Saturday, October 11, 2008

Our final day on the road...

The next morning we arose early, planning to return to Niagara Falls State Park for a little more sightseeing before hitting the road for home. Our agenda for the day included a ride on the Maid of the Mist, a fleet of tour boats that sail upriver past the American Falls and right into the whirlpool beneath the monstrous Horseshoe Falls. Boy, were we in for a treat.

The Maid of the Mist has been in operation since 1846. It has hosted such distinguished passengers as Teddy Roosevelt, Marilyn Monroe, and Mikhail Gorbechev, to name a few. We also learned that in 1960, a crew on board a Maid of the Mist boat actually plucked a young boy from the water who had survived an accidental plunge over the falls.

The Maid of the Mist docked underneath the giant Observation Tower that reached out over the river on the American side. We were hearded like cattle through the admission line and down the elevators into the gorge, handed a protective poncho (blue, this time), and quickly boarded our boat. I chose a secure spot in the back corner of the boat, and soon we were headed upriver.

At first, we stayed dry. Very soon afterward, we experienced the attraction's namesake and felt ourselves getting sprayed with a fine mist from the American Falls as we sailed by. The falls were beautiful from this perspective, quite different from the vantage point we had the day before.

After we emerged from the gale that enveloped us while we passed the first set of falls, we could see the Horseshoe Falls directly ahead. The wind was quiet and dry again, for a short time at least. The boat just kept going until we were virtually surrounded by the falls on three sides. There was roaring water everywhere. It was absolutely fantastic. Probably one of the highlights of our trip, to be honest, even though it felt like there was someone standing nearby, gleefully tossing large buckets of water at us. By the end of the ride, we were both soaked. Cory even had to wring out his socks once we returned to the shore.

We took in the views at the top of the Observation Tower for quite some time, both reluctant to leave and admit that our long-awaited vacation had come to an end. I'm so glad we decided to come to Niagara Falls on our way home from Cooperstown. Definitely a hokey, touristy spot, but one still steeped in history and natural beauty. Finally, the time had come to head back to Indiana, and back to reality.

I'm already busy dreaming up our next road trip...

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