Morning At Niagara
How morning walks begin… fresh black coffee to go, one cup for each hand.
My ‘Morning Walks’ to Niagara Falls started out by chance one year… I woke early in our hotel room while my wife and daughters were still fast asleep. Bored with staring at the ceiling, I decided to pour a large cup of coffee and walk down to the falls to watch the sun rise. It was the start of a great tradition, and no trip to Niagara since then has been without a morning walk.
Continental Breakfast… No Lines, No Waiting at this early hour.
It was easy that first time since I had ‘fallen awake’… a very rare occurence for me. Normally it takes an alarm clock and many nudges from my wife for me to finally climb out of bed. Waking in my hotel at Niagara is no different.. when the alarm goes off, I always wonder if it’s really worth emerging from my nice warm blankets for a chilly walk to the falls.
No problem finding a place to sit when all the other tourists are still asleep.
I’m happy to say I’ve never re-set my alarm and returned to my pillow. My walks to the falls in the morning have always given me so much in return for a little lost sleep. The Niagara Falls area has always been special to me, and the solitude of morning has helped me to understand exactly why it is.
Niagara Sky Wheel parked and silent… as seen from the hotel Lobby window.
When I walk down to the falls in the early morning, I can better imagine the place as it was a very long time ago… long before there were roads along side the river, or railings to keep people from falling into the gorge. Without distracting crowds, it’s easy to look past all the monuments to human frivolity and think of how it must have been hundreds or even thousands of years before I was born.
Clifton Hill Deserted… except for us.
This is when I fully appreciate Niagara Falls as amazing artifact of nature, and when every human structure — nearby, next to or over them — fades to irrelevance. Niagara Falls had to be almost scary back then without railings. The gorge is 170 feet deep and the walls are vertical. The pathways along the falls were no place to walk on a moonless night.
Walking down to the falls… our traditional morning walk.
As dangerous as the area must have been however, you can bet that Native North Americans on both sides of the river were still drawn, as we are today, to the inexplicable beauty of Niagara Falls. In the mornings, standing alone, I see the mist cloud through their eyes, and hear the roar through their ears… during a time when power generation did not diminish the flow and the falls roared at their mightiest.
Gate in the old stone wall… now leading nowhere but down.
In time, my wife and daughters learned to give up sleep to join me on my morning walks, and no doubt their perspectives on Niagara Falls have evolved in their own personal ways. Along with everything else at the falls, my wife loves the immaculate flower gardens… especially when they are silvered in dew. “I’d give anything just to plant flowers for Niagara Parks someday ” she said one morning, in a voice that was serene and peaceful.
Looking toward Horseshoe Falls, with a slight rainbow in foreground mist.
My daughters are teenagers and love the usual activities of Niagara Falls that are geared for young people… swimming, video arcades, gift shops and so forth. But in the mornings while walking to the falls, they become quiet and introspective, immersed in their own private thoughts, and I can only imagine what their private thoughts are.
Hi-Spy Masterviews… asleep for now. Not so when the crowds emerge however.
My younger daughter revealed her thoughts in a surprising way one morning by saying out loud, “I want to be married here someday.” My wife and I were a little stunned, but very pleased that she would choose Niagara Falls as a place to begin a new life with someone. Not too soon is my fatherly hope, but at the appropriate time and with the right person, my wife and I would be thrilled.
Worn smooth by thousands, if not millions of shoes over the decades.
While watching TV at home, my older daughter casually asked, “So… when are we going to Niagara this year?” It was a natural assumption by her that we were, and the way she asked was an indication that although we’d been there so often, no summer would be complete without a trip to Niagara. It is obvious that Niagara Falls means a lot to my daughters, and that they are forming great memories from our vacations there. It’s a certainty that they will carry on these happy traditions with their own families someday…. and that’s certainly fine with me.
Shops not yet open, trash from last night not yet emptied… but not for long.
More than anything else, taking a morning walk will keep your conscience clear, for you know that at some point on your Niagara Falls vacation you will have taken part in the more seductive activities at Niagara which have nothing to do with giant waterfalls. When you find yourself playing Laser Tag on Clifton Hill, or trying to win some trinkety prize hanging on an arcade wall, you will have already paid homage to the thunderous Niagara Falls, and in a way few others are willing to try… by emerging from your nice warm blankets for a chilly walk to the falls.
Tulip buds, dew drops and wrought-iron gate
Empty ticket queues… waiting for the still-sleeping tourists
The work of the Niagara Parks Commission in early springtime!
Niagara Parks tulips not yet opened… like the tourists, still asleep!
American Falls seen through Niagara Parks Railing
Sunlight and Mist, American Falls
Stone window, Tulips and Sprinklers
Same rainbow, as it fades
Spider Duplex, Niagara Park railing
Child’s eye view of the falls
Awesome, even at morning’s reduced flow. When Niagara Power diverts more water to the falls, the rocks upstream will disappear and the roar will deepen… just in time for the crowds of tourists.
When I’m finished with my Morning Walk, I’m always happy… happy that I didn’t cave-in to the lure of getting ‘just a little more sleep’. It’s satisfying in a way I can’t describe to be at one of the world’s greatest tourist attractions and have the entire place to myself, save some joggers or some local residents walking their dogs.
While they slept, my Morning Walk gave me a Niagara Falls they will never know.
I usually return to the Comfort Inn just in time to see the breakfast hall at peak activity… and I just smile to myself, knowing that in return for a little lost sleep, I just experienced Niagara Falls in a way the average tourist never will… simply because I was out there when the sun was low and the shadows were long, when dew was still in the grass and when I had virtually all of Niagara Park to myself.
As always, I hope you enjoy these Places At Niagara!