Niagara Falls. Lots of water. I suppose it should have rang home with me in some way, but it really didn't. I guess the height of the falls just didn't get me into a Dutch perspective. Anything over 10 meters is really high up for us.
Cruisin' down the highway...
The trip to the Falls provided us with some of the most boring and unimaginative stretches of highway in the US I've seen. And I've seen Georgia, but at least there they have kudzu. There were three notable exceptions. The little gas station which was just the place to get robbed in was one example. In any typical american movie we would not have come out of the shop without being ordered to lie on the floor or perhaps hand over a brown bag full of soda and candy to two raving mad people swinging guns around. Perhaps it is a good thing that, while close, the US is not always exactly like in its movies. The other exception was the view on lake Erie just after passing Erie. Nice. I suppose that after the stretches of highway lined with trees anything would have been nice for a change, though, so perhaps my judgement was clouded. Finally, the last stretch of road towards the Falls contained one rotten or moldy motel after another, and that would have not been so bad if it were not for the small american flags attached to every telegraph pole along the road. Too bad it is illegal to burn them these days. I did love the off-white picket fences, they just added that little bit extra.
"Get your Falls here, premium views!"
Then, the Falls. The Rough Guide had already explained that every possible angle to see, feel, hear, or psychically sense the Falls had been commercially exploited, and they were almost right. Almost, because I didn't notice any outfitter offer up rides down the Falls in an original wooden barrel. "Come on and experience the Falls like a droplet of water would. Travel in the original barrel that made someone-or-other famous in 1930." All that coming from a scruffy, bearded guy with a coarse voice that would have made you look twice to see whether it really was Tom Waits or not. Well, none of that there. I guess there is one final niche left at the Falls.
What was there was just sunshine, no clouds, and the water. Rushing, falling, misty, frobbling water. The pictures are there to prove it. What really makes the whole thing more strange is the sudden realization that you see only half of the water. The other half is diverted to generate power from.
So, you surely must be wondering by now, what did they do at the Falls? Which of the myriad offerings did they enjoy? Well, we just wandered around for a while, just because the wheather was nice, and to take in the whole scene. We went over to some of the picture spots to take the standard pictures everyone takes. One of these picture spots is actually half a bridge hanging over the water, offering a great view on American and Horseshoe Falls. It also contains the elevator down to the Maid of the Mist. I was sure this wasn't true, but when we did get off of the bridge again after an hour, I did notice that we really should have paid 50 cents admittance. It must be my subconcious Dutch nature.
Rock, rock, rock your boat, roughly down the Falls
Taking the lift or elevator down to the water from the bridge takes you to the Maid of the Mist. It is barely visible in the picture, but it is a fairly sizable boat which takes you for a cruise along American Falls, and into Horseshoe Falls. The tourists are first rounded up like cattle (Mooooo) between fences, and then herded onto the boat. Somewhere along the way local guys and galls offer up funky-looking blue see-through disposable raincoats, in a mechanical way that could be a mocking of the industrial age if it weren't serious. I do have a picture of myself and my collaegue in these raincoats, but I'm not allowed to share those on the web with you. Well, perhaps I could include the one of my collaegue... Anyway, the raincoats are useful, because the Falls produce a lot of mist. You will get wet, very wet. A recommended trip, and certainly a great way to experience the Falls, and in particular the enormity of it all.
After that experience the only thing that could have been better was to touch the Falls. That appears to be possible too, but the yellow raincoats involved looked a lot more serious, and the special footwear also made things look more grim than should be expected on such a nice day, so we gave up on that. We still had a long drive back 'home'. I suppose I could have told you about having fun calling state-to-state from a public phone, or about the smell of freshly poured tarmac, or about... No, I guess you should have been there with us to get the full experience. This is just a web page, after all.