Thursday, May 7, 2009
Niagra Falls State Park
As the Maid of the Mist neared the American Falls, both of us were surprised by the gust of wind. It lifted our rain ponchos and we both got wet as the falling water was actually pushing the air aside! It was a magically moment as we looked at the falls and each other.
The trip from Kane, Pa was pretty easy. It was a short drive, 130 miles, and pretty flat, once we left the Allegheny's. We hit Buffalo, New York, after rush hour and paid our first toll on 190,($2.65). The traffic eased after we left downtown and we were the only ones on the Robert Morris Parkway.
Pulling into Four Mile Creek Campground our campsite was right on the lake and we could see ring billed seagulls and caspian terns out our back window. We set up quickly and ate lunch before heading to Niagara Falls State Park, and a ride on the Maid of the Mist.
Now I had taught about the falls for 30 plus years and so to actually be going on the Maid of the Mist was a life goal. Our camping permit got us free parking at the Niagara Falls State Park and we drove by frustrated hawkers yelling at us to park in their lots.
Parking, we walked past an alcove of flowering trees. Everywhere the paths were lined with large, striped, and multicolored tulips. Entering the main building we asked directions and then found our way to the tickets booths for a ride on the Maid.
Riding an elevator down the observation deck we walked through a building where we each got and donned an official rain poncho. We loaded on board and eventually climbed the stairs to the top of the vessel.
With a blast of its horn the Maid of the Mist,(there are really a fleet of these that all are alike and leave from both the US and Canadian side), first pushed upstream, fighting the strong currents, before stopping for a moment in front of the American Falls. To be at the base of such a large falls was simply incredible..... A feeling of peace and utter joy refreshed us both as the water thundered down.
The Maid then worked further upstream and stopped at the base of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. It held its place against the current for quite a while and we were able to gaze at the thundering curtain. We kissed, surrounded by the falling arc of water, and too soon it turned and headed back to the dock, but it was fine, the moment was etched forever in our memories.
Getting back on land we took our time, before riding the elevator to the top. The observation deck wasn't really agoraphobic, maybe we were too excited by the beauty below us. Along the river, a path led us past rapids and onto Goat Island. We walked to the brink of the American Falls and then to the edge of the Canadian.
We wanted to go to the Cave of the Winds, but rocks were scaling off the falls and it was closed. Tired we retraced our steps , across the bridge, past the flowers and blossoming trees. A day well spent surrounded by beauty. Clear skies.