Friday, July 03, 2009

Day 26 - Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls. It’s hard to believe we’ve already made it so far towards the East Coast.

Today was a pleasant, relaxing day. Most of the group went out to breakfast this morning. Somehow I missed the memo because I only vaguely heard, “Last call for breakfast,” at which point I popped my head out of my cubby and realized it was too late, even if I did want to go.

So while the early-birds had puffy apple pancakes and humongous egg-white omelets stuffed with ooey-gooey cheese, I cashed in on a few more hours of sweet slumber. It wasn’t until they all piled back into the bus at 11:45 that I crawled out of my cozy little cave to face the day.

After getting caught up on some blogging and reading we headed out to look at the falls. I’ve seen photos of Niagara before, but I wasn’t quite expecting the width of the horseshoe to be so vast. It seemed like the lip of the falls made a complete semicircle. From the lookout point at the very top they didn’t look as tall as I had expected, but the sight was nonetheless breathtaking. I’m sure they were a lot taller than I realized, because when I looked down through the mist to the lagoon below, the tour boats that I know hold several hundred people were TINY!

Even sitting 100 yards behind the waterfall there was a steady “rain” of mist blowing at us. And when we moved 50 more yards away we could still feel the mist from time to time. This is due partly to the wind blowing, but even with little to no breeze, the amount of mist generated by the Falls is HUGE.

I’ve heard that there’s a better view and better museum on the Canadian side; unfortunately we’re not authorized to leave the country on this trip—even if only a few miles away—so Canada was not an option, but it would be interesting to come back on my own time and do a little more investigating. I know sometimes that there are caves behind waterfalls…if there’s one accessible behind Niagara I would love to see that.

During class this afternoon it was really neat to see us beginning to draw parallels between different cities and regions. We’ve traveled far and long enough now that we have a lot of different experiences to compare and contrast and have begun to see several overarching themes emerge.

One of those themes is hope. Besides being one of the most common answers to our infamous question, “What does it mean to be an American?” we’ve seen hope in action in almost every city. From the Katrina victims in New Orleans to our Navajo friends, to a tour guide in Seattle, to a Kenyan entrepreneur in Minneapolis, to a 1st generation American on the Boston metro, I’ve seen and heard hope.

There are a few other common ones too…pride, traditions, freedom, sports. The people I tend to engage in conversation often end up being foreigners who have a slightly different perspective than Americans. Their number one remark on America: privilege and opportunity (a testament to my observation that Americans who have traveled overseas have a greater appreciation for the opportunity this country provides than Americans who have never left the comforts of their homeland).

Sitting on a grassy knoll overlooking the falls, I was moved by the unforgiving nature and pure velocity of the current. Closing my eyes as the spray blew over my face, I was reminded of a similar feeling from just two weeks ago--as the sands of Texas encompassed me while walking across dry, dusty flatlands. The geographical diversity of America continues to amaze me. We are so blessed to have such beautiful landscapes—and doubly blessed to have cars and roads to access them.

2 comments:

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  2. Glad you had a good time - Sounds gorgeous! Also, I keep meaning to sign my posts '-Whitney' since it's really just coming from ME, haha. Feel free to delete my sloppiness.

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