Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Monday, July 30, 2018

After 2 months abroad, we are back in North America!  We spent a couple of nights with my parents, then began our road trip home.  As we drove away, we rolled down the windows and waved our goodbyes.  My window made a funny noise as it rolled back up, but I decided to ignore it.  About 15 minutes later, we realized my window wasn’t all the way up.  So of course, we rolled it down a bit, then back up.  This time it made a really horrible noise and stopped about 5 inches from the top!  Yikes!  How were we going to park our car overnight?

So, I pulled out my phone and used Google Maps to locate the closest Mazda dealer on our route.  The first place told me that we could come by in a week and a half.  Um, no.  The next place didn’t have the suspected parts needed in stock.  Finally, I tried a dealer in Springfield, MA.  They had the parts they thought we would need, and they also had a lot of sympathy about our road trip situation.  We were told that we might be there  at least 2-3 hours, but that they would work us in.  Was that all right?  Um, yes!

After a very windy hour and a half, we arrived at the dealer.  The friendly receptionist said that they could get us in right away and that, with luck, we would be on our way again in an hour or so.  Hope!  There was an IHOP (or IHob as it is now called) across the street, and it was 11 am, so we decided to get an early lunch.  Partway through the meal, we got a call saying that they were correct about the problem and that our car would likely be fixed by the time we were done eating.  Yay!  We finished eating, walked back, and only had to wait about 5 minutes until our car was finished.  Amazing!  Including the detour to the dealer, the wait in line, the repairs, and the detour back to the highway, we lost less than 2 hours.  It could have been so much worse.

Back on the road, we were able to enjoy the scenery much more.  I love driving through the Northeast.  It is so green and beautiful, tons of lakes and streams, beautiful houses.  It really reminded us a bit of our drive through Germany.  It’s nice to remember that we don’t have to go to another continent to enjoy the beauty that we find in Europe.  Reflecting, we decided that this is probably why so many of the northern European settlers came to either the Northeast or the upper midwest.  It reminded them of home.

At this point, our goal was to high tail it to Niagara Falls.  On arrival, the boys marveled at the size of the falls.  They commented that they though the Rhine Falls in Switzerland (largest waterfalls in Europe) were huge, but that these falls made those look puny.  I’m really glad they saw the waterfalls in the order they did.  It is always best to work your way up in grandness.

Our hotel is amazing.  We used some of our Expedia Points to get a room with a falls view.  On entering our room, the boys jaws dropped.  Honestly, ours did a little too.  We had an amazing view of the Horseshoe Falls:

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We had planned to get in earlier, take a cruise out to the falls, then enjoy a nice evening stroll. But between our mechanic stop, plus a bunch of unexpected traffic, we didn’t arrive until after 8:00.  Since the last boat left at dusk, all we were left with was our stroll.

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That said, it was a very nice stroll.  Once the sun set, the lights started.

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As darkness settled in, the colors became more and more beautiful.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our saunter.  The kids stayed up a bit later than planned, but it was definitely worth it.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

After waking up, we decided to head over to Tim Horton’s for delicious donuts.  We continued down to the falls where we purchased tickets for the Hornblower Niagara Cruise.  We were pleased that we managed to get on the first boat of the day – 8:30 am.  Leaving the dock, we headed towards the American Falls and got a really nice view.

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Proceeding to the Horseshoe Falls, the mist became quite intense.  So intense that Jeremy and I could barely open our eyes since the mist seemed to be trying to wash our contacts out of our eyes.  The boys loved it!

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Good thing they pass out rain ponchos or we would have been completely soaked.  Upon leaving, John was wondering why we were so much dryer than he was.  It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that we kept our hoods up, while he didn’t.

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Returning to shore, we headed back towards the hotel, checked out, and began our long drive to Michigan.  We decided to head towards Minnesota, going through the upper peninsula of Michigan and crossing the Mackinac Bridge.  The vast majority of the drive was beautiful; we love how green everything is.  The added bonus is that we can now say that we have seen all five of the Great Lakes!

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