I was a travel virgin. Until, that is, my grandparents invited me on a trip to New York to see Niagara Falls.
QUARTER-FINALIST 2015 FTF TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
Sixteen hours in a car cram-packed with 5 people just to see a giant waterfall is a nightmare, right? Wrong. The journey through America, starting at Tennessee, then Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and finally New York, was actually a great adventure in which I was able to learn a lot more about my grandparents and little cousin that I won’t soon forget.
But that’s a story for a different time.
New York as a whole wasn’t any different from my hometown- greenery everywhere and tiny little towns littering the state. Nothing spectacular, quite boring actually. From the moment our car crossed the state line, however, there was only one thing I could think about: Niagara Falls. Would it be all that I imagined? Will I be sorely disappointed? Turns out I had nothing to worry about.
I could hear the falls before I could see them. A loud whoosh constantly filled my eardrums, and as I got closer, the gentle, cool mist was instantly refreshing as it graced my sun baked face. And then, I was alone. Finally the edge of the falls appeared in my vision, and it was like no other sight I had witnessed before. Everything else disappeared, and I was left standing at the railing and staring, like a fool, into the ever-captivating waters of the falls. I tried to grab my phone so I could take a few pictures, but my body was frozen; I couldn’t let one moment slip from my eyes. “Let’s take a group picture!” Shouted my grandma from somewhere far away. I didn’t flinch, and she snapped the picture before I realized my family had lined up beside me. When I finally tore my face away, I noticed my dumbstruck expression in the photo was only half-covered by my hair, which was whipping and flipping this way and that in the majestic water’s wind. I hadn’t experienced anything yet.
As I boarded the Maid of the Mist, I was excited, scared, and hopeful about what I was about to experience. As the boat traveled under the falls, thousands of gallons of water falling over the edge each second, I was in awe. Nothing more beautiful existed on the face of the Earth, I was sure of it, and I still am. I was soaking wet and smelling like dirty water by the time I got off the boat that afternoon, but I hardly noticed, nor did I care. I climbed the stairs to the observation deck where the winds were at their most powerful, the perfect place to think while the gale-force gusts dried my sopping clothes. The sunset that evening seemed to shine a brighter orange than ever as my family and I proceeded back to our hotel to rest after the physically and emotionally taxing day. The entire ride home I hardly spoke, but I kept my notepad in my hand writing poems and stories about my experiences and feelings. I even wrote about some of the things I had once thought boring before my journey, but now realized the spectacular nature of. All it took was one amazing, captivating experience to open my mind to every little miracle in the world around me.