While we honor the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service, we need to acknowledge that a handful have gone from being historic to be gaudy tourist traps. All of the beauty of nature boiled down into t-shirts, trinkets and keychains with your name to it.
I figure a visit to Niagara Falls would be something I can do just say that I did it. It’s the Honeymoon Capital of the World hosting 50,000 couples a year. It started with Vice President Aaron Burr’s daughter.
It was an easy detour on my way to Toronto and it could cost me as little as nothing. Go in, take some pictures, breathe in the misty air and be on my way.
What you see on the way there are billboards for casinos and all-you-can eat buffets. Then, when you get towards the entrance, you get a choice to the left of the $10 parking lot right next to the park or $5 to the right. I went left because I roll big. It’s free after 6. Ohhhhhhhh.
The best way the park tries to take extra money from you is the five attractions they entice you with. There’s a 3D movie, an aquarium, a cave walk, a “Discover Center” and the boat tour, because seeing the majestic beauty of the falls is not enough. You’ll see this at the visitor’s center, where you buy the pass that gets you into all five. You can’t buy them individually at the center. I know that because a sad piece of paper that says “Discover Pass sales only” was written out in magic marker by an employee that got tired of being asked, “Can we buy Maid of the Mist tickets here?”
You can see the falls for free and have a perfectly pleasurable experience. Your tax dollars and the NPS keep up its maintenance.
The popular Maid of the Mist boat tour where you don a cheap blue plastic garbage bag and get sprayed with cold water is where you can get the full experience. I saw that there was no line at the ticket booth so I asked the nice old lady how the long the boat trip is and if there’s a line. It’s 25-minute ride, I’ll be on the last ride at 5:45 and there’s plenty of room. Perfect. $18.25 is the price. Can we just make it an even $20? Makes it nice and easy.
I prepared for the chance that I would take the boat, so I brought my long rain slicker. It has pulls, zippers, velcro and stuff so I can be dry and not futz around with a blue garbage bag with holes.
The interesting thing that happened when I got off the elevator and walking to the dock was that my phone alerted me that I was in Canada, even though I entered on the New York side. So somewhere on the dock is the actual U.S./Canada border. Time to build a wall there right, Trump supporters?
Most people were heading to the top, I headed to the bottom and front, just so I can be closer to bottom looking up. As you can imagine, it’s rather wet so hold onto something — unless you’re the group I saw were all over the place and didn’t understand the concept of holding onto the rail.
The 25-minute was, as advertised, filled with mist. It was more like heavy rain in low-60 degree weather. I’m sure it’s refreshing in the summer and horrible in November (last day for season is the 6th).
As I witnessed, people spent most of the time fumbling with the blue garbage bags you get with your ticket and screaming in fun for getting wet. I was perfectly fine, but plenty of water soaked through into my shoes and socks.
When you get to the end for the turn around, I got the idea of a drain circling and the boat getting caught in a whirlpool. You’re surround by all sides with a raging waterfall, so obviously how I can die here was on my mind.
In the end, everybody gets wet, which will make a great advertising line that will get laughs by those with dirty minds. Your camera will get wet, but you’ll get some cool shots. Skip everything else, unless you want to battle for space among Japanese tourists and dopey families.