Roadtripping: N’East & Niagara

When you’re driving 3,000mi, what is an extra 300mi to see the most powerful falls in North America? That’s what we asked ourselves when we made a road trip up to Massachussetts to have thanksgiving with Michelle’s family. Thanksgiving festivities and visiting family was great. We ate too much food, had a lot of wine, and laughed and chatted for hours with friends and family. We built gingerbread houses for the anual after-thanksgiving feast gingerbread house “competetion” which is in my opinion a great teambuilding exercise for couples. There was a lot of trash talking, failed houses, and definitely laughs. Our gingerbread house came out amazing of course, I mean we work on boats! And of course we “won”, and I say that confidently because the others can’t stand on this soapbox to proclaim their houses were better (even if in some alternate universe they were.. haha!).

When it got closer to us leaving to head back to Louisiana, we kind of wanted to do just one more thing we have been wanting to do since being together, and that was to see Niagara Falls. We packed up the truck up with our gear and headed west. It was only a short six hours from Michelle’s parent’s house to the border of Canada to cross to Niagara. Since we were only going to be there for one night, Michelle treated us to a nice hotel overlooking the falls. We got in our room just in time to see the start of the fireworks that are “Canada’s longest running firework series”. It was a nice treat to see the fireworks display from our balcony overlooking the falls.

Once that was over we decided to take a ride around the town on our bikes and grab some dinner. It was a cold night with a serious wind chill but we still had fun riding around the streets going to dinner. Niagara at this time of year (end of Nov-begining of Dec) is pretty much vacant of tourists which was great because prices are cheaper at hotels and no lines at Falls’ attractions, but one caveat it is definitely colder. After dinner we ventured along the falls to see the lights on the falls. We found out they had recently just upgraded all of the old xenon bulbs with new LED lights that were just installed this year and that thursday night was the first night they were unveiled. How stinking cool is that?! Talk about perfect timing! These lights are 14x brighter than the old lights and up to 85% more energy efficient!  They were absolutely incredible and made the falls literally dazzle and shimmer. I hardly had adjust my Sony NEX-5 camera’s exposure to get great pictures they were so illuminated.

After vewing the falls we rode through a Christmas display in the park near the river side and we saw a closed putt putt course that was dinosaur themed so we took privilages taking pictures before heading to the hotel for the night. Who wouldn’t, right? Don’t let anyone steal your dinosaur, ever.

The next morning we headed out to be tourists! Michelle had signed us up for a few attractions in the truck on the way which worked out great. And our morning view from the room was pretty breathtaking!

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First, we did the behind the falls walk which is very neat! It’s amazing walking under and next these falls. Feeling the trembling of the water beneath your feet and hearing the roaring of the falls echo through the tunnels really puts the perspective of how awesome this place is and how fragile we are in comparison. Along the tunnels they have boards that give information and history of Niagara and the falls, erosion and hydro-electrics, and even the dum-dumbs that tried to fall off the waterfall in things like a barrel(one lady along with her cat, yes insane I know) and a metal tank(a man who broke his pelvis, arm and jaw in the act) though not all survived. When you come to view the falls from behind in the tunnel you can see the sheer amount of water that is flowing and the immense power behind these falls. As we found out the falls during the off season are reduced to 50% as more water is redirected to the hydro-electric plant to produce more power.

Next up was something that was, to us at least, a bait & switch because it wasn’t what was portrayed on the website. Even though it was cheesy and tawdry it was actually fun for us! Michelle had signed us up for the “Niagara’s Fury” tour thinking it was a boat ride to the falls. Excitedly, we donned our plastic ponchos and headed in. We watched a short, corny animation video about a beaver going back into time giving you a lesson on Niagara. Coming out of that movie left you none the wiser about Niagara’s formation. We wen’t to the next room where there was a big circular room with a large platform with handle posts in the center. We grabbed a post and then a 360 degree video started playing. Then there was fog and droplets falling down around you and the platform would rumble and tilt slightly. Towards the end we would get splashed with water from above and it was at this point that we knew THIS was what the ponchos were for and that we definitely weren’t going on a boat! We left laughing at our experiences of our “tour”.

On the way out we stopped to take pictures of the falls in the daylight and as we were gazing upon the falls we noticed a tour boat on the river. We were suprised because we knew that the Maid of the Mist tours were already up for the winter. What we didn’t realize or look into was that the Canadian tour boat the Hornblower!

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We walked along the river towards the the ticket booths for the Hornblower so we could get a ride. Luckily this was offseason so there was no line or a lot of people on the boat. We boarded and made our way to the bow to get the best view! The captain brought us near the American Falls then made the slow steady approach to the massive Horseshoe Falls. We snapped a few photos of the falls before the mist got too bad.

I did not anticipate the sheer amount of water that comes out of that mist once we got inside! There is so much mist and water in suspension that the air literally cannot hold it and it comes down in sheets of water. You get drenched then it eases then another wave of water pours on you! Even with our free, plastic ponchos we were getting soaked! Mind you it is about 40 degrees out and the wind was quite brisk that morning so it was a wee bit nippy. We were troopers and stayed outside the entire time laughing in the moment while all but a handful of the other tourists retreated inside peering through the dripping windows. I was also amazed just how loud these falls were once you were surrounded by them, it was enough for us to need to scream at each other to talk. The sound resonating though your ears and body, the trembling of the water beneath the falls as millions of gallons of water plummet down. It was just awesome to be right where we were, and we weren’t going to let a little, ok lots, water stop us!

We made it back to the hotel to get the truck and made the long journey south. We stopped at my uncle Jimmy’s house to visit with him and his wife Eva. On our way there we saw from the interstate a lonely mountain off in the distance jutting up like a giant pillar. I was instantly wanting to go explore this unique formation and insisted Michelle find out while I was driving. This mountain we saw was Pilot Mountain. We asked my uncle about this as now I’m interested in a hike to the top, and he was on board to do it with us. Unfortunately, we were pressed with time and couldn’t make the hike. We will come prepared when we drive back up to Massachussetts in March and we will get to the top of that lonely mountain. In the words of Wayne Campbell,”She will be mine. Oh yes, she will be mine.”

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