I remember Niagara Falls so well that I can see it if I close my eyes. The feeling of going there, the anticipation, the "courage" it took for me to go there all alone. I had planned for months to go there and to see it. T hear the falls as they crash to the water down below. To go on the Maid of the Mist like my father did twenty or so years before. I wanted an experience. So for my nineteenth birthday I planned a trip to all kinds of places and I did it mostly on my own. For months I had people trying to pull me down and tell me that I shouldn’t do it by myself.
"Take a man with you"
"Don’t go alone, take a friend"
"You’re going by yourself?! No way would I let MY child go on their own to Niagara falls"
Well I got news for you, I did it. All on my own and without a "man" to "protect me". Honestly people these days just make me feel like the world isn’t ready to handle what future generations are going to do. Who knows, maybe go to space on a regular? Teleport to different locations? Bring back Hitler? Who knows. All I knew from then on out was that I wanted to do what I felt like doing and I wasn’t gonna let people decide if I should go by myself or not. So I planned my trip, set a date, texted those that I was going to see on the way there, and packed a bag. The week before I left I remember people making that final plea to not go by myself. I ignored them. It started to sound like buzzing in the back of my head and eventually you get to the point where you are tired of hearing people telling you what to do with your life. So for the next week I ignored everyone and everything and just set my sights on the road ahead.
The day that I left I first went to Mobile Alabama. Yea, I’ve been there several times and let me tell you, not a good location but, I had family there and I wanted to see them and celebrate my wonderful day of coming into existence with them. So that’s where I stopped first. I had some wonderful homemade food, wonderful company with people and animals alike, and of course a small cake that they bought just for me. It was wonderfully set and it made me happy that I got to spend time with two wonderful souls. There were laughs, pictures, food, and just kindness all around. The first stop was wonderful but by the next day I had to head on to the next. The goal was still far ahead and I wanted to make it there in the time I had so with great sadness I said goodbye to my two favorite people and made my way to Nashville Tennessee where an old friend of mine lived.
The minute I got to Nashville I got hugs, a beer, and smiles. Id been a year since I last saw him and he looked good. Healthy, happy, and still going onward towards his future. At the time he was going to college and just hadn’t been able to make it back to Florida to visit. Truthfully though I didn’t mind too much that he didn’t get to come back. It just meant that I got to go see him and for me that was a gold mine. The next day I spent it with him and we went and go tattoos at a shop of his recommendation. From there we then went downtown where we did some shopping, listened to music, and went to eat. At the restaurant, which was called Dicks by the way, I got warned of how there whole way of serving was to be as rude as possible. Without thinking I just shrugged it off and said that it wouldn’t be a problem. Then I got the real experience of Dicks. They threw napkins, slammed down our food, put paper hats on our heads with inappropriate things like "Hi I’m bubbles" and the person next to you would have a hat that said "I blow bubbles" and of course you’d be laughing at them because you can read it but they can’t until they take the hat off. It was quite entertaining. From there we then walked across the bridge and I got a lesson on the area while we both got to enjoy each others company. Truthfully it was a wonderful day and I was very sad to leave the next day but, I did have fun and I got to see an old friend.
The day after that I went to my brother’s house in New Palestine Indiana. Him and his wife both got a house not to long before and had told me I could crash there for however long I needed to. Once I got there I checked out downtown and got to walk the city a little bit. Cities aren’t really my thing though so I didn’t stay very long. Just long enough to see some sights eat some food and then go to my brother’s house. Once I got to their house I spent my time with the puppies and relaxed. When they got home we then went out to eat and once we got home they gave me gifts and we chatted. A nice warm place to spend time with family. A time that I won’t forget. I’m not very close with my siblings but I do know that any little time I get with them is worth more than the words can explain. So during that time I made sure to be attentive to the little things. To how they made me something delicious as a "cake". To how they kindly let me eat their food and bought me dinner. How I was taking up a bed for a night when they could have all said no. I think for them it was strange since I was by myself and I was only nineteen when I did the trip. It probably made them aware that I was growing up and that I wasn’t a kid anymore. Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend too much time with them as I probably would have liked but you take what you can get and it was still wonderful to see them.
From there I drove all the way to a KOA campground that was an hour away from Niagara Falls. For a night I stayed there and the next day I was on my way. Let me tell you something right now, Niagara Falls signs are not accurate in the slightest to those of us who HAVENT BEEN THERE, I don’t know how many times I had to turn around or I was unsure of where I was. My GPS kept getting turned around and it wasn’t getting any better the more I drove. After about an hour of driving in circles I finally found it.a real parking lot that was mostly empty but also free (other parking areas for Niagara Falls around about $10 to park). Once I let out my frustration and had calmed, I got out and started my journey to the Falls. The first thing I had to do was purchase a bracelet that would let me ride the trolley all day. From there I went to several different locations. The first was going to the falls and walking right up to them. You were given sandals and a free poncho with the purchase of a ticket and from there you went down an elevator and then came out to being literally right next to the falls. The second you stepped out of the elevator you were sprayed with water. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. They told you that there were different platforms you could go up on and you could go all the way to the top which they called the SPLASH ZONE and told us that if you went up there you could literally stand under the falls but you would be truly as soaked as you could in a very cheaply made poncho. Of course I ended up buying a waterproof camera and was taking pictures with it for most of the trip since I didnt want to ruin my real good camera. Lots of photos were taken and the experience was wonderful. Truly was spectacular. From there I then went to go check out some popular sights to take some pictures. They had several locations where you can "get your picture" taken with the falls behind you. After asking a complete stranger to take my picture I then discovered that I lost my shoes and spent half an hour of finding them and getting pointed in all kinds of directions and I got lost once again to the maze and misguidance of people in New York. Then the heavens were singing and I found them in the last shop I stopped at and they were returned to me. Thank Jesus for that. Afterwards I moved on to seeing if I could get a ticket to the Maid of the Mist. What they didn’t tell you was that the Maid of the Mist stops running around 6 p.m. Not steered away from my adventure I then moved onward to watching the sunset fall over Canada from the American side of the Falls and I even met a friend there. We chatted for a few hours and I took pictures until there was no more light in the sky. Eventually I had to part ways and from there I went to a hotel that was about $70 a night. Reason? Well I didn’t get to ride Maid of the Mist so I was staying until I did. So with that in mind I went to sleep and woke up in a hurry to experience the wonders of the boat ride. I again got lost finding my way around and once I found a spot to park I hurried to the ticket line, bought my ticket, went to the elevator and went down to the section where they handed out ponchos and boarded the boat. Once we took off I swear, I had never seen an experience like this one. You were so close you could feel the power of the falls underneath you. You could look up and see how strong the current was and just how tall the falls really are. I as memorized and I was so happy that I had decided to go, even though everyone else seemed to object the idea and tried to talk me out of it. The moment I saw the falls I knew that this was going to stick with me forever.
It still sits with me even now and if you haven’t seen the Falls, You should. It may just make you smile.
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