Niagara's beauty a 'mist-see' attraction
It's not often I like to cop a spray, but I willingly did, many times over, when I got up close and soaked during a visit to the famed Niagara Falls.
Claimed to be the best known and most photographed in the world, the falls are on the border of Canada and the USA.
Copping a spray or three was par for the course on the one must-do excursion to the area, taking a boat ride to the base of the series of falls.
The most impressive is the Horseshoe on the Canadian side.
We based our stay on that side and it was a good call as a promenade above the falls afforded a long, virtually uninterrupted view of nature's spectacle.
Many visitors strolled along the scenic walkway, pausing to take in the clean air and view of the series of white thunders.
Nearby was some pleasant parkland to escape the late summer season sun.
Get a bird's eye view of the rumbling power of Horseshoe by walking further along the path. Waves of greeny-blue water tumbled 51m to the base of the falls. But the main event was to take to the water for a close-up view.
Two boat cruise lines - one Canadian, the other US - have regular cruises to the base of the falls.
Our boat, the red-flagged Hornblower, on the Canadian side, eased across to the American and Bridal Veil Falls for a closer look and then turned right and headed to the base of the mighty Horseshoe, getting so close that it was impossible to see anything other than spray and mist.
Still, I felt the power of the surge of water. As the boat eased back, we shook the spray off our ponchos (provided by the boat company) and took in the front-row show.
The Hornblower boat trip costs $25 for just 20 minutes but is well worth it. Of lesser value, I thought, was the "tour beneath the falls" in which we walked down stairways to a viewing platform near Horseshoe to peer up to the raging thunder.
I was too close to the water to get any sort of perspective.
This tour also included walks along little tunnels boasting information panels. At tunnels' end were some small lookouts to watch the falling water, but I could have been looking out my window at home during a storm.
The downtown part of the Canadian town of the same name is up the road and around the corner from the falls and comes as a bit of a shock after all that natural wonder.
There is a tacky amusement area dominating the streetscape - glaring noise, colourful signs - it is in direct contrast to what nature has provided down the road. Still, family groups have to be provided for and, after a day out at the falls, there is no shortage of man-made amusements.
The amusements are hard to avoid, wedged in between the falls and many of the hotels.
Happily, our accommodation, the Country Inn, was further away, in a quieter part of town and it was excellent.
In slightly better taste were some of the restaurants, packed even on a midweek near end-of-season period.
Savour the natural beauty, power and force of these impressive falls but perhaps give the man-made shows nearby a wide berth, unless you're young and up for a very loud day and night out.
The contrast is perhaps hard to reconcile, given that the falls seem to attract a certain type of older visitor who would not be seen dead in such an amusement area.