August 12, 2017
A visit to what amounts to a well-regulated natural tourist trap like Niagra Falls is always approached with some trepidation. While tourism is a usually non-polluting, renewable industry, sometimes it crosses the line and becomes a circus. Niagra Falls is on the line that divides reality from reality TV.
Even though we arrived fairly early, the crowds were enormous. No, big crowds are not really a reality issue, but they can make a visit unpleasant. Today, I didn’t find the hundred thousand or so visitors much of a problem. Everybody was in good humor as we cued up to take our pictures by the rail. The facilities, from visitor center to washrooms, in typical Canadian style were well maintained and clean. Everything was orderly from the expensive parking lot to the ticket booth for the attractions. It is the artificial nature of the activities that are bothersome.
Let’s start with the Maid of the Mist. This rubber ducky looking boat ferries its victims to a cold shower near rhe falls. There they sit endlessly in their yellow or red parkas gradually getting soaked through their waterproof gear. Finally, the boat crews has mercy and sails away from the maelstrom to make way for another load of victims hoping for a picture during their shower. A six inch selfie might work.
Several years ago, we could walk down a set of stairs to get close like the boat. Today it costs $20 but that includes a cheesy parka. I can understand charging for a boat ride no matter how silly but charging to use a stairway is exploitive. OK, maybe I am just being crabby but it still bugs me. I realize that running the place costs bucks, but there are limits. For a family to “enjoy” the falls “properly” the cost approaches Disneyland scale. Oh well, we got our pictures for the price of parking and a souvenir.
We spent the next few hours enjoying the well-maintained Canadian highway across the province of Ontario. Unfortunately, we had to endure rain shower after thunderstorm all afternoon. We crossed into Michigan and drove the Interstate through poor Flint and stopped in Saginaw, an hour north. Subconsciously, we both were thinking about the water we might encounter in Flint. Sorry, Flint.
August 12, 2017