Taking Becky to Niagara Falls

Taking Becky to Niagara Falls

We’re taking Becky to Niagara Falls today.  I went to my networking meeting and then we headed off to the falls.  We’re taking I-90 because it’s faster than NY SR 31.

When we got the Niagara Falls, we were ready to eat again.  We found a tiny diner where ate outside enjoying this WARM day.

Niagara and Passports

We found a parking spot right by the Rainbow Bridge.  I saw a Customs Agent and yelled through the fence and asked about Elizabethe’s passport.  He said, “No problem.”

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Rainbow Bridge from Canada to USA

We walked across the bridge, but the heat about did Elizabethe in.  We managed to get to the Sheraton Hotel’s lobby where she said she’d wait for us to see the falls.

The Falls

The falls were beautiful.  It was fairly clear, but very hot and sticky.  Beck and I walked down to the bring of Horseshoe Falls.

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Becky with the Falls in the Background

It was a great day for photographing the falls because it was clear (vs raining).

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Becky Photographing the Falls

USA Side

We headed back to the Sheraton and met up with Elizabethe and walked back across the Rainbow Bridge.  Once on the USA side we purchased tram passes and road the tram down to Horseshoe Falls.

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Becky and Beth on the USA Side of Horseshoe Falls

When we were all done, we piled in the car and drove to Kirtland.  We stopped at the Angola Rest Stop for dinner.  That is the best rest stop on I-90 in New York.  They have a great selection of places to eat.  We also picked up a box of cinnamon rolls for dessert.

It was quite late when we arrived at the motel.

Kirtland tomorrow.

Canal Trail

Canal Trail

The Erie Canal Trail goes behind the Beckwith Mansion (but, because of an old section of the canal you can’t get there from here).  You can see the mansion from the trail this time of year because of the lack of leaves on the trees.

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Erie Canal Trail Palmyra New York

The cool thing about this trail is that it goes from Niagara Falls, New York, to the Hudson River.  It’s about 400 miles long.  One could literally walk from Niagara Falls to the Hudson, and from there catch public transportation to NYC.  (Yeah, that would take a while.)

My only complaint about the trail system is there are very few restrooms along the trail.  There are some places where it passes through villages (like Palmyra) where you could deture to use a restroom, but, for example, going from Palmyra to Newark would probably be a day trip and that’s a long time to hold it.

Cars are not allowed on the trail, but bicycles (non-powered) are.  The trail is very smooth (at least the portions I’m familiar with) and paved in places.  And, because it follows the canal, it is relatively flat with a few minor elevation changes.

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A Small Elevation Change

New York State Route 31 follows the canal for quite aways.  (The above photo is north of NY SR 31 just east of the Village of Palmyra.)  For cyclist this is great because you can have your support vehicle follow on Route 31 and meet you at some of the bridge crossings.  (Visit www.GetItDoneOn31.biz )

 

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Milkweed Pod

It is a beautiful trail.  Even the weeds are pretty.  You might even see deer and other wildlife along the canal.

Anyone interested in a tutorial photo-walk along the canal trail should contact Brent.

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Looks like I will be accompanying the missionaries on Sunday as well as being the organist in stake conference.  The missionary conducting the choir dropped off the music today.  I’ve got some practicing to do.  The ones from the hymn book are no big deal — I play those all the time.  It’s the sheet music number that I have to figure out.

It will be fun to be part of the missionary musical number.

Ice at the Falls

Ice at the Falls

I’ve always wanted to see the ice at the falls.  I’ve heard stories of Niagara Falls freezing, so I wanted to see what it is like in the winter.

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Ice in the Water

In the above picture, you can see chunks of ice.  In size, the larger ones are probably about the size of a small car.

 

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Snow on the Binoculars

My steps where tiny shuffle steps, and for the first time, since breaking my leg, I wore my Wolverine boots (greatest boots in the world for anti-slip).  I had to ask Gary to slow down at times.  I know now how Elizabethe feels.  But, even now, she can out-walk me.

I love the above picture because of the “expressions” on the binocular faces.  The third one has a big grin.  The first one must have some  sort of eye infection.  I think they look funny.

Here’s a picture looking up the river towards the falls.  This is on the Canada/USA border.

