Travel to Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls - American Side
Niagara Falls, beautiful, majestic, powerful... our family...hmm quite a compilation there. It all started back in 1967 when Niagara Falls was THE honeymoon destination. I wanted to go there for our honeymoon and my loving new groom to be said, of course! What neither of us factored in was it was the end of January when we got married. We didn't really know any Niagara Falls facts - like weather conditions, especially in the winter!
In the winter Niagara Falls is a beautiful, freezing, winter wonderland. Most of the parks are closed, probably because everything is covered with a thick layer of ice, and I do mean everything. You know the story about your tongue freezing to the flagpole? I think if you hold onto the railings at Niagara Falls your hand will freeze to it! If you stand to watch the Falls, your hair will turn to ice within minutes. The temperature stays around the freezing point most of the time but can dip to minus who knows what degrees - don't forget the mist. The best part, unbeknownst to us is that it is coldest there between December and March and in January the average temperate is minus one degree. We probably should have looked into that before we booked our honeymoon!
My honeymoon videos are still on 8mm so I had to borrow a video from YouTube to give you a glimpse of what winter in Niagara Falls is like.
Off we go on our honeymoon to this winter wonderland. We stood and looked at the Falls for about a half hour before our hair and clothes turned to ice. The mist from the Falls covers everything and anyone standing anywhere near it. It was beautiful but when I say it was cold, believe me it was cold. Needless to say our visit to the Falls and surrounding area during our honeymoon was brief. We had a great honeymoon, just not as much outside as we thought.
Knowing how beautiful Niagara Falls is we wanted to go back. As time passed we thought this would be a great place to vacation with the kids. So, in the 1984 we decided to take a family vacation in Niagara Falls. We had a summer guest, a young boy from Northern Ireland and thought it would be a treat for him as well.
There are lots of campgrounds in Niagara Falls and we had no trouble finding a camping site. We stayed on the American side. We were all thrilled when we got there after a very long car ride.
There are two well known Falls in Niagara Falls, one on the American side and one on the Canadian side. These falls are separated by Goat Island. The Falls on the Canadian side are known as the Horseshoe Falls because of their shape. They are both part of the Niagara River. Without factoring man made tourist attractions there is plenty to see and do around the Falls themselves.
Fortunately the weather in the summer is much better than it was during our last visit. Temperatures are in the 80s during the day and 60s at night. Rainy weather doesn't last long and we were lucky to only encounter a misty day or two.
On the American side you can walk really close to the Falls, going down a long stairway. It is breathtaking as most of Niagara Falls is. The power and majesty of the Falls is unbelievable. I've seen many falls in our area but nothing prepares you for the size and power of Niagara Falls.
We decided to view the Falls from the Canadian side and set out early in the morning. As we got to the customs booth the gentleman on duty asked the normal questions like why are you going into Canada and what are you bringing. We made the mistake or we had the good fortune, we're still not sure which, to mention our Irish guest. The customs guard informed us without a passport for him we could go into Canada but it was highly likely the Canadians would not let us return. Needless to say, we did not enter Canada.
Remember, this visit is in the late eighties so if you live near Niagara Falls or have visited lately I'm sure things have changed. I know there have been buildings and attractions added since then. However, being normal Americans we did visit a lovely mall in Niagara. It was called the Rainbow Mall and was two stories high, something we hadn't seen before. I believe it is now deserted and/or torn down.
Since we couldn't visit the Canadian Falls we decided to make the best of it on the American side by visiting the nearby Darien Lake Amusement Park, Fort Ticonderoga, an aquarium and whatever else we could find.
In 1987 we ventured to Niagara Falls again. This time we had two boys from Ireland and our son's girlfriend. Seven kids and two adults! We ate at the campsite or when we went out to eat it was pizza - the cheapest meal. It was funny because people thought we actually had seven kids.
What wasn't funny was almost losing one of our little Ireland darlings in Canada. (This time we had remembered to get their passports.) We were walking down the main street when I noticed our little 'Packy' was not among us. No one knew where he was. We began frantically searching and finally found him in a store several stores away. He said he was just shopping! While he was shopping my heart was stopping, thinking I had lost a little boy from Ireland.
Of course one of the thrills of Niagara Falls is riding the Maid of the Mist, there is a 'companion' ride on the Canadian side. It's a fairly big boat loaded with lots of people dressed in raincoats provided by the Maid of the Mist staff. It gets really close to the Falls...at least it seems really close. The fun is in getting wet and looking at everyone around you getting wet too. The kids loved it.
Also on the American side you can experience the Falls by going behind them. I believe the experience is called Journey Behind the Falls. Another incredible experience. You walk through man-made caverns (again in your provided raincoats) until you come out to an opening with a gate across...before your eyes is the Falls. It's a great experience for young and old alike. Unlike our original trip to the Falls in 1967, both subsequent trips in the summer were warm and the cool mist from the Falls was refreshing and enjoyable.
The movie Superman II had been released in 1980s, we remembered and loved it. What we found out was Superman's rescue of Lois Lane from the raging river was filmed right here on the Niagara River. My kids were thrilled to stand where Superman had stood!
Another attraction was some of the 'barrels' that had been used to try to go over the falls. All in all fifteen people tried to go over the Falls at one time or another, ten have made it.
The first person to go over the Falls in a barrel and survive was a 63 year old female schoolteacher.
High wire tightrope acts used to be performed across the river. Most notably in the past was "Blondin" who once actually carried his manager across on his back, stopping midway to rest ! (http://www.niagarafallslive.com/facts_about_niagara_falls.htm) Most notably, recently was Nik Walenda. I guess the most interesting thing about Nik Walenda's crossing was that we got to watch it live on TV! http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-06-15/nik-wallenda-niagara-falls-walk/55624724/1
Interesting fact: It is the second tallest falls in the world.
We visited the Falls again briefly in 1993 when we attended a wedding in the area. Looking back, I think it's time for us to go to Niagara Falls again, how about you?
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