"I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well."
-Henry David Thoreau

Monday, September 22, 2014

Niagara

On Saturday Drew and I stopped at Tim Horton's for coffee before heading to Niagara.  Honestly, there was a Starbuck's in the lobby of our hotel, but there are Tim Horton's around every corner and I felt like I couldn't say I'd been to Canada unless I went to one! 
In all honesty, it was only okay.  I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything by the lack of Tim Horton's in the states.  
And... on to Niagara Falls.  We had been told that the tourism at Niagara Falls was very commercial and kind of tacky.  They were right.  Think Branson on sterioids.  Casinos, tacking souvineir stores, chain restaurants and attractios like fun houses and mini golf.  You have to drive through all of that to get to the water.  Oh, the water.  When we turned the corner we got our first view of the falls.  We both gasped and then I realized that what we were seeing was the American Falls, not even the horseshoe falls.  We parked a million miles away (okay, not literally) and loved every minute of the walk.  SO beautiful.  This is just the rapids above the falls.  
And from there we could see the horseshoe falls and feel the mist.  
You guys, it was totally worth the crowd and the hype.  So beautiful.  I can't even say that enough.  
In this picture the horseshoe falls are to my right.  The falls in this photo are the American falls & Bridal Veil falls.  The bridge connects Canada and the US and those tiny boats in the water are actually fairly large boats holding a couple hundred people each.  
By this time we were both completely convinced that it was worth $20 per person to take the Hornblower cruise.  
You walk the ramps down to a certain point and then take an elevator the rest of the way down (which is way farther than you realize when standing at the top).  We were waiting to board the boat...
A group of people in front of us were trying to take a selfie with 4 people, so I volunteered to take their photo.  They returned the favor.  
I've always seen the Maid of the Mist (the boat on the American side) on television and everyone is always wearing the ponchos.  (I mean, who among us didn't watch The Office and now refer to riding this boat with your significant other as a "Jim & Pam" moment?)  Well, let me tell you... it's not just a kind gesture.  It's not a "wear it if you want to" situation.  I mean, you don't HAVE you, but I highly recommend it.  We were lucky enough to be on the upper level of the boat on the right side.  That means that the loop that the boat makes left us on the outside of the boat to get the best view of everything.  
Those were the only photos I bothered to take while we were on the boat.  Aside from the fact that getting that close to the falls is about like standing in the shower with all of your clothes on (plus that trash bag style poncho), the entire experience was absolutely breathtaking and I was completely overwhelmed.  I really can't think of words big and powerful enough to describe it.  It literally took my breath away... Emotionally & physically took my breath away.  Praise God for something so awesome. 
We did go ahead and walk around the town a bit, but I didn't feel inspired to take photos of it.  I really couldn't believe how kitschy it was.  The best photo of the town?   
After the million mile walk back to the car, we took the back roads out and headed toward Niagara On The Lake.  It was suggested that this was a much better little town to visit once we had seen the falls.  We stopped at a road side overlook to see the natural whirlpool.  Forgive the cables in the photo, they were part of a cable car thing that goes all the way across the river.  
The drive from here was beautiful and Drew's coworkers weren't kidding when they said there were wineries here.  Drew and I aren't wine drinkers, but the scenery was beautiful.  There were so so many big fancy estates, vineyards and wineries.  One after another.  The little town was actually very crowded, but it was full of bed & breakfasts, luxury vehicles, wine and rich people.  We decided not to stop (truth be told, we were exhausted), but I'm glad we drove through.  Lake Ontario was pretty impressive and the day was beautiful for taking it all in.  
That, my friends, was the last big adventure of my first trip to Canada.  I'm sure I'll have more commentary from the week, because it really was a fabulous time.  

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