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Frozen River and Mist from the Falls

On the left is the U.S.A.  On the right is Canada.  The river below is a massive ice field.  It reminded me of a dried up tub of spackle.

We left Niagara Falls and headed to Ohio.  We rolled in to Ohio just at dusk and went and watched Meet the Mormons (2nd time in two days).  Gary had not seen it, so I watched it again with him.    It was just as good the second time.

We stayed at the Red Roof Inn down the road from the church sites.  When they saw my missionary tag, the adjusted my room rate down a few dollars.  That was a pleasant surprise.

Niagara Falls and Maid of the Mist

I took our friends to see Niagara Falls today. They don’t have passports with them, so we stuck to the USA side. There are a few food concessions inside the park, but if you want to get something decent, you have to eat outside the park.

We saw a T.G.I. Friday’s and decided to have lunch there. Our experience warrants a letter to T.G.I. Friday’s H.Q. I’ve ate at a LOT of T.G.I. Friday’s and this one has to be the most poorly run one I’ve ever visited. Our waitress really tried, but it was obvious she hadn’t been trained fully. The rest of the staff was standing around like they had little or nothing to do. As to the food, it was good and up to their standards, they just need someone taking charge in the front of the house.

As we went to enter the park we noticed they had cones placed to block the parking lot, and a sign stating, “LOT FULL”. We drove around the block, and found a gravel parking lot with no sign as to the price. When we entered the lot we were informed it was $20. (The state lot, however full, is usually $10.) Well, rather than drive around, Brian offered to pick up the parking and so we parked there.

Getting Our Tickets
Getting Our Tickets

We made a bee-line straight to the Maid of the Mist booth, and Brian treated us all to the Maid of the Mist cruise. After entering the observation platform, you take an elevator to the base where they hand you a disposable poncho and you board one of the boats. The boat takes up into the “U” at the base of Horseshoe Falls. It is AMAZING how big the falls are when you are standing on a boat surrounded by falling water.

Viewing the Falls from the Platform
Viewing the Falls from the Platform
Ready for the Boat Ride
Ready for the Boat Ride

We did not get as wet as I thought we would.  There was some mist, but we stayed relatively dry during the excursion.

On the Boat
On the Boat

By the way, the 2013 cost for the cruise is $15.50.  Beware – there are scammers out there on-line that try to sell tickets.  But, the official web site makes it very clear that they do not authorize or accept on-line ticket purchases.  That is, you will be ripped off.

We then wandered the paths looking at the falls and the river.  At one point, I decided to stand on a 2″ tall rock to take a picture.  When I got down, “ZING”, went my back.  I re-pulled a muscle I pulled about 1 week ago.  Oh, it smarted and I was worried that I wouldn’t make it back to the car by walking.  But, I managed to pull through it all.

They then decided to go down to the Cave of the Winds, which isn’t a cave – just a boardwalk at the base of Bridal Veil Falls.  I stayed topside and took photos of them below.

The ZONE!
The ZONE!

After that, it was time to head back to Palmyra.  With a stop at Wendy’s for some dinner, we headed home for the night.

And They’re Off

I threw some ice in the ice chest after eating a good low-carb breakfast, and headed to Canandaigua to pick up Paul. Once we got his stuff in the car, we were off to Niagara Falls to start the Get It Done on 31 ™ Tour. (See www.GetItDoneOn31.biz)

Bill and Patsy Gerle were going to meet us there. They are a couple I taught while serving in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Patsy called at 10am and said Roger wasn’t feeling well and they were going to drive straight to my place. She then asked about urgent care clinics. That didn’t sound good.

Paul and I got to the start of Route 31 – a fancy neighborhood over the bluffs above Niagara Falls. We turned west, and began our route. (For more about the tour, please visit http://www.GetItDoneOn31.biz. It will take about a week for things to get updated, so there is no need to go there today.)

When we got to Rochester, I talked to Patsy. She was directed to take Bill to the E.R. I asked where, and Paul and I drove directly there to give Bill a blessing.

Bill was in great spirits, as was Patsy. We talked for a bit after giving Bill a blessing, but like most E.R.s, it was pretty hectic, so Paul and I went on our way.

Patsy came in late and spent the night at the house as they admitted Bill.

Plugging Get It Done on 31(tm)

I spent a good portion of the day going around plugging my next book, Get It Done On 31 – A Journey Down New York’s Main Street. I met a lot of interesting people and business owners.

