Monday, June 12, 2017 – Niagara Falls
I asked yesterday on check-in for a recommendation of a nearby mechanic; hence we found ourselves this morning at Minja Tuning, a one-man auto repair shop two blocks from our hotel. It cost $60 Canadian (appx $45 US) and 30 minutes to return our car to a streetworthy condition. The car was missing some of the clips that should have been attaching the plastic piece, and the mechanic said several of clips that remained were for a different make and model of vehicle. In other words, it had been fixed before, poorly.
After the car repair, we parked back at the hotel and walked over for our first daytime view of the falls. They're spectacular! I was so much more impressed by the power and the beauty than I was last night.
Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls
2017 is the 150th anniversary of Canada's confederation, that is to say, when, per the British North America Act of 1867, the Canadian colonies (at the time, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick) became unified as the Dominion of Canada.
Happy Sesquicentennial, Canada!
Just above the top of Horseshoe Falls is an old scow (barge) perched perilously close to the plunge. I was intrigued how it got there, so I looked it up later. In August 1918, two men on the scow were engaged in dredging operations upstream of the falls and being towed by a tugboat when the boat hit a sandbar, the cable snapped, and the scow broke free. The scow careened out of control toward the falls until at the last minute, the scow swung sideways and grounded itself on a rocky shoal dangerously close to the precipice. The crew was stranded there for 24 hours while rescue attempts were tried and failed, until rescue was eventually effected via a line shot from a grappling gun and a breeches buoy (similar to a zip-line).
Stranded scow above Niagara Falls
Horseshoe Falls from the top
At Table Rock Visitor Centre, we got burgers and fries and then bought tickets for the Journey Behind the Falls at 1:40 p.m. ($19.55 Canadian each). To do the Journey Behind the Falls, you first buy tickets, then present yourself at the appointed time and are issued a disposable poncho; then you queue for the elevator. When we visited, on a weekday, the queue was not particularly long, but I'm sure that's not always the case.
Ready for my Journey Behind the Falls
The elevator descends 150 feet through bedrock to damp, dimly lit, 130-year-old tunnels carved out behind Horseshoe Falls. On exiting the elevator, we first went to the viewing portals. You can't see much from the portals, but you'll never be closer to the falls, and you can feel the powerful thunder of the water as it passes right in front of you. There are two portals, but if you've seen one, you've seen them both.
Jana supports 150 feet of bedrock
The view from the observation deck is the highlight of the Journey Behind the Falls experience. This is where you need the poncho. It will be the closest view you're going to get of the front of Horseshoe Falls, and it's also a great place to watch the Hornblower and Maid of the Mist boats as they cruise into the maelstrom.
Horseshoe Falls close-up
Horblower Niagara cruise boat
The other must-do here is a Niagara cruise. On the U.S. side, the boat company is Maid of the Mist. In Canada, it's Hornblower. The boats run constantly throughout the day. We walked over to the Hornblower dock and got tickets ($29.32 Canadian each) for an immediate departure. The ride lasts 10-15 minutes and takes you into the roiling turbulence of Horseshoe Falls and right past American Falls. Despite the poncho, you will get wet on this ride! Ridiculous and fun!
Horseshoe Falls from the Hornblower boat
Approaching the maelstrom
American Falls from the Hornblower boat
After the cruise, we retrieved our car from the hotel and drove the length of the Niagara Parkway, which follows the Niagara River as it flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. The drive is 56 scenic kilometers, from Fort Erie to Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Peace Bridge over Lake Erie, between the U.S. and Canada
Buffalo, New York
Along the Niagara Parkway
Skylon Tower and Niagara Falls Skywheel from the top of the Falls
Tonight we had dinner near our hotel at Chuck's Roadhouse Bar & Grill. The beer choice was limited, but we got Heinekens, New York strips, and loaded baked potatoes. Just what the doctor ordered! We left the restaurant at 10:00 p.m. and watched the fireworks over the falls. We were half a mile away, but it was still a nice show.