If it was said or heard that once, it was heard at least 50 times while we were visiting Niagara Falls. It’s pretty much the first thing out of everyone’s mouth when they see the falls. They are literally amazing. We did a number of things while in the area, including a trip to Niagara on the Lake (on the Canadian side), dinner at Ray’s Tavern on Lake Ontario (on the US side) where we met Dan and Debby, some great “Farmers from NY”, met two great couples at our campground, the Browns from Florida and the Babcocks from San Diego, both of whom were on return trips from seeing fall color in Maine & New Hampshire, and both who highly recommended that we make our way up to the area to see some of the most splendid color in the universe! We also enjoyed the Maid of the Mist boat tour, and Dan played a round of golf at a course named Hickory Stick, just HAD to do it just because of the name – “here’s to looking up your old address!”
Where to start? I guess the Maid of the Mist, since it was one of the coolest things we’ve done while on our US tour. Everyone is handed a tour-issued souvenir “slicker” when you board. Both the US and Canadians offer these , and when you get to the middle of the Falls, you’re very glad you’ve got it on! Everything gets wet – the “mist” is wind-driven by the volume of water coming over the falls, and it’s everything you can do to keep your camera equipment (and anything else that’s exposed) dry. You board the boat at the base of the observation area for the first falls you see (Niagara), and you’re thinking, “Well, that’s a big falls, but it’s not all that!” And then, when you’re on the boat, you kind of round the far side of those falls and you see the second (really big) Victoria Falls, and it is unbelievably huge and awesome. And if that’s not enough, the US Victoria Falls converge with the Canadian Horseshoe Falls in the largest wall of water you’ve ever seen! Totally awesome! All of a sudden, you’re in the middle of a “mist storm”, water and wind coming at you from every direction, trying to take a picture but holding on to the rail for dear life, everything getting soaking wet (except, you’ve got your slicker on, so you’re not really getting wet, it just seems like it). Then the captain turns the boat around so both sides can get equally wet and wild, and you go through it all again! Wild ride, we loved it! Just in case you got a little too wet, the tour (oh so conveniently) ends in the Maid of Mist Gift Shop where they stock “everything dry” (from shoes, clothes, to hats) along with all the required touristy crap for the consumers from the world over. We opted for just a quick photo op in the gift shop as our memory of the experience.
The next day we said we’d visit the Canadian side. At the border crossing, Dan got his wires crossed between speaking with the Immigration Official (which came first) and paying the toll fee (which was second) and he ended up attempting to “bribe” the Immigration Official with our toll money; when the poor woman just wanted to see our passports! She was a good sport about the mistake after a good laugh about buying her a second home, we safely navigated our way out of immigration and over to the toll booth!
From them we made a trip to Costco (because….. have the Ritchie’s ever, at any time in the history of Costco, skipped a Costco visit, if there was one located in the current zip code? – No, Never is the correct answer) in St. Catherines, Ontario. From there we traveled up to Niagara on the Lake. It’s totally beautiful there! We enjoyed lunch there at a sidewalk café where Carol “moaned” her way through the Village Salad (which is apparently “to die for”) and Dan enjoyed the greatest Prime Rib Panini ever! We took Finn on the entire Canadian trip (he’s now officially an international dog who’s been part of a plan to bride the border crossing agent using “toll money”) and, during lunch, he sat right under the table at our feet without ever making even a whimper. What a good dog! We walked down the Main street a bit, but it was really “touristy”, and so we ended up driving along the shore of Lake Ontario until it turned into the Niagara River, and we followed it all the way back to the Falls. Another beautiful drive, with large houses on the river, wineries dotting the landscape, and even one winery where it looked like 50 bicyclers had ridden to in order to imbibe a bit of vino.
We got down to the Canadian side of the Falls, and believe me, you can really get a good view from there. Much better, I think, than the view from the US. We had planned on staying until dusk, and then eating at the Skylon restaurant while the lights came on at the Falls, but we were pretty early and what with the long day that Finn was having, we just decided that those two things will get accomplished the next time we visit the Falls. All in all, though, still a VERY good day. That night we went to Ray’s Tavern, right up on Lake Ontario (although it was dark and the lake was about a mile away, we figured) because that’s where our host at the KOA had told us the best wings around were there. Well, they didn’t have wings on Friday night (Fish Fry night), but we did meet a couple from Wilson, NY (Dan and Debbie) who were apple farmers. It was very interesting talking to them about all kinds of things related to apple farming, and eventually, the conversation turned to what the government was doing to their business (and business in general). Because they use workers brought up from Jamaica (around 100 workers per season, some for as many as 30 seasons), their biggest gripe was Obamacare, causing them to limit the amount of time they allow an imported worker to pick apples for them. If you employ someone for over 120 days, you must provide insurance, so they limit the employment of these workers to 118 days. Whether they get their apple picked or not, and limiting the amount of money they pay these seasonal workers.