towns in Ontario, Niagara-On-The-Lake, which is at the end of the Niagara river, where it empties into Lake Ontario. It's as genteel and pretty and blushing as Niagara Falls is loud and brash and swaggering. The trip to Niagara-On-The-Lake is really beautiful, all along the Niagara Gorge. At one point, the river takes an almost 90° turn, which results in a pretty remarkable whirlpool. You can take a cable car trip over the gorge from one side to the other, which you would never get me on in a gazillion years. "Sure, I'd love to be suspended 700 feet in the air over a churning vortex of surging water, possibly plunging to my death in the blink of an eye! Then I'm going to taunt a hungry wolf while wearing a bacon suit!". The cable car is mysteriously called "the Spanish Cable Car", although I have never seen any evidence of flamenco dancers or Serrano ham on it.

I adore Niagara Falls, I really do. Someday I should bring my dad and let him see it in the daylight.

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