If you don’t know about the book, you can check out the associated web site at…

http://www.GetItDoneOn31.biz

From the Canadian Side

After breakfast we headed down to the falls.  We met a couple from England.  When we introduced ourselves, the man said, “That’s my last name!”  It would be interesting to see if Adam Walton from England is a long-lost cousin.

You don’t get a complete feel for how much water goes over the falls until you stand at the brink.

Horseshoe Falls
Horseshoe Falls

The weather the last two days has been great.  What a great time to visit Niagara Falls.  Less people and better weather means a better visit.  It wasn’t cold enough to require a coat, but it wasn’t hot and miserable.  The crowds were mostly Chinese tourists.

Our hotel deal came with one night at the Courtyard, $20 off dinner at T.G.I. Friday’s, breakfast at T.G.I. Friday’s, a shuttle pass and a queen/queen room.  Parking was $10 for the night.  The total package with tax and parking came to about $130.

The Canadian side has some beautiful gardens.  Elizabethe asked if I could live in Canada if things got real bad in the U.S.A.  I could.  It’s clean.  The people are very nice.

Elizabethe

This all comes at a price.  Sales tax there is 13%, and I would guess their other taxes are high too.   I did price my asthma medication.  It’s about 1/2 the price of the U.S.  That said, it is important to note that the reason why my asthma medication is so expensive is that Congress outlawed the use of fluorocarbon in the U.S.  As a result, those tiny inhalers went from about $25 each up to about $250 each.  And you really think Obamacare is going to bring prices down?  If you do, you’re really mistaking.  There is nothing in it, whatsoever, that brings the cost of prescription medication down, nor does it require your insurance to pay for it.  Suprise!

Clifton Hill Gardens
Clifton Hill Gardens

Getting back across by car was easier than getting back across walking.  We pulled in to the plaza, our pictures were taken while in the car, we showed our passports and told why we went to Canada and that was it.

Niagara Falls Trip

Elizabethe and I drove to Niagara Falls and walked around the U.S. side this afternoon.  We discovered the observation deck offers the best view of the falls and only cost $1 per person.  I liked the view from it better than any other location – U.S. or Canada.

Also, for $2 you can get a day pass for riding the tram.  It will take you to the most visible places on the U.S. side.  So, for $3 you can get some of the best views of the falls without having to hike all day long.

Once we had seen the highlights on the U.S. side, we drove across to Canada.  The toll was about $3 to cross the Rainbow Bridge.  Once we go checked in to our hotel, and after a short nap, we headed to dinner at T.G.I. Friday.  After dinner, we drove to the Clifton Hill area and road the Sky Wheel.  This is a 170′ tall ferris wheel that gives you a great view of the falls.  My only recommendation is don’t ride it at night.  The gondolas have smoked glass windows that really dim the night view.  Ride it at day.  The cost is about $25 US for two people.

We then walked down the hill to view the light show on the falls.  As a side note, the U.S. view at night is better.  The lights on the falls on the U.S. side are brighter  and more impressive.  Look across the canyon and seeing the reflected light from Canada is a dim view, and now having been on both sides, day and night, here are my recommendations:

  • View of American Falls – best from the U.S. side via the observation deck.  At night, best viewed from the U.S. side close to the falls’ brink
  • View of both falls at the same time – best viewed from the Rainbow Bridge about 3/4 of the way to the Canadian side (need your passport to get back to the U.S.)
  • View of Horseshoe Falls – best from the Canadian side at the brink
  • View from the Sky Wheel (Canada) – probably best during the day due to the smoked glass
  • Cleanest side – Canada
  • Most expensive side (food, drink, etc.) – Canada
  • Cheapest side – U.S.
  • Best looking skyline – Canada (but, that’s best viewed from the U.S.)
  • Best tourist attractions – Canada

We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott.  This is next door to a T.G.I. Friday, and just above the parking lot for Clifton Hill.  It is kind of mid-way along the strip of hotels.  It is really a nice location.  Oh, there’s also a Denny’s across the street and a Tony Roma’s a and a few other restaurants close by.

From Canada
Niagara Falls (American and Bridal Veil Falls) from Canada

By the way, don’t be fooled by the above photo.  This is a time exposure and the naked-eye will not see the colors this brightly from the Canadian side.  The colors appeared to be very muted and muddy when I took this photo.  Now, on the U.S. side, they actually appear brighter than this.

