Niagara Falls & the Beauty of Hostelling

Written Wednesday night, September 29.

Canadians call restrooms “washrooms”. Which I already knew, I had just forgotten. They also don’t let you take pepper spray into their country. But the border officials are actually very friendly. Which means that the mystery of why Canadians I meet overseas are always rude and conceited continues to remain a mystery. They are actually some of the friendliest people I’ve met. When they are in their own country, they are incredibly nice to Americans.

Driving to Niagara today, the trees become shorter and shorter, There weren’t so many hills or mountains. From Buffalo to Niagara, I had the Falls to look forward to since the autumn colors were behind me for a time. The Falls definitely did not disappoint. I went to the hostel first, which was extremely hard to find. There I was greeted by an English boy and his girlfriend, both workers at the hostel. A couple hours later, I was sitting in the middle of a couch between an Englishman and a New Zealander. Moving around the room in a circle was an Aussie-woman and an Irish-woman. The Aussies and the New Zealander drank their Niagara wine and the Irish-woman drank her beer (as I hear the Irish often do). It was quite comedic, all the stereotypes coming true in front of me. My Texas drawl just added to expectations people would have of me. I tried to kick the stupid American thing, though.

With a couple hours left to daylight, I walked down the street on my way to the Falls — which were only a few blocks down from the hostel. By this time, I wasn’t entirely certain there were any waterfalls at all, and this is the reason: Niagara Falls looks astonishingly as I would have imagined Las Vegas to look. Skyscrapers with flashing lights up and down the sides of massive hotels towered over me. I walked by a Burger King that was being attacked by a giant cement Frankenstein, for goodness sakes. The streets were lined with discount souvenir shops (for the Americans, as my friendly Englishman hostel worker pointed out), and in between those were a Wax Museum, a Ripley’s Museum, an IMAX, a few haunted hosues, and trillions of neons lights flashing and blinking. I’m not sure why I had imagined Niagara Falls tucked away inside a cozy forest, But I had imagined it wrong. Coming from beautiful, natural Vermont to this hyped-up tourist attraction was a bit of a shock, I’ll admit. And there are only so many souvenir shops one can walk into and see “Made in China” before you get a little frustrated at the tourist industry.

As Forrest Gump so wisely put it, And that’s all I have to say about tha-at.

Once I got to the actual waterfalls, however, everything changed. They were magnificent. I walked halfway around the Canada side. Down the path to the Falls that seem to bridge the two countries, it was impossible to tell whether or not it was raining. At first, there was nothing. Then, as I walked, mist began to fall. The farther I walked down the path, the more I was certain it was raining — maybe even about to pour down. It was then that I turned back. Then it all happened in reverse. It was raining less, then it was misting less. Then there was no mist at all.

All I’m saying is that for a person to be hundreds of yards away and hundreds of feet about the Falls and still feel the water pounding from the lake takes an extraordinary God. It’s beautiful and frightening to me that this Lover who chases me across the country and keeps me safe is the same God who pounds the mighty Niagara and creates a mist that more than doubles the size of the actual waterfall. It’s incredible that the God who parted the Red Sea for his people is the same God that sits with me and calls to me when I take the time to listen.

My friend in Holliday, Mary Cuba, gave me a challenge before I left – a mission to add to the quest for Peter Pan. She told me to find the best tiramisu in the world. Thus far, there hasn’t been much of a budget for that. but tonight I splurged. As I write, I am eating the most fantastic tiramisu I’ve ever had. And I’ve had pretty good tiramisu. Just thought I’d add that. Hope you read this, Mary. đŸ™‚

I hope to love God more than I love this tiramisu.

And that’s all I have to say about tha-at.

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