"an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mother Nature delivers!

As I suspected, nature is more liable than folk to render me awestruck! But there's not much that beats Niagara Falls in that regard. Our tour began with a drive into wine & fruit growing country, and the beautiful landscapes between the lakes. While some people sampled the (liquid) produce, we admired the stately houses along the Niagara River. Just gorgeous! I loved the Amish-style barns, and even spotted a Mennonite lady in traditional garb. The drive up to the falls was mostly pleasant, there were some delightful guest houses and B&Bs, and a superb golf course, with a gaggle of Canadian geese to keep order. From there we entered the rather garish Niagara Falls proper (on the Canadian side), and were shown to the Sheraton Hotel's Falls View dining room for lunch. Now I challenge anybody to beat that for a lunch with a view! You get to look down on both major falls, and the weather was, of course, just peachy. Can't fault the food either, hot, fresh and delicious. The falls were just incredible, so powerful, and the "Maid of the Mist" boats were just little toyboats from that height, whereas in real life they're quite large. We made our way down to the water and donned the blue plastic coats. We all looked like oversized condoms having a suspiciously good time in a washing machine! The raincoats did help though, once the boats make their way under the falls, you're just soaked. It was wild, wet, and wonderful, and even a couple of little rainbows came out! The roar of the water is almost threatening; no wonder folks in the old days thought the sounds came from angry spirits. Our next stop was at the helipad, and Wayne and I thought this was too good to miss - so a few minutes later yours truly had her first chopper flight. All I can say is - FUN!! The flight took 12 minutes and made its way up the river, across the falls and back again. It was really worthwhile, fantastic to see the falls from above, but also the whole water system. Happy but exhausted, we stopped in Niagara-on-the-Lake for a fortifying maple-walnut ice cream and a short walk down the main street. It is a pretty, tree-lined, cutesy village, but a little too artificial-touristy for my taste. Still, a nice final stop on our tour, and well removed from the tacky horrors of Niagara. I mean, why does anybody need a Hard Rock cafe in one of the world's most beautiful nature reserves? Back in Toronto - with the sunset reflected in the city's skyscraper windows -  we opted for a dinner in Chinatown. We lucked out; stopped at a restaurant , in front of which a pretty white dog was sitting. I felt that was a good omen, and it was - great food, cheap, plenty of it, and good service. We couldn't remember the name of the place, so Wayne called it the "Lucky Dog diner"... In fact, it was the Gourmet Restaurant, and I do recommend it. The duck was divine! A strawberry daiquiri has given me enough 'mellow' to guarantee a decent sleep. And tomorrow, we're off to Kitchener, Waterloo & St. Jacobs, then heading north towards Kingston. More soon.

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