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Things you remember from your childhood generally look diminutive when you see them again years later. Not Niagara Falls. I’m completely convinced that it will continue to grow taller and more impressive every time I visit.
My girlfriend Sarah andI stopped on our way back to my house in PA. She had never seen the falls, and I hadn’t been since I was ten or so. We were in for a treat! We had no trouble finding parking on Goat Island, and the falls are no more than 200m from the parking lot.
Time was limited, so we chose to explore what they call ” The Cave of the Winds”. The cave is behind the American falls, and once inside, the the rushing curtain of water in front of the cave created significant winds, hence the namesake. In reality, there is no cave- it was blasted out of face of the cliff about a century ago to reduce dangerous instability in the overhanging rock. Go figure, it’s dangerous underneath a giant waterfall. Apparently, before the reshaping efforts, people actually did walk behind the falls into this cave, and it was, as it is today, a big attaction. However, I cannot imagine the balls you had to have to to actually do it. First of all, you had to walk, fall, or otherwise descend down a giant spiral staircase of death, the Biddle Stairs. Assuming you made it to the bottom, you braved an absolutely massive wall of water to get inside the thing. Then, I guess you either got beaned on the head with a rock, or you walked out and had to climb that massive staircase again. The rock would have probably been more merciful.
After New York dropped their death penalty, obviously the stairwell had to go too, so they replaced it with a elevator shaft handcut into the cliff behind it. Much smoother ride down.
Regardless, I’d been on the Maid of the Mist before, and this blew it out of the water. Literally. It’s by far the coolest thing to do at Niagara Falls, assuming you ignore the compulsory yellow trash bag poncho and styrofoam sandals. A wooden walkway has been constructed (balanced and “jammed into” would probably be more accurate), along the rocky outcropping at the base of the falls. Parts of it actually go in to the very foot of the falls, and you can reach in under the water. It’s actually hard to stand up underneath all that rushing water, and you can tell which people ran in all the way, because their pitiful little grocery bag ponchos are ripped to shreds! Naturally, so were Sarah’s and mine. The view from the lower walkway was simply astounding, and it’s pretty safe to pull a camera out. Astounding, fantastic shots.
After the falls, we made a trip into Buffalo and found the Anchor bar, home of the original chicken wing. I’ve gotta say, while it was good, their chicken wings were not really any different or better than any others I’ve eaten. I guess just being first does not make your toilets golden or your wings amazing. Overall, good trip, and an excellent diversion!