Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The World Is A Book

My sister has a favorite quote:  “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” -St. Augustine 
When I was younger, I was more into reading than traveling.  I would’ve thought Donnay would have been the one to live out this quote more than me.  That changed when I married Brent.  He travels for work and if he isn’t “gold status” on his frequent flyer miles, he gets a little antsy.  He is proof that travel is addictive, and he didn’t waste any time getting me hooked too.  Now if I don’t have a trip on the calendar, I get a little antsy.  And while trips that we plan ahead for and anxiously await are the norm, Brent and I have also been known to put together some last minute travel from time-to-time. 
This was the case several weeks ago when we had some airline vouchers that we needed to use unexpectedly.  It was late summer and we didn’t have time to squeeze in another trip before I had to go back to school, so we started brainstorming destinations in our time zone that we could knock out over a long weekend this fall.  Brent mentioned that he’d never been to Niagara Falls and I agreed that sounded good; seemed like a logical bucket list item to me.  In this somewhat arbitrary fashion, we settled on Niagara Falls, thinking it would be something to see at least, even if we would bring down the average tourist age in the area by at least a decade or two.
I’ve used one line more than any other in describing this trip when people asked: it exceeded my expectations.  It truly did, in every way.  If you’ve never thought about going, add it to your bucket list.  I think I was more awestruck than I was at the Grand Canyon, and of course, that’s saying A LOT.  And there was so much to do!  We weren’t bored for a second and I could have spent a whole week there (never would have thought that)!  To top it all off, we were blessed in that our friends Jeff and Janice were able to join us on our trip. 
Since I was taken by such surprise, I’ve made a list of things I didn’t know about Niagara Falls and never would have known had I not “read that page.”

1.      You can get SO close to the Falls.  I always thought the Maid of the Mist was as close as you could get, but Table Rock offered even closer viewing with opportunities to actually go and look out behind the falls and a restaurant overlooking the most impressive spot.  You literally could’ve reached out and touched them if you had the nerve, which Brent apparently does.  Notice him standing on the fence in the photo below (rolling my eyes).


2.      Whitewater Walk is just as breathtaking as the Falls.  This attraction is a little off the beaten path and didn’t even sound all that interesting to me in the brochure but it was amazing.  It is a boardwalk that takes you RIGHT beside the Niagara River past the Falls, which consists of Class 6 rapids deemed impassable.  It took all their self-control for Brent and Jeff not to hop in a barrel and give it a whirl.  Thank God that’s illegal!

3.      When they say your hotel is “Fallsview,” it isn’t a stretch.  We could hear the rush of water 24/7 (in a soothing way, not an annoying way) and would’ve had a perfect view of the Friday night fireworks (a weekly event) if the fog hadn’t been too thick that night.  And it turns out you can see the “Canadian side” and the “American side” simultaneously.  I will admit I never had a handle on how that worked until I saw it with my own eyes, but it was quite the sight to behold.

4.      The nightlife is actually quite happening.  We were right across the street from Fallsview Casino, which rivaled those we’ve visited in Vegas.  The dining options were endless and while we’re well past “clubbing” age, I’m sure we could’ve found one if we’d gotten the urge to twerk.

5.    Niagara wine country is overwhelming, in a good way.  On our last day, we headed to nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake and quickly realized it was more than could be explored in just one day (there are 27 wineries in this one town)!  Highlights of the day included Jeff’s first glimpse of a Great Lake and mine and Janice’s first taste of “ice wine,” produced by grapes that were frozen on the vine.  I’m not sure I’ve ever tasted anything sweeter or more delightful, but at $90 a bottle, Brent discouraged me from choosing this as a souvenir. 

6.    There is a place “up north” where country boys can survive.  For three out of four of us, this was our first trip to Canada.  The people were friendly, the landscape was gorgeous, and I think Brent and Jeff felt right at home- country twangs, unruly facial hair, and all.  The only disappointing thing about Canada is that they serve too much root beer and not enough Mountain Dew!  Not a bad place to visit, eh? 

 I rarely visit a place that doesn’t leave me more amazed at how great our God is.  Niagara Falls was no exception except for the fact that its beauty, extravagance, and power exceeded my expectations.  There is so much of God’s glory showcased in this world that’s hard to imagine without experiencing it.  I feel so thankful to have been blessed with such an experience alongside three of my favorite people.

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