Day 6

Tuesday, May 31, 2005Niagara Falls, ON
Miles: 231Health: Better!

Ponchos, ponchos, ponchos! Today was all about ponchos. We got up, had breakfast at Biffy’s, the oddly named restaurant that is not physically attached to the hotel, but is the hotel restaurant, then booked our butts to the Maid of the Mist dock to get on the first boat of the day. We didn’t make it to the first boat, but made the second and donned our pretty blue ponchos of surprisingly sturdy plastic.

The ride was cool, though quite wet. They try to tell you history while you’re putt-putting out the falls, then shut up while you sit in the mist area and get wet, or at least the ponchos get wet. Keath managed to take some photos without breaking the camera, but the best part of the ride was what we saw while we putt-putted; people in yellow ponchos going under the American falls. Under. Dude. We had to do it.

Keath recalled a pedestrian walkway joining the two sides, so we found that and walked our way across the international boundary and back into our home country. We found the attraction with the yellow ponchos in Niagara Falls State Park (the first state park in America!). This was a high class journey we were about to undertake. We gave our tickets to a woman who in return gave us not only ponchos but cheap sandals. Cheap, comfortable, waterproof sandals that could be reused in campground showers. We once again donned gaily colored ponchos and made for the elevators.

Once on the side of the cliff that the water runs down, we traversed red painted wooden walkways with a guide that was really only there to make sure you didn’t hurl yourself off. This was the coolest freakin’ thing. Screw the Maid of the freakin’ Mist, this was so cool. We walked up, up, up the side of the cliff on the walkways, the mist turning to spray, spray turning to a shower. On the Hurricane Deck, the top deck of the structure, there were many spots where the water from the falls ran over the deck and where the water bouncing off the rocks was blinding and poncho-penetrating. There was one particular alcove that I kept going back to that let you get close to the rocks and therefore close to the water. There you could just get pummeled by the water and feel a tiny fraction of the power of the falls fall over your back. I eventually gave up on my poncho hood and just let the water wash all over me. It was awesome in the non-slang sense of the word.

Besides the inherent coolness of this whole experience, this was a great tourist thing because it made people stop acting like tourists. The previously pushy, grouchy, wary people turned into children, whooping and laughing as they frolicked in the mist and spray. The group went down to the ‘recovery deck’, but then I just had to go back up for one last shower. Needless to say, we were DRENCHED when we got out.

We dried in the sun a bit while we ate lunch, but I still had to buy a new t-shirt at the gift shop so I didn’t freeze. We wandered the state park a little longer, noticing the fact that while the US side is severely lacking in views, they make up for it slightly with their walking paths and green open spaces that meander around the falls, allowing you to get right up close to the lips of both the US and Canadian falls. The Canadian side has tremendous views, but the town is like Atlantic City. There’s a walkway along the edge of the gorge, but then the whole mess is casinos, a midway and strip clubs. At least it’s safe though, since it’s still Canada.

After our American adventures, we went back to Canada for some work and a pedicure (you guess who did what). We had a yummy dinner at an Italian place, then walked the Midway without going to any haunted houses or other nonsense. We did go up in a sky ride to see the falls from above, which was sort of silly. We sat on the edge and just sat and looked at the falls for a while, since we hadn’t just hung out and enjoyed. Then we decided to have an early night so we could have an early morning.