Saturday, September 18, 2010

Canada - Niagara Falls: Behind the Falls, Niagara's Fury, Whirlpool Aero Car

Our little group got going around 9:30 AM this morning and, once again, we parked at the Floral Clock and took the Peoplemover bus toward town.

On the way, we decided to stop and visit the Cham Shan Buddhist Temple. Cham Shan means "Ten Thousand Buddas," probably in reference to the precious collections of Buddhist arts and artifacts housed in the large Chinese style building on the 3-acre compound. A giant bronze Buddha statue and a statue of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara are on the property so devotees can make offerings and pay homage to the Buddha. It was interesting and peaceful to walk around the grounds.

After our temple visit, we rode another bus into town and got off at the Table Rock Welcome Centre to go on the Journey Behind the Falls - the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, to be specific.

We were each issued a yellow rain poncho and then took an elevator 150 feet down to tunnels that lead to the Cataract Portal and the Great Falls Portal. Walking through the tunnels themselves was not that impressive but when we stood out on the observation deck, it was amazing to watch one-fifth of the world’s fresh water crashing down to the basin below. The noise and the wind and the water were overwhelming!

Back up top, we decided to check out Niagara's Fury, which is an intense presentation about the creation of Niagara Falls. It began with an 8-minute animation that explained how the Ice Age shaped Niagara Falls. After that, we were herded into an enclosed room with a 360 degree screen. We got a pretty good hint of what was to come when we were each given a rain poncho on our way into this second area.

And that's when the "Fury" part kicked in: there was thunder, and lightening, and earthquakes, and water roared down the precipice, and the platform we stood on tilted and shimmered while water jets above and on the sides sprayed us unmercifully.  I laughed and laughed at Judi and Carolyn - the looks going across their faces were priceless!  The whole experience was great fun, even if we were fairly drenched when it was over.

After Niagara's Fury, we got some ice cream and collected ourselves. Judi, Gary, Lynda and I decided we would walk to the big shopping area by Ruby Tuesday's to do some souvenir hunting. Chip and Carolyn opted out and so we arranged to meet them later at the bus stop area behind the Table Rock Welcome Centre. And so off we went. Well, after hoofing it for a few minutes we realized it would take up too much of our sightseeing time to walk that far, shop, and then walk back. So we aborted those plans and went back to find Chip and Carolyn.  Of course, they weren't expecting us back so soon so it took a little time to find them but it all worked out and our group was re-united.

So, once again, we boarded a Peoplemover bus and headed in the direction of the Floral Clock but got off at the Whirlpool Aero Car. Except for Chip who does not care for such things, we all wanted to ride on this famous cable car. The Aero cable car was designed by Leonardo Torres Quevedo, a Spanish engineer, and has been in operation since 1916. It is suspended from six cables and offers a wonderful view of the Niagara Whirlpool. The Niagara Whirlpool is formed at the end of the rapids where the gorge turns abruptly counterclockwise and the river escapes through the narrowest channel in the gorge.  As it turned out, the cable car experience was very tranquil and felt totally safe. In fact, it was the smoothest cable car ride I've ever been on - Senor Quevedo knew what he was doing!

And so it has been an eventful day... we returned to the RV park, took the dogs on another long walk, and served up left-over spaghetti for dinner. And now we're tootling off to bed - tomorrow is another day!

Click here to see photos of today's adventures.

No comments:

Post a Comment