Sep 12, 2006
Greetings from Woodville, New York!
Yesterday we spent the whole day visiting Niagara Falls. We find that we are learning that this Country offers so many things to visit, explore, and see, and we may just scratch the surface on our adventure. Niagara Falls exemplifies the point.
We arrived about 10:00 AM and went directly to the Niagara Falls Park visitor center, where we purchased a "PASSPORT to the Falls". Inside were tickets to Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist, Observation Tower, Festival Theatre, Scenic Trolley, Discovery Center, Aquarium of Niagara, and multiple coupons. We started walking the rim and took in our first 'up close' view of the Falls. The falls are broken into three different areas. On the United States side are the American Falls and Bridal Falls. Together they span 1,100', fall 176', and pour 75,000 gallons per sec over the edge. On the Canadian side sits Horseshoe Falls spanning 2,500' along the edge, falling 167', and pour 675,000 gallons per sec down the front. Standing close to them I think about 1,000 gallons goes up in a mist.
We hiked up the river to a bridge to Goat Island. Its name came from a farmer who kept his livestock on it to protect them from predators. The winter proved to be harder then usual, and all the animals perished except one old goat. The farmer named the island after him. We walked to an observation platform located between the American Falls and Bridal Falls. From here you experience the thunder and mist on both sides of you. Looking over the edge you take in the river, the falls, and the walking platforms for the Cave of the Wind tour.
Years ago people could walk down a stairway and go behind the falls, but rock slides closed if off. Now you are allowed to walk next to the falls and experience their full force. AND I mean FEEL their force. This was our next stop.
Before going down the elevator you are handed a pair of sandals (you can keep), a plastic rain coat (you can keep), and a plastic bag to keep your shoes and valuables from getting soaked. Your guide is dressed like a skipper off a crab boat from Alaska, and he explains the walkways and decks along the way. Lastly he warns you if you don't want to experience what a hurricane feels like; you can by-pass 'HURRICANE DECK'. We nod and begin our journey to the bottom of Bridal Falls.
Approaching the falls, you immediately understand why the visitors coming back from the tour are soaked. You are pelted with mist and water and you don't even SEE the falls! When your eyes finally see them you can say whatever you want, because nobody can hear you. I try to take pictures, but I am afraid the water will ruin my camera. I manage to fire off a couple of shots, place the camera under my rain coat, and then head up to the HURRICANE DECK with Sandy behind me.
When you reach the deck you are about 10 feet from the roaring water with the spray and wind just about blowing you away. You can barely see and hear just about nothing. I try to talk to the guide then move out of harms way. Then I turn around and see Sandy slowly climbing the stairs.
She slowly puts one foot in front of the other fighting the force of wind and water. She keeps her head down to keep her face from the hurricane force. To my horror she continues to walk straight toward an alcove located directly under the falls. I yell at the top of my lungs for her, but she continues one slow step after another until the force of wind and rain stops her. She lifts her head to look around and sees me waving my frantic arms. She starts to laugh and comes toward me, but I motioned for her to stop. I just MUST try and get one more shot from the camera!
Reaching the top we survey the damage to our pants and belongings. Sandy was soaked, but fortunately the sun is shinning. The guide advised us to wear the sandals on the Maid of the Mist so we wore them to our next destination, viewing Horseshoe Falls from the American side.
The larger falls took our breath away! You see pictures, but standing 20' away from the edge and sensing the power unleashed in front of you, makes one understand why these are the second largest falls in the world. I look down at the boat approaching and lead Sandy off to the dock.
To get to the dock, you first have to go out on the observation tower and platform extending 180' over the river. From the top you take an elevator to the rocks below then get on the boat. Before boarding they give you another plastic coat (you can keep), but this one goes down to your ankles and not your waist. We asked the attendant where the best place to stand and he advised the bow. Being second on the ship allowed us to be 'King (& Queen) of the world'!
Drawing closer to Horseshoe Falls in the boat can only begin to be described as incredible! Your face first feels the wind followed by water propelled by the gusts. You look down at the churning water, hear the roar from the falls, and feel yourself being drenched. It was GREAT!
We reached the shore and headed for the car to get dry clothes and shoes. With a new spirit we headed over the Rainbow Bridge to Canada. From there you have another perspective of the falls. We walked about 2 miles to the rim of Horseshoe Falls and again took in the power and spray from them. By the time we returned to our car about 7:00 PM, the energy was drained from us. We still hadn't seen half of the other attractions located here. They will have to wait for another day.
Today we traveled to upper New York by way of the Lake Ontario State Parkway. Miles of road opened up to small towns with beautiful homes and parks, manicured farms, ancient grave yards with large stones, views of Lake Ontario, and quaint harbors. We opted to stay at Southwick Beach State Park. It is one of the best kept up parks we have ever seen. It feels like we're the only ones here. We guess a dozen campers occupy spaces.
Tomorrow we hope to arrive in Maine, so keep checking in on the Jodock's Amazing Adventure!