October 6th, 2017
Niagara Falls is a circus. It’s loud and boisterous and tacky, and most things there are designed to relieve the visitor of some of his or her money. I’m not talking about the falls themselves. Those are awesome works of nature, and absolute wonders. I am referring to the human aspects of the Niagara Falls experience: the vendors, the tourist attractions, the cheesy novelties. I am thinking of the shameless exploitation of a beautiful vision of earth’s power and glory.
Maybe this is just the American way. It seems to be so typically American to try and make a buck regardless of anything else. I’m not saying that everything at the oldest state park in the United States is a rip off. People need to eat. People want to ride boats into the mist of the falls. People want to buy souvenirs. That’s all cool. It’s just that it is so overwhelming. Why does every tourist trap have to have a wax museum? Is there a legal requirement for that? Is it necessary to be blaring loud rock songs from the 1980’s into the parking lot? Do we really need huge signs on neighboring buildings that say: “Buy AMERICAN here!”? Can’t we just pay a fee to the State of New York, and look at the damn waterfalls in peace?
Apparently not. Actually, the Canadians don’t seem to be any better. A look across the falls will show the observer a Ferris wheel and monstrous sign that screams: “Casino!” Yeah. Nice.
Okay, back to Mother Nature. The falls are amazing. That’s just a fact. Karin and I paid $2.50 to go down to near the water’s edge and look at the American Falls from below. There was a narrow staircase that led from the shore of the river to near the falls. The stones were wet and slick, and I needed the handrail to go up the steps. The air was full of mist. To our right, the water tumbled over the edge of the falls, roaring and churning in turbulence. Now that was impressive.
The park was crowded. Like at the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, there were foreigners in abundance. Karin and I talked to Romanians and people from India during our short time at the falls. The whole world comes to see these falls. I don’t mind that. I’ve done the same sort of thing. I have gone to see the pyramids in Egypt. I have seen the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I don’t begrudge people from overseas coming to see our sites. I’m just making an observation.
When I can filter out all of the human activity that surrounds Niagara Falls, I remember just the falls themselves. Then I remember incredible power. I remember something savage and uncontrollable. I remember something beautiful and violent. I remember God.