As I was standing there watching the water drop over the edge of the falls, a little overwhelmed by it, I started a conversation with the lady standing next to me. The Maid of the Mist was holding its own in the middle of the Horseshoe Falls. She and her husband had ridden on it when they were there several years ago. Well worth the time and money, she said.
We talked for a few minutes more and the conversation got around to where we were from – both of us Hoosiers. Near Fort Wayne, she said. What a coincidence! Further conversation revealed that she and her husband actually lived near Columbia City. And at one time they had lived out at Tri-Lakes (a few miles north of Columbia City), which is where I used to live. What are the odds that you'll run into someone from the old neighborhood? Even more amazing to me is that they are on an extended vacation, headed to Maine and then down the East Coast! Do you think it is possible that we'll run into each other again along the way?
Well, it's not like I hadn't been there before. I have. Twice. But never before had I played the part of a true tourist by going to The Cave of the Winds or riding on The Maid of the Mist. This time, I did. And it was the most exhilarating experience I've had in quite some time! Definitely got the old blood pumping!
Standing at the rails at the top and looking at the Horseshoe Falls you can't even imagine the power and strength of the water going over the edge. But down below, you feel it. The wind-blown water stinging your face. The incredible force of the water and wind practically bowling you over as you step onto the top platform. The feeling just can't be described.
The picture above, taken by another friendly tourist, was at the bottom of the ladders and walkway. Still dry.
After getting thoroughly drenched at The Cave of the Winds, beneath Bridal Veil Falls, I followed the trail back to the top.
To get to where the Maid of the Mist was you had to leave Goat Island. Free shuttle trolleys are available but I opted to walk, which took about half an hour. There weren't a lot of people but the boat had just left the dock so it was going to be about a 20 minute wait. The time passed quickly. We donned our blue plastic ponchos and boarded. I made my way to the upper deck but wasn't able to get along the front railing.
In front of me was a family with two children, perhaps 3 and 4 years old. I couldn't tell what language they were speaking. Behind me was a young woman with an older lady. They too were speaking a language I didn't understand. They seemed more “approachable” than the family in front so I asked them where they were from. The younger lady said, in perfect English, the Czech Republic. Across the way another couple was talking, again in a language I didn't recognize. All around me were people from different countries. It was an International group. It was interesting watching them as we headed for the Horseshoe Falls. You could tell that everyone was excited, and perhaps a little bit nervous.
Most of the people on the boat put the hood of the poncho over their heads so they didn't get quite as wet as I did. In fact, I saw several ladies leaving the boat with completely dry hair. You wouldn't even have known that they had been on the boat except that the poncho was damp. Don't know how they did it, but I certainly didn't mind getting soaked for a second time in the same day!
Upon reaching the center of the Horseshoe Falls, the boat rocked and swayed while maintaining position for about 10 minutes. Not long, but long enough. Some of us lost our balance a few times but regained it without incident.