Niagara Falls

goodbye China
back in China!

Mark another destination off of my “too see” list; I finally had occasion to swing by and view these famous waterfalls.  About an hour drive from Toronto, I just knew that I had to go and see them.  I have wanted to see them for many years but how often does one find oneself in the northern reaches of New York?  Well, this time I was north of the falls, and within range, so I finally made the journey.

Sure it was winter, and miserably cold, but I had a great time.  As you can see in the photo below, I was water blasted and with the near freezing temperatures and wet snowy rain mix, it was all I could do to stay warm.  But the sight of these awesome falls kept my mind occupied; just the roar of the water going over the edge was tremendous.

In this shot, taken from inside the warm confines of the Niagara Falls restaurant, I am standing in front of the most popular photo spot.  This is on the Canadian side and I was quite surprised to learn that a notion I had about the American/Canadian sides of the falls was completely wrong (more on that shortly).

I stayed until after dusk to see what the falls looked like at night.  Looking downstream towards the American side (right), spotlights light up the American falls; they aren’t quite as big as those closer to the Canadian side – and I am sure that the views of the larger falls would be quite nice from the American side, save for all of the visual polution that Canada has erected on its side of the falls.

Upstream on the American side you can see the larger falls that are just opposite of the Canadian tourist area.  At night they are also light up with spotlights and through the mist they provide an eerie and beautiful sight.

The most famous and prominent falls on the Canadian side are also lit up by spotlights that change in colors from blue to green and then yellow and red.  I sat my camera on a mailbox and opened the shutter to let in the weak rays of twilight.  Shooting offhand is impossible as the shutter speed is too long with this low light (in the photo below, the exposure was 1.3 seconds, f2.8).

Ah, finally to the subject of the American and Canadian sides of the falls.  All my life I’ve heard, “Oh, you should visit the falls from the Canadian side, the view is so much better.”  I had heard again and again how the hotels had ruined the view on the American side and had assumed that they were American hotels.  I was actually embarassed that American hotels had ruined the view of the presigious Falls and that our greed and neglect of nature had allowed such a beautiful natural spot to be ruined by construction and capitalism.

Hmmm….  was I (pleasantly) shocked to see that it was our good neighbors, the Candians, who had ruined the view.  The reason that the falls are more popular from the Canadian side is that when facing them, all of the tacky neon hotel signs are behind you.  When the falls are viewed from the American sign, all you see is this, a bright neon red “CASINO” sign:

Well, I do feel a bit smug now that I know that my decades long guilt at the ruin of the Niagara Falls view belongs to our northern neighbors.  I can’t imgaine who approved the construction of a casino and so many hotels overtlooking this grand locale; imagine the rim of the Grand Canyon covered with tacky neon signs and advertisements.  When you look at the falls towards America, you see a view of natural beauty.  Not so when viewed towards the Canadian side.

Nevertheless, the falls were quite impressive.  I did view them from the Canadian side – where the view was better.  The size of the falls was impressive and encouraged me even more to travel to see the Victoria Falls in Africa.  Sooner or later, I’ll scratch that destination off of my “to see” list as well.


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goodbye China
back in China!

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