Road Tripping The U.S. of A.
We had been driving for over eleven hours across the United States. Beginning the road trip with a less-than-ideal situation (calling AAA because our car wouldn’t start), it was getting pretty late, pretty fast. Only about ten minutes remained as we drove through the never-ending construction of New York, dodging deer as they took their turns scampering across the dimly-lit highway.
“Okay, but how can we not see Niagara Falls yet? We’re literally a mile away and the entire thing should be lit up. Don’t you think we’d notice one of the largest waterfalls in the world equipped with flashing LED lights?”
We both sat there questioning our route choice as we neared the so-called entrance. A security guard sat outside of the gates in his pick-up truck, eyeing us up and down.
“Is this the entrance?” we asked naively, rolling down our window and pointing toward the giant parking gate in front of us with bold letters reading Niagara Falls.
“Yup. Just head through there, swing a left and park wherever. Then you can take the path down to the falls,” he stated blandly for probably the fiftieth time today.
Arriving at Niagara Falls
Getting more giddy after being reassured as to how close we were to our destination after a day-long journey, we hopped out of the truck. The park, too, was filled with construction, although no one seemed to be working on it any further than stringing up some caution tape and plopping a few cones on the pavement.
Continuing down the path, my heartbeat seemed to be getting louder. Ba-dum…Ba-dum…Ba-dum-dum-dum. Wait a minute. Rounding the next corner, I faced the real cause of the low beat. A homeless man using a white upturned bucket as a drum strummed away into the cold, empty night. I got the feeling he’d come here to get away from the hustle of the town, rather than to hustle himself, as we seemed to be the only ones here at midnight on a Monday.
The path curved along down the tiled steps and I gasped as a cloud of water droplets misted my face.
Spotting Niagara Falls
We had both stopped walking, staring ahead of us in awe at the glowing spectacular light show that was Niagara Falls. Have you ever been to a full moon party? What about stood on a float during a Mardi Gras Parade? Forget what you know, it was more colorful than every event I’d ever had the privilege of attending. It was as if a champagne shower had begun to pour and each upturned glass boasted a different color. From frosted cranberry to candied orange and lemon drop, the gala had begun. As the bubbles hit the river’s edge in slow motion, misty clouds rose up, like puffs of smoke seeping out of a dive bar on a Saturday night.
I stood with my tiptoes on the edge of the sidewalk, spreading my wings and closing my eyes as the midnight sprinklers refreshed my face after all of those hours spent staring at the yellow dotted line in the passenger seat. I could feel the power of nature billowing in front of me. Water that had traveled far and wide came together at this single landmark and construed itself into one of the strongest bodies of water I’d ever seen. From behind the fence line, we could feel an illusion of safety, take out our selfie sticks and tell everyone back home how great our trip was.
Niagara Falls Barrel Riding
However, the idea that people used to hop inside of barrels and ride down Niagara Falls was stunning to me. One guy even made the plunge in a jet ski; I bet you can guess how that turned out. It never did—like, literally his body was never found. Despite the fact that going over the falls is illegal and can cause you to be slapped with fines, like the $5.5K fine the man who went over Niagara in a bunch of tied inner tubes lived to pay, people still seem to go for it.
I sat there for a silent moment, as a midnight rainbow danced below me. The Canadian side across the way was a sparkling metropolis with its city lights twinkling behind the falls. The CN Tower stroked the stars above, creating a bubble-like effect on the scene. If I was stuck inside of a tourist’s snow globe, I would want it to look exactly like this. As the winds started to pick up, whipping through my thin, blue hoodie, we decided it was time to call it a night. We’d leave the rest of Niagara Falls exploring until the next morning…