I love traveling, but I'm sorry to admit that I have a severe bedbug paranoia when it comes to staying in hotels. After a particularly unfortunate encounter with bed bugs on a previous trip, my mom and I have become amateur bed bug hunters. No matter what scale of hotel we happen to be staying at, our nights start with ripping the sheets from the mattress and scanning every nook and cranny of the bed for bedbug poop. Yes, you heard that right, folks.
Last night, our cautious nature (or slight obsession, depending on how you look at it) paid off when my mom found someone's wallet next to our bed. After a call to the non-emergency dispatch center, the wallet was picked up by the authorities and sent on its way to the original owner. A happy ending for the poor guy who was missing his driver's license, but I guess that tells you how well hotel rooms are cleaned.
Heavy rain and semis up the wazoo made for a nail biter of a drive through Canada this morning, but my mom handled it well and transported us safely to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it's worthless in comparison to a real life experience. I've seen plenty of photos of Niagara Falls, and not a single one did any justice to the magnificence of seeing it in person.
We parked a distance away in a $5 parking area, and walked down a set of stairs that stretched out amongst a grove of trees and emerged into Queen Victoria Park. The park is a must-see while visiting Niagara Falls, because it's home to some of the most beautiful gardens I've ever seen.
The relentless squall that had followed us through Canada ceased to let up, and despite our umbrellas we were both soaked in minutes. That didn't deter us from walking more than a mile to view the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Prior to our visit, I hadn't realized that Niagara Falls was comprised of three different waterfalls.
The Canadian side of Niagara Falls offers a great vantage point for photos, but visitors can get up close and personal with the falls on the American side. My mom and I checked out nearly every angle that we could, and logged a total of seven miles walking to each viewing area.
The American side of the falls has an enormous viewing platform that suspends 500 feet in the air and looks like part of a bridge. As we took in the grandeur of the scene, I suggested that we immerse ourselves in the full 360 degree experience and take a ride on the "Maid of the Mist," a boat that takes you to the base of all three falls.
It was the best $17 I've ever spent. Before you climb onto the boat, they hand you a giant blue rain poncho. My only complaint was that they weren't made in the U.S., which I thought was disappointing, considering Niagara Falls is an American icon.
We found a great spot on the top level of the boat next to a railing in the back. As the boat chugged along next to each of the falls, we were sprayed by the water as it crashed down. The boat took us to the base of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls where it paused for passengers to take in the splendor. It was a powerful experience - better than the best theme park ride. From the rocking of the boat, the soaking mist, the fresh scent and the overwhelming beauty, it really couldn't have been any more amazing.
We arrived at Niagara Falls around 2 p.m. and didn't leave until after 7. The original plan had been to visit Finger Lakes racetrack in Farmington after our visit to the falls, but we were having such a fantastic time that we had to cut that from the plan. Niagara Falls was so astonishingly beautiful that it was difficult to leave.
We drove on to Farmington, where we spent the night. Wednesday we'll reach our final destination - Saratoga Springs.
Annise Monplaisir, a management communication and international studies student at North Dakota State University in Fargo, will intern this summer at The Saratoga Special. Fargo to Saratoga is a daily update about her trip from the upper Midwest to upstate New York and it appears on her blog, Annise's Anecdotes.