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Days 66-67 – Monday & Tuesday June 25-26, 2007 – Niagara Falls
There I was, at a spot I had longed dreamed about. As the roar of the powerful falls rang so loud in my ears, I looked down at my little boy and asked, “Do you like Niagara Falls?” Much to my surprise, he said very nonchalantly, “No”. After a little investigating, I found out the he liked them, but he was much more impressed with the vast array of unfortunate man made tourist traps surrounding the falls. In particular, he was obsessed with an observation tower, wanting to take pictures of it the whole time. I read a long time ago, while preparing for this trip, to remember that children aren’t always impressed by the same things as adults. This just happened to be one of those times.
In order to get to Niagara Falls from Montreal, we had a bit of driving to do. On Monday, in lieu of taking the straight shot from Montreal down to Toronto for the night, we decided to complicate our lives a bit. By simply adding a couple of hundred extra miles, we could also cross the border into Vermont, see some of upstate New York including the Adirondack Mountains, cross back into Canada and travel to Toronto. Total travel time: 7 hours, give or take. Hey, it sounded good in theory!
With our driving itinerary laid out, we set out on this day of scenic driving. Northern Vermont provided more greenery for us to enjoy. After driving into Burlington, VT we decided to experience another “first”, albeit a small one. After following signs from the road, we took a ferry over the border into New York. Yes, we had all been on a ferry before, but had never driven our car on one. While this is such a small insignificant thing, Shawn Reece found it quite exciting and it was one of those weird little things I have always wanted to do.
After departing the ferry, we ended up on the edge of the Adirondack Mountains. For the next two and a half hours, we drove through this charming area, passing many small lakes and the towns that surround them. Everything is rustic, but given that it is summer now, the area was pretty lively. After we emerged from the Adirondacks, it was time to head north back across to border and eventually to Toronto where we would settle for the night.
Tuesday started with a short drive to downtown Toronto. Originally, we were going to spend a whole day there, but due to time constraints, that was cut out. All we had time for today was a quick drive by. The one building I really wanted to see in Toronto was the CN Tower. I really have a thing for high buildings and it didn’t disappoint. The CN Tower currently (and for the last 30 years) is the highest building in the world. While we didn’t have time to tour it, just seeing it from the outside was still impressive.
After driving around downtown Toronto (very smoggy) for a little while, we got on the road towards Niagara Falls. It took a little over an hour to reach the Falls. After driving in circles to find parking, we were finally able to see them. I think for Americans, (and perhaps Canadians) Niagara Falls is one of those places so often talked about, that we all have it on a list of places to see in our lifetime. Niagara Falls surely needed no introduction to me, as I have been taught about their power and beauty all of my life and let me tell you, they did not disappoint.
We finally found a parking spot and headed straight for the Maid of the Mist ticket office. The Maid of The Mist has been giving tours of Niagara Falls since the 1800’s. The tour consists of a 20 minute boat ride right into the heart of the Canadian Falls. As we approached the cloud of mist rising from the bottom of the falls, with our rain panchos keeping us dry, my heart began to pound. For a minute, we could see nothing but the drops of water falling from above. Finally, when the boat emerged from the mist, the falls were once again visible in all of their splendor. It was at this moment, that I asked Shawn Reece the question above.
When the boat ride was over, we walked around for a few more minutes, before getting on the road and crossing the border back into the U.S. Our final destination for the night was Sandusky, OH. Amusement Park fans know that Sandusky is home to Cedar Point. Cedar Point has been voted the best Amusement Park in the world for the past nine years in a row. How could we miss that?
I have one quick note to mention about Niagara Falls. I have always heard that the view from the Canadian side is much better. While this may be true, the tourism industry has certainly grabbed a hold of this area and it really detracts from the experience. Imagine walking up to the Grand Canyon (I say this since the Grand Canyon is so protected) and having to pass miniature golf courses, observation towers, 3D movies, casinos, shopping malls and wax museums. For this reason I would recommend the American side, as it has very little of that. All of the unfortunate side effects of the tourism industry, really took me out of the truly inspirational gift in front of me, but in the end, I was still able to see Niagara Falls for what they were. A gift from above.
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