Close up and Personal

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When Marilyn Monroe made the 1953 film "Niagara", she got to take a ride on a little boat called the Maid of the Mist. Today, this famous boat ride still takes passengers all the way up to the monstrous wall of water as it cascades from the cliff face 170 feet above, and right into the vortex of the Falls themselves. The roar of the water is deafening, the river swirls around you like whitewater rapids, and the spray coming off the falls is somewhat like standing in front of a firehose!

When we first visited Niagara in Winter, "The Maid" was not running... it was way too cold to be sprayed with a firehose! So when we visited Niagara last weekend and saw the boats motoring up and down the river, poking their noses into the huge wall of mist emanating from the Falls, we were keen to finally get down there and experience it for ourselves. We bought our tickets (which were much more reasonably priced than I expected) and descended into the gorge to board The Maid. There are actually several "Maids", each plying the river, heavily laden with passengers from the loading wharves on both the Canadian and American sides of the river. We were issued with our very attractive blue sprayjackets and boarded our boat along with a couple hundred other sightseers.

As we got closer to the Falls, the commentary over the speakers narrated the trip with all sorts of interesting facts and trivia about the Falls (in English and French)... the heights, the widths, and all sorts of amazing tales about people who had gone over the Falls - some intentionally and some unintentionally - and lived to tell about it. As we got closer and closer to the wall of water and spray, it was pretty hard to imagine why anyone in their right mind would intentionally go over the falls, but I guess the world is full of strange individuals!

As we cruised past the less-spectacular Bridal Veil (American) Falls, and on towards the more famous Horseshoe (Canadian) Falls, the sound of thousands of birds echoed off the gorge walls like a scene from some bizarre science fiction movie. The Maid ventured closer and closer to the Horseshoe Falls until we were literally being smothered in a heavy spray, accompanied by huge blasts of wind and the boat being rocked around in the eddies of the river churning below us. With the Maid's motors driving hard against the current just to remain stationary, we stayed in position for several minutes, staring into the noise and the spray before we slowly turned away and headed back downstream to the wharf. It was actually quite an exhilarating experience to be standing there copping the spray in the face, and hearing the deafening roar.

I think we will have to do this again in a few weeks when The Robs arrive! It will be exciting to do it again with them... to say nothing of seeing Robyn's reaction to the fact that Marilyn Monroe was here!

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