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Niagara Falls, a Winter Wonderland

Niagara Falls, the perennial favourite and jewel of our Region, visited in the spring and summer months is stunning surrounded by lush vegetation and flowering gardens, maintained by the Niagara Parks.  In contrast though, the winter, the road less travelled, is equally, incredible to behold, for those brave enough to battle bitter winds.  

Glistening ice forms cave-like, stalagmite looking structures on the edge of railings. The water is thrilling, sublime even; light, dark, cold, fast, rushing, ever-consuming, unstoppable. It’s a wonder that never ceases to capture my imagination for nature’s incredible power and beauty.  I love living near the falls.

So many locals tend to take it for granted.  We drive by, glance over, look at the neon, call it tacky, and move down the road on our way to eat something yummy.  But, you know what, The Falls are amazing.  Sometimes when I visit, I bring my Oma; she always appreciates the magic.

I had an afternoon off just a few days ago, so I took my Oma down to the water.  She was so happy to get out of her apartment and be by the water.  ‘It’s too much for an old lady to walk by myself.  I’m afraid I’ll slip’ she says.   She’s the most spry 82 year old woman I’ve ever met.  Her and opa danced harder than anyone at my sister’s wedding.  In summer, she walks to the Niagara Falls Incline Railway, on Portage, and takes a trip down the hill for $2.50.  It brings you right to the brink of the falls, at the Table Rock.

This time, I used my new fangled parking pass.  Such a sweet deal – $50 all year parking along every single – yes, every – Niagara Parks parking lot.  That gets you as close to the water as you want to be.  We parked at Edgewaters, (great summer patio, by the way), which is a 15 minute walk along to the brink of the Horseshoe Falls.  You can park even closer, but we wanted to walk in the sunshine.

The wind was freezing and there was hardly anyone there.  It was dead.  I mean, I have never seen it like that before.  It was a real treat, actually.  Just me, my Oma and a walk by the falls, (albeit a freezing one), but once we got going, the beauty got to us and that was it.  Out came the camera!  

So, if you find yourself free on a sunny day, after a nice thick snowfall, take a walk by the falls, it will inspire you.

Here are a few practical suggestions if you do:

1. Never, ever, ever, EVER sit, stand, or go past the railing.  Just don’t.

2.. Dress for the weather.  Leave the cute outfit and the leggings at home.  The only thing that will be cool if you wear that – is you.  Do what the Newfies do, “you gotta layer!”; inner thermal layer, then a fleece, then a wind-proof coat,  scarf, hat, gloves, waterproof boots – the whole nine yards. You’ll want to hug me for heeding this, you’ll be so snug.

3. The Falls are made of water. (I know this is obvious).  I’m just mentioning it because sometimes, depending on which way the wind is blowing, there can be a lot of mist or condensation coming off of them.  Kids may not like it.  Again refer to suggestion 1.  You’ll be okay, your camera may not be.

Here’s my mom’s (amateur photographer, and general knower of great things) advice for your camera:

Condensation and drastic changes in temperature can wreak havoc on the internal electronics in your expensive (or not-so-expensive) camera.  After she takes photos outside in really cold weather, she puts the camera in a ziploc bag with a packet of silica gel (you know, the little package inside of a new box of shoes that removes moisture), then she puts the camera in a ziploc bag in her camera bag, then she lets the camera warm up back to room temperature before she opens it up again.

Okay, here’s my last suggestion; if it’s sunny out you can see a rainbow.  At noon, in the winter, you can park at the Falls Parking Lot, or Floral Showhouse Parking lot, in any case, you can see the rainbow when you have gone further than the Welcome Centre.  There’s a little pedestrian bridge which is really cool.  

No, here’s my last suggestion:  Enjoy!




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