90,000 Miles to Me

31,200 Miles • Niagara Falls

The scenic route towards Niagara Falls involved driving through an area known as the Green Belt—shoulder to shoulder family orchards and small farms with lots of roadside produce stands that weren’t yet open at the break of dawn. I was trying to beat the Niagara crowds.

Based on the signs from the roadside stands, this is apparently a good region for growing peaches, nectarines, cherries, apricots, and grapes.

The Niagara River spills into Lake Ontario here (above). I drove south along the edge of the river to the Floral Clock, a little north of the Falls, where are I learned a bit about the hydroelectric plant that both takes advantage of the strength of the water and has decorated a gigantic clock with flowers every year since 1950.

Continuing south, there is a bend in the river where the water churns as it makes the turn. It is called the Whirlpool, though it is not a proper whirlpool like in your bathtub drain. The water is brilliantly turquoise and gorgeous.

I would have liked to sit there all day and just watch the water churning.

A few minutes further south, and I could hear the Falls from a distance, even through closed windows and over the van engine. The van got wet just driving by the Falls.

I checked the parking meter rates at a couple spots. A mile or so away, it was $3 an hour. That seemed reasonable to me in a touristy area. Just a few blocks closer to the falls, it quadrupled to $6 for 30 minutes. I went back and walked.

American Falls
American Falls on the left and Horseshoe Falls—what most people think of as Niagara Falls—to the right.
Birds enjoyed darting in and out of the mist, and I couldn’t help the feeling that they were playing.

I walked all the way down the falls, taking lots of pictures, and getting a mild sunburn because I didn’t think to bring my hat. The falls were very impressive but I would have liked to just sit around and watch the water fall for a long time rather than feel the pressure to take pictures and move on so that someone else could take pictures (this was selfie central).

There were a few spots that weren’t as crowded, and the crowds were not nearly as bad as I expected, but there is only so much railing where you can get a good view.

I went to a park and took a little nap, then crossed over to the American side to get my national parks passport stamp, see the falls from the other side, fill up with much less expensive gas, stop paying Verizon extra to use my cell phone in Canada, and spend the night. 

Crossing the bridge to the American side, this unusual road sign warned drivers of the intense mist.

I walked around on the American side quite a bit more and really enjoyed watching the rapids heading toward the Falls. Apparently I am fascinated by watching swiftly moving rivers and waves and other waters churning and stewing and bubbling and brewing.

The Canadian side has a much better face-on view of both the American Falls and Horseshoe Falls, but the American side has all the rapids.

I estimate that I walked about 4 miles, almost exclusively on paved surfaces which are harder on my knees. I could feel it a bit in my knees now and then, but whenever I did, I did some Trager mentastics, and between that and Katie Bowman’s restorative exercises, this is a remarkable improvement. The exercises have definitely helped, but the biggest difference has been the Trager stuff loosening up my muscles so that the exercises could have a much bigger affect.

Good night, Canada.

On a different note, I’ve been noticing a mild background tension building up from being on the go so much lately, driving long hours for days in a row, being in and around major cities, and not getting enough chance to write. I would absolutely love a week in a forest or a small town public library to just plant myself and write. Preferably both. 

But I have a deadline. I left Maine and am heading back west in order to get to Indiana in about a week. A dear friend of mine is defending her PhD in mathematics, and I want to be there to support her. That doesn’t leave me a lot of time to just chill, but it doesn’t mean I can’t do anything to relax, and along with some smaller things, I’ve decided I have enough time to take tomorrow off from driving.