Niagara Falls

Trip Start Mar 08, 2011
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Trip End Mar 05, 2012


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Flag of United States  , New York
Monday, July 4, 2011

Monday 4th July I carried on South on the King's Highway 69, which then became the King's Highway 400 as I left Georgian Bay and headed into Greater Toronto. I turned West & South on the King's Highway 407, then onto Queen Elizabeth Way, along the Southern shore of Lake Ontario and through the Niagara wine country. The sign for one winery made me laugh - Featherstone Winery. I'll leave it to someone from Yorkshire or Lancashire to e-mail the rest of you as to why this is amusing. The Queen Elizabeth Way turned South, and I took Highway 420 to the Niagara Falls. I found all day parking on Murray Street, yards from the Skylon Tower, for $5 Canadian. I had a 5 minute walk down to the Niagara River, smack opposite the Bridal (USA) Falls. For $50.79 Canadian I got a Niagara Falls Adventure Pass, getting me into Niagara’s Fury, Journey Behind the Falls, White Water Walk and Maid Of The Mist. It also gave me free travel on the People Mover bus and a few discounts for the other available attractions. First up I went to Niagara’s Fury, a short animated film about how the Falls were created after the last Ice Age, then a virtual trip, wearing a plastic poncho, over the Horseshoe (Canadian) Falls, starting with snow (inside!), then rain, then the trip, with a 360 degree film & tilting floor for the movement effects. A bit 'forced', but worth it, especially for kids (small & large!). The poncho was more for show, though. Next I went to the Journey Behind The Falls, where you did need your poncho. There were 2 viewing points where you were behind the Horseshoe Falls, which were a bit disappointing as all you could see behind the pair of them was an impenetrable wall of water flying down. The viewing point outside at the right-hand side (looking upstream) of the Horseshoe Falls was worth the visit (and got the use out of the poncho). I then walked the 4.1 km downriver to the White Water Walk, alongside the Niagara River rapids (category 6, for all the white-water rafting aficionados). They made Futaleufu look a bit tame, with huge waves building up. I then took the People Mover (it was 28 C by now) back upstream for the Maid of The Mist, the boat ride into the mist of the Horseshoe Falls. The Poncho was essential! As I queued up I saw a Muskrat. First we went over to the Bridal Falls. We got wet from the spray blown at us by the breeze generated by the falling water. Then we went to the Horseshoe Falls . For breeze read wind! We went as close as we could safely do - amazing. Finally I went back downstream on the People Mover to the Whirlpool Aero Car, where my pass got me a $2 discount (so 'only' $11.65 Canadian). Since 1916 this gondola has been going back & forth over the Niagara whirlpool. It starts in Canada, crosses into & out of the USA in the air, before landing in Canada, then back again. I got back to the car, took Highway 420 to Queen Elizabeth Way, and carried on South to Fort Erie, a reconstructed fort on the shore of Lake Erie. The original changed hands twice in the 1812-1815 war, where the USA, knowing the Brits were pre-occupied with the Napoleonic Wars, tried to annex Canada, and got a spanking for their trouble! In honour of the date a period US flag was flying over the Fort, but I was there when they hauled it down at the end of the day. A quick visit to the Duty Free Store (Benny note - a mix'n'match special - a litre of Captain Morgan Spiced & a litre of Gordon's Gin $26 Canadian, yes I did). I then took the Peace Bridge over the head waters of the Niagara River (ie where it drains Lake Erie) into the USA and Buffalo, New York. I drove North on Interstate 190, the West on Highway 62 to Niagara Falls (the US town) to see these 'Independence Day' things from a colonial perspective.! Bad move! The regular nightly light show was shone from the Canadian bank of the river onto the Bridal Falls, so only those over there had a decent view. Then the 15 minute firework display was fired from the same shore, but I reckon everyone got a good view of them. Best place to have seen the whole show? My guess would be the revolving restaurant of the Skylon Tower - if you kept changing seats! I slept in the car in an abandoned lot in town. Happy Birthday to all the Yanks. And I finally found the answer to a puzzle. In American shops I've seen signs 2X/3x. Turns out for things like T-shirts the American sizes run S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL (or 2x and 3x). I blame MacDonald’s.
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