The Long Road Home
Posted on July 5, 2017
And The Adventure Continues
After a wonderful breakfast with Alan and Helen, we packed up and hit the road from Traverse City, bound for Niagara Falls, Ontario. If we had planned better, we would have allowed a couple of extra days to go the northern route back up to Mackinac Island to Sault Ste. Marie and catch the Trans-Canada Highway around Lake Huron, Lake George, and the North Channel. But since we didn’t plan for that, we took the shorter southern route passing through Flint, MI and some of the same roads we traveled on the Great Race.
The views along the way are stunning and we thoroughly enjoyed being able to look about without having to maintain a constant speed or look for signs to make directional changes. It was quite relaxing! (Though we would occasionally call out signs out of habit as we came upon them!)
The border crossing into Canada was more time consuming than coming into most immigration control points in airports! We spent about 40 minutes inching our way up to the booth. (Note: The Enhanced NY Driver License works just fine! Now that we both have one, no need to carry a passport when driving to or from Canada and Mexico. Perfect for the 2018 Great Race from Buffalo to Nova Scotia!)
We arrived in Niagara Falls, ON with about 45 minutes of daylight left so we had a magnificent view of the falls from our room at the Embassy Suites (rated the best view by TripAdvisor.) I had never seen the falls from the Canadian side so never had a full view of the Horseshoe Falls, and this was Lauren’s first time to Niagara. Her first reaction? “That’s not as big as I thought it would be!” Spoiled by Victoria Falls and Iguazu Falls which are much taller (and by being more than 40 floors above!) But we were both awed at the breadth and beauty of the falls.
That awe was enhanced mightily once we took the incline down to the falls. The power of the river is hard to ignore and the beauty energy of the rushing water is a sight to behold! We were treated to a wonderful light show, coloring the falls in red, white, blue, and other colors, after the fireworks celebrating the 4th of July.
In the morning, we took a short drive to the American side (the border crossing was 2 minutes!) to ride the famed Maid of the Mist boat from Niagara State Park into the center of the Horseshoe Falls. (Hint: get there really early to avoid an up to 3 hour wait!) The process has been honed by over a century of tours and we were moved rapidly through the ticket line (we pre-purchased online!) then down via elevator to the riverside, issued our Maid of the Mist blue ponchos, and queued up for the next boat.
We lucked out and were first in line for the boarding! When it was time to board we went straight to the top deck and secured a great position along the forward railing. We got pretty wet! It was like being in a heavy downpour at times, but the ponchos did their jobs admirably. It was quite spectacular to see the falls from the river – even if they’re not as tall as Victoria or Iguazu!
After a walk around the park, we hit the road for the long ride back home. We chose to avoid as much of the heavily traveled interstates as possible in favor of the country roads. That added some time to the journey, but it was much more enjoyable seeing the beautiful countryside and not being stuck in traffic. Though, we did hit some slow spots on Route 6 heading to the Bear Mountain Parkway and got caught behind an accident on the Plaisades Parkway. Mostly smoooth sailing!