Nightmare in Niagara

During an uneventful Saturday afternoon, Ryan, my fiancee, and I found ourselves eating in a small diner in Pennsylvania, when I began out of boredom to persuade him that we would be able to make it to Niagara Falls, bask in the resplendent beauty of the crashing water, and make it back to Maryland in time for both of us to get to work Monday morning. I thought it would be a romantic, unforgettable, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of trip for the two of us. If I had known then what I know now, I would have contented myself with a slice of home-made Pennsylvania pie, and would have promptly turned back home to Maryland to watch bad reality t.v.

I prefer the back-roads to highways on road trips, and so approximately 10 hours later, around midnight, Ryan and I found ourselves exhausted, irritable, and stuck in traffic on the bridge leading to the national park that contains the legendary waterfalls.

When we finally drove into the park, finding parking was a huge hassle. We were really tired, and were trying to convince ourselves that we even still wanted to see the waterfalls at all — I think both of us would have much preferred a warm bed and some pizza after the horrendously-long drive.

Finally, we slid into an available parking spot, only to find out that we had to pay cash to park there. To make matters worse, it began to rain. I went out in the rain to find an ATM machine, paid the parking attendant, and at long last, Ryan and I were able to set out on foot to view the waterfalls.

What a disappointment!
We got about as clear of a view as we did in the photos when I had looked up Niagara online. It looked like it was a much better view from the Canadian side, but we had heard you need your passport now to walk across the border, so we had to content ourselves with the side-ways, multi-colored view of the falls. Of course, you could get a closer look at the falls, but only for a hefty, per-person fee. The multi-colored, neon lights and the throngs of tourists, plus the presence of nearby casinos, really detracted from the beauty of the natural wonder. I am sure that the waterfalls were once beautiful and majestic, but now they are contaminated by tourism and capitalism, and their immensity has been exploited for every dime its worth, and then a million more.

Ryan and I were disappointed, but we found ourselves ambling in the rain by a nearby stream that seemed to us much more beautiful than the main attraction. There was a heavy fog of mist hanging over the stream, and the water seemed to foam as it collided against the many rocks on its way to the plummet of the great falls. My fiancee and I walked across a bridge over the stream and I thought to myself, “Well this isn’t that bad,” but then, mid-kiss, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a fat, black, bulbous spider hanging in a web between the rails of the bridge. I shrieked, as I am a huge arachnophobe, and Ryan and I quickly discovered that these plump spiders were actually all over the bridge, likely awaiting the gnats and insects that enjoy the humidity atop the stream to fly into their webbed snares. There were so many of them that it seemed as though they had formed a colony of interlocking webs. Immediately, our one moment of romantic bliss was shattered. We decided it was time to head out and try to find a hotel for a few hours of sleep.

Well, finding a hotel for under $100 near Niagara Falls is an impossible feat. Finding a hotel with a vacancy on such short notice, period, is impossible, but finding something affordable is unheard-of. After checking in with at least 6 hotels, Ryan was near to falling asleep at the wheel, and so we decided to pull over and take a couple of hours of rest in a parking lot.

We awoke at daybreak with sore muscles and hungry stomachs. The long drive home was mostly done in silence, with only one short stop at a “pick your own blueberries” farm along the way, to stretch our legs. The mutual conclusion was that the park was over-populated and over-rated. When we finally did reach home, we found nothing more enticing than our bed, made and waiting for us in our spider-free bedroom. Our only consolation at the end of the long and disappointing trip was, “Well, at least we can say we’ve seen Niagara Falls.”

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