Niagara Falls - A Photo expedition.

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Smoky

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June 22 ? Niagara Falls

This thread has a subject so huge (450 photos to winnow down) and so complex, that I decided to take an entirely different approach than I did with the Adirondack log.  Instead of a chronological walkthrough, I decided to group the experience into 5 subjects:

Maid of the Mist
Horseshoe Falls
Rainbow and Bridal Veil Falls
Canadian Side
American Side

Without question, and I think most previous forum visitors to the second largest falls in the world would agree, the single most exciting and breathtaking experience in a visit to Niagara would be the voyage on the Maid of the Mist which goes right up inside the spray and foam of the falls.  I will say more about that in a moment.

At the outset, I want to shoot a forum rumor right squarely in the foot.  Many feel that the American side is the better side.  Well the Admiral and I are here to tell you that in almost every possible way, the Canadian side far surpasses the American side.  Why do we see it so differently?

Well, maybe one thing we did to give us this perspective was to sign up for a full day tour that explored both the American side and the Canadian side.  We even had the interesting experience of passing through customs via the tour bus? a very unique experience.  But in retrospect, the tour fee we spent for the two of us to do this tour was some of the best money we ever spent. 

Now I am almost ALWAYS opposed to guided tours.  But when I reviewed all the possible places to visit at Niagara, I became overwhelmed with the combinations and permutations of what was available.  Because of this, The Admiral convinced me that some professional help would sort things out.  And she was right.  We probably saw three times as much in a 7 hour period as we would have seen had we tried to stumble around on our own.  The tour was efficient, hit the right spots, and was packed with dynamite and unbelievable breathtaking experiences.

The Canadian side has the most beautiful architecture by far.  The American side is obviously in a depressed economy, and other than a few good natural sites to visit, it is crumbling.  Forget looking for a fine restaurant or a really nice place to stay.  The entire Niagara Falls Boulevard is crumbling and filled with closed businesses and for sale signs.  We did not see a REALLY attractive man made thing on the American side.  Perhaps the Tesla monument was the best.

The Canadian side has had a reputation of being a honky tonk area.  While there is one street that has a lot of souvenir shops and fast food places, the majority of the Canadian side is sleek, modern, filled with the finest of everything including finely manicured gardens, and the most magnificent scenic views.

I also had occasion to talk to RVers who have camped on both sides and those who have always recommended the Canadian side.  We camped on the American side at a ?so-so? campground known as Niagara Falls RV Campground.  It boasts as being the closest to the falls and it is, but still a 20 minute tour bus ride.  It does easily handle big rigs, has a postage stamp size pool that is not well manicured, a doggie exercise ground, fire rings at each slot, poor sat reception (we got Direct TV but no Internet), a crummy office and store, nice owners, and lots of attractive big rigs, fifth wheels and on down to popup tents and van campers.

I will begin uploading pictures in the next few messages, beginning with the Maid of the Mist.

As an appetizer, here is a shot of the tour boat we were on, but taken later from a perch high up on the Canadian side.

 

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Betty Brewer

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Thanks Smoky for the photo.? It brings back memories of what I consider to be among the top 3 experiences in my life.? I vividly recall the? awe of the swoosh as zillions of gallons of water flowed over the falls.? Terry and I are firm believers in professional tours.? We are taking them all here in Alaska.? As you said they know it well and can bring it to you in a concise form.

I agree with you on the sides of the falls.? Just to experience that massive body of water is indeed one of the worlds wonders and we are fortunate to have seen it from any side at all!  Keep on with the photos.

Betty
 

Tom

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Smoky,

I agree that the Canadian side is by far the most spectacular. We also took the ride on the Maid Of The Mist.
 

Smoky

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Tom:

I keep getting a messsage that "upload folder is full," even when I try to upload just 5 pictures that are compressed to "small".

This is a different message than I used to get when I tried to upload pictures too large last year.

Smoky
 

Tom

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Oops, SMoky. Try it now - I've increased the size of the folder.
 

