Sunday, July 28, 2013

Niagara Falls, New York

Driving through Pennsylvania we saw the Susquehanna River.

Beautiful countryside lush from all the rain.

Getting into New York it was just as beautiful.

Crossing over the Niagara River to Grand Island where we were staying.

The Niagara River.
One of our first stops was Whirlpool State Park alongside the Niagara River.  The park is located along the upper Whirlpool Rapids which is a turbulent stretch of the Niagara River downstream from Niagara Falls.  The gorge walls enclose the river forcing massive amounts of water through a smaller space and creating class 5 whitewater.  The whirlpool has 125 feet deep swirling waters as the river changes to follow St Davids Gorge. 

This is the only whirlpool in the northern hemisphere where the waters turn counter-clockwise.  The water is very feet deep.  Needless to say, no swimming is allowed in the river. 

Our first glimpse of the Falls.

The white cloud is water droplets from the flow of the water over the falls.

We took a tour of Niagara Falls and one of the sights was the Cave of the Winds.  You ride an elevator 175 deep into the Niagara Gorge and don yellow ponchos and special sandals before you begin the trail.

A double rainbow on this landing. It was still relatively calm here.  

Water flowing over American and Bridal Veil Falls was only 20 feet from you.

You had to maneuver a series of steps along the walk. 

The water flow was amazing and so loud you couldn't speak.

It didn't take very long before you were getting wet, even with the ponchos on.

Lee got up to Hurricane Deck ahead of us.  The winds can buffet up to 68 miles per hour and it is hard to stay on your feet.

The Captain was laughing so hard as he was being buffeted and trying to see.  

Looking up from the walkway.

Hard to get a clear picture with all this water but everyone was having a blast.

At the end we were all soaked but thought it was one of the best experiences we had while at Niagara Falls.

The Bridal Falls and American Falls from the top.

Check it out....we even got Lee smiling.

Looking down on the people walking through the 'Cave of the Wind' from above the Falls.

Maid of the Mist tour boat.  Lots of people on the boat tour which takes you right up to Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side.
Horseshoe Falls in the distance from Terrapin Point on the American side.  The crest line is 2,500 feet wide and the height is 167 feet.  The summer daytime flow of water over the falls is 675,000 gallons per second.  Yep, per second!  Approximately 90% of the Niagara River flows over Horseshoe Falls with the remainder going over the American Falls.

There are two hydroelectric plants which draw water into their reservoirs prior to the Falls.  Their intake greatly affects the volume of water flowing over the Falls.  The amount of water being siphoned away depends on two variables.  The time of year, and the time of day.  Flow is greatest over the Falls in the daytime during the peak tourist season April-September. 
Taking a ride on the Maid of the Mist.  This time we got to wear blue ponchos.

Watching tourists enjoying the Cave of the Winds while we were on the Maid of the Mist boat tour.  American Falls is to the left and Bridal Veil Falls is on the right.

Thousands of birds were seen from the boat.  We were told many fish that are swept over the Falls do not survive so the birds have easy picking.

In the boat the Falls look even more massive.

The Horseshoe Falls.  Breathtaking.


Trying to keep your cameras dry while taking pictures from the boat.

You get up real close and personal with the Horseshoe Falls.

We took another hike through the Great Gorge Railway Trail along the Niagara River.  The steps were a little tilted as we climbed down the side to the water.   It was 400 steps down and then after a mile trail another 400 steps back up.

On our way down we came across this young fox checking out the area.  We were going down the trail and other people were coming up so the fox got a little panicked.  He started coming towards us but then he saw our pups and jumped into the woods along the path.  That was a relief!

A tour boat riding the rapids.

On Sunday evening we took a tour over to Niagara Falls, Ontario.  We found taking the tours was much easier than driving and trying to find a place to park.  The traffic going across Rainbow Bridge was unbelievable.  With the prices being lower in New York, many Canadians come over the bridge to shop, especially on the weekend.  The traffic was backed up for blocks because you are crossing the border and you have to go through security.  Luckily, our tour guide knew how to merge into the traffic but it still took almost an hour to get across the bridge.  
On the Canadian side they had a gondola ride over the river above the whirlpool.  

The Robert Morse Power Plant.

A clock made out of flowers is a big attraction on the Canadian side.
Downtown Niagara Falls, Ontario.  The Canadian side is much more commercialized than the American side.  Restaurants, shops, and all kinds of tourist attractions greet you.  Many of the attractions are not reflective of the Falls area.

The Rainbow Tower is 165 feet tall with 55 bells which ring four times a day.

The mist was so prevalent that you could not see the Falls from this point.

The Canadian side has a tour where you can go behind the Horseshoe Falls.  We didn't realize until we got there that it was just two portals where you could see the mist and water but nothing else.
There was also a viewing area near the Falls, hence the ponchos again.

Hundreds of people taking pictures and looking at the Falls.

Of course, there is always one in every crowd.  Signs everywhere warned people not to get too close or climb on or over the wall because if you fell in you would be dead.

Niagara River right before it goes over Horseshoe Falls.

Looks peaceful.........

....but it's not.

Sunday evening they had fireworks over the water and we were able to watch them.

They were really cool!
Our last stop that evening was the Skylon Tower.

Niagara Falls at night.  Quite a sight.

The Horseshoe Falls lit up.

The American and Bridal Falls.

On our last day in the area we drove our car to the pedestrian bridge and walked across to Niagara Falls, Canada.  Since it was a Monday, the traffic was much slower and we realized we could have actually driven across the border with little delay.

Walking over the Rainbow Bridge.

The Canadian side has many parks and flowers.

The streets were much quieter.

This is the police station in town......not too shabby.

On Tuesday, the Captain and I sent our grandson, Lee, home to South Carolina.  Then we collapsed!!!  It was a fun trip and we saw many great sights.  Now we are moving on to other parts of New York and working our way up to Maine.  Less crowds, more parks and hiking trails and, oh yes, we've heard some very good wineries.  Peace!

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