Growing up around here, trips to Niagara Falls were pretty regular. The 70s were a decade for out of town relatives to visit, to see us, but mostly see the falls on the proverbial shoestring. I like to go periodically, but I’m most fascinated by the American side during the off season. It really is a different place. There are some buildings that fascinate me and some areas that just make you wonder. How can an entire mall fail? Makes you wonder. Are the Wintergarden and the Turtle symptomatic of New York State? Wintergarden is gone now. If you stand at the one end of Old Falls Street, you can see right over to Canada, provided you can summon tunnel vision to ignore the dingy convention center on one side and the saddest Crown Plaza ever on the left. Hikes on Three Sisters Island are devoid of anything that shouldn’t be there. The Canadian Vegas on the other side still towers in the view but on nights like tonight, the volume is turned down. A networking event had me at the Seneca Niagara Casino until almost 8. It was the second time I’d been there and the second time I ate well. A little wanderlust and curiosity had me meandering around town afterwards. The only places downtown that were open were the Hard Rock Cafe (Nearly went in to get a Who pin) and customs (nearly crossed for an excuse to take the Parkway back to Buffalo).
My Ipod has a terrific sense of humor as the Specials “Ghost Town” came on with very apt timing. For the heck of it, I drove over to Goat Island, immune from NCCC students who handle the parking fees. Pulled up to the front lot to have a stroll. My camera couldn’t handle the cold very well. It’s funny. I walked past all the park police cars and the road was cleared, but the mist formed a protective shield of ice, but it was a really fine sheen, like sauce with too much salt. Any other shoes and I would have been done for. There were a couple of other whackjobs out for a nighttime hike, but it was otherwise quiet. The only reflections were the streetlights off the windows of the closed exhibits and the neon from across the way. The stock photos above were better than what my camera was capable of on a cold night by the river.
It was fun to wander around, with the tourist gone for a time. You got an unfiltered view of the affluence and spending on the other side, but some unabashed appreciation of the good things in the Park. Sure, the Falls as a city has problems and the tourism portion of Niagara Falls is flat out sad, but there are some pockets that are just right, even more so when you got a brief window of your own.