Smoky

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Maid of the Mist

We will begin our pictography with the high point of our visit to Niagara.  This was the up close and personal visit via the tour boat Maid of the Mist.  Actually, the day we were there, there were 5 Maid of the Mist boats in action.

Having been a commercial sea captain myself, I advised my Admiral not to run with the crowd up to the top deck forward in order to get the best view.  I could see that the lower level stern was in a protected area, and yet watching the tours ahead of us, I could see the captains were giving both bow and stern viewers equal time, and we would only have to wait for him to spin the vessel around to get our turn at tasting the spray.  As an added benefit we would have a roof over us and could move back from the railing when we had enough.  This proved to be a wise decision, and most people avoided the stern and there was plenty of room, and no diesel smell to worry about.

In the photos you will see folks wearing blue raincoats.  These are given out to everyone on the tour.  We were able to keep them as souvenirs. 

The folks on the bow were the first to see everything.  The spray must have been awful for them, they screamed every time the Maid drew close to the falls, first the Rainbow, then the Bridal veil and finally the granddaddy of them all on the Canadian side, the Horseshoe Falls.  When we drew up to the Horseshoe Falls, at first it was bow in and we could not see them.  But as the boat drew closer and closer the announcer paused, a scream went up, and then the announcer slowly spoke:

?THIS, ladies and gentlemen, ?IS Niagara Falls!?  The boat shook with applause and shouting.  Soon it was our turn and the boat slowly swiveled and then backed right into the spray.  I got braver with my FZ-30 and soon learned by staying a foot or so back from the stern rail, I could take shot after shot.  No question, as lovely as Rainbow and Bridal Veil falls are on the American side, all the drama is on the Canadian side.

Be sure to take a tour including the Maid of the Mist.  By taking the tour, you fly past the ticket gate as the tour guide handles all that for you.  The only wait is to board once you are past the long line for tickets.

 

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Smoky

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Horseshoe Falls

Here come the most breathtaking photos.  Horseshoe Falls.  Ladies and Gentlemen, may we present THE Niagara Falls!

If you look closely in the photos taken from ground water level looking upward to the crest, you can see tiny people, giving some idea of the scale of the falls.  Also note the rainbow effects in some photos.

Black spots in some of the photos are sea gulls
 

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Smoky

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A couple more Horseshoe shots before we move on to the Rainbow and Bridal Veil.
 

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Smoky

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Rainbow and Bridal Veil

These are the American falls.  Not as dramatic as the Horseshoe, but lovely in their own right.  The Bridal Veil is the smaller more petite falls on the right.  We were able, on our tour, to stand right beside the top of all the falls.  Standing beside the Rainbow was a special treat as it had quiet topside that was enchanting.  We show more of this in the section on the American side.
 

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Smoky

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Canadian Side

This is the Canadian side.  It is rich in both natural sites and man made designs.  The skylines are sleek and modern.  Lots to see and do.


 

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Smoky

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A few more from the Canadian side.
 

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Smoky

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American Side

The American side can hold its own in terms of natural beauty.  Just don?t take a look at the skyline or what is in the streets.

Our first picture is of the tour bus that took us to both sides of the falls.

Tesla has a bronze statue on the American side.  For a while I could not figure out why it was there.  After reading up I believe perhaps because he had a lot to do with the development of alternating current as the standard for public power supply and did a lot of early work with the Niagara Falls Power Company.

The gondola pictured actually joins two shore points on the Canadian side.  But most people think it crosses from the Canadian side to the American side.

There is also a shot of the famous whirlpool taken from the American side.

 

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Betty Brewer

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Smoky said:
June 22 ? Niagara Falls
This thread has a subject so huge (450 photos to winnow down) and so complex, that I decided to take an entirely different approach than I did with the Adirondack log.? Instead of a chronological walkthrough, I decided to group the experience into 5 subjects:

Smoky,

Wow, I feel as if I have been there!? I could hear the din of the? falls roar and loved the rainbows.

