I saw this opposite the car hire place in Toronto
We drove from Toronto to Niagara with very little stress and trouble; we both felt a whole lot better being in Camel. Tim because she is so much better to drive than nearly anything else and me because she feels so secure and strong.
We bought some supplies along the way and then hove up at King Waldorf’s Tent and Trailer Park, wondering if it would be totally pants. Nope, it’s a great campground in at least two ways; it’s HUGE and the facilities are not bad either. The showers are so powerful that they could probably take off the top layer of your skin. We got talking to this lovely mum and daughter (Andrea and Sophie)
who were from Hungary. Although Sophie was only ten, she could already speak Hungarian, French and English and now wants to learn Spanish. She was a delightfully bright and curious girl and part of a lovely family. They were having trouble with leaky mattresses, so we gave then some patches and glue and, hopefully at least one worked.
On Thursday we decided to cycle into town along the Niagara River Parkway, which has a pretty good cycle path. A couple of things caught my attention on the way
What the locals do for fun
They really don’t like trespassers
It is probably the best way to approach the Niagara falls. We firstly saw the river and how they have used it to generate hydroelectric power with high great underground tunnels, then we saw the massive sluice gates that they can use to cut down the flow, all the time wondering what the smoke was. We got nearer and started to realise that the cloud was mist from the falls. We loved the rapids and then WOW. I know we saw Detifoss in Iceland, but WOW again.
We cycled and walked along the sidewalk with the amazing views and the constant fall of fine rain. We paused at one stage to enjoy the view and a nice young man offered to take our photo. He took his time and I realised that he was doing the best he could with my camera. I was pleased with the result, although I had to fiddle with it a bit to turn it back to automatic. You can not observe the falls without either getting soaked or having an umbrella.
We walked on and eventually booked to go onto the Canadian version of the ‘Maid of the Mist’, the famous American tour boat. As we were walking towards the landing zone we could see two types of boats, one with their passengers clothed in red and the other in Blue. It turns out that the Yanks are in blue and the Cannuks in red. They all take their turn so that you can go right up close to the falls and get soaked through from the spray (well, not if you wear the ponchos they give you)
The trip was mind-blowing. We got up close to both the (superior) Canadian falls and the American falls, all accompanied by a soundtrack. As we came back the Snowbirds (Canadian version of the Red Arrows) were putting on a fine show.
I tried my best to photograph them, but, what with my glasses and my camera being totally misted over, I just had to hope for the best. I took so many photos that my camera ran out of power, but, between the falls and the jets, it was a wonderfully mind-boggling experience.
As we left the boat, the skies opened and we huddled under the shelter of the kind of tacky bar near the boat landing until it went away. There was a kind of irony in that; we and a whole load of other people had willingly sailed into the perpetual rain that constitutes the Niagara Falls, but the minute it actually started to rain, we all ran for cover. We hung around for a while, drinking beer under the protection of the bar and enjoying the view of the American falls until it finally cleared up and we could cycle back to the campground. We stopped on the way back at a ‘family’ restaurant, run by a Greek Cypriot family with entertainment provided by a local biker, who had got caught in the rain and was both drying out at the restaurant and charging up his electric bike.
On Friday we cycled back to the falls to try some other things; I wanted to go up the Skylon tower to see the Falls from above and then I wanted to do the ‘behind the falls’ walk. The good surprise was that, if you decide to eat at the top of the Skylon tower, the ticket to the top is free. We got up there, via the scary outside lift, and then waited to be seated. We chose the posh restaurant and it was pretty damn good. We had, probably, the best restaurant meal we have ever had in either Canada or the USA.
Well, the steak was perfect, anyway (so tender you could almost ‘suck it up through a straw’). The only problem was that it was hard to concentrate on the food because the views were so gorgeous; the sky was so clear that you could see for miles and you got to see everything more than once as the restaurant revolved completely once an hour. The nice couple sitting next to us were a little amused about how over-excited I was to be finally seeing Niagara.
Afterwards, with very full bellies and a rosy glow, we headed off to go behind the falls. It was quite an experience, as the tunnels take you to within a couple of meters of the full force of the Canadian Falls, but, in all honesty its a bit like standing next to a very noisy white wall.
The better view was the platform just to the right of the falls which, although wetter from the spray, really allowed you to experience the full blast of their power.
One of the most beautiful effects was obviously a very common one (hence one of the bridges is called Rainbow Bridge),
but as the sun started to get lower, you could see a rainbow virtually everywhere. I had managed to photograph this effect once or twice in Iceland, but here it was magnificently obvious.
I suspect this is going to be a high point of our Americas trip; Waterfalls! Fine food! Really nice red wine! (Malbec, sorry Cass) and Rainbows! To top it off, a beautiful cycle ride back to the campsite.