Niagara Vacation

Well, I’ve been meaning to write this blog forever…..and I don’t feel like finishing my homework tonight, so….=P

About a year ago I took a vacation to a new location for me.  I traveled over the northern border into Niagara, Ontario Canada…..ok, it was barely Canada, but it still was.  All the research I’ve done on the falls said that the Canadian falls were the most beautiful.  I can now confirm that the travel sites are correct.  The Canadian falls are spectacular.  The only part of the trip that wasn’t was the border crossing.  I got grilled for a good 2-3 minutes about gun ownership.  They agent must have asked me 5 times if I owned a gun, and if I was bringing one over with me.  I guess I must have looked like a guy that would own a gun =P.

Anyway, I checked around, and got a really nice deal on an Embassy Suites room that sits right above the horseshoe falls.  I had a great view from my room, and thanks to the exchange rate, I got it for less than I’d pay for a city view locally. As I said, the room had an amazing view….View from my hotel

My itinerary included 3 days in Niagara, with all the big touristy stuff in and around the falls (The whitewater walk, the Hornblower, a trip behind the falls, a cool historical full immersion video that I can’t remember the name of, the botanical gardens, the butterfly house, the whirlpool areo car, and bus and cable car service for 2 days). I got a package deal that was really nice. The Journey Behind the Falls is pretty cool. You go down an elevator to an overlook that’s probably 40-50 feet below street level. It gets you half way down the falls. There is a set of tunnels down here, where you can go to an overlook that is literally behind the falls….not much to see, but cool to experience. You also get out to an overlook that gives a phenomenal view of the horseshoe. The tour is not timed, so you can  spend as long as you want admiring the sites. This is what it looks like….Behind the Falls

From there, I walked along the river, looked at the American Falls American Falls. They’re pretty, but as you can see, the Canadian Falls are much nicer. Anyway, I went on the Hornblower (Canadian version of the Maiden of the Mist). Its a boat ride up to the base of the falls. You WILL get soaked on this ride, and any camera that is not protected in a rain cover or housing, or is not waterproof, may stop functioning after the ride =P You have to deal with a massive amount of spray, but its an amazing experience. I sat right in the bow of the ship and was so happy I did.  Below are the Canadian Falls (Horseshoe) and the American Falls (with Bridal Veil Falls Visible) Base of Canadian Falls
American and Bridal Veil

That was most of my first full day.  It ended by heading back to the Canadian Falls, where you can get pretty close by hanging out near the visitor center and restaurants. From Visitor Center

Day two started with the White Water Walk. This is a walkway that wanders along the river and has two or three overlooks that put you at water level. It is a really peaceful, nice place. It rained that morning, so it was a little wetter than normal, but was still very nice.
WhiteWater Boardwalk
The rain made it nice, because I kept the sun off of me and let me step down the shutter speed on my camera to get nice smooth flowing water shots.

From the walk, I continued on to the Whirlpool and took the Aerocar over it. The whirpool is a pool in a 90 degree bend in the river. When the river is churning, this spot becomes class 6 rapids…..totally insane, you would not want to try them on =P

More Whirlpool

The final stop for day 2 was the Butterfly House. Its a little ways outside of Niagara proper, but it is worth the ride. I spend several hours wandering around taking pictures. They have a good variety of tropical butterflies and wonderfully helpful staff. If you like butterflies, you’ve got to visit if you’re in the area.
Sara Longwing
Blue Morpho
Tailed Jay
Blue Morpho

To see more pictures, feel free to visit my photo site

To finish out the vacation, I visited some friends in northern PA. We found a really cool park (Kinzua Bridge Park). It’s an old railroad bridge that got half knocked over in a hurricane a while back. Instead of rebuilding, they left everything the way it was, and worked to preserve it. You end up with a bridge that goes out about a hundred yards and then ends.
Kinzua Bridge
At the end of the bridge, they put some glass panels in, so you can get vertigo and freak out =P
glass If you’re uncomfortable standing on they glass, don’t worry….you’re not alone…..KatieOnGlass The woman in the picture and the man holder her hand were the friends I was visiting (Katie & Wayne). In case you’re wondering what the rest of the bridge looked like….
Fallen Bridge
Kinzua Bridge

Overall, it was a very relaxing vacation. I spent several days relaxing in Canada, then a few days relaxing in PA. I even took a long drive down to Pittsburgh (2.5 hour drive from where I was) to go to their Renn Fest. It was a lot smaller than the one in MD that I usually go to, but was really fun. I love vacations like this one, and can’t wait until I can go back and do some more exploring. Hopefully next time, it won’t take me 10.5 months to blog about it =P