Jun 10, 2013

Canada: Falls View

Niagara Falls.  I took this photo Sunday, May 19, 2013 from Horseshoe Falls, looking back towards American Falls.  You can see part of Horseshoe Falls as well on the right.

I believe every great class trip needs a couple of key elements.  You've got to have some experience with culture and history of the place you're visiting.  You want to visit the landmarks, the iconic symbols of the city  or nation, if possible. You'll want to have an experience with the natural world, something outdoors. It's great to have a little time for shopping.  I like to have a day "just for fun" too, though I've had many trips where we skipped the "amusement park" day for equally fun activities that fell into one of the other categories.

This year's trip to Ontario, Canada contained all the ingredients for another satisfying class trip, and it began with one of the wonders of the natural world, Niagara Falls.

The view from our hotel room. Sunday morning, May 19, 2013
 I had hoped we'd arrive in time to see the illumination of the Falls which ends each evening at midnight.  But we got off to a late start, and didn't arrive at the Embassy Suites Fallsview just over the border in Canada until around 1:30 A.M. Sunday morning, May 19. Still, the hotel lived up to it's name and the view from our rooms was spectacular when we awoke later that morning.
Another view from our hotel room, looking towards American Falls, appropriately named as they are on the American side of the border.  That's Buffalo, New York across the river.

Two students check out American Falls on the walk to the Maid of the Mist

 After a hot breakfast and worship together, we headed out to view the Falls.  Our first stop was the Maid of the Mist, the longest running tour in the Americas.  The Maid fleet has been taking visitors up close to the falls since 1846!
Looking back at Horseshoe Falls on the way to the Maid of the Mist

American Falls up close.  Neither words or pictures come close to describing the awesome power of these falls.  You have to experience it.

Some of my students wrapped up for the mist as we approach Horseshoe Falls.  Once we  got closer I had to put away my phone so it wouldn't be damaged by moisture.  It was very intense close to the falls.  The boat was seemingly lost in the foggy spray for several meintues, the roar of falling water was deafening, and the water below us churned violently.  It was a truly thrilling experience.
 After the Maid of the Mist tour, which was intense but short, we hoofed back up to the welcome center.  One thing I will say is that as the America's oldest tourist destination, Niagara Falls has monetizing of the falls locked down.  Every experience with the Falls will cost you, even walking around the falls.  Beyond the free river walk, all other opportunities to the walk near Niagara--the White Water Walk, the Journey Behind the Falls etc--come with a charge.  I was interested in walking behind the falls, but the kids were walked out and opted for a 4-D movie experience called "Niagara's Fury" instead.  I decided to let the kids do that with Angela Wimberly, the mother of one of our 8th graders and a chaperone on the trip, while I explored a little bit on my own.  I kind of regretted that decision once I found out more about the spectacular effects including real snowfall and rain during the show.  Our group get more wet indoors during this attraction than they did on the Maid of the Mist!

After "Niagara's Fury" the movie, we took one more pass at the real thing,  from the very edge of Horseshoe Falls just outside the Welcome Center.

At the very edge.  You can see one of the Maid of the Mist boats bobbing in the water below.

Truthfully, we could probably have spent the entire class trip right there at Niagara Falls.  There were certainly enough activities in the area to take up three or four days, from jet boat rides to helicopter tours to amusement parks and Marineland.  But I don't like a trip that sounds only one note.  It's one of the reasons I've never had much interest in taking the quintessential class trip to Washington D.C.  There are so many must-see museums and monuments to see in our nation's capital, there's little room for anything else.

So, we completed our Niagara adventures by late afternoon, had a late lunch/early supper at an Applebees near our hotel and then drove on to Toronto, and the next stop on our Canadian adventure.

1 comment:

Mai said...

Your description of the waterfall experience reminds me of what I felt when we were at Havasupai falls last summer - so powerful!!!