Saturday, September 19, 2015

Niagara Falls

So as most of you may have heard, Gary planned a field trip to Niagara Falls this week. I was hesitant to go, I didn't want to spend the money. But, Gary insisted that we didn't want to get a job next week, and move away, and have missed out on the opportunity. He also thought it would be good for us, and it was. It was peaceful, and a good time together just our little family after losing Abigail.  It was a truly beautiful place watching the sunset over the falls with Gary was my favorite part of the trip, and watching the kids of course was another highlight.

The falls are truly difficult to picture.  I always knew they were big, but just how vast is difficult to explain.  They told us how many of hundreds of thousands of gallons of water pour over the edge of each set of the falls each second, telling the kids to picture that many milk jugs.  It was truly too much to fathom and that is each second.  The mist that is kicked up is enormous as well.  And while it may seem like alot in the pictures when the sunlight catches it right, it doesn't even compare to being in it, on the boat.  On the Maid of the Mist, at the Horseshoe Falls, it felt like we were being pelted in a rainstorm, you seriously could barely force yourself to hold your eyes open to try to look at them up close.

I liked seeing the rapids too.  I think the American rapids were faster and closer together, but the Canadian rapids over at Three Sisters Island stretched nearly as far as you can see, the other bank is so far away.  The camera quit on us after the Maid of the Mist.  (It's been acting up alot lately, but I wonder if the amount of water in the air hastened it's demise.)  The landscape on the islands and the park with the gardens on the mainland is beautiful as well.  To be honest all of upstate New York was gorgeous, isolated, and very sparsely populated.  Not what either Gary or myself expected.  The mountains and trees were beautiful, and a few of the trees were just starting to turn Ruth picked a number of orange and redish leaves from the ground to keep.

With all that said, we know if we ever do it again, what we would change for next time.  Tips for Niagara Falls:
  1. Unless it's just really cold, wear shorts.  Even better wear swim trunks.  I'm completely serious next time I'm going to the boys department to find some swim trunks.  You are going to get wet, alot.  Now my bluejeans completely dried out twice (it got up to 89 there on Wednesday) but still, it would have been more comfortable in shorts.
  2. Tennis shoes are overrated.  Yes you do some climbing, but unlike a regular waterfall where you are actually hiking and climbing, this is a tourist destination.  There are concrete steps or wooden platforms to everything.  But you are going to get wet, alot so wear some good sandals instead, but some you don't mind getting wet.
  3. That brings me to my next point, if you still think you want to hang on to your tennis shoes for support.  Go to the Cave of the Winds first.  As part of that tour, you get a free pair of sandals that are required for that area.  The reason why is that you are going to have water flowing over your feet alot.
  4. Then go on the Maid of the Mist (or the Hornblower if you are going to the Canadian side).  We did it the other way around and our shoes and socks were soaked all day long.  Plus if you decide to hike the lower gorge (which is completely free) you will get really wet too, it ends right up under the mist on the opposite side of the waterfall from the Cave of the Winds.
  5. Have I mentioned you will get really wet, alot.  You might want to invest in a waterproof camera, or a waterproof case, or even one of those new phones with the waterproof coating where you can drop the whole thing in a glass of water and leave it there and still have no problems.  You are going to want to take alot of pictures, don't let a little mist stop you.
  6. We picked a great age to go.  Five and under are free to everything - Maid of the Mist, the Cave of the Winds, the Niagara Movie, the Children's Aquarium.  That cut the cost in half for us.  We really recommend the Discovery Pass.  And you can look around and find discounts for it.  Pay for one thing and then you don't need to pay for anything else the rest of the day.
  7. So the age of our kids made it a great time to go.  However, if you are thinking about bringing a stroller, just forget it.  Too much climbing and steps, it's not going to be useful.  That said, even though I've not used the carrier for Rebecca in nearly a year, it would have been great to have, because toward the end of the day she fell asleep and I ended up carrying her for a good mile or so. I could have strapped that baby on my back.
  8. We picked a good time of year too, warm but not melting.  Kids back in school so it wasn't so crowded.  So spring or fall would be my suggestion. I would have loved to have waited another couple of weeks when the leaves would have been in full swing, maybe another time.
  9. Being there during the week was great again less crowds, cheap hotel price.  BUT there is a great restaurant (we've been told) on the American side that overlooks the Canadian falls, but they are only open on the weekends.  There are a few other things that are weekend only attractions so you might look at that before you plan a trip.
  10. Get a passport.  We didn't, but wish we had.  Supposedly the view is better from the Canadian side, and they have alot of cool attractions over there, like their massive observation tower (and restaurant).  You can apparently get a fast track passport card instead of a full blown passport, by going through an office there in Buffalo, NY if you don't go ahead of time.  And it's cheaper than an actual passport.  When we found that out it was already 3 pm, so we didn't follow up on it though.  Maybe next time.

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