October 6th, 2010

storyteller doll

Yours til Niagara Falls

I went up to Niagara Falls for the weekend. There were two reasons for the trip. First, it was a life list item. But it was also a good way to finish off the Volksmarch riverwalk special event program. (That program should have been easy, but then I noticed that you could count any given river only once. So I had to do a few more events to make up for the multiple walks along the Potomac and the James.)

My flight was timed well to allow me to take the cheap public bus from the Buffalo airport up to Niagara Falls, where I stayed at the Hampton Inn on the New York side. The hotel was perfectly adequate, though the breakfast room got too crowded, especially as there was a high school cross country team from Ohio there for a meet. About all I did Friday night was walk down to Prospect Point (in the state park) to look at the American Falls, which are illuminated nightly. Then I walked over to the Seneca Casino, where I had dinner at their Asian noodle bar and played the slot machines for a little while. Interestingly, this was probably the most crowded casino I've been to in ages.

In the morning, I set out to do a 15 km route that covers both sides of the falls. This was slightly complicated by my banging my left foot against a table in the room coming back from my morning shower. I was still able to walk the entire route, but my little toe was aching off and on throughout it.

The route went around all of Goat Island (very pretty and peaceful), across the bridges to the Three Sisters Islands, and on through various viewpoints in the state park. Horseshoe Falls was particularly impressive. Interestingly, because of the curve of the river, Canada is simultaneously north, south, and west of the U.S. at that point. The route continued past the Cave of the Winds, on to Luna Island (views of Bridal Veil and American Falls), back past Prospect Point and across the Rainbow Bridge to Canada.

The Canadian side is definitely more built up with tourist attractions. The views of the falls are more dramatic in one way, as you can see the entire flow, but you are also further from the water. The route went all the way past the falls and on to the Floral Showcase. The msot impressive part of that was the topiary maple leaf outside the greenhouse.

There are also any number of ways available to separate people from their money - wax museums and theme restaurants and two casinos. At any rate, it was pretty easy to spend the better part of the day seeing the sights. I was glad to cross back to the U.S. after dark, as the view of the illuminated falls from the bridge is nicely dramatic.

My foot had begun to hurt more as the day wore on and, when I took off my shoes, I saw it was impressively bruised. That slowed me down quite a bit on Sunday and I just checked out a few of the tackier things on the U.S. side (e.g. the Daredevil Museum, which has the barrels used by a few of the people who went over the falls). I also, er, contributed to the Seneca economy. In the early evening, I went back to the Buffalo airport, where I stayed overnight at the Hilton Garden Inn. Flying back early in the morning is convenient for getting to work, but it is exhausting. It's still worth it to get a life list item checked off.