Thursday, August 21, 2008

Road Trip: Part 2

As you can tell by the smiles (Bean and cousin), we did get tickets for the Maid of the Mist boat tour. The crowds were crazy which was a little nerve-wracking with small kids. People were shoving, jostling for position, even little old ladies were elbowing past. And they say Americans are rude . . . The heat was brutal, but just as we arrived at the gangway and donned our nifty rain slickers, it began to rain. We didn't care! We were going to get soaked anyway! It was a welcome relief from the heat. (The only drawback was the gross smelly shoes, ahem El Guapo, when we got back to the car and had to ride nine hours with the damp kid, moist clothes, soaked shoe smell.)

Apparently, the ZamFam guys are too macho to wear glorified garbage bags, but we all had a blast! And we got soaked! It felt awesome to get so close to the Falls and to just be on the water in a boat. For someone who prefers sailboats to power boats and a few people to a large crowd, I was surprised at how much this moved me. I guess it just goes to show what a water dog I am and also that in the face of awe-inspiring creation, one cannot help but have your own moment even if you are in a crowd.

After our brief interlude in the Great White North, we headed for Rainbow Bridge and the USA. The border is in the middle of the bridge and US border patrol is at the opposite side. This is all well and good except that we had to wait an hour on the bridge to get through. I am very afraid of heights and rather nervous crossing bridges. Matters were not helped with El Guapo saying every few minutes, "Whoa, did you feel THAT? Can you feel the bridge moving? That felt worse than the one before." Other helpful observations included "I wonder what the weight limit on this bridge is? I mean, there are two lanes of traffic all at a standstill plus the other two lanes in the opposite direction. I'm just saying . . . ." I just made like Magellan and kept my nose buried in the maps.

The view from the bridge was incredible. And see that tall, green tower jutting out from the left side of the picture? That's where totally insane people on the American side go out to get a better view of the Falls. I'd have to be sedated and in a straight jacket before you got me out on that thing!

This picture is probably illegal. MY SIL TOOK IT! So please, Homeland Security, please do not haul me away.

Back in the good 'ol US of A. Except that you enter the armpit of America -- Buffalo, New York. No offense to Buffalo, but good grief! I remember visiting Niagara Falls as a kid and being so ashamed at the New York side because the roads were all pot-holed, the buildings run down, the city half-dead. After seeing the manicured grounds, show-stopping flowers, gorgeous stonework and beautiful parks in Canada, it was appalling to see the American side. I thought that after twenty plus years, maybe something would have changed. I'm disappointed to report that it is still as bad as I remembered. This is tragic because people come from all over the world to see Niagara Falls and their first impression (hopefully not their only one!) of America will be of a gritty city that has lost its pride. Buffalo, you may be named after a mangy beast, but do you have to look like one?

I hate to end on a sour note. We had an awesome time at Niagara, and El Guapo and I would love to go back, maybe in the off-season. The Falls as ice is too amazing to contemplate. There is also a light show every night, as well as the occasional fireworks show. That would be something to see.


Marci said...

This trip was so much fun and quite memorable - for many reasons!! Forget about the hot weather, getting turned around with our awesome mapquest directions, getting to our hotel in the early a.m. and still having to pay full price, and then your toilet not working....the views at the Falls were amazing and made up for all the bad, right??!! :)) We had a blast!! Thanks for letting the Peña clan tag along!!

My sister's was a good time as well - good food, fun drinking games...and...DU DU DUURRRRR...!!! :))

~ ur SIL

Beth Ryan said...

I was just saying to Nicki yesterday how much I enjoyed Niagara Falls. It's just as touristy and expensive as the Wisconsin Dells but there is something to be said about the energy of the Falls.

Since I haven't had much time to talk to you lately, it was fun to read your trip report and see your pics!

TropicGirl said...

Chica, I'm going thru withdrawl. Please post again soon.

Your cousin with no life,