On last last Friday (July 18th), Eden and I drove to Niagara Falls, ON for a meatspace get-together with her gaming guild, The Reapers. Although I'm not a member, I was able to use my connections to secure one of the highly coveted invitations.
The drive to Canada was uneventful except for when we got lost. Not once or twice, but three times. Two of those times I can blame on Google Maps' overly simplified directions, but the third had something to do with an adult novelty shop and a construction site. Having lost only an hour, we passed through what I hope was the worst part of Buffalo and over the Peace bridge into Canada. We were a bit concerned that things might have changed in the eight years since we last crossed the border and that we would have a hard time explaining the cooler packed with dry ice. However, the Canadian border guards were still as cool as before, even when I fumbled the standard questions.
We met up with the gang and headed to Clifton Hill and the falls. Niagara Falls is the quintessential tourist trap. Core attractions ringed with eateries and souvenir shops and surrounded by a sea of motels. I couldn't seem to find the Wonderfalls store although I'm sure it must have been there somewhere. I did, however, see a liberal sprinkling of Cuban cigar outlets, gentlemen's clubs, adult novelty shops and massage parlors. The place really speaks volumes about the American tourists' interests. As sketchy as this all was, I only found one element distasteful. A street performer was there, all clad in gold with a golden Elvis mask. He was neither an Elvis impersonator nor a human statue, but he was doing a steady business exchanging golden beads and photo opportunities for donations. Have some pride in your work, man! We walked through the carnival that is Clifton Hill and took in the fireworks over the falls before turning in for the night.
On Saturday, we readied ourselves for the full Niagara Falls experience with a free continental breakfast and the raspberry pie that I had secreted across the border packed in dry ice (thanks to Ben and Chris for helping with the berry harvest). We started with the tropical butterfly conservatory. It was surprisingly impressive. I had expected to see some pretty butterflies, but I had never before seen butterflies of such size or number. After an accidental stroll through the botanical gardens in the rain, we refueled with some of Lisa's delicious poppyseed muffins. I'm sure they looked great before being smashed in our packs. I also briefly considered the scenario of being drug tested at the border. I'm sure it would have ended with a cavity search.
Our hunger satiated, we then headed to the falls to ride the Maid of the Mist. The idea of riding a boat near the falls to get sprayed with water from Lake Erie seemed a little corny, but the experience exceeded my expectations. When the falls are consuming your full field of vision, the magnitude of the spectacle is overwhelming. As we were pelted with stinging droplets, we debated whether it was advantageous or not to have glasses.
Finally, we did the walk behind the falls. Although not as impressive as the Maid of the Mist, it was still a sight worth seeing. I was a bit disappointed with the portals behind the falls. Somehow, a window onto a wall of grey water wasn't as exciting as I had hoped, but what should I have expected to see behind a gigantic wall of water if not a wall of water?
We wrapped up the day with dinner at Tim Horton's and washed off the stinking residue of Lake Erie before hanging around and grilling some burgers. Eating at Timmy Ho's might not be the apex of fine dining, but I was pretty stoked to finally try an icon of Canadian culture. I thought it was totally sweet to get soup and a donut served on real plates and a silver platter. Overall, I had a great day at the falls. I got to meet up with old friends, eat pie for breakfast and see a natural wonder. I passed on the Cuban cigars.
4 years ago