Candian Niagara Falls Skyline
Canadian Skyline

It’s been a fun day.  We ended it with a soak in the hotel pool and spa.

D. Brent Walton is a professional photographer in Palmyra, New York.  Brent offers workshops on night photography as well as other photographic techniques.  His portrait work can be seen at http://www.dbwalton.com and his landscape work at http://www.FineArtbyDB.com.  If you are interested in workshops, visit http://www.palmyra-ny.com.

From the Canadian Side

I’ve been close to Canada many times, but until to day, I have never crossed the border.  Today Paul O’Donnell and I went to Niagara Falls, crossed over to the Canadian side, and saw the falls from that side.

I’ve been to four countries:  U.S., Mexico, Sweden and now Canada.  I must say Canada is the cleanest of the four.  It was somewhat of an embarrassment to see how clean the Canadian side is compared to the U.S. side.  There is a lesson to be learned here.  The U.S. side is surrounded by some very rundown dirty neighborhoods.  Typically, such neighborhoods have problems with crime and there is a direct link to crime and poverty.  Some will say poverty breeds crime, but I am most certain it is the other way around – crime breeds poverty.  I don’t know what Canadians do to drug-pushers and hookers, but I do know we’re too soft on crime.

Well, enough editorialized…

It was very impressive.  The beautiful gardens and architecture on the Canadian side made it a lovely place to just stroll along the walk way taking photos and taking in the grandeur of the falls.

Niagara Falls from the Canadian Side

I read that 60,000 gallons per second pour over the falls.  That’s enough water to fill 20 swimming pools on one second.  It is difficult to feel the grandeur unless you are standing at the brink of the falls (U.S. side).  There, you see the depth of the water as it makes its 90-degree turn downward.

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American Falls from the New York Side

If you are planning a day-trip to the falls from Palmyra, here are some suggestions:

1)  Bring plenty of cash.  It will cost you $3-4 on the Canadian side for a soda or water.  Parking on the U.S. side in the park is $10.  Outside the park is $5.  If you don’t mind walking an extra 1/2 mile, you can save $5 and park in one of the lots just outside the park.  Also, vending machines will take your U.S. money, but return change in Canadian coins.  I recommend you keep plenty of U.S. $1 bills and U.S. quarters.  There are NO drinking fountains on the Canadian side.  So, if you don’t bring your own bottle of water, be prepared to pay $4 to get it from a vending machine.  There are vending machines all over the place.

2) Keep two quarters per person for toll to return to the U.S.

3)  Have your passport

4)  Don’t use your credit cards in Canada else you’ll be charged a conversion fee (about 3% on most cards)

5) Be prepared to get wet – rain, mist, you name it, you’ll get wet

6)  Be prepared to walk – it’s the only way to really see the falls

7)  Keep a sense of humor – you’ll have to make up for the CBP guard’s (the U.S. Customs workers) lack of one.  (I’m sure they have to deal with a lot of stupid people, but at least they could pretend to smile.)  Plus, getting in to Canada you’ll be greeted with a smile and welcome and it will very quick.  Coming back to the U.S.A. you’ll be talked to sternly, no smiles, and hardly a welcome home.

We can also thank the Canadians for the beautiful lights on the falls.  Starting around 8:30pm, they light up the falls with various colors (they change throughout the evening).

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Niagara Falls at Night

I recommend seeing the falls at night and during the day.  Both views are wonderful.

Niagara Falls is Awesome

We had a leisurely morning and breakfast at McDonald’s in Erie, Pennsylvania.  From there, we headed to Kirtland, Ohio.

Our tour of the Kirtland Temple was by a gentleman named Bill.  Best tour guide there.

We had a great lunch at a Pizza place just down the road from the Kirtland Temple.

Because everyone wanted to see Niagara Falls, we did not tour the Whitney Store or the sites in Old Kirtland.  We headed straight to Niagara Falls.  The falls were awesome.  I need to return at night with my tripod so I can get some awesome pictures of the falls at night.  It was too difficult to hand-hold the camera.  I’m pleased with the pictures I got, but I want some better ones next time.

Anyone up for an evening at Niagara Falls?