Up close and personal with Niagara Falls

Sitting by the fire in Niagara, NY and I am overwhelmed with emotions.  For all that we have learned so far in the 7 short weeks we have been on the road.  It’s hard to think it hasn’t even been two months with all that we have learned and seen and done…… It feels like so much longer!!

Sienna and I are in a good place.  We are taking the things we are learning and applying them all the time.  I get worried and frustrated sometimes because it doesn’t feel like we do enough “school” but I seem to make everything an educational, learning experience and hope that will be enough.  We are tackling math and money and budgeting…. We do science and geology and geography and LOTS of nature….. We have started multiplication and often do word problems in our conversations.  We engage in all things history and I make her read and write daily.  So hopefully I am passing the test as a teacher so far!!! Even though so many days I feel like I am failing her educationally…… I guess I justify it with knowing that she can make up certain things pretty quickly, but she will never be able to “learn” in a classroom what she is experiencing out here on the road.  We met a family today who is traveling till March with their 5 kids in a small motorhome and they are “unschooling” their kids and everyone is loving it….. After that conversation I felt so much better!!! It so interesting to see what we get hung up about regarding expectations and how we are perceived by the world around us.  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t think twice if it wasn’t for the judgmental statements that I get regarding how I’m managing teaching Sienna everything she is missing by being out of traditional school.  And just like that I realize that I’m learning so much more on this trip than anyone and we are going to be fine!!!

Niagara has been filled with it’s own vibe.  Pulling into the campground (a little state park with REALLY low costs for sites with electric hookups and full facilities) it was much more open that I traditionally prefer.  It was mostly RV’s and only a few strategically kept trees, with A LOT of wide open space and no wooded sections.  Yet the grounds were pristine, and there were large spaces that made backing the camper in a breeze.  The playground was large and well kept and there were a lot of open grassy spaces to play ball or frisbee or anything else really.  The bathrooms are SUPER clean and the showers have hot water that lasts a REALLY long time.  Both the sinks and the showers have really great water pressure and water that stays on until you turn it off, unlike some that you press on and they stay for about 3 seconds until you press it on again. There is a large wash sink for dishes and laundry facilities on site.  ALL of these little details make a HUGE difference living on the road.  I also get to go to bed and wake up with INCREDIBLE views of Lake Ontario and on clear days you can see Toronto across the lake.  It is so beautiful!!! The breeze off the lake makes the hot weather so much more tolerable and we have definitely spent MORE time outside here than anywhere else!!! The small downsides are the biting flies at sunset and the fact that there is NO wifi anywhere.  You literally have to drive 20 min to town to send an email.  I’m also PRAYING that I’m not racking up roaming fees bouncing off a Canadian cell tower this close to another country…… I guess I should call AT&T tomorrow.

We pulled in without reservations and got a waterfront spot for the 3 nights we were hoping for.  We were both craving a slow pace here as I am currently battling some sort of infection that has me hacking up phlegm at all times.  I’ve tried everything and it’s still hanging on which has me slightly annoyed and concerned, but in typical form I’ll keep trying to fight it off without medicine.  DayQuil liquid-gels have become my best friend and keep me going.  When we arrived I completely emptied the car and we cleaned EVERYTHING out and organized what we needed and actually threw away about 3 plastic bags worth of accumulated JUNK! (It’s crazy how fast that can happen when you basically live out of the car.) We both felt so much better!!! Then we took hot showers and headed to the tiny town to take care of some logistical issues with the camper and restock food supplies.  Driving to Niagara I stopped at an Advanced Auto Parts and had them test the camper battery since it completely stopped working and wouldn’t even get a good charge the last time we were in West Virginia.  It turns out the camper battery was operating at about 1/3 it’s capacity and wouldn’t be able to be charged back up past that.  So I purchased a new battery and was on my way.  I also got the good news that the plug seems to be working ok, so at this point I’m not needing to replace that just yet!! Whooooo hoooooo for the small successes. We arrived at the small hardware store to have them check my propane tank and fill it up.  It was practically empty, I got the good news that my gauge is faulty and only hits the red zone when it is literally 20 seconds from empty.  The guys told me they go all the time and not to even bother replacing it and just go off feel.  I laughed and nodded and decided to go with his plan! He said to watch it more carefully when I start running the furnace off the propane tank because it will go in a few days to a week.  I thanked him for the tip and we headed to the grocery store.  We arrived at Tops and had a HUGE wakeup call on food prices.  When there’s only 1 grocery store for at least 30 miles and it’s all small towns, they sure can get away with JACKING the prices up!!!! I was astonished at the prices of things.  So we got what we needed for a few days and figured we could stock dry goods at a cheaper stop.  All I know is I was soooooooo happy to be getting back to cooking.  We have been eating to many meals from gas stations (which usually consists of a microwave mac and cheese for Sienna or a cup o noodles and a can of sardines for me) Oh the joys of car days!!! So I stocked up on some REAL food to cook ALL meals and started feeling better immediately!!!

