My family was often on the go when I was young. We went to the beach, we went to the city, we went off on easy to moderate hikes. Sometimes we just went to the park- but my parents made sure we never went too long without getting away. My first eight years of life were filled with vacations but our first family trip that wasn’t a day trip, to NYC, to the Jersey shore, or Disney World, and was also was not a group trip with family friends, was a camping expedition to Niagara Falls. My family is certain that our campsite was on the Canadian side, however the Maid of the Mist boat tour that we took seems to be based on the New York side. Perhaps we did a bit on both sides of the border?
I actually do have a few pretty vivid memories of this trip (you know, despite my above stated uncertainties about what country I was in). Firstly when we arrived, both our big Suburban and our huge two room tent did not fit on the first campsite that we were given and hardly fit on the second. The group of people at the neighboring campsite played their music so loudly that my sister and I complained incessantly (and also probably loudly). We visited a very touristy and probably overpriced but so incredibly cool “fun house” of sorts one evening that included walking through a rolling barrel tunnel, and it made me laugh so hard that my stomach hurt.
And then there were the waterfalls.
I had never seen so much water in my life. The water pummeled down so hard that a cloud of mist rose from the center of the horseshoe shape. We saw them from up high, pressing against the railing to look down at the falling water. We saw them from down low, craning our necks to see them touch the sky. And we saw them pretty damn close, thanks to the Maid of the Mist.
When we were first embarking on our Maid of the Mist journey, I was terrified, for two reasons. First of all, 600,000 gallons of water falling all at once is extremely loud, and I hated (and still hate, for the most part) really loud noises. Secondly, this boat trip was preceded by an Imax movie about a family who was on a boat trip near the top of the falls when their vessel capsized and the young son actually went over the falls, survived, and was rescued by a tour boat.
After being on board for a little while I got used to the deafening roar. I also started enjoying the views and gave up the notion that I needed to search the water for floating children. My sister and I begged my parents to let us go up to the top deck, and when they relented, we took off. We positioned ourselves right at the railing and let the water and mist soak our blue tour-provided ponchos, laughing and squealing and feeling so free. The falls really are magnificent, a sight to be seen. Even at that young age, I knew it.
Among the photos of falling water in our Niagara Falls vacation album, we also have one photo of my sisters and me posing with a cannon. This could have been at Old Fort Niagara in New York, or Old Fort Erie in Ontario. I remember trying on some period battle clothing and watching quite a few costumed actors give demonstrations. Anyone recognize this cannon?