Sunday, September 07, 2008

Niagara Falls

We wanted to go to Niagara Falls before the "bitter cold" of winter set in. So even though we had just gone on a road trip the last week, what is another road trip? This one was more spontaneous with us just doing a quick pack (Our weekend bags still had everything but the clothes) and driving though the night. The agreement was that I would work on the laptop while L. drove. I finished and she was tired so we switched and I drove until about 1AM before getting tired. We found a Ramada, which we thought was a reputable chain, but the place was kind of shady. We were tired and I guess that is the price of spontaneity.
The American side of the falls seems deserted. The city of Niagara Falls has had a lot of buildings torn down so there are a lot of green fields and the buildings left full of empty space.
We found parking and walked over to the island in the middle (goat island). My first impression was that I thought the falls were taller. I realized it was because of the perspective of being on top of them. The sound made up for the difference though. We were told by our waitress at breakfast we had to go to "Cave of the Winds". It ended up being our favorite thing to experience. They give you sandals and a poncho then we took an elevator down to the falls level. From there we walked the platforms that take you around the splashing rocks at the bottom. The water was splashing everywhere and a few of the platforms had water flowing over them. The last platform was supposed to have the same wind and water force of a hurricane. It was strong but fun enough that L. and I stood on the platform a second time after we caught our breath and re-secured our clothes under the flimsy ponchos. It had been sprinkling lightly all morning and the water from the falls felt warm in comparison. Of course when we were done we were still pretty wet from water dripping down our necks and flying up our arms so we decided to head back to the car.
We had brought our folding bikes to ride around so we decided to ride across to Canada. Only problem was we were not aloud to walk our bikes on the pedestrian path and there was no emergency lane so we took up one of the bridge lanes. The toll booth worker took our $0.50 each so it must be pretty regular. It was slightly strange to go though customs while seated on a bike.
In all reality everything was close enough together we didn't need our bikes but it made it fun. We rode to the "Behind the falls" building which looked interesting. We took an elevator down and a tunnel was dug back behind the Waterfall so you could see the back side of it. Outside of being very loud it was not as awe inspiring as it would have been had we just not finished the "Cave of the Winds".
We rode our bikes back and got a hotel on the Canadian side so we entered the country for a second time in a few hours. (I'm sure that is going to put us on a watch list or something.) It is pretty obvious that this place is set up for honeymoons since our hotel room was more the honeymoon suite with the whirlpool tub and everything.
Niagara Falls city on the Canadian side is heavily touristy. (It looks similar to "Universal City Walk" or "Downtown Disney" in California) It was also strange that the US and Canadian dollar are at parity right now. We enjoyed a good dinner, and the display of tourism (Why there needs to be so many spook houses is beyond me) then walked down to the falls to watch the colored lights on the falls at dark.
The next morning was a six hour ride home. It made for a very good weekend.

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