life in and around NYC is insane

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Niagara Falls Trip report part I

we did A LOT but I'll keep it brief.
we flew to Buffalo-Niagara airport on Friday morning, no issues with the JetBlue flight or the rental car.  Flew home Monday night, ran into a significant delay at the airport because of bad weather.
we weren't looking to spend a lot of money on this trip -- we did an expensive cruise in February -- so we didn't opt for a resort-type hotel.  instead, we stayed in a very low budget motel in Niagara Falls, NY, on Niagara Falls Blvd., that's 3 miles out of town.  There are about a zillion similar motels on that street. I won't mention the name of the one we stayed at, i won't recommend them.  the  room was clean and comfortable, although there was water damage to the ceiling and the carpet was torn in one spot.  the room had a refrigerator and a microwave. my chief issues here were (1) the "continental breakfast" included two types of cold cereal, white bread and coffee and (2) the motel's brochure features a swimming pool, but when we booked on the website no one told us that the pool is undergoing renovations --  and you could see that it was a VERY SMALL pool

a good point was that it was  close to various low-budget chain restaurants like Denny's, Bob Evans, and Pizza Hut, and fast food places like McDonald's and Taco Bell.  We grabbed a few meals at some of the chains -- no need for me to give a review of those, I'm sure.
Our first stop on Friday was the visitor's center on Rainbow Blvd..  We pre-purchased a Discovery Pass, which allows access to many of the sites on the American side at a discount.  If you buy the pass on line before your trip you can save even more.
Parking for the visitor's center is right near the American Falls Rapids.  so that was our next stop.  standing by the rapids you can see the power of the water as it rushes towards the falls.  from here you can see the Canadian skyline, including the mist rising over the Horseshoe Falls.on a windy day the mist actually drifts over some of the streets on the Canadian side.
then we drove over to Goat Island and headed to Terrapin Point for our first view of the Horseshoe Falls.  you can also look down river and see the American Falls.  very impressive.
we left the car on Goat Island and walked back to the mainland.  our first excursion was the Maid of the Mist.  we took lots of photos from the observation towner before heading down to the boats.  everyone gets a blue rain poncho -- the plastic reminded us of the stuff dry cleaners use to protect your clean clothes.  and yes, you need the poncho.  we also brought waterproof cameras -- I hope the pictures come out OK.    the boat ride takes you past the American Falls and right up to the base of the Horseshoe Falls.  and yes, you WILL get wet.
took the trolley back to Goat Island and headed to the Cave of the Winds.  here you get a yellow rain poncho (same cheap plastic) and a pair of sandals.  you get to climb up and down a series of wooden staircases all along the small waterfall next to the American Falls -- some people call this the Bridal Veil falls, others call it Luna Falls because it's created by Luna Island.  If you walk up to the Hurricane Deck you're actually IN the falls.  but anyone who ventures onto the stairs at all  WILL get wet.
we took the trolley back across to the mainland and headed for the Discovery Center.  Didn't stay long, this is really a good place for kids to have a hands-on experience but had little interest for us. 
the IMAX movie at the visitor's center was good.  not great.  but it does give you a sense of the hsitory of the falls.
walking back to the car, DBF said "My feet are so tired that even my senakers are tired."
and I made him laugh when I said "that's nothing, my feet are so tired that my crocs are biting back!"
next we drove out to the motel and checked in, unpacked a bit and grabbed a quick bite.  the plan was to head back to town  to see the falls after dark -- they're illuminated -- and to watch the fireworks -- they do a show every Friday and Sunday during the summer.    but when I fell asleep at the dinner table (we'd been up since 4 AM) we decided it was time to call it a day.

a few photos:

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