THE AMTRAK TRAIN EXPERIENCE
Having spent a few days in Chicago City and a few dollars at the Aurora Premium Outlets, now Chicago Premium Outlets (I did not mention this in the previous posting), we moved on to our next destination, the Niagara Falls. Nik and I took the Amtrak night train from Chicago to Buffalo.
Here’s the notes I from my notebook.
The Amtrak experience from Chicago to Buffalo
(Thursday, 6 May 2010)
This was the place where one paid USD 60 to get oneself drenched and the clothes wet, not once, but twice.
The tour first took us to the Whirlpool. Here, water rushing from the falls was making a right turn, a sharp 90 degree turn. The torrent of water going at high speed could not gush round the corner all at the same time and thus made a counter clockwise turn creating a giant whirlpool. From that height, looking down at the tremendous force and volume of water going in circles, I was left spellbound.Prior to getting on the boat for the Maid of the Mist Tour, we were each given a blue plastic poncho to put on. The boat brought us close to the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls. The latter being the higher and wider one. Due to the great volumes of water plus the tremendous thrushing forces, the sprays of water were more like rain. They drenched everyone on board. The only dry person was the boat employee who was comfortably sitting in a glass cubicle.
The deafening sound of the falling waters and the white mist enveloping us was an awesome experience. It was very much like standing in a hot shower except now the water was not hot. Looking up, it was all mist and fresh sprays of water. The wind stirred up the water spraying it high into the air making me feel like I could drown. My fingers were freezing and this was as close to Canada as I could get. A visa is required to enter the country and we did not apply for it. The cliff on the right belongs to Canada. Hotels (Marriot and Sheraton) and casinos lined the skyline.
Many daredevils, both men and women had made attempts to cross the Falls or took a ride on the fast flowing rivers. They attempted in barrels, jet skis; a few succeeded while the rest met with their ends or were arrested.
Cave of the Winds
The elevator took us more than 100 feet down. This time we not only had a yellow plastic poncho on, but non-slip sandals as well. Hundreds of seagull lined the rocky slope on our left. The timber walkway was splattered with their droppings which gave a peculiar guano smell. The Bridal Veil Falls, just meters ahead was sending sprays of water. I went all the way down the steps and when I looked up, my face was completely drenched.
To complete the tour, we were to go up right to where the waterfall dropped. There was no way I’m going to get myself wet and catch a cold. So, I kept my distance. It was an exhilarating experience getting so close to a gorgeous work of the Almighty.
Niagara Falls State Park
8 May 2010
Our hotel, Comfort Inn was very close to the Niagara Falls State Park. It was just across the road. This beautiful park had small trees with coloured leaves (deep maroon, green and yellow) and shrubs. It also had tall trees with bright, fresh green leaves all ready to take on into summer.
We walked along the edge of the raging river. Its green water turned foamy when it went over rocks on the river bed. The wide torrents of water dropped more than a hundred feet with a thundering roar. This was the American Falls. The sun was rising (about 8.30 am) and the sprays of water/mist created rainbows at several places. It was a breathtaking scenery. Several minutes later when the sun was a little higher, there were no more rainbows. The nearby arch bridge was aptly named Rainbow Bridge. It takes one across to Canada.
No matter where one is at this state park, whether it is at the waterfalls or in the wooded area or at the river banks, the panorama is nothing less than spectacular and breathtaking.
The warm weather in Chicago did not last long. It rained and turned rather chilly and windy by Wednesday. We, were of course not prepared for the colder temperatures in Chicago and Niagara Falls. These two places were next to Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, and the wind could get pretty strong at times. Thus, we had to forgo night outings and missed on the display of city lights (in Chicago) and the light show at Niagara Falls.