Thursday, October 30, 2014

Somewhere, Over the Rainbow Bridge

And finally, the last bunch of pictures from Niagara Falls.  In typical form, Joseph was up early enough for us to see the sunrise every day.

Passports in hand, we walked across the Rainbow Bridge over part of the longest unfortified border in the world.  The center of the bridge marks the international boundary line and is bordered by both the Canadian and American flags.

While the Canadian side is extremely commercial (and has the far superior views), the New York side is primarily parks and trails.  We stopped for a bit right at the start of the falls on the US side, which are divided into the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. Bridal Veil is the smallest, while the American Falls are the tallest.

Since we were back in the States, we used our phones to Face Time with Mimi in Louisiana so she could share in the splendor!

Niagara Falls State Park, which is the oldest state park in the country, hugs the Niagara River, and there are really great views of the rapids. We walked all the way down to the Horseshoe Falls, which are separated from the US falls by Goat Island.

More rainbows!  Even double rainbows!

And one last panoramic view to leave you with, from the US side.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Maid of the Mist

Just about the only thing I remember about our family trip to Niagara Falls when I was a kid of maybe 5 years old or so is the Maid of the Mist boat tour.  I was so excited to experience it again as an adult and share it with my family today.  (The only disappointment was in finding out that they changed the name of the boats on the Canadian side to the "Hornblower."  They are still "Maid of the Mist on the US side, but the Hornblower tix were part of our package tour.)

After donning our ponchos, we boarded directly across from the American  and Bridal Veil falls.

As soon as we hit the mist, there were rainbows and unicorns everywhere we looked.   Okay, maybe not the unicorns, but it was still pretty magical.

They really should tell you that once you hit the mist, the winds come a-whipping, and those flimsy little ponchos are completely useless.  But oh my gosh, it is So. Much. Fun!!!!  We were cackling the entire time, and Joseph loved every single second of it.  So glad I was prepared with a waterproof sleeve for my phone.  It's one of the best purchases I've ever made, and it comes in mighty handy in situations like these.

We were completely soaked but entirely psyched by the end of the tour.  What an amazing experience to be that close!    Joseph wanted to do it about a hundred more times.  We rounded out the day with a viewing of the falls illuminated at night.  Just. Awesome.

Upon our return I remembered that many years ago I scanned a ton of old slides that were in a box in my parents' basement.  Among them was this pic of me and my siblings with my mom on board this very tour - that's me on the left.  Looks like the ponchos were a bit sturdier back in the day.  I love that we got a similar family portrait of us now!

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Does Joseph's drawing give you any idea of where we went on our most recent road trip?

Rather than staying stateside over the recent 4 day weekend (resulting from the Columbus Day holiday combined with a school professional day), we headed back to Canada for the 2nd time in less than 3 months.  This trip brought us to Niagara Falls, Ontario, a destination that has been on my bucket list for a long time.  (It was a far wiser decision than braving Disney World as we had been considering.)  Hopefully Joseph's picture makes more sense now - it's someone going over the falls in a barrel!

Our hotel, the Marriott Fallsview definitely lived up to it's name.  Our window was right on top of Horseshoe Falls, and the view from our room could not have been more spectacular!  Until you add a rainbow!

It only gets better the closer you get, and you can get pretty close!  Joseph was so excited to see everything in person after reading some nonfiction books about its history.

Although Niagara Falls is nowhere near the tallest waterfall in the world, it is apparently unsurpassed in sheer volume of water flow.  It's hard to imagine that there had been more than seven miles of erosion before they started diverting water to electricity generating stations, and now there is less than one foot of erosion every decade.

It was completely worth the 7 hour drive to see these panoramic views of the Niagara Gorge up close and personal.

We chose to do a package tour through the hotel that brought us through all of the major attractions over the course of one day.  After a 4D movie experience about the glacial origins of the falls, we journeyed behind the falls through tunnels that lead to two portals, where you see the backside of the water cascading down.    There's also an amazing observation deck outside with an eye level view of the river and Horseshoe Falls.

Skylon Tower was another stop, with an indoor/outdoor 360 degree observation deck 775 feet above the falls.  Three letters: O.M.G.  Best panoramic view ever.  (You have got to click on the pictures to enlarge them!!)  And you can see the mist from the falls go so high it disappears right into the clouds.

We also traveled further down river to see the whirlpool basin in the Niagara Gorge.  We could have returned with tickets to descend to the bottom for a White Water Walk, but Joseph had had enough of nature for a while.  I'm sure it would have been breathtaking with all the changing leaves.  Canada sure does Autumn up right.

The best was saved for last, when we got to take a boat tour into the foot of the falls.  I'll save that for the next post!