Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
We begin our fourth day at the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center where we learned all sorts of fun facts about the Gorge, when and how it was formed and the types of rock found at different levels within the gorge.
As I reflect back on the week, the thought of all of the friendly people we encountered during this trip warms my heart. From the camper who offered us 5 Hershey Bars to make up for the 2 we left behind at home in the fridge so that we could make S'mores, and the couple who shared half a watermelon with us and left us the world's largest roll of paper towel as they were packing up to return home, and the two school teacher moms who supplied us with ice cold beers and live worms when Mike supplied four of their children with Ghana style fishing rods similar to Skylar's later invited us over for more S'mores, and how could we forget the dad with 4 children from Mississippi who asked if he could use our campfire to make MORE S'MORES, LOL, and our favorites...Rob and Dottie along with their two chihuahuas who gave us a tour of their beautiful RV home. Dottie is a fellow crafter and bestowed upon me some beautiful gifts of yarn, fabric and batting for quilting, RV magazines and a series of books for reading! Dottie, you spoil me, MWUAH!
|Notice the 100 step staircase (106 steps according to Mekhi) ...my nutty children ran up then and back down again|
|Observation Deck from the Skylon Tower|
|Devil's Hole State Park|
|Nasty, Nasty Children|
So, the verdict is in...the view of the falls is far better from the Canadian side. This was partly due to the vantage point from which we were able to physically stand, both to view and photograph the Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls while on the Canadian side. The view from Canada is a much more panoramic view, were as on the U.S. side we felt our view was limited to a specific angle depending on what we wanted to photograph...it was as if we could never get close enough to get a shot that would capture it all. However, while on the U.S. side we had no clue as to what we were missing...until we crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and then the border...whoa!
Canada is beauuuutiful! Aside from the cleanliness of Niagara Falls, the ambiance of this Southern Ontario city is almost magical at nightfall and reminded us of our first Disney experience. There are high rise hotels, casinos and floral gardens that would make Martha Stewart jealous! Clifton Hill is a street that is jam packed with excitement, reminding us of our very own Times Square, only much more compact and cleaner. Then at 8pm the light show begins. Talk about spectacular! Strangely enough, I wasn't able to capture the photos from the light show, they simply didn't photograph well, but to the naked eye the rainbow of colors is truly a sight to see.
|Niagara Falls, Canada|
|Noooo, we can't take him home!|
|Mekhi makes friends with a Penguin|
There is so much more to see, so when we return we'll have another adventurous itinerary lined up. From a short distance we could the Whirlpool Aero Car, which travels across the rapids in an antique cable car, we also walked past Journey Behind the Falls which allows you to travel through a tunnel behind the falls. There is also a Botanical Gardens, Marine Land and on the way back across the border we bypassed Bird Kingdom...the list of things to do in the mighty Niagara Falls is endless.
The highlight of Day 3 was a visit to the Niagara Falls State Park. The grounds were simply beautiful and provided a constant refreshing mist from the falls. Sometimes the mist was very light, and at times it was umbrella worthy. Whenever the mist arrived, it was always welcomed since the sun was very hot. The attractions at the park blew us away...literally.
|Notice how the ladies are always ready for a photo opp?|
Cave of the Winds is an awe-inspiring experience, simply put. Tour takers are given a pair of water shoes and a yellow poncho...no, the shoes aren't the cutest, but they're not optional either. They could make nifty souvenirs I suppose. I happened to note they carried shoes up to size 17!!! Next, we entered an elevator that lowered us 175 feet deep into the gorge...Yikes. Then there's the hike, first down, down, down on a winding staircase alongside the falls, then up, up, up. The higher we climbed, the more soaked we became. Be careful though, there's all kind of moss growing on the steps and the handrails, so its quite slippery when wet. And you could forget about carrying on a conversation. The waterfall is quite noisy, powerful, and amazing!
|Mekhi, Mike & Skylar on the Hurricane Deck|
|Feeling the mist already|
Next up was a ride on the Maid of the Mist, an unforgettable boat ride, not to mention the oldest attraction in the country (since the 1800's). We were given yet another souvenir poncho, yay! As we entered the boat I wondered how'd I be able to take photos without ruining my iPhone, our only source of photo taking.
