While we were in Niagara Falls last week, we did the typical tourist things – we went on the American Maid of the Mist ride to see the base of the Canadian Falls and also went down to the American Cave of the Winds, descending to the base of the Bridal Falls and then walking along a wooden sets of stairs and platforms to get up close to the torrents of water. The power is unimaginable and I saw it from a different perspective – I haven’t been back to the Falls since I was probably ten years old.
In fact, when we were down below near the base of the Falls, we were walking around on wooden steps as the water was literally soaking us. I even had a flashback to remembering the stairs when I was a little boy and standing in that exact position with my parents. It had been the trip of a lifetime back then and I was thrilled to show Janet the area now that we finally got there – almost 49 years after we were married.
We also were able to see the Falls up close and personal by boat. For those of you who may not have been to Niagara Falls, most people prefer to see the Canadian side. The Horseshoe Falls are admittedly spectacular – better by most accounts than the American Falls and the Bridal Falls but let’s not dismiss our American Falls as they are also magnificent.
Niagara Falls seems to me to be one of those places where patriotism is evident. The Americans were very friendly and I can’t ever recall being in a place where there were more couples of all ages holding hands and enjoying the incredible scenery. After we did the standard tourist stuff, Janet and I decided to travel over the border and see things from the Canadian side.
With the COVID protocols and changes in the laws, it is quite a gauntlet you must run to get into Canada. There is an app you must download, adding passport information and vaccination verifications that get linked to your file. Of course, you must still present everything to the border guards as you come to the Canadian side of the Rainbow Bridge – the most convenient way to cross into our neighbor to the north.
To start with, the border guard wasn’t overly friendly. Once we got into the country, we headed toward a small town on the way to Toronto that had beautiful scenery. Our GPS stopped working on our phones and in our car so we tried to stop and get a paper map at a local service station. Even though the exchange rate favors American dollars, the attendant insisted on charging us the same rate that we would pay if using Canadian currency, a 20% surcharge that we, as Americans, had to pay.
We felt like we really were in a foreign land – kilometers rather than miles – charges for parking everywhere we looked – and intense drivers on the road. All in all, we were very pleased to come back into the States several hours later. In fact, I was surprised as to how much we missed the USA and we were gone for less than a full afternoon. Aside from everything else, fuel there was approximately $10 a gallon, far more than the $5.799 per gallon that we paid in northern New York. Thankfully, we didn’t have to buy anything in Canada, except that map!
The truth of the matter is that we really did feel like aliens in a strange land. I’m sure that it was exacerbated by the fact that I was hyper alert as it was the first time that I can remembering driving in a foreign country. All is all, it was an odd afternoon, but one that I’m glad we experienced.
Our verse for tonight speaks to the idea of being an alien. Moses, the author of the Pentateuch tells us, and the Israelites, in Genesis 17:8, “The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
My encouragement this evening is that there is no place on earth like our home – the USA. What a privilege to live here in spite of all the issues we face as a nation. My prayer is that we will treat each other with dignity and respect, realize what we have in this country and do everything we can to protect it. Niagara Falls created more than memories – it created a great reminder to be grateful and thankful for our American homeland. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…