Niagara Falls … and the first of the college visits!

Catch-up post here – the last trip we took before school started this year!! I’m sure you all remember the Canadian visa fiasco? – can’t complain, though – we did get a wonderful Bahamas cruise out of it! Still, having paid for the visa, and made not one, but two trips to Chicago for biometrics – we really felt that we had to use that visa! So we planned a trip to Niagara Falls – drive to Toronto, spend a couple of days, and then loop around to drive home – also visiting several colleges along the way. Seemed like a perfect plan – but Canada had yet one more twist in store for us! After the biometrics were approved, we got a letter – asking my in-laws to report in person at the NY consulate. That really was the final straw – deciding to cut our losses, the Canadian visas were abandoned.

There were still the college visits to be planned – and then we realized that although Ajey and I had been to the Falls twice before, Manasi had never been. Quick rerouting – same destination, and we were off to Niagara Falls! First time Ajey and I went was right after we were married – it was a quick weekend trip. The second time was special – my parents and grandparents were visiting, and we drove there in our new Ford Windstar! Aaji and Aaba were the most intrepid of travelers – never a complaint, always game for anything! Aaji was convinced that all food in restaurants was tainted with ‘non-veg’, and other than Indian restaurants, for most of the trip, she pretty much subsisted on a McDonald’s yogurt parfait diet! Two decades on, I am so grateful to have made these wonderful memories! The pictures aren’t the best quality – but the joy is contagious!

And now, it’s Manasi’s turn to make these life-long memories!! 20 years later, we are much better prepared for long trips with parents – the InstantPot, the portable George Foreman grill and our well-travelled cooler are all game-changers. Staying in suites with kitchenettes, at least one home-cooked meal – well, technically hotel-cooked – is assured. So no more relying on yogurt parfaits for sustenance! Our mini-van days are far behind us, so we rented one for this vacation – I do miss my Buick Enclave at times like these! Last time we drove to Niagara Falls, we took only one overnight halt – even with 2 drivers, that ends up being a lot of driving! We had a more leisurely route planned this time around.

Our first port of call was to be University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and our first halt was an hour east of Ann Arbor. Next day, after the college tour, we headed to Buffalo. No, I’m not skipping the college tour – I figured it would be best to talk about all of them together at the end of the post. Both nights, we were treated to absolutely spectacular views of the sun setting into a Great Lake – Lake Michigan, first and then Lake Erie. Driving through Pennsylvania, we were on a country road – with the lake on on side, and what is that? Is that – grapes? Yes, miles upon miles of vineyards! For eyes accustomed to seeing miles upon miles of corn, this was certainly an unexpected treat!

From our hotel in Buffalo to the Niagara Falls State Park was about a 45 minute drive – and we left bright early, eager for the first glimpse of this natural wonder! The first glimpse is of course, the misty plumes rising above the Falls, and the constant dull roar – white headed rapids forming in the River Niagara as we got closer. I remember driving through the city of Niagara Falls the last time we were here – now there’s a bypass that takes you directly to the park. We had some fun with Manasi – covering her eyes as we walked up, so that the first thing she would see would be the panoramic view of the Falls – and seeing the amazement on her face was totally worth it! Btw, fair warning – the next part of this post is going to be quite picture heavy – you know that thing, picture, thousand words – never truer when at such a photogenic location!

After taking a gazillion pictures, we headed to the Maid of the Mist – a boat ride that takes you up close and personal – not just to the American Falls, but also the Horseshoe Falls. The poncho they provide is not merely a souvenir – we knew from our previous trips, that we were in for an absolute drenching! Despite the long lines, the wait time is not bad – the boats run at a high frequency, and I think could easily take upto 100 passengers at a time. A big change – the boats are electric now, so no more diesel fumes!! It’s impossible to talk during this ride – the thunderous roar of the water is the only thing that can be heard. Riding past the American Falls is thrilling – but nothing compared to the Horseshoe Falls. Being there, on that puny boat, staring up at the majesty and grandeur of nature, almost blinded by the interplay of water and sun, deafening yet serene – I know my words fall far short, and I’m afraid even the pictures don’t do justice to the magnificence on display here.

Yes, Office fans, you guessed it right- that last picture is our not-so-good attempt at the Jim-and-Pam pose! As always, this post is getting to be a bit longer than I had planned – so I think there’s going to be a Part 2. A bit of cliffhanger – do we get to Canada or not? Coming up soon!!


One Comment Add yours

  1. Mayuresh says:

    Nice. Very well written Gauri.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s