Niagara Falls (from Canada), May 2010

Niagara Falls. Sure, you've heard of it. It's one of those iconic tourist draws - you can't help but know about it. In my case, fortunately, I finally had a reason to be going by. So I might as well take a look, no? Yes.

I had been hugging the south side of the Canadian border - while heading across the country west to east - all the way from Washington to Michigan. Now the time had come to make the cut north of the border. Where's this, you ask? Why, lemme tell you: this would put me through Ontario's (and Canada's) southernmost point, on Lake Erie's north shore. From Detroit this is the quicker way to NY State. Anywho, at the end of the Ontario stretch was, of course... why lookee thar! Niagara Falls!

Now, straight up, fair's fair: Niagara Falls was worth every bit the hype of a lifetime's knowledge of them. Not that EVERYone agrees perfectly, but there you have it from me. Indeed, there's a famous quote of some sort by Eleanor Roosevelt, one regarding a comparison of Niagara Falls and its larger cousin in falls-ness, Iguazu Falls. THAT latter beast is a 2km-wide affair, however, the unholy and enormous product of union - where Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil meet. I-GUA-ZU!

It's massive, believe you me. And it'd be even bigger if one of the biggest dams in the world - Itaipu - wasn't sluicing away a chunk of its powerful waters nearby. Anyway, supposedly ol' Eleanor said "Poor Niagara" upon taking in Iguazu. Youch. Thanks, First Lady! Beyond even that slam, though, I heard still another quote. Supposedly she said, too, that Niagara Falls was like a garden hose in comparison. Ouch. Youch. Pow-ch!

Herewith, however, I'd like to set the record straight: t'aint fair. Yes, I was more impressed with Iguazu, too, but... But! Niagara Falls was awfully imposing. Thunderous volume and sound, with a separate and also impressive falls area nearby, plus a grand bridge to connect the U.S. and Canada? Yeah, pretty stupendous stuff. Now roll over, Eleanor.

That said, the rest of it - about the tourist kitsch blown out the wazoo nearby - was quite accurate. Beyond the numerous buildings crammed in for a view, the competing towns for the tourist dollar stretched out with all of the services both desired and less so for miles. Certainly in THAT regard Iguazu presents itself in a far more pristine fashion, beyond its vastly larger size. THAT I'd give to Eleanor handily.

For my part, I parked my car a little past what seemed to be a hydro station. As always, I wondered how much water was being diverted from the "real" show. No telling. In any event, it was only perhaps a mile to the main falls, easily meandered to along a nice parkway. The river stretched alongside with its impending doom, the sound built up appropriately, then... there they were. Wow.

From the top of the falls I continued further, now down toward the plentiful hotels and the international bridge. If ever I needed to buy the bumper sticker, paper weight, or commemorative silver spoon, here was my opportunity. Fortunately, that could be as easily ignored: there were numerous viewpoints to take in both the main falls AND the sidelined ones that dropped across the way from the U.S. side.

It must be said, too, if only as mere point-in-fact, that Canada gets the better side of the deal view-wise. This was obvious so much so to me that I felt no need to even go to the U.S. part at all, when I entered the U.S. later in the day. This American view-deficiency undoubtedly explained the lonely tower, a sleek edifice seen not too far from the bridge on the U.S. side. It included a jutted-out bridge to nowhere, giving U.S.-side tourists SOME but not all of the Canadian perspective.

Anyway, a couple of hours of farting around... and that was that. The sky changed color numerous times for some drama, but for the most part I stayed dry. This even included dodging some of the mist blasts attempting to soak me from below, too. No, thanks. If I had wanted THAT fun, I would have taken the "Maiden of the Mists" boat ride below. That li'l adventure takes you directly into them. Thus no barrel is required after all. Guess I can check that off any theoretical bucket list I've been putting together.

Okay, enough of the blather and build-up. Sit back and enjoy the best of the pics as they came to me:

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