Friday, December 7, 2012

Niagara Falls, A magical creation of mother nature

It is the weekend after the Independence Day in the United States. In a country where holidays are rare, we realised that it was the best time to take advantage for a long road trip. We drove for nearly five hours, a distance of nearly 330 miles towards the North, or in other words, towards the Canadian border.

Passing vineyards, blossoming cornfields and forests alongside the road, it was a beautiful drive. Though it was not apparent, we drove alongside Lake Eerie, half of the way - one of the five great lakes of America.
Throughout the journey, the first city we crossed was Buffalo. We passed many closed down and nearly dilapidated factories and long and massive bridges. Suddenly our peaceful journey turned into an adventure.
The woman inside the Global positioning System (GPS) unit nearly screamed directing us to rapid turns. After a while we were back on to a road with waterways on either side.
After about a half an hour drive, I saw something like smoke coming up in the distance.
“Hey, do you think something is on fire?” My voice was shaking and I felt a sudden adrenalin rush.
Instead of answering my question, everybody laughed.
“Why, did I sound like I was joking?”
“I think you will find the answer when we get closer,” one of them replied.
We got closer to the city, and then with the talk of looking for the hotel we booked and with the number of Asians we saw in the city, I got distracted from the incident. Later, we refreshed ourselves and went out to see what we actually wanted to see.
After walking a few metres from the hotel, one of us said, “Can you see the smoke coming up still?”
When I looked up it was still there. However, it was not really smoke. It was the mist coming up from the Niagara Falls. From the place I was standing, I could clearly see a rainbow across the fountain of mist.
We went closer; it was close enough to see the beauty of the constant stream of water falling down to the Niagara Gorge. According to one of the tourist guides there, nearly 75,000kg of water falls down from the Niagara Falls each second.
Though we call it the Niagara Falls, it is a collective name given to three water falls - American Falls, Canadian Horse Shoe Falls and Bridal Veil Falls - that straddle the international border between the Canadian province of Ontario and the US state of New York. They form the southern end of the Niagara Gorge. At one end of the Horse Shoe Falls is the American flag, while the Canadian flag is at the other end.
The best view of the Niagara Falls can be seen from the Canadian side as it faces Canada. The citizens of the United States have no problem entering Canada without a visa. Unfortunately for us, unless we obtain Canadian Visa, we had to be satisfied with the side view of the falls.
Apart from the beauty of the falls, Niagara Falls has some records too. Located on the Niagara River which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, the combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world, with a vertical drop of more than 165 feet (50 m).
Horse Shoe Falls is the most powerful waterfall in North America, as measured by vertical height and also by flow rate. The falls are 17 miles (27 km) north-northwest of Buffalo, New York and 75 miles (121 km) south-southeast of Toronto, between the twin cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York. The visit to Niagara Falls is one of the most memorable visits in my life. The whole experience and the things I saw can hardly be summed up in a single article. Expect more in the coming weeks.

Pix: Aravinda Dassanayake

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