Six hundred and thirty five thousand gallons per second…that’s the amount of water that flows over Niagara Falls. On a spectacularly beautiful day, Niagara Falls is a spectacle unlike any other. The speed and the roar of the water is what first grabs your attention. After that, it’s the mist–you know you’re going to get wet at some point, but we look at each other and say “Let’s get on with it”!
Helen (adorable wife) and I were staying in a very nice Air Force Inn at the Niagara Falls International Airport about six miles from the Falls. We were up and out early, having spent a delightful evening at Griffon Gastropub on the previous night. Once again, the weather was glorious so we expected the crowd to be large. However, it surprised us that the visitor count seemed to be somewhat moderate. There is plenty of parking on the U.S. side of the Falls, and plenty of help as well, so everyone was moving in a very orderly fashion. A tour group of Chinese arrived about the same time as we did. They were young, probably college students, and they were having a grand time taking pictures and snapping “selfies” by the hundreds.
We entered the visitor center to buy tickets for the Maid of the Mist tour. The ramp into the center gave us the first view of the Falls down and to the left, and our excitement for what’s ahead ramped up with each step. Once inside, we had plenty of places to spend money including a very nice gift shop, and several places to eat. There was a movie about the Falls but, we were there to ride the boat.
Tickets are $17 each for a ride and a “one size fits all” blue poncho. There are several Maids of the Mist with departure times every fifteen minutes for a thirty minute ride. We very much wanted to be on the top deck of the boat, but our place in line was going to make that opportunity a little “iffy” with the number of folks ahead of us. When our Mist arrived at the dock and unloaded the previous tour, I couldn’t help but notice how wet everyone was, but I also noticed how little they cared. I knew that this was going to be fun. We boarded the boat and walked straight up the stairs to the top deck…no problem.
Looking over to the far side of the river, I could see a load of Canadians in red ponchos boarding their boat, Hornblower. We were in for an International experience.
The Captain of the Mist spoke over the loud speaker and welcomed everyone aboard. He gave us a safety briefing and told us where we could find life jackets, then got underway. Unfortunately, that’s the last time we could hear the Captain. The noise from the boat engine, plus the roar of the Falls pretty much drowned him out.
We first went by Bridal Veil Falls which is the smaller of the two falls at Niagara and is on the American side. The Captain slowed the Mist and everyone took the opportunity to pull out cameras, cell phones, Go Pro cameras, and fire away. We were getting soaked and it was a hoot! The noise from the falling water really is deafening. We took pictures of a group of Chinese tourists who needed a hand. They were very appreciative.
Moving up the river, we arrived at the base of Horseshoe Falls, the larger of the two which sits on the Canadian side. Once there, the Captain brought the boat to a rest while the water rushed over the top of the Falls and crashed around us, sending mist, like rain, on top of everyone. I felt like a kid walking in the rain on a splendid sunny day. Talk about a completely unique experience…this was it!
In the few minutes we were at the base of the Falls, we took a lot of pictures, but mainly spent most of the time staring at the enormous amount of water around us. We were later told that some of the water going toward the Falls is mechanically diverted at night and directed to farm use, then turned back to the Falls during the day. Fine with me.
After we returned to the dock we walked out to one end of the park to goat island which allowed for a view of Bridal Veil Falls from a lookout above. From near the lookout, we caught a trolley back to the parking lot, as we had decided to cross over Rainbow Bridge for a view from the Canadian side. We could have walked across the bridge, but decided to drive in case we felt like exploring Toronto a little bit. We approached the checkpoint at the border and presented out passports to the security guard in the small booth. He was all business (Helen said cute) and looked us over carefully, but decided that two gray haired, bespectacled, old folks didn’t present enough of a threat to frisk (disappointing Helen), and allowed us to pass.
It was lunchtime, so we grabbed a couple of sandwiches from a French deli and walked outside to listen to the roar while we ate. The view of Niagara Falls is much better from the Canadian side. You can actually stand close to the water as it spills over the top. Bear in mind that there is a concrete fence between you and the water that comes up about waist high, but there were many people standing on the wall for pictures. I was able to take a video of the waterfall from behind that wall and the video is posted on the Easin’ Along YouTube page. It gives you a great feel for the speed of the water. (Click here and scroll to the Horseshoe Falls video).
We did some walking around the Park at the Canadian visitor–the fall flowers were beautiful, and then decided it was time to make it back over the bridge.
At the U.S. checkpoint we again produced our passports and were asked if we had anything to declare, which we didn’t, and were sent on our way. Bye, bye Canada, it was fun!
I’ve heard about, listened to songs about, and watched old movies about Niagara Falls all my life. Now I know why. What a wonderful day it was for Easin’ Along!
Please see the Picture Gallery for more about this visit.