Thanks for sharing.? I'm also glad they now give you the raincoats on Maid of the Mist.? One of my memories of the falls tours is how smelly the  yellow slicker raincoats were.? They were used? over and over from trip to trip and it was very hot.? You can just imagine how they smelled!

Betty
 

Terry A. Brewer

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Smoky

I didn't see any pictures of you on the scaffolding on the Cave of the Winds tour.....did you chicken out.<G>


 

Ron

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Thanks for the great travel report and photos.  I am in agreement that when in the falls area the Canadian side is far more spectacular.  However when we we there in the early 90/s a walk up a couple blocks into town on the Canadian side exposed you to  what I thought to be pretty sleazy or like a carnival atmosphere.

Thanks for sharing.
 

Shayne

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Fabuous pics Smoky-  You saved me bundle of Moola.  Now I won't have to take the Boss there.
 

Smoky

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Betty::

You described what I feared.... smelly old raincoats.  I brought a lightweight rain jacket a long just in case.  Not needed.  The lightweight blue raincoats were perfect for the occasion.  Letting everyone keep them was an added bonus.

Terry:

You touched upon a growing problem.  I gave the Admiral my old Olympus.  She keeps saying it is too complicated to use.  Heck, all she has to do is aim and push the button.  She promised to start using the Olympus "any day now".  Whenever I hand her the FZ-30 she says, "I have my own camera."  Excuses, excuses.

We wanted to see the Cave of Winds.  However of the three tours offered by our company we wanted most to see both the Canadian side and the American side in one tour.  Unfortunately that tour was the only one that skipped the Cave of Winds.  We will do that next time around.

Shayne:

Photos simply cannot express the magnificence of the falls.  You will still have to take Audrey, sorry.  It reminded me of how we felt when we saw the Grand Canyon from the North rim.  No camera would ever be able to capture what our eyes fed to our brains.  I will say that Grand Canyon still ranks as the number one sight we have ever seen in the United States.  But right now the Niagara would have to be in the top 3.  Yellowstone does not even make the top 10 for me, but the Admiral still wants to check it out on this trip. 

Ron:

I guess the sleaze jumped across the river.  Well I would not call the American side sleazy I guess.  Just dilapidated and run down.  There is one street on the Canadian side that has a lot of souvenir shops and some tourist traps, but given that, the total effect is one of modern sleek architecture, enchanting gardens, and a vibrant economy.  All the good restaurants and hotels are on the Canadian side.  We did not get to visit any campgrounds, but we were told they are better as well.

I think taking the tour was important as we did not just wander around.  The tour company was American, but they did not hesitate to show us all the Canadian goodies.
Next time we do Niagara, we are staying on the Canadian side.
 

Marsha/CA

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Smokey,

Thanks for the photojournal.  It's getting me excited to see Nigara Falls.  Tim (husband) saw the falls as a kid; I've never been there. 

We will be in Niagara the first part of August and had decided to stay on the canadian side just as a convenience for us.  We will be in Canada for over a month to 6 weeks traveling back West toward home and didn't wanted to stock up supplies on the American side and have to turn them all in.... ;D.  So we are resupplying on the Canadian side.

We also don't like crowds so picked a campground about 20 miles northwest of Niagara and will drive in to see it.  Looks like the tour bus would be a great idea.  Did you have to make prior reservations or just sign up the day of or day before?

Marsha~
 

Smoky

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Marsha, we signed up the day we arrived and then took the tour the next day.? We saw a couple that signed up ahead of time and then had problems on the road, and almost missed their tour.? After seeing the stress on their faces (the husband ran on to the tour buss half dressed) I would not call ahead.?

I never liked being a captive audience on a tour before, but this time I confess it was the best way to do the falls.? There are dozens of places to visit, and these guides have it all figured out.? I will get the name of the company we used and post it here later.
 

Lorna

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Smoky

I like to take the tours in new towns or cities because you get a nice overview with lots of info and then you can go back and take more time at the ones you are interested in.  Some cities have trolleys that you can get off and on wherever you want and those are great too.
 

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