We got back to the camper just in time to go collect firewood (another thing I just can’t stomach purchasing anymore) and catch the sun melt into the water over the lake.  img_3102We found about 8 large pieces of wood each about 6 feet long and hauled them back to our site.  A few people laughed and asked why we didn’t just buy wood and we both smiled and agreed we like this way better!! I got a good fire going and we made pouches of tinfoil filled with acorn squash, sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, vidialia onions, green peppers, mushrooms, sausage, bacon, butter, salt and pepper (a new cooking style Evan taught us in West Virginia that we are LOVING getting super creative and experimenting with!!!)  It was so DELICIOUS!!!!!! img_3101I will say the next purchase I will be making is a small hand saw, I think it will come in super handy since we are foraging our own wood these days! We met our neighbors who happened to ALSO have an A-Liner (which was super cool since you don’t see to many).  They were a sweet couple from PA and he introduced himself as Gaylon and told me I could remember it because he would be playing his guitar later and I could think of Waylon (like Jennings) and then remember….. I literally laughed out loud and told him I’d never forget at this point.  His wife Laurie laughed as well and Sienna just looked at us all like we were crazy.  He commented multiple times as I was breaking the wood apart and cooking and hauling etc… how independent I was and asked why I didn’t have a man with me to take care of some of those things.  Historically this would have annoyed me and I would have felt the need to make some sort of equality statement with some sort of edgy sarcasm involved, yet tonight I just smiled and said, “well, I wonder that too sometimes and sure hope that someday I will…… But until then I can hold down the fort and take care of everything that needs to be taken care of so far.” He agreed and said he was impressed and told me he thought it would probably happen soon, I smiled and told him I sure looked forward to that day!! He grabbed his guitar and we all sang and had a lovely evening!!!img_3114

We woke up the next day to go explore the falls……. We made breakfast, Sienna had cereal and I had blueberries with the last of my coconut cream from Bali (I’ve GOT to find a way to get this here in the states!!!) and granola…… img_0960I packed our lunches and we headed out to Fort Niagara where we were told we could catch a tram down to the falls to avoid any parking issues.  It was a breeze!!! We headed to the Cave of the Wind.  We decided we would do a few of the attractions here and did our research and chose this and the Maid of the Mist boat ride.  I haven’t been feeling well and just can’t seem to shake this cold so I was looking forward to a low impact kind of day.  We walked down past the Niagara River and the power and beauty stole the breath right out of my chest!!  I am always awestruck at how connected I am to water and what it does to my being.  I quickly noticed that I felt so much more alive…… As we made our way towards the top of the falls we were blown away by how fast the water was moving and Sienna pointed out all the water features and described what type of rocks may be producing the rooster tails and water directions that were creating the whirlpools and decided to start naming the rocks in case a river guide needed to know what to avoid…… It was so cool to see the application of what she learned on the New River!!! We walked along the side of BridalVeil Falls and down the escalator to suit up in ponchos at the bottom of the gorge.  We walked through the series of stair cases and found ourselves at the bottom of the falls. The sounds of the water crashing on the rocks was deafening and we were already soaked just from the mist.  img_3103I felt my own fluidity vibrating with the constant crashing from the falls and I felt home in my skin.  Sienna wandered to the section where you could get right under a piece of the falls and feel it pounding against your body….. she was in heaven and dragged me under.

