Welcome to Niagara Falls. That’s what the sign said after three hours on the road from Toronto International Airport. Yes, after three consecutive hours of “Myspacing” friends on my Blackberry Storm and drowning out the whirring wind with my iPod, the rented Ford pulled into the tourist town of Niagara Falls, home to the acclaimed wonder of the world.
It was sunny out that day- not the general norm in that part of Canada. We were coming to the end of our journey, my narration of our navigation system leading us to our hotel. I noted our destination to be on the right side of the street, however- my dad, also known as our driver, disregarded this and pulled the car up the path past a fanciful fountain and toward a towering, glassy hotel with “CASINO” displayed in giant red letters upon it. Handing keys to the valet, we lugged our suitcases behind us as we trudged through elegant glass doors. Except, after a five minute wait- my mom, our unofficial trip coordinator, informed us that this grand hotel we were in…it wasn’t our hotel. Indeed, there is a distinction between “Fallsview Plaza Hotel” and “Fallsview Casino Resort” but a sign may have helped convince father of this missed detail.
Luckily, our hotel was further down on the other side of the street. To be honest- it was nowhere near as glamorous as the Fallsview Casino Resort; it was rather faded, shabby, and small in comparison. On the upside, the room was neat and fair-sized and the view outside was beautiful with revolving Skylon Tower to the left and the roaring falls to the right. Just outside our window! Not to mention it provided complimentary Wi-Fi that was of great comfort to my “Facebooker” younger brother and me. But, internet was merely a past-time during rest breaks and we took to exploring, beginning with a reservation at the famous Skylon Tower with its revolving dining room that was more savory in taste than price. At least the view from the tower was worth a sum; Niagara Falls was spectacular at night.
We continued to explore the town, strolling along the pavements around the falls toward tourist opportunities. As we walked, I felt the cool mist against my skin as if carried by a soft breeze when really- the falls just move with such force that it churns the waters below into mist that spreads everywhere. It was no wonder everything was so astoundingly green- a welcome change from the dry, dead brush of California. But as pleasant as walking along from a distance was, it was getting close to the falls that was a truly monumental experience every person should have. So we took the famous Maid of the Mist boat which has carried a most distinguished list of passengers including Princess Diana, Theodore Roosevelt, and Marilyn Monroe among others.
Blending in with the mass of blue ponchos, we sailed beside the beautiful American Falls and soon came to the most intense experience of a lifetime- the blow of the crashing waters of the Canadian Falls that pummeled our ponchos and drenched our faces so violently that no one could keep their eyes open. What beauteous strength! The water was an unrelenting rain that invigorated the senses and excited the quietest souls. There are some things in this world that cannot simply be imagined; they must be experienced wholly. And when you hear the ship’s dramatic recording echo “This is Niagara Falls” as you venture into the heart of that beautiful chaos- you will know that it is true.
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