Summer Road Trip – Niagara Falls

We were a little weary of driving by this time, but we had one more stop to make:  Niagara Falls. There’s nothing like being able to check off a bucket list item to keep the spirits high.

We followed the sea of cars to the Canadian border.  Impatient as children waiting for a fair ride, we craned our heads to see what was causing the delay.  Seriously, all they had to do was check the official passport, right?

Wrong

“Where are you from?  What do you do?  What is your business here?  Where are you staying?”

The interrogation from the official from the Canada Border Services Agency seemed endless and intimidating.  Kurt fumbled over his words, hoping that he delivered the “right answers”.

Satisfied, the agent waved us through to Canada.

We are international travelers!  Granted we were within walking distance of the U.S. border, but the feeling was riveting! Canada greeted us with the hospitality that the south made famous.  Everyone was friendly, and the city was beautifully landscaped with vibrant flower gardens.

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We found the rental house easily, a century old brownstone known as the Copper Penny House located about a mile from the falls.  It was quaint, clean and quite charming.  Dark hardwood floors creaked under our feet as we explored each room, staking out our sleeping arrangements for the next two nights.

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After unpacking the car, there was nothing else to do but head for Niagara Falls.  Crowds packed the sidewalks as we drew near our destination. It’s important to note that, Niagara Falls is comprised of not one but three waterfalls.  There are two waterfalls on the American side:  American Falls and the small Bridal Veil Falls.  On the Canadian side visitors can see the Canadian Falls, sometimes known as Horseshoe Falls.  All three falls can be seen from both the American and Canadian overlooks.

We parked the car in a lot that charged a $5 parking fee.  The pubescent kid cracked a smile when we handed him a five dollar bill.  Later learning about the American dollar is worth about 1.15 in Canadian dollars, we realized that we overpaid.  Hopefully our young friend got to keep the excess!

The area of Niagara, Canada that is near the Niagara Falls State Park is geared towards vacationing families.  Laden with restaurants, shops and activities such as the Rain Forest Cafe, the Hard Rock Cafe, the Hershey Store, the Coca Cola Store and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, this area offers many enjoyable options for folks in addition to the activities at Niagara Falls. The lights, the sounds, the buzz was almost overwhelming, especially after being in a quiet car for eight hours.

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We walked swiftly through this area, trying hard to avoid distraction.  One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World was just around the corner.  No matter how attractive and exciting this area seemed, it could not hold a candle to what we were about to witness!

With ease, the sidewalk meandered out of the business district into the state park, a beautiful, lush green space filled with vibrant gardens, well manicured grass, and towering old trees.  Many families were gathered in the shade, enjoying a snack or a bit of rest.  Some parents were stopping at the gardens, urging their kiddos to smile for a vacation photo.

The park encompasses several miles, and to get to the falls, we had to cross a busy intersection to yet another sidewalk bordered by a stone wall.  Beyond this wall is a sight like no other!  The first fall on our walk was the American Falls.

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It was breathtaking and mesmerizing; a pure delight just to stand there and witness such a powerful force. I mean, it’s absolutely mind boggling to think of that much water, 3,160 tons of it,  flowing over the falls each second.  Photos on the internet do not do it justice.

Eager to see Horseshoe Falls, we followed the crowd as they headed west.  A fine mist began to fill the air.  Was it raining? No, there was not a cloud in the sky; it was coming from Horseshoe Falls.  Many had umbrellas handy; now we knew why.

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The crowd was very thick, but most were courteous, taking a brief look and pic at the wall, then relinquishing it to the next person.  Many different languages were heard along the way, which is not surprising since it is consistently considered one of the top vacation spots in America, attracting more than 12 million visitors each year.  I think that I can speak for my family: we were very pleased to be part of that statistic in 2015!
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