Return to Canada, Niagara Falls and into New York State.

14 Sep

Last time I wrote I was sure I would be able to keep up with the blog while back in the UK. I should have known better. Our time home was filled to the brim with visiting family and friends, catching up on appointments (getting MOT’d as Mum put it) and generally enjoying ourselves! So, Robert is at present compiling a photo blog of our six and a bit weeks which he will publish soon on his blog at www.roadvoyagers@wordpress.com  So I am free to continue as we begin Tour Four of our epic adventures!

We flew back to Toronto on September 2nd and after a night in probably the most down market Sheraton Hotel they have on their books (clean and comfortable but the updating it was in the middle of, was badly needed) we picked up a hire car and drove over to be reunited with haRVey.

We had left Toronto on 15th July in very hot and humid conditions, this weather had continued until just before we got back but as we drove to the campground we experienced torrential rain. It eased a bit for us to move onto the proper camp site and get set up, it was not the welcome back we had expected. haRVey was fine however, we quite quickly got unpacked and felt like we were ‘home’.

By Monday we were very ready to move on, we returned the hire car and drove away from Toronto. We had previously thought we would head north east to visit Ottawa, the bad weather made us think again. Stormy conditions and cool temperatures were forecast so we made the decision to visit Niagara Falls instead.

We chose to stay at the KOA on Lundy Lane as the Shuttle bus stopped just outside allowing us easy access to the falls attractions, the site was not cheap at $57 per night, it was however well spaced, far enough from the road to be quiet and had good amenities.

We caught the 9.30am shuttle bus which dropped us within sight and easy walking distance of the falls. We had decided to take a trip on the Maid of the Mist boat, as it was relatively early we were able to quickly get our tickets and board the boat. We put on  the blue waterproof capes provided which turned everyone into blue penguins.

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The roar of the water as it thunders over the falls is quite deafening, the boats engine struggled against the flow of the water, quickly floating backwards away from its berth, then slowly manoeuvring up river towards the bottom of the falls.

 

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The American Falls

Everyone very soon realised why the waterproofs are provided, the spray from the falls lashes in your face like being out in very heavy rain, being so close to the thundering water is exhilarating but all to soon over, even though when you watch the boats from the shore they seem to stay a very long time up close.

As the weather had decided to provide us with an unexpectedly hot day we soon dried off as we walked along the parkway towards the visitor centre and closer to the Canadian or Horseshoe Falls. At  first, my impression  of the falls was that I had imagined them bigger, however, when you get closer they truly are magnificent!

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IMG_4251We had thought we would also like to ride the old gondola cable car across the whirlpool, we had intended to take the shuttle bus but missed it, as the next one was due an hour later we thought we would walk. The day had become very hot and the 2 – 3 mile walk was perhaps not the best idea, the strengthening wind helped to cool us however.

We watched from the viewing area as the cable car made its way across the whirlpool area, not one whirlpool as we had imagined but lots of small ones within a larger area of swirling water. The ride was $12.75 per person, we decided we could see as much as we wanted to from the platform and would save our $ for something else!

We took the shuttle back to the campground in the late afternoon with the intention of eating then travelling back to the falls at dusk to see the water illuminated.The day had become hotter and more humid and it was obvious the threatened thunder storms were not far distant. The rain arrived around six and we watched the radar on the internet weather site to determine which way the storm was tracking and if it would clear soon. We had intended to catch the 7.30 shuttle, by which time it was pouring with rain! By 8.15 however it had stopped enough, and the radar gave us confidence the storm was almost past. We caught the 8.30 bus.

The lighting on the falls is subtle, changes slowly and the colours are largely pastel, perhaps not what we expected but very pretty, the normal effect lighting being joined by natural lightening from the still rumbling storms. The town around the falls was also alight, from hotels and amusement arcades, the casino, restaurants and clubs which line this side of the falls. We felt the surrounding area a little too commercial, a little brash and not to our liking.

Wednesday morning we set off to cross the Rainbow Bridge from Canada into USA, we intended to visit the American falls before stopping for the night at Four Mile Creek State Park just 15 minutes drive out of Niagara, New York State. As we have now crossed the border several times we are well aware of the fact we should carry as little fresh food as possible. Certain items of fruit and vegetables are banned as are  meats, fish and certain cheese products. With our visas, so far it had been plain sailing at the border and we arrived with little concern that there would be any issue.

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Crossing the Rainbow Bridge

Despite the very narrow lanes between the booths at the check point we managed not to do any damage and handed our passports over to the guard. He questioned when we were last in the States and decided he could not find the correct stamps in our passports. We would have to go to immigration. An hour later with finger prints and photo’s taken our $12 fee paid and haRVey searched for illegal fruit and veg, we were on our way. To be fair they were all very pleasant and the Officer who carried out the brief search was also informative and helpful.

We parked up in the Goat Island State Park to have some lunch. What a difference in 24hrs, this time yesterday the temperature was around 24 degrees today it was raining and struggling to reach 17 degrees. Also, what a difference crossing a border makes, the US side of the falls lies with a beautifully kept park, no high rise buildings hover on the edge of the falls just grass  and trees with views of the rapids and the falls as you walk the well kept pathways.

 

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It is possible to get up very close to the American Falls within the park, you can feel the power of the water, the volume is more tangible being so close to it. The bridge over the rapids gives a great view upstream as the water cascades towards its plunge over the falls.

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Of course for some this is not enough. One of the attractions on this side of the falls is a walkway below the Bridal Falls where you can get even wetter. A series of wooden stair ways make its way between the cascade of water which quite often over spills onto the stairs and soaks the pedestrians. This is still not enough for some, one section allows the intrepid to walk right into the cascade and feel the full force of its flow, of course getting drenched in the process!

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The fool hardy are wearing yellow poncho’s!

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We enjoyed both our days at Niagara Falls, they were very different from one another, both the weather and the surroundings. I think we were lucky to be able to experience both. In my opinion US have got it right, the natural wonder of the falls is enhanced by the natural surroundings of the park, Niagara, Ontario is a tourist attraction with a natural feature as its backdrop. Not everyone would agree.

From Four Mile Creek we took highway 18 along the shore of lake Ontario, eastwards further into New York State. The roadsides were lined with modest houses within well tended grounds. Orchards with apple trees, their fruit bright red and awaiting picking. We stopped off at one farm store and bought nectarines, 2 quarts apples and fresh prunes, enough to keep us supplied for a couple of weeks and all for $9.

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Golden Hills State Park surrounds 30mile point light house which stands on the edge of Lake Ontario. We found a site looking out over the lake which today was choppy with a strong wind blowing across it. We took a walk to the lighthouse and climbed to the top, almost being blown away for our pleasure. We were able to spot the CN tower in Toronto 43 miles away over the lake before we retreated back inside. The keepers quarters have been well restored with period furniture donated to decorate it. It is available to rent for $200 a night or $1200 for a week and boasts the companionship of ghosts for those who choose to stay there.

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30 Mile Point Lighthouse.

Hopefully the relentless winds we have had today will clear soon, Autumn is not far away and we are heading across New York to Vermont hoping to catch fall colours as we go.

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One Response to “Return to Canada, Niagara Falls and into New York State.”

  1. Susan September 15, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    Great Post- Welcome back! We did NY, Vermont and the rest of New England last fall-
    if you can manage it, in addition to the usual things to see, we thoroughly enjoyed this granite quarry http://www.rockofages.com/ and the nearby cemetery.

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