Saturday, May 31, 2014

Niagara Falls

We had a wonderful tour of the falls and surrounding area today. I had booked our tour for yesterday afternoon and tried to confirm by phone, as instructed, but got their voicemail so I left a message. When I didn’t get a call back, I sent email. Still no response.

Although there was a choice of morning, afternoon or evening, nothing on the web site said what time anything started or when the shuttle would pick you up. So I finally called again the next morning – oh, there’s no afternoon tour, so you can go either this morning (in 30 minutes from now – I don’t think so!) or this evening, or tomorrow morning. We opted for the next morning, today. Glad we did, because the weather was much better, and we enjoyed clear blue skies all day!

Debbie was our guide, a French and Spanish high school teacher getting ready to retire. She obviously loves her job as tour guide, and we enjoyed spending the day with her.


We picked up several other tourists in our Grayline mini-bus before going to the falls.



Then we got in line to receive our blue plastic ponchos. Aren’t they lovely?


When we first departed, we could see the American Falls and the mist.


Then it got mistier as we got closer.


And we got closer.


The American Falls consist of the Rainbow Falls (the big ones) and Bridal Veil Falls (the small one on the right). Luna Island separates the two falls.



Notice how calm the water seems as we approached the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, due to the depth of the water here.


Also notice the large patch of ice that hasn’t yet melted from the long winter.


This is the last picture I could take to avoid getting my camera soaked. It doesn’t look like we’re getting wet yet, but I was having trouble seeing through my glasses at this point!


The pic below was taken 8 minutes later, after we spent several minutes very close to Horseshoe Falls, feeling surrounded by them, holding our panchos close to stay as dry as possible, and getting our faces (and some people’s hair) soaked.


Here’s the Maid of the Mist boat returning from the falls. If you look closely, you might see us – we’re the ones in blue.


Debbie was waiting for us above.


The Hornblower boat tours now depart from the Canadian side of the river (instead of Maid of the Mist), but Debbie said they’re still working out the kinks in their service, and she prefers the American side. Both tours go to the same falls.


Here’s the observation tower on the American side, where we went after our boat ride.



Here are some views from the tower.





We survived, and didn’t even get very wet.


We stopped at Souvenir City on the Canada side and had a hot dog.


Don was drawn to Chocolate World, but managed to be good because they didn’t have anything sugar free.


Notice the little guy taking a picture of his parents.


Downriver, the rapids are still too fast for kayaking. In fact, it’s illegal to go into the waters here.


This is one of the hydroelectric plants harnessing