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Maid of the Monsoon

August 29, 2011

What a difference a day makes. With the early morning sun shining, and the crowds from the prior evening mostly dispersed, the falls returned to their natural magnificence. Their power evident from the plumes of mist rising far above the 170 foot falls and dropping on us like rain whenever the wind shifts in our direction. To really feel their might, though, we needed to get even closer.

Fortunately, we can do just that with a Maid of the Mist boat tour. Departing every 15 minutes, the 80 foot long vessels sail directly into the basin below Horseshoe Falls. Getting closer requires a barrel and suicidal tendencies. Having neither, we board the next available ship and don thin plastic rain ponchos as we stake a spot along the port-side railing.

Within minutes we’re pulling away from the dock and charting a course past the America Falls. It’s immediately clear this tour is a good choice. Everything is more impressive from the river. The falls appear higher, broader, louder and more spectacular in every way. We watch as glassy emerald water, brightly illuminated by the rising sun, rushes past the precipice and transforms into a frothy curtain of cloud.

As we sail past, daylight wanes. The wind picks up and the gentle mist turns to a steady rain. A storm, of sorts, is moving in and getting worse. Our thin rain ponchos flap wildly around us, offering scant protection from the gale. Soon, the entire world is reduced to varying shades of grey. This is no ordinary squall. Elsewhere the sun still beats strongly on the town of Niagara Falls. But here, in the basin of Horseshoe Falls, a hurricane rages.

Barely audible beneath the roar of falling water, 700 horses of engine power labor against the currents. I shield my eyes from the driving rain and steal a glimpse of the cascade that now surrounds us on three sides. A stationary tidal-wave occupies my entire field of vision. The end of the world can’t be more dramatic.

The entire voyage lasts a mere thirty minutes, but it’s long enough to see, and experience, the falls up close. It’s also long enough to get completely drenched. This is one trip we wouldn’t want to take in the chilly off-season. It’s also one we wouldn’t want to miss.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. grant permalink
    August 30, 2011 8:57 am

    The first picture is great!

  2. September 12, 2011 11:43 am

    How cool! I have a conference in Toronto in October and have been planning a little side trip to Niagara Falls including a little boat tour 🙂 Hope it works out! Great pics by the way!

    • September 14, 2011 8:40 am

      We really enjoyed it. There are a bunch of different tours you can pay for around the falls. This is the only one we did, and the only one we thought would be worthwhile. We weren’t disapointed.

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