We both stood under that powerful force and let it fill us up completely…… We snuggled and laughed and  smiled till our cheeks hurt and decided to make our way on to the next stop.  We relished in the cool water since it was a HOT 91 degrees outside.

We walked toward the Maid of the Mist and found a little path that led down to the river.  We walked down there and found a huge rock near the shore that looked safe enough to have lunch on.  We hopped over to it and spread out surrounded by rushing water making it’s way to the top of the falls and over the edge.  Just up river the water was so calm and still and then it entered a stage of increased speed and had to maneuver around trees and rocks before it spilt over the edge of a massive cliff to find it’s way through rough waters and then backing a calm pool, eventually becoming a small part of Lake Erie….. One small drop finding it’s home in the vastness of Lake Erie. I couldn’t help but see the parallels of my life sitting here on this rock.  We enjoyed lunch and I laid down on the rock because I’m still not feeling well and wanted to just relax and take in the powerful water, the steady rock grounded to the earth and the warmth of the sun melting the experience into my soul.  Sienna laid on me and we had such a sweet snuggly moment reminiscing about all our lunches out on Whale Rock and all the good times we’ve shared so far on this amazing trip.  img_3107We sat there and it felt like time stood still for us! We enjoyed every slow and savory second……

Once we felt rested and rejuvenated we got up and headed towards the Maid of the Mist for our boat ride.  We walked up and got a ticket right away and got on the boat with ZERO wait, (which is apparently unheard of).  We put our poncho’s on again and headed into the falls from the river.  It was a spectacular site!! Seeing the falls from this vantage point was incredible!!

On the American side you can really only see the falls from various side views.  You never get a direct look unless you are on a boat or travel to the Canadian side and view them from straight on.  The mist is so thick you feel like you are in a massive rain storm, but it’s just the drops of water rushing over the edge bouncing around until they find their way home…… img_3108We raised our arms in victory and tossed our heads back, softly closing our eyes and let the water wash our souls free from any worries or stress and we laughed and spun around in circles in the mist…….. We spotted rainbows everywhere from the sunlight racing towards the river through the thick mist and we truly felt like we were floating on a magical sea.  img_3110We took a moment to dance in the gratitude and enjoyed the views until we returned to the dock.  img_3112We headed back towards the tram to get home and cook a nice dinner.  One last stop….. ICE CREAM!!! Sienna was so excited and surprised I just took her without her needed to beg for it and we laughed and hiked with ice cream dripping down our faces!! Life is so damn good……

Love & Light

Me

2 thoughts on “Up close and personal with Niagara Falls

  1. You write so incredibly well! Your travels sound amazing and don’t you worry one bit about Sienna missing out of school sounds like you are teaching her just fine… Quizzing with word problems and all! This experience for her is life changing and how many kids get to do this?! She’s very lucky to have such a cool & brace mommy! And I love how that guy told you soon enough you would meet your man… That’s cool stuff right there, it seems as if you are so comfortable with yourself & your journey that this time could really be right around the corner! Safe travels & enjoy! I love reading about your experiences!

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  2. I feel like I am actually walking right next to you as I read your post… your descriptions are delightfully real and the feelings you describe so raw! You AND Sienna are getting the most amazing education on this adventure and by way of reading your words, I am also getting one too! Love you girl, my heart is SO full and happy.

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