Falling for Niagara

At 6:15 on Saturday morning everyone was woken up by a very chipper text message informing them that if this was, indeed, their wake-up call, they were already late. We had to be in Chinatown, packed lunches in hand, by 7:45 a.m. and with maybe five minutes to spare, we all made it.

Our journey to Niagara was something like eight and a half hours long (anyone who’s ever been in a car with me knows I never stay awake, so I couldn’t really keep track) and, aside from the bus threatening to break down somewhere on the side of a Pennsylvania interstate, fairly uneventful. As if to prove our maturity, this was the first time many of us had sat on a coach for a long time and not fallen victim to the dreaded “it’s nine thirty and I’m stuck here therefore I must eat my packed lunch already” syndrome, that used to be synonymous with long school trips. That, right there, is growth.

We got to Niagara Falls late that afternoon and discovered that someone had left the tap on in the most impressive of ways. Being in charge of a coach full of foreigners, our tour guide had given us a very serious speech about the ramifications of trying to swim over to Canada – y’know, $50,000 fines, police detention, helicopter air-liftings… – and had somehow forgotten to mention the fact that you would just straight-up die. I’m not in the least afraid of water, and generally completely overestimate my abilities in it, but even I can acknowledge that you wouldn’t be getting out of there at least 80% full of water. Even anyone who hadn’t been paying attention up to that point could see that it was a bad idea.

To throw some facts at people, and prove I was paying attention like the teachers’ pet I so naturally am, The river at the top of the falls moves at 50mph. The water below is 185ft deep. And the water going over there in one second would take 46 years to drink, if you were the kind of person that even listens to that ‘eight glasses of water’ advice. And you would pee. A lot.

I don’t really know if facts do it justice, but it was pretty spectacular. I always like big natural features like that because they’re a fixed point. It’s nice to know that no matter where a person is, and no matter what is happening, they’ll always be there, just doin’ what they do. And probably looking beautiful while they do it. So much has happened in the time they’ve been there, and they’re still standing, and have barely changed. It’s reassuring, in its way.

It also, apparently, brings out the drivelly philosopher in me, and I fervently apologise.

The other amazing thing about the falls was their ability to bring out the desire to take selfies in everyone. For those unfamiliar with the concept, this is a modern day abbreviation for “I don’t think people see my face enough so I’m going to cover social media sites with pictures of myself that nobody asked for.”

If you opt to ride the Maid of The Mist (who has, at this point, been ridden by so many people I’m not sure we can call her a ‘maid’ any more) you get given a blue plastic poncho to wear. The queue for the boat moves half as slowly as it could on account of everyone stopping every three paces to take a photo of themselves pouting with their polythene hood up. And if I’m coming across as judgemental I have less than no right to, because I totally did it too. I maintain that mine was a mock pout, but it still prompted someone to point out that I looked ‘like a very angry jedi smurf’. Oh yeah. That’s hot.

After enjoying Niagara form every conceivable angle – top, bottom, side, gift shop – we were bussed back to the hotel. This was just as exciting for most of us because the rooms were clean and the beds were comfy, unlike most of our actual apartments.

Ineveitably, on a trip comprised of 10 females, numerous bottles of wine had been smuggled in suitcases and someone had even remembered to bring a corkscrew. We made a very nice evening out of sitting in one room and laughing a lot. Kind of like a sleepover, I would assume, had I been to enough to allow me to judge.

Our tour guide had viciously booked us all 6:30 a.m. wake-up calls the next day, so there was no rest for these weary travellers. We had to be on the bus at 7:30 and we were on the way to Thousand Islands. This is basically a giant bay/river/I didn’t pay enough attention in geography to really know, filled with little islands, and sitting atop most of them was the home of some family or other who were heirs to various obscene riches. This is the (probably holiday) home of the Kellogs and the Waldorfs and 998 other people whose great granparents sold or invented something in th 1920s. Although it’s worth noting that you don’t have to be too obscenely rich to live on a private island. There is one currently for sale which comes in at $130,000, which seems pretty reasonable. I mean, it’s called Elephant Island, because it’s the exact size of an elephant’s back, but it would probably just about hold a shed. There’s hope for us yet.

The journey home was a vicious cycle of falling asleep, nursing a neck crick, tapping a pen on a pad convinced I was going to write things, and watching the exceptionally violent Chinese film thy decided to play on the way back. I have no idea what was happening, but may people were rendered thoroughly dead. And bloodily so.

And on that note, since it seems worth it, pictures:

 

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