I was looking at some pics of Niagara Falls yesterday, from back when it was dammed in 1969. To be precise, the overflow that leads to the American side falls has a very narrow inlet, spanning only a few hundred yards. It was blocked up back in '69 to assess its condition and allow for work to be done along the banks.
It turns out that this part of the falls is actually a small side flow of the greater Niagara River. Its shallow and more of an overflow eddy alongside the more familiar Canadian falls. And in fact there are THREE falls... Bridal Veil, Horseshoe (Canadian) and American.
We normally see the image of rushing water flowing over the Canadian falls, a small boat full of intrepid tourists at it's feet and boom! - that is what we think of. But Niagara Falls is far more than this. It is actually a tight bend, a diversion, in the course of a river flowing NORTH (did you know that?), with side flows, rapids, eddys and whirlpools.
Below the falls is a huge mass of rocks and boulders, normally hidden by the cascading water. These have been deposited by eons of erosion, completely hidden from view. So, not only are there things we normally don't see above the surface, there is something grand happening beneath the water, too. Finally, it is all located smack dab in the middle of a built up, urban landscape. It isn't far removed from civilization at all. In other words, it is far more than our popular image leads us to believe.
Anybody familiar with this place probably knows all this, but Ive never been there.
So when I learned all this, I wondered: How many things have I taken for granted with only a small bit of information to go on?
I mean, here is one of the greatest wonders of the natural world and I know so little about it that I have mostly a wrong impression of it.
Worse yet, how many people, friends, cultural notions and a million other things am I not getting the whole picture on? It just boggles the mind.