We had decided earlier in the summer that we would take our oldest grandchild, Andy, off to Niagara Falls for a bit of fun. But, to add to the fun and toss in some mystery, we didn’t tell him where we were going… stinkers, aren’t we?
I booked us into a mini-suite at the Holiday Inn near the QEW in Mississauga for Tuesday and Wednesday nights. A nice room but not nearly as nice as the one we had there back in June when I attended a writing workshop. Enough digression…
Wednesday morning after a hearty breakfast at the hotel, we headed off to Niagara Falls. Unfortunately, as you age the need to skip to the loo becomes paramount. This became a moment in time I’d rather hadn’t happened but it did. Of all the times since buying my digital SLR camera in March and taken it places… including hanging it on the hook on the stall doors in the public loos, this time it fell off and crashed onto the floor. I thought for sure it was done and came out to join the others with a face on me like a smacked backside and relayed my tale of woe.
Determined to make the best of things, we bought a pass to four attractions – Journey Beneath the Falls, Niagara Fury, Maid of the Mist and the Whitewater Walk. We could do beneath the falls and the maid anytime we wanted because they’re based on first come first served but the other two we had to have scheduled appointments. Niagara Fury had been booked at noon and the walk at 5:00 pm. Since we were there, we decided to go under and behind the falls first.
Even though I’ve done the Journey Beneath the Falls many times, I never tire of it. It’s even more fun when you’ve got someone with you who’s never done it before! Down here where it is SO wet, I pulled out my wee “workhorse” digital camera. If one was going to get waterlogged, this was the one of choice… and trust me, it got soaked! It’s wet enough beneath the falls at the best of times but the wind blew the thundering water towards us in sheets!
This poor goose was oblivious to everyone and everything around him. He was more intent on feeding his face. I’m not sure how long he’d been perched on this bit of ledge but he was soaked, so much so, that there was no way he could have taken off. He was stuck there until the wind whipped the water in a different direction and he could dry himself out.
After this picture was taken, we went up one level but the water thundering over the falls was far worse. We stopped briefly to read one of the posters on a locked door in an alcove along the tunnel and I decided I’d scoot back down to the lower viewing platform to get a picture of the “cave” from the outside. I got a touch sidetracked but got the shot I was after.
After a complete and thorough soaking, we headed back inside for the noon showing of Niagara Fury. We were early so I decided to take a few minutes and check on my injured camera. To start with the lens cap was jammed on. When I finally got it off, my UV filter was smashed! Broken glass all over so it was a good thing I was close to a garbage can. Of course, the filter didn’t want to come off either but I finally got it to cooperate. Dumped the glass off my lens, took out my brush and gently removed the small bits that were left behind. Now for the moment of truth… I tried the camera. It acted like yes, it would work but it didn’t. I tried a couple of different things but still no luck. I figured it was garbage. Never to work again.
I didn’t have a lot of time to fiddle at this point because we were being ushered in to the theatre… and handed another rain cape… this one blue. I’d never done Niagara Fury before and assumed it was just a movie so wondered why the need for waterproofing. I soon found out! At the end of the short animated film, we were led into another room – a round one – and onto a platform where we were told to hang on and we would get wet! They weren’t exaggerating. the platform shook, snow fell, then water gushed out of nozzles in the ceiling. A movie screen surrounding the room, showed how the falls were formed. I would have been just as pleased to only be in here and skipped the film.
We’d picked up cheese and crackers and some cold meat the day before for a picnic lunch and had three large bottles of water (as if we’d not taken in enough already) so thought we would go back to the car and have a bite to eat. While on the bridge over the Niagara Parkway, my husband took my camera and tried to see if he could get it working for me. He changed a couple of settings, ended up putting it on manual and turned the F-stop dial and it worked. Something inside must have jammed from the impact of hitting the floor. The main thing was – it worked! It wasn’t another piece of electronic gadgetry for the scrap heap!
The inclined railway was the first thing I photographed after I put the settings back to my usual ones. You have no idea how pleased I was to preview it and see that it turned out!
I was so thrilled to have my camera in working order again, I composed this shot of the bridge to immortalize where it was resurrected.
We stopped by the car for the cooler and found a nearby picnic table. The first water bottle to come out peed on the leaning picnic table of Niagara, the trail of water headed straight for my camera! I picked it up and moved it in the nick of time. Poor thing had already suffered enough trauma for one day… a lifetime would be more accurate.
Since we had lots of time and could ride the Maid of the Mist at any point, we strolled leisurely through the greenspace along the street until we reached Queen Victoria Park. The formal gardens were awash with the colours of summer flowers and greenery which painted a totally different palette than when I was there at the end of May.
When we reached the koi pond, the water lilies were in bloom… yellow, pale pink, white, and a fuscia shade. Unfortunately, the yobs had tossed empty drink cups and plastic bottles in, ruining the peaceful and pristine atmosphere.
The fish stayed under the shelter of the huge leaves but when we walked around to the shadier side, they were more active and swam out looking for someone to feed them.
And yes, Andy is taller than we are but in this photo Don was on the slope leading into the pond and Andy was on level ground above him.
Even with him standing on the slope and me at the top, he’s still considerably taller than his gran!
We were almost across from the Maid of the Mist docks when we got this far, so quickly headed across the street, past the ticket booths were we flashed our passes and joined the queue waiting patiently to move closer to the boat. Like at Journey Behind the Falls, we had our photo taken against a green background and were given a claim slip so we could “purchase” our photo after the boat ride.
I wanted to be on the lower level along the railing at the bow of the boat but as luck would have it, we were the last to get on that particular vessel so it was take what you can get. We ended up at the top of the stairs at the stern. Not too bad a place but being in the middle of the boat, there were a lot of blue rain capes to shoot over, around, etc.
Shortly before docking, I asked one of the young girls in the group of teenagers near us to take our picture together. I’d photographed them many times with different cameras of theirs, so I thought it was only right to get them to do the same for me.
We did end up buying the picture from here… only because Don thought it would be great fun to have his hand on my boob when it was taken! He wasn’t 100% certain they would even print it but they did.
We had two more places we wanted to go before returning to Mississauga so passed on the Whitewater Walk. The plan was to stop at Lock 3 of the Welland Canal in St Catharines and with any luck, see a ship pass through the lock (we had caught a glimpse of one on our way to Niagara in the morning going through) and again at Jordan Harbour.
I can tell you we did both of those stops, but I’ll save them for the next blog post.