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Niagara Falls, NY

I finally made it! I was supposed to catch the falls last year but ran into so much fun in Michigan that I ran out of time before I had to get down south before the snow fell or campgrounds closed in the north for the season.

I chose to stay at a C2C park in Holland, NY. It was a bit farther away than I liked but much cheaper than trying to stay closer and it was quiet during the day for sleeping. The park itself sucked and could hardly be called a resort. It has no sewer hookups even for their permanent residents, the electrical and water hookups are far away thus both requiring extensions, the bathhouse was marginal with showers that only work while pulling on a cord (cheapskates), to get anywhere there requires transportation because it is so decentralized with large hills to go up and down, the dump is in the middle of the grounds thus requiring you to drag your RV down and up a steep hill, the pool is toward the back on a high hill, the lakes are unattractive, my Sprint aircard did work but only marginally with 0-1 bars though it did at least get EVDO, flying bugs were all too plentiful, and the office would not accept my outgoing mail. Never has a campground not accepted my outgoing mail! This is a zero customer service park which I would not recommend for more than 1 night.

On the plus side, Holland Speedway is very close and I got to see my first car races, demolition derby, school bus racing, truck with boat/boat trailer racing, and the Green Mamba jet engine propelled car. The show was called Crasharama. I didn’t think I would like it but this trip is about seeking out and exploring new worlds so I gave it a chance. I very much liked it! I can’t say I would go to lots of them but now and then would be fun. One hint: if you are handicapped and already have your ticket, don’t wait in the huge line to get in. Go up to the customer services booth and ask to be let in by the side gate. 😉

The drive to the falls was pretty easy. I finally saw Buffalo, NY which was smelly and not attractive from the freeway It is very industrial. I didn’t have an address for my GPS so I just told it to take me to the city and then I punched up local attractions and headed toward American Falls Park in hopes of catching signs to the Visitor’s Center which I did. It is right next to the Canadian border crossing. There I caught a tour bus. It seems expensive at $79 until you understand that the cost includes admission tickets to all the attractions as well as an informative guide and a lot of riding from here to there to there.

We started off with a ride on the Maid of the Mist boat right into the wind and spray of the falls. Blue plastic ponchos are provided which you can keep. Niagara Falls are like no others. They may not be the highest or widest but the immense power or turbulent waters are legend. American Falls splash down on a rock base made up of eroded rock wall faces. Next to it on one side is a high viewing platform of all the falls and a park just above to one side. On the other side below is the Cave of the Winds and wooden stairs and platforms. Canadian Horseshoe Falls forms a U and is always surrounded by mist from the waters falling into the pool below. This is the one people have been going over in barrels for decades. While the thought had occurred to me, our guide quickly crushed such thoughts. It is very hard to get past the police these days to do it, the fine has been raised to $10,000 when (not if) caught, and if the falls don’t trap you under them from minutes to a day then the whirlpool down stream certainly will likely trap you so many who try die. The first person to succeed was actually a woman in a barrel with an anvil to balance it. A man who tried to reproduce it was torn limb from limb by the anvil during his attempt where he tied the anvil to his leg and strapped his arms into the barrel.

They still get 12-15 people traveling here every year to commit suicide. Jumping off is known as “doing a brody” after Stephen Brody who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge on a bet I believe though he lived. On the Saturday before my tour, 2 young women (1 American and 1 Canadian) jumped to their deaths. Only one body was retrieved. They also had a man walk out of a Canadian casino after losing all his money and jump. His bad luck he jumped into a pocket and survived. His luck then changed when he sold his story and became a millionaire from it and numerous appearances. I find this stuff hardly romantic so I’m assuming the romantic Niagara Falls honeymoon is mostly a creation of hype.

We also got to snap pictures of the falls from the observation tower and in the park above the falls while there.

After the falls, we went to the park above the whirlpool. It is hard to see how dangerous it is from up there. Then it was on to the Daredevil museum which is more like a 7-11 with refreshments, food, souvenirs, and displays of newspaper clippings along with 3 barrels that have actually gone over the falls.

Next we went to the Cave of the Winds. They give you a pair of non-slip sandals, a bag for your socks and shoes, and a yellow plastic poncho there. Believe me, you need them! You will get at least a little wet there but you can get as wet as you want to otherwise. An elevator takes you down to the cave which leads to wooden stairs and platforms next to American Falls and under Bridal Veil Falls. You know me. Ever the adventurer and as you may have noticed in my Michigan-Lake Erie adventure, clothes do not stop me from having fun. I not only hobbled along ALL the platforms, I got right up under the falls. The poncho and my rain coat under it helped but I still managed to get good and soaked. I also smelled like fish after, which was noted by those on the tour bus with me on the way back to the Visitor’s Center. Snicker.

I have heard the Canadian side of the falls is better developed and prettier than the American side. They do also have Maid of the Mist boats over there. However, since I use the rear of my SUV as additional storage to augment the puny storage in my trailer and much of that stuff in the rear is encased in a cartop bag for privacy and security, to any halfway intelligent border guard I look like a possible terrorist. I didn’t even try to cross the border to see and have them tear my vehicle apart. I still remember having my completely packed car being torn apart by military SPs at the base gate after I returned from a vacation, had driven through Jack-In-The-Box to bring home a quick dinner with me, and their drug dogs hit on my car. Apparently drug dogs like tacos. 😛

For more pics click here.

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