Somewhere in my parents’ photo albums there is a picture of me and my brother. I am probably about seven, and he’s about two. We’re sitting in the back seat of our Chevy Caprice, and his lips are speckled here and there with rice. We’re eating dough-covered rice bundles, and we haven’t even really left our driveway.
I remember this moment very well, because just before the photo was taken, my sibling rivalry took over and I thought it’d be cute if I, too, mashed my lips into my doughy treat and got rice all over myself, even if I knew perfectly well how to execute a non-messy bite.
It must have worked, because my parents snapped the photo, me looking smug, and my brother looking guilelessly adorable.
But I digress. We were in the car because my parents were about to drive us to Niagara Falls. My mom says I had been before, but I am pretty sure I don’t remember. (She says I was four at the time, so that would have been before my brother was born.)
Anyway, we pretty much got to the border before my parents realized that they’d left our passports at home. So we didn’t get to go. Later, as I would read more and more about Niagara Falls, and about the two towns that straddle it, and about the broken-down state of the town on the American side of the border. (I am a sucker for towns that look like they have been through Hell.) Also, Buffalo NY is on the way, and I have always wanted to see Buffalo for its architecture and its history (c.f. “towns that have been through Hell.”)


Seven or eight years ago, we got to Rochester and thought about extending our trip to go to Niagara, but we scrapped those plans at the last minute.
GUESS WHAT? In just two short weeks I will be on my way to Niagara Falls. I had a birthday last week, and Jim decided we were going to Niagara Falls.
But first he made me work to figure out the answer to What My Present Is. [Hello? Does anyone else out there think it’s unfair to make someone WORK for their prezzie?]
He leaked clues all throughout the day. Here they are, in order. The first person who can give me the correct answers to why they relate to Niagara Falls wins a bag of candy. (Tell me in the comments. Or you can wait and I will post the answers in a few days.)

1. 64,750
2. 100 and 73
3. 4.4
4. hratt vatn
5. Embassy Suites
6. Felis Catus
7. Anne Edson Taylor
8. Cooper
9. Ongniaahra
10. We will be gone for 4-5 days

Ready? Set? GO!


  1. 1> Average flow rate
    2> The drop on the American side. (The big boulder accounts for the variation)
    3> gigawatts of power produced
    4> “fast water” in Icelandic
    5> Where you’re staying
    6> Previous to Taylor’s own attempt (see below), on October 19 a domestic cat named Iagara was sent over the Horseshoe Falls in her barrel to test its strength. Ed. Note: Boo Hiss. NOT NICE
    7> First person to go over the falls in a barrel
    8> could be “cooper” as in one who make a barrel, could be you’re driving in your NEW MINI COOPER, or an obscure reference to a memorial to Kevin Cooper who was killed when the car he was riding in when off the Niagara Pkwy into the river.
    9> the Neutral Indian name “Ongniaahra” meaning “Thunder of Waters”; from which the name “Niagra” comes.
    10> Ummm, you’ll be gone 4-5 days… (likely driving…)

    11> Jann really likes candy! Have a great trip!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.