A Ride on the Miss Buffalo

Last week I treated myself to a ride on the Miss Buffalo - one of those things I've always thought about but just never got around to actually doing, like paying off my credit cards or learning Italian. I wasn't sure what to expect. The website and brochure, while undeniably slick, were short on details. That didn't bother me, though. My intention was to fill my memory card with photographs and enjoy some relief from the heat, and if the ride ended up being fun that would be icing on the cake.

I showed up at the dock at the appointed time and took my place in line. At first it didn't look promising. Miss Buffalo had just returned from the previous cruise and was, to my dismay, jam packed with people. My hopes of a relaxing ride were replaced with nightmare visions of personal space being violated by all manner of flailing limbs. But fortunately my fears were unfounded and the crowd for my cruise was much smaller. I found a nice little corner in the back of the boat, and settled in to wait for the ride to begin.

We started out heading straight out into Lake Erie toward the water intake station. It doesn't look like much from Buffalo but when you're only a couple hundred feet away it really looms large. The boat made a wide circle around the station and we headed from Lake Erie into the Niagara River. Did you know the Niagara is one of the fastest moving rivers in the country? Or that it's not even technically a river, but a strait? Neither did I, but now I do. Thanks Miss Buffalo!

We passed under the Peace Bridge and then the International Railroad Bridge. The Captain made a big show of slowing down because the clearance under the International Bridge is only a couple feet, but I don't think anybody was fooled. It did give us a chance to get a good look at the bridge though, so I'm not complaining. Besides, it's not like I'm in any position to judge others for manufacturing drama. A little past the International Bridge, by Harry's, we turned around and into the Black Rock Canal. I was surprised and delighted when I realized we were entering an actual working lock, something I hadn't known existed in Buffalo. We came to a stop and the lock doors closed behind us, then the water began to rise. It was too slow to notice, but if you watched the water line carefully you could tell it lapped up a bit higher each time. Oh and by the way, the water stunk.

When we left the lock and entered the canal, we came almost immediately to the Squaw Island swing bridge. And just like its name promised, the bridge began to swing in order to let us pass. The tour guide told us the bridge is powered by a 100 hp engine which doesn't really seem possible. My 100 hp Hyundai can barely move me, and while I admit I'm not exactly Twiggy I would hope I'm not as heavy as a drawbridge. Anyway, the cruise continued along the very placid canal until we reached the Ferry Street lift bridge and once again we got to see a moving bridge in action. Traffic in this part of the canal was heavy, with another boat ahead of us and five or six school crew teams coming the other way. It was pretty cool.

After passing the Yacht Club and observation tower we returned to the Buffalo River and the dock. My cruise was over, and I've got to drop the hipster front and tell you I enjoyed it more than I expected to. It was well worth the $14 price.

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