Friday, August 2, 2013

Niagara Falls, revisiting a natural wonder

As a kid growing up in a Cleveland suburb it never seem awesome that my family made an annual pilgrimage to Niagara Falls, Canada. Last year my friend Amy suggested that she, her teenage son, and I make a trip to the US side of Niagara Falls because she didn't have the prerequisite passport to cross the border. I told her to save up and that the following summer we could go. Well sure enough she got her passport this year, and we made quick plans to visit Canada before the new school year. After crossing into Canada over the scenic Rainbow Bridge, we spent about 15 minutes looking for parking that wasn't going to cost us $20. Her intent on this trip was to soak in the Falls experience, not to unnecessarily spend a lot of money on souveniers, knick knacks, dining, nor tourist traps. After some driving around we found all day parking for $5 at the Skylon Tower.

One of the things I didn't seem to grasp back when I was a child was exactly what was so important about the "stupid" Falls. I must admit however that as an adult the shear power of the Falls had me captivated. I didn't really even feel this way about 10 years ago, when I had come to Niagara with a friend mainly to spend like $50 at the Casino. The fact that the Falls area was filled with sightseers from around the globe made me realize I am lucky to live so close to Niagara as to make a day trip out of it. I took a handful of photos, not nearly as many as I should have. One of the few attractions we did have planned was to "Journey Behind the Falls". I have a small amount of claustrophobia, and the idea of paying to go down into a man made  tunnel behind the actual Falls did have me jittery. However, after actually getting down there there was an amount of exhilaration between seeing the Falls from behind, as well as traveling out onto "Table Rock" to view the Falls up close and much further down than the tops of the Falls where the walkways for the general public were. 
Another fun part of the trip was seeing a bit of my youth reflected in the reaction to the Falls by my friend's son. He really became disinterested before too long about all the hub bub and photo-taking. So after we got back to the car to eat some lunch we had packed for ourselves, we agreed to go to the Clifton Hill area where we were surrounded by tourist attractions. I was all for playing Putt Putt on the course that was surrounded by larger than life Dinosaur statues. The Fireball spewing Volcano and the constant dinosaur screeching sounds had me giddy.
This pretty much rounded out our visit to the Canadian side of the Falls. However before venturing to see the Falls from Goat Island on the US side, we traveled a few minutes down the Queen's Express Way to Niagara Square Mall. I had this part of the trip planned so that I could do some poking around and toy hunting. I was not disappointed. I found an exclusive Transformers Prime Entertainment pack featuring Bumblebee and Starscream deluxe figures and a three episode dvd. Then  at the Toys R Us Express I bought a Transformers Prime First Edition Bumblebee.
The mall was suffering from a decent amount of tenant loss. Although that certainly isn't surprising in the ailing economy. I stopped in the Dollarama before leaving to buy up odd foreign candy bars and Doritos. In addition to the "Intense Pickle" flavored Doritos I found in a shop by the "Brick City" attraction back on Clifton Hill, I managed to locate 'Zesty Cheese" which may just be the equivalent of "Zesty Nacho" and another flavor that escapes me at the moment.
After crossing back to the US side in the late afternoon we drove a bit aimlessly and were lucky to accidentally find ourselves at the Niagara Gorge Park. Amy had remembered this from being young, and was pleased we stopped there to get oriented to travel over to Goat Island via instructions on the GPS. It was fun to be on an island situated between the Canadian Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls, and that incorporated the narrow Luna Falls. This bit of the trip was very relaxed and included some more walking and viewing of the Falls. I got a few pictures with the Canadian side in the background across the Gorge. The trip home was pleasant. The only thing we didn't manage to accomplish on this trip was to wait around long enough to see the Falls lit up for the night.

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