My 50th birthday was approaching, and I was wondering how I was going to mark a half century of living. No, make that breathing. 400 pounds was a living death, and for the past ten years I’ve been living every day. It seemed more fitting I observe and honor the decade anniversary of my life change as well as the half century of my life.

Suggestions from friends and readers on the A Taste For The Woods Facebook group ranged from the possible to the improbable. The Scandinavian skiing trip suggestion looked fascinating, but since I don’t ski yet and don’t have the time available I had to say no. Besides, my Swedish is little better than that of the celebrated Muppet chef.

Finally a friend came through. A musician had a gig in Niagara Falls, and she invited me to share her hotel room for the weekend. Despite our Platonic relationship I made the obligatory jokes about spending a weekend in Niagara Falls and drove the nine hours north.

I arrived early in the evening on Friday, January 8. Our hotel was only a few blocks from the Niagara River, so after checking in we took a night urban hike to Niagara Falls State Park.


On a quiet night you can hear the falls from blocks away. Our first stop was at the bridge to Goat Island, just above the American Falls and the rapids called Hell’s Half Acre. The sheer volume of water in the Niagara River is what struck me.


As we walked downstream the thunder of the falls grew louder. The clock struck nine, and from Canada fireworks lit the air. I’ve never been so honored by a nation before. Thank you, Canada!


But the biggest treat was roaring on the other side of the barrier. Niagara Falls is iconic. But I’d never seen the cascade in person before. I am beyond impressed. Four hundred years people have been trying to do justice to the power and splendor and glory of the falls, and like everyone before I lack the right words.


I was quiet on the walk back to the hotel. How could I talk after such an experience? As our footsteps echoed on the wet pavementĀ I couldn’t help but be thankful for the changes I made ten years ago. Not only did I give myself a longer life, I gave myself a better one too. In 2005 if I’d had the energy to walk to the falls I’d not have had the desire. As a super obese person I didn’t even consider the outdoors was for me. Now I know it’s for everyone. And such wonders as Niagara are mine too.