Before I see Niagra Falls, I hear a deep distant roar. We make our way to the railing and my mouth drops open to let out a big round “Wow!” The whitewater rumbling over a 170-foot cliff at around 30 miles per hour creates a misty fog that blows up as the wind whips against it. Throngs of people crowd in, happy to let the mist spray upon them. I’ve always wanted to see Niagara Falls ever since I first saw it in the 1980s Superman 2 film. That’s why when we arrived in the Empire State it became my top priority.
Maid of the Mist
After just moments arriving at Niagara Falls State Park, we make our way to the Maid of the Mist to experience “America’s most amazing boat ride since 1846.” We pay roughly $19 per adult and make our way to the Observation Tower. The tower extends over Niagara Gorge, displaying an unobstructed view of the raging cascades of Niagara Falls. A distant wide angle view of things to come.
Within the tower, the elevators took us down to the boat dock to where the Maid of the Mist III awaits. The original 1846 border-crossing ferry touted a 72-foot-long side-wheeler with an 18-foot beam powered by steam produced from a wood- and coal-fired boiler. She didn’t start her tourism gig until the suspension bridge reduced demand for ferry crossings. Subsequent Maid of the Mists carried famous people such as Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana, Prince Charles, and Mikhail Gorbachev.
After a quick security inspection, we’re each given a blue poncho. I quickly don mine due to the mist picking up. Hitch, on the other hand, finds it too garish for his fashion sense and refuses to wear it. I give a few words of warning, “You’ll get soaked.” He smiles and replies, “That’s the whole point!”
Into the Mists
With the boat now empty of its previous set of tourists, everyone crowds onto the ramp and piles on to the Maid of the Mist. We all look like blue smurfs, except for Hitch who refuses to wear blue plastic. We make our way to the front of the boat, and I put a GoPro over my ballcap. I feel kinda silly, but it’s okay because everyone looks silly. Just as we’re leaving, I get a thought, “Your camera and cellphone might be destroyed by the water.” Hitch nods, “You got a point,” and he wears the blue poncho like a skirt over his pockets.
Total time to visit the base of the falls is about 30-40 minutes or so, the rest of the time is spent boarding on the boat and slowly getting there. The lead up to Horseshoe Falls is pretty spectacular and loud. White mist rolls up, and it’s rather hard to see the falls themselves, especially near the Canadian side. As the boat moves in, the mist starts to feel more like rain, soon Niagara water is pouring over everything. I turn to Hitch, and he’s soaked through with a happy grin on his face. For a brief moment, I realize my waterproof GoPro is recording crap since water is covering the lens – oh well.
The trip is all too brief as the Maid takes us back to the Tower. We leisurely follow up our boat ride with a hike up the short trail near the base of American Falls. Satisfied with our visit to Niagara Falls we head to our Airstream for a warmth and a change of clothes.