It was a historic week, in which we took another one of our bucket-list .. the Niagara Falls!
We went on a Monday, hoping for smaller crowds, which was true, and the weather was great, we had a lot of sun, but it also was 92F! A little less would have been better, but we won't complain ...
The Falls are about an hour away from us and we aimed to miss the rush hour and also arrive a little later in the morning so the sun would start to hit them. (We also couldn't make up our minds to go since the weather forecast called for cloudy and thunderstorms)
We'd googled parking and had found out that the Niagara State Park would be our cheapest and easiest bet, since one of their 3 parking lots is a lot specific for RV's and buses, which usually is where we have to park our large truck.
We were parked at the top of Goat Island in parking lot #3
From there we took the little trolley ($3 for the day) that drives you through the whole park where you can disembark at various
stops and explore the park's many attractions or, as we did, you can take it all the way to the other end of the park to where you can cross the border to Canada.
Apparently the best views of the falls are from the Canadian side, and it's an easy walk over the Rainbow Bridge to get there.
That is, if you have a passport, and one of the reasons we didn't go earlier, because we discovered James' was expired and we had to wait until he got his new one. (Which was an surprisingly easy process entirely done by Internet and US mail and took only 3 weeks!)
So there we were, at the crossing, like I said, an easy walk through the revolving gate and onto the bridge ..
From the bridge this was our first view of the falls, which was, beside an awesome one, also a surprise, because we never really realized there are three of them!
Well, duhhh, it's fall-s, not fall ... we're not the smartest are we ..?
From largest to smallest, the three
waterfalls are the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal
OK, moving on, at the end of the bridge you go through Canadian customs, whose agents are just as grumpy and overly serious as the Americans .. jeez, do you have to be so stern!
For some reason parking was free instead of the $8 we had counted on, but hey, no complaints there again ..
This is the American Falls and the small Bridal Veil Falls on the right hand side.
After a quick lunch of a couple of hot-dogs in a small whole in the wall just after customs (anything else is very expensive, we even saw the same dogs for double that price further along the promenade) we started to walk the pretty boulevard that leads you along the edge of the Niagara River towards the American Falls.
Although I'd seen pictures, I was still surprised by the size of the falls.
I was simply blown away by its spectacular beauty and the sound of the rushing water and the mist is just magical, almost hypnotic..
Located on the Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, the combined falls form the highest flow rate
of any waterfall in North America that has a vertical drop of more than
165 feet (50 m).
During peak daytime tourist hours, more than six
million cubic feet (168,000 m3) of water goes over the crest of the falls every minute.
That is the Rainbow Bridge you see there, truly a border 'crossing'
The height of the American Falls varies between 70 and 100 feet
(21 and 30 m) because of the presence of giant boulders at its base.
It's spray could be felt from all across the river and was very welcome on this hot day!
We continued our walk along the Promenade, skirting the
beautiful and very well maintained Victoria Park, full of colorful flowers, shrubs and trees and lined by gorgeous hanging baskets.
I think we picked the right day to go, a fairly quiet (non-holiday)Monday, enough of a crowd (30 million people every year) but not crazy at all, we had no problems seeing the falls up front and taking pictures wherever we wanted.
After a short walk we came at the Horseshoe Falls. With their characteristic horse-shoe shape, they are the falls you mostly see in any pictures.
They're the highest, 188 feet, and the widest of the three, 2200 feet across and they are totally awesome ...
That boat belongs to the Canadian 'Voyage to the fall' boat-tour (there's also the State Park's 'Maid of the Mist' boat-tour), whom both bring you from the river past the base of the American Falls all the way into the basin of Horseshoe
You're given a poncho (a red one in Canada and a blue one in the US) but, they warn/promise, you will get wet!
The boat below is from the US side, doesn't it it just seem to float in the air instead of on the water ... ?
We didn't do the boat tour, or the behind the falls tour, or the tower viewing tour, or the cave of the winds, or the zip-line ... the list goes on, and on, and on ...
This place is thoroughly touristy, and rightfully so, with lots of 'activities' (for a price) but, honestly, I find them a little misplaced beside one of nature’s true wonders.
We were here to see the falls, which we did, and it didn't cost us a thing. (the park is free, as well as the Canadian side)
Of course we needed some proof of 'been there, done that' ...
For some odd reason, these falls made me quite emotional, like having a lump in my throat and tears behind my eyes ...
It's just such an overwhelming sight ...
The beautiful green color of the water by the way, is a
byproduct of the estimated 60 tonnes/minute of dissolved salts and
"rock flour" (very finely ground rock) generated by the erosive force of
the Niagara River itself.
The current rate of erosion is
approximately 1 foot (0.30 m) per year,
down from a historical average of 3 feet (0.91 m) per year. According to
the timeline of the far future, in roughly 50,000 years Niagara Falls
will have eroded away the remaining 20 miles (32 km) to Lake Erie and
ceased to exist.
In the hole!
You can spend hours just staring at these mesmerizing views but eventually we made our way back to the bridge to get back to the other side.
Back to the US of A ..
Over the bridge again, and through American customs. Surprisingly, the customs guy was actually quite nice. What a concept!
The Niagara Falls State Park on the US side is the oldest state park in the United States (1885), and it's grounds are not as nicely kept as the Canadian side (budget problems), but it has some nice viewing areas, where you are very close to the falls.
On this side the
American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are below you, like here at Prospect Point, but you have a nice, very close-up, side view of all that water falling down ..
By this time we were starting to feel quite hot and bothered, with very sore feet, and figured it was time to call it a day.
We took a short walk alongside the raging upper rapids of the Niagara river, before it falls over the edge ...
After which we caught the scenic tram back to the parking lot, and only disembarked for a short walk across the 'Three Sisters Islands' bridges, which lie off the south shoreline of Goat Island.
They give grand views of the rapids in the Niagara
River right before its descent over the grand Horseshoe Falls.
That mist rising in front of the middle of the buildings is mist from Horseshoe Falls ...
Well, what more is there to say .. 'you have to see it to believe it'?
They are honestly breathtaking and truly one of the seven wonders of the world!
I stole this next picture from the web, to give a last, and little better, view of where the falls are falling in relation to each other.
That's the American falls on the left and the Canadian on the right..
After all that, the rest of the week was a little 'tame' in comparison. But what wouldn't?
We nevertheless enjoyed a very nice round at the Attica Golf club, once again.
It's really a nice little course and by now we started to figure out to play the slopes ... a little .. yeah, dream on ..
Alongside the first green we came across a Groundhog!
Also called Eastern Marmots or Woodchuck (or Punxsutawney Phil ... or at least a cousin!)
They hibernate, early and deeply, in the winter but in the summer they EAT, and eat, and eat ...
They're fairly common around here, and we'd seen them already, but never close enough for a picture. Cool!
And at the little creek of the same hole, this Common Snapping Turtle.
According to my little book they 'seldom bask', well, this one did ..
Such prehistoric looking creatures, aren't they?
And that was all she wrote. For now.
Like I said, a historical week. I can't believe I finally saw the Niagara Falls.
It was grand ...