4/1/18: Over The Rainbow

It’s Sunday, March 25, 2018. 

Joe and I are standing ‘way above the chimney tops’ under a vivid blue sky, looking down upon a magnificent rainbow as it gradually materializes 100 yards away, in the middle of Horseshoe Falls, in Niagara Falls, Canada. 
Its sun-lit colors grow more vivid as it forms, until the entire shimmering arch completes itself, terminating at the American and Bridal Veil Falls area, about 500 yards up the road. Imagine that! A full rainbow, directly in front of us! 
Magical! 

Birds fly over and under it, soaring effortlessly in the cold, crisp air: any cries they make are drowned out by the Falls’ thunderous power. 

From our huge window we watch as this ephemeral wonder hovers just above a white horse pulling a white carriage full of visitors leaving the American Falls for Horseshoe Falls. (Remember that white horse and carriage in Oz, collecting Dorothy?) 

Thirty stories up we feel the earth tremble as mega-tons of water roar down the cliff. 
The scene is surreal. 

We are literally ‘over the rainbow.’ 

Ahhh, this one’s fading... fading... gone.... but, dream-like, another one is gradually becoming visible through the mist. Its primary colors glow for a minute or two before it dematerializes, a feat reminiscent of the Cheshire Cat’s mischief above Alice, in Wonderland. 
This ‘here again, gone again’ enchantment continues for nearly 45 minutes. 

How did we wind up here? 
We were idly wandering the Internet, investigating hotels near interesting places no further away than a morning’s drive from Saginaw, Michigan. (No dogs, please, they all said.) Suddenly, up popped an ad from the Embassy Suites Hotel. The photo was a gasper. 
‘Come visit- and enjoy the best view ever of Niagara Falls.’ 

Oh, Lord! The sight was fantastic! 
We’d come here with family and friends over the years, but had never stayed in a posh hotel. This one was tall (42 stories) and slim, shooting straight up from a small footprint. 

As if it heard our skepticism voiced, it offered another photo- of a suite that sleeps six (two double beds and a sofa bed). One wall was a huge window, high above the ‘Big Picture.’ 

“No way this price is legit,” we scoffed, as one. 
‘Way!’ said the ad. ‘This suite can be yours for $71.00 American Dollars.’ 
(Two little caveats: 
-Only on Sunday night, as it’s the ‘off season.’ 
-No dogs allowed.) 

Hmmm. We decided guests probably leave in droves on Sundays after breakfast, especially during the school year, leaving these lovely rooms vacant. 

The hotel’s incredible offer was beginning to feel -credible. 

We debated about 2 seconds, then booked online. Nervous that we might wake up the next day and back out, the hotel threw in some ice cream with the cake: 

-A $30.00 voucher if we’d dine at the Keg Steak House on the hotel’s ninth floor. 

-Plus, we could have one free alcoholic drink and free munchies during happy hour. 

-Plus a free breakfast with lots of fresh, hot coffee. 

These three enticements (and three more we ignored) secured the hook and reeled us in. 

I can hear you asking, “What about Bryn-dog?” 

Well, to keep myself from noticing how cold I was in the dog park two weeks ago, I struck up a conversation with a personable woman- formerly the head of a prestigious Arts and Sciences high school, whose three biggish dogs were now romping in the park with Bryn. Long story short: I chatted about having viewed a tidy boarding kennel that morning. (We were beginning to accept that we can’t take her everywhere.) The kennel was quite nice, but the cacophony of barks was deafening. Quiet Bryn would find that extremely unsettling. Another thing; the dogs- often up to 40- are left alone all night, though there are cameras, and an alarm.... 

This year we’re celebrating our fiftieth wedding anniversary by planning short jaunts to beauty spots. Janet smiled and said, “Well, why not consider a live-in dog sitter? I highly recommend mine. Janie’s a reliable, educated young woman who loves and understands dogs. My three guys love her. She even has a key to my home.” 

She came to our home to meet us. Bryn took to her immediately! Joe and I liked her, too, and the price was less costly than to board Bryn. So, Janie is in our home this Sunday, all day and night. She’s sending us short texts, photos and even a brief video of Bryn playing happily outside with her. 

She’s going to work out just fine! 

Back to the narration: 
Throwing a few things into a little backpack at 7:45 a.m. Sunday morning, we motored to Port Huron and through Customs (which took all of 2 minutes), then drove Canada’s QEW highway to this National Heritage Site. 
Total travel time: exactly 5 hours. 

The check-in lady clicked her computer keys for a few seconds and then said, with a smile, “I’ve upgraded you to another very nice suite at no extra cost, with an even more encompassing view, as it’s on a higher floor. You can move in right now, at noon, instead of waiting until 4:00 check-in.  Is this acceptable?” 

Yes! 

We rode up 30 floors, opened the big door and walked to the window- and--Oh, My God. 
Before us was one of nature’s most spectacular wonders. 

When our growling stomachs gave up hinting and began to shout, ‘Starving!!’ we finally went down the elevator to The Keg for an excellent meal (which wasn’t cheap) and the same stunning view, just much lower down. Our coupon helped reduce the bill. $30.00 off is not a small thing. 

Here are some astounding statistics offered by the Niagara Falls National Park: 

- 3,160 tons of water flow over Niagara Falls every second. The huge carved out bottom is 170 feet deep. 

- 75,750 gallons of water per second pour over the American and Bridal Veil Falls. 

- 681,750 gallons per second cascade over the Horseshoe Falls. 

- The water falls at 32 feet per second, hitting the base with 280 tons of force at the American and Bridal Veil Falls, and 2,509 tons of force at the Horseshoe Falls. 

- Niagara Falls is capable of producing over 4 million kilowatts of electricity, which is shared by the United States and Canada. 

- Four of the five Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie) drain into the Niagara River before emptying into Lake Ontario. These five Great Lakes make up almost one-fifth of the world's fresh water supply. 

Now the sun is low. Mist continues to gather at Horseshoe Falls, smudging the upper rim outlining its deep curve. I remain glued to our huge window for hours, looking, writing, while Joe sits next to me practicing blues chords on his electric guitar. (He’s brought along a little para-acoustic mini-amplifier and headphones, so I hear nothing.) 

 

Much later I glance up- to find the sky a deep, starless black. I’ve been so immersed in trying to capture all this verbally that I hadn’t noticed. Without my glasses the lights from the downtown buildings and signs are blurred jewels of red, green, gold, white and blue. The effect is lovely. 

It’s bedtime. Spotlights flick on. While the American/Bridal Veil Falls are still well defined, the Horseshoe Falls has entirely disappeared behind mist. 

After opening the window a few inches we are soon lulled into sleep by that deep, constant roar, a sound that’s existed here for over 10,000 years... 

-- 

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