Thursday, August 9, 2012

Niagara Falls Vacation – Day 3: The Maid of the Mist and Other Adventures

Day 3 of our vacation was the first of the two full days we had to spend at Niagara. Having gotten a great first look at the Falls the night before, we all looked forward to seeing more.

We began the day with Kai and I taking our customary walk down the hallways of our motel so he could check out all the room numbers. We followed that up with breakfast in our room while watching a bit of the Olympics. Then, it was time to do some sightseeing.

Niagara Falls State Park offers a Discovery Pass that includes admission to five attractions for a discounted price. We decided to start out by heading over to the Niagara Adventure Theater to see a film about the history of the Falls before looking at it live again.

The film was a 40-minute IMAX movie that tells the stories of some of the daredevils who tight-roped across the Falls, rode over in a barrel, and even one boy who accidentally went over the Falls with nothing but a life jacket.

We got to the theater about ten minutes before the next showing. With only a few people ahead of us in line, we were glad that we would be able to see the movie without having to wait long. Unfortunately, there was some type of hangup with one of the groups ahead of us.

The attendant was alternating between looking something up on the computer and talking to the people. In the meantime, no one else was being served, and time was ticking away.

As is usually the case when he has to wait, Kai got anxious and impatient. “What is taking so long?” he grumbled. I wondered the same thing.

As it slipped past the start time of the movie, I got more impatient. A supervisor came out to help the first employee, and after awhile I was finally able to get her attention.

She let us into the theater, but the movie had already started. I doubt that we had missed anything important, but Kai did not understand that.

“I want to see the beginning of the movie!” he said somewhat loudly.

I tried to quietly explain that we did not miss anything important. That did not allay him.

“We have to see it again!”

Let’s just watch from here, I suggested.


I was getting a sick feeling that we would have to leave the theater, dragging a screaming child out with us.

But something in the movie caught his attention. He quieted down.

We ended up watching the entire movie, which he enjoyed. And by the end he had forgotten that we had missed the first few minutes.

Phew. We had averted a crisis. This time.

We next went over to ride The Maid of the Mist. Of all the attractions, I most looked forward to this boat ride that takes you up close to the bottom of the Falls.

As passengers get ready to board, each is given a blue plastic poncho to wear as protection from the mist from the Falls. We put ours on, but as the temperature was about 95 degrees, we immediately felt hot and sticky. Kai complained about how uncomfortable he was, and we took off his poncho. We told him he could leave it off and get wet if he so desired, which he said he wanted to do.

The boat first takes you to past the American Falls. You get much closer than where we viewed it the night before from the observation tower. It really is quite a sight and we all were thrilled.

Next, the boat traveled over to the Horseshoe Falls. By land, you cannot get a full view of these Canadian falls from the American side. But by boat, we saw the whole thing up close.

I do not have any photos from when we were at the closest points to the Horseshoe Falls as my camera is not waterproof and I put it away to keep from getting damaged. Contrary to the impression given by the name of the boat, the spray from the Falls here is not a mist; I’d say torrential downpour is more like it.

I was worried about how Kai would react. This is, after all, a boy who panics on the lazy river at waterparks when his inner tube floats too close to spraying water. On this occasion, he enjoyed getting wet at first. But when the drenching got really severe, he asked to put his poncho back on. Of course, he was already soaked. And he got a little upset.

But once we were out of the worst of it, I think he actually enjoyed it. Though it’s a little hard to tell from his expression here.

On the way back to the dock, we got another great look at the American Falls.

After that, we had lunch, went back to the motel, and rested up. Then we headed out for our next adventure: the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center.

The Discovery Center is a little farther away from our motel than the Falls, but still within several blocks. I considered that to be walking distance. We found out that Kai did not agree.

The intense heat likely had something to do with it, but Kai started grumbling about halfway there. By the time we were within a block, he was yelling that we should turn around and go home. Fortunately, we came within sight of the building, and, with much difficulty, we got him to continue walking the rest of the way.

The first thing we did when we entered was go to a small auditorium to view a short film. As the movie was getting started, Kai turned around and yelled at the little girl sitting behind us to “BE QUIET!”

I was mortified, and particularly upset with him considering how loud he had been at the film we saw just that morning. I grabbed him by the wrist and yanked him to turn him back around while shushing him.

He screamed about how mean Dad was, and proceeded to switch seats to the other side of Mom, away from me.

By the time the film had ended, though, we had both calmed down a little.

The Discovery Center is a small place, and there really is not much to it. If I knew more about it beforehand, I probably would have decided that it wasn’t worth the effort to go there.

But then, we would have missed out on one of Kai’s favorite places.

He found a display of rocks and minerals. And as he is obsessed with them from his flash card collection, the timing of this display was perfect.

He saw sandstone and diorite and quartz. And he loved it.

By the time we left, we were all in a good mood. And we bought tickets to ride the trolley back instead of walking in the heat. ☺

Back at the motel, we had our usual afternoon break, using the swimming pool and reading the rocks and mineral cards with Kai.

We had dinner at Hard Rock Café. The food was mediocre. But Kai seemed to like the loud music so all was good.

And after that, we rode the trolley over to Goat Island to get a look at the Horseshoe Falls from up top.

The Horseshoe Falls are much bigger than the American Falls. They are wider, and carry about 90% of the total volume of water. You can’t really see the whole thing from the top on the American side, but we had already seen all of it from the boat, and it was still impressive now.

As we had the night before, we stayed until it got dark. And we saw the light show, this time shining on the Canadian Falls.

As a bonus, we also saw the weekly fireworks show.

Sitting there next to the Falls, all of the difficulties we had that day were forgotten. We were happy we were there.

Tomorrow – A Tumultuous Day
See our Facebook page for photos from our entire trip


  1. Wow...great photos and narrative. I wish I had taken the time to have gone by boat. I am very much looking forward to hearing and seeing more of your trip.

    1. Thanks!

      The boat was very worthwhile. If you ever go back there, I think your family would enjoy it.


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