This attraction really packs in the 'WOW' by providing picturesque views that simply can't be captured on film. As the boat enters the mouth of horseshoe falls I think about how appreciative I am of our captain's skill and expertise at calculating the water's current and knowing just how close to the edge is safe (or not) and then knowing when to turn the darn boat around. I clutched my pearls a number of times on this one. My poor iPhone, forgive me for exposing you to such levels of danger, LOL!
We survived Maid of the Midst
|Rainbows are plentiful throughout Niagara Falls|
|Top o' the rock|
|Just a moment while I take all of this in...|
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
I have many fond memories while camping as a child with my family. We went every year, and sometimes twice a year. We typically would camp in tent and sleep on cots or air mattresses along with our sleeping bags, and we have tried cabin camping as well during colder seasons. Camping is sooo much fun, but it can be lots of hard work too depending on whether you're the child tagging along with your family or if you're the adult organizing the activity. We set out to camp at the Four Mile Creek Campground located 15 minutes from Niagara Falls which is approximately a 7.5 hour drive from where we live. Mike drove the distance despite my readiness to take over the wheel, whew! Along the way, we made a few stops for lunch, two bathroom breaks and gas. It was a pretty straight path, but thankfully we arrived to our destination without incident at 4:30pm.
Immediately taking advantage of daylight, we set up our tent and quickly begin to prepare dinner.
|All Hands On Deck!|
During the course of the week, all of our meals were quite yummy and primarily featured a starch of either potatoes or rice, a vegetable and fish based stew and a salad.
After dinner we wash our dishes and walk over less than 100 feet to view Lake Ontario and the beautiful sunset while listening to the waves crashing in on the shore. It was so peaceful.
The bathhouse and restrooms were less than 40 feet away, so before retiring for the evening we showered and then jumped into our sleeping bags.
This is the best time of year to go camping in my opinion. Temperatures were quite warm during the day ranging between High 70's to 86 degrees and up, and would typically fall to high 60's in the evening, and even lower in the mornings...Brrrrrrrr! For the cool nights and even cooler mornings our thermals and layers of clothing came in handy, and by 11am we quickly traded them in for shorts!
Breakfast was pretty much individualized, some mornings it was smoothies (yes, I brought my Vitamix! Whaaaat??? LOL), toast and hot cocoa or tea, hot or cold cereals, waffles, melons, etc. Surprisingly we weren't too fussy about what to eat for lunch, since time often passed us by. However, we had loads of snacks to help keep hunger at bay, such as nuts, nut butters and rice cakes, dried papaya, Lara Bars, hand fruit, sweet potato chips, etc.
On days 2 and 3 we decide to relax and stay local, enjoying the beautiful scenery of the campground. The boys (father n' son) decided to go fishing. Dilemma: we were 2 fishing rods short, as Mike only thought to bring 2 rods, one for himself, and the other for Mekhi. Hmmmm, I guess girls don't fish?!!
While the boys decide to walk over to Lake Ontario's edge, back at the campsite Skylar and I begin to make the boys some lunch, after all, this is what girls are good at, right? Hmph! Once we're done, we venture over to where the boys are and sit on the huge boulder rocks at the shore's edge to eat.
It's at this time that Skylar decides she'd like to fish, so naturally her dad makes her a fishing rod from a long branch and adds some recycled fishing line he finds caught up in a nearby bush. He adds a small weight, a flotation device, small hook and worm and offers a story or two about how he used this very same type of rod to fish with as a boy growing up in Ghana...viola! Skylar's in business with her new fishing rod from nature.
As it turns out, this is no ordinary fishing rod. Over the course of the next couple of hours, Skylar catches not just one, but 7 fish!!! She was the only one who caught fish this trip...we're still scratching our heads over this.
I remained hopeful for the 7 lil' Blue Gills return to Lake Ontario, so I kept them in water while she continues to fish. When I suggest that she throw them back since they were so small, she firmly protested saying, "Noooo, I caught them and I wanna eat 'em!" Oh dear. Her dad was more than happy to carry out her wishes and proceeded to clean them by the lake and we bring them back to our
frying pan campsite.
|Skylar's first catch...its a Blue Gill!|
|A congratulatory hug from Big Brother Mekhi|
|"Wanna know my secret? I prayed..."|
|Dinner...courtesy of Skylar!|
And now, time for desert...
|Naturally, Its all about the S'mores|
Stay Tuned for amazing photos of the falls, first from the New York side, and then from the Canadian side. Sooooo exciting...promise!