So David and I took a pseudo-spontaneous trip to Niagara Falls last Friday, and it was amazing. We didn’t realize how close we actually were to Niagara until recently, and with our move to GA coming up, we figured, why not head that way–even if just for a day?

Off we went at 8:00am in the most perfect weather (at least in my mind), and 3.5 hours later, crossed over the border to Canada. We had been told that the American side of the falls paled in comparison to the Canadian side, so we just skipped out on the American side altogether. Sorry, red, white and blue!

Back to “Crossing the border”…we had to show our IDs and answer:
1. Where are you from?
2. Where are you going?
3. What are you taking into the country?

Simple. I’ll get back to that in a bit. We made it to the visitor’s center (after passing amusing 100 km/h speed-limit signs), got some brochures about touristy things and then walked down to the falls. It was probably around 70F outside in the parking lot when we arrived, but at the falls? It was much cooler. The mist was everywhere and felt great! Yes, a little chilly, but I’d rather be cold than hot. There was still a lot of ice in the Niagara River, so that was contributing to the temperature shift too.

We took a lot of pictures and sort of smirked at the sad people on the American side that couldn’t see anything. I’m so glad we were told about the Canadian side! We enjoyed watching big chunks of ice fly over the falls at 40mph–kind of crazy that a little kid actually went over the falls decades back and survived. He’s the only person to ever accidentally go over and survive; it’s a 130 foot drop!

We headed into the gift shop before buying tickets for “Journey Behind the Falls.” The most popular attraction is, of course, “Maid of the Mist,” but due to all of the ice in the river, we weren’t able to do it. It didn’t bug us all that much, though. There are only so many ways that you can look at a waterfall, right?

On Journey Behind the Falls, we took an elevator 130+ feet down through the bedrock behind the Horseshoe Falls and stepped off into a series of tunnels opening to window portals that showed the water rushing over. The walls were shaking with the roar of the water, and we were literally under and behind Niagara Falls. Pretty awesome.

After we got our fill of Niagara Falls, we decided to tour the wine country of “Niagara on the Lake” (a city in Ontario). We stopped at Stonechurch Vineyards for our very first wine tasting. Sure we’ve had wine before, but we never got to sample three to four different ones before making a purchase. We bought a delicious Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon that we can’t wait to enjoy!

Around 3:30pm, we headed back to the border to drive home, but getting through customs this time was a completely different story. Coming in, we had a nice gentleman with simple questions. Going out, we had a woman who apparently didn’t want us to go back to our homeland. The series of questions went something like:

“ID? Birth certificate? Passport? Where are you from? Where did you go? What did you do? What are you bringing back? (to me) Your ID is from South Carolina, but you don’t live there? You drove up to Niagara for the day? That’s odd. Where did you go? And what did you do there? And where did you go? What sorts of things did you do? Why did you go to Canada?”

Geez, lady! Anyway, we (and our two bottles of wine) were able to drive through and onto American soil a few minutes later.

Now here’s David’s favorite part of the story. We filled up his car in Pittsburgh before we left, and we made it there and back on one tank of gas. It was 474.8 miles round trip, and the fuel light never came on. We got nearly 40mpg on our trip! After reading an article on CNN.com about how driving fast (especially over 70mph) significantly decreases fuel efficiency, we opted to cruise at 65mph, and it made a huge difference.

What a wonderful trip! I certainly wouldn’t recommend spending a weekend at the falls (as there really isn’t all that much to do), a day trip is certainly worth it. Our trip cost less than $100 (including gas and the wine!)

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