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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Niagara Falls

We are finally going to get to see Niagara Falls!

After a restful night, it is time to get going so that we can get to Niagara Falls. Our original plan called for us to get to Niagara Falls yesterday, take the Peace Bridge into Canada and stay at an RV park along the river just south of the falls. However due to the driving and all of the scenery in PA and along Lake Erie, why rush?

So as 9:30 rolls around we disconnect the electricity, reconnect the Tracker and head East. We decide that since it was such a nice drive along the Lake Erie coast last night, we should continue that today. We head up route 5 retracing our track from Dunkirk last evening. But the drive is pretty slow so we decide to cross the NY Thruway and get on Route 20. It is a little faster and will take us to Buffalo a little quicker. Looking at the map it looks like we should stay on 20, to around the east side of Buffalo, then head north. There is a campground I found in the campground guide in Lewiston NY just north of Buffalo. I'm thinking that we should not waste time trying to take the RV into Canada. Lets just find a RV park near the falls on the US side then take the Tracker over to view the falls.

As we get nearer to Buffalo, I decide to get back on Route 5 which will lead us to I-190 back across the river and Grand Island, then north to Lewiston and the Niagara Falls North KOA. The weather is nice today with no rain. Headed north we pass Buffalo with the Niagara River on our left and soon we are out of the city and near Lewiston where we soon locate the KOA. It is on a back road that backs up to an Indian Reservation.

We check in and get settled, have some lunch, then back in the Tracker for our trip to visit the falls. The Robert Moses Parkway follows the river all the way to the Niagara Falls State Park. It is a beautiful drive and just before the State Park entrance is the Rainbow Bridge to Canada. We don't have passports, but according to all the information we could find, a valid picture and original birth certificates to prove citizenship is all we need. I understand that that will change at the end of 2007 and passports will be required. But we have what we need for now so here we go.

The border crossing was simple; a few questions about what we are here for and when we will be leaving, and a "Welcome to Canada."

The falls are awesome! The parkway winds along side the river heading south. Even this time of year there are a lot of people here! The mist from the falls is heavy, and since the wind is blowing from the east, it is like a hard rain as you are just passing the falls. We drive on a little, about half a mile from the falls and find a parking spot. Hourly parking fee listed in both US and Canadian dollars.

We spend the next couple of hours walking around the falls area. It is really difficult to take your eyes off of the site. As we approach the falls from the upriver side the sheer volume of water rushing down the river toward their eventual crash into the chasm below leaves you speechless. This is so much more than just a tourist attraction, it is truley a natural wonder of North America, if not the world. Check our some of our pictures at our Dotphoto.com site.

Pam at Niagara Falls, with the falls in the background.

Looking down into the falls, an unbelievable sight!

I would NOT want to be on that boat, but it was full of people (that paid a lot of money) to take that ride. And just like they show on TV, they were all wearing their blue plastic rain ponchos. Wonder why?

After a walking to the falls we decide to cross the street to the gift shop and food court. There is a large area of the park with flower gardens and a building housing the food court, gift shops, rest rooms, and the tick window to buy tickets for the Maid of the Mist (picture above) and the "wind cave" tour. This is a cave that takes you down to an area behind the falls. We decided to forgo that little trip in favour of some ice cream and some souviener shoppping. We found a few tee shirts and of course, a set of Niagara Falls thimbles to add to Pam's collection.

Soon we were on our way back across the bridge, birth certificates in hand. What a surprise with the US border guard only asked us for picture IDs. We gave him our driver license and our license tag number. "Have a good day!", and we are back in the US. Soon we are back to the campground. It is dark and getting a little chilly, so instead of going back out to eat, we finish up the tuna casserole we started last night and call it a day. Ummmm , now I have to decide where to to tomorrow. We'll have all day Sunday and Monday until 3:00 PM before our friends from Texas meet us in Vermont. We'll just take it easy tomorrow and not try to drive too late in the day.

Campground Review:

Our campground is the Niagara Falls North KOA. Here is there website: Niagara Falls North KOA. All in all, it was a nice if a little overpriced, overnight stop. It is located very close to the Robert Moses Parkway that goes right to the falls. The parkway is like the Blue Ridge Parkway in that it doesn't allow commercial traffic.

The campground owners were very friendly and offered information on the area and touring the falls. They also pointed out local stores and gas station where we could fuel up. The campground was a little tight though. We had a pull through site that made it very easy to get in and out without unhooking the Tracker. The trees were very close though, and I had to drive very slowly and carefully to avoid the trees. Anyway, it didn't take long to navigate through the campground and into our space. Getting out the next morning was a little worrisome. The road in front of us was very narrow and there were campers in the site across from us. With a tree right beside us on our site, I wouldhae to pull straight out as close to our across the street neighbor as I could before making the left turn out to avoid the tree. With a little careful watching and not getting in a hurry, I made it just fine. This really is a convenient spot as a base for touring the falls and I would definitely consider it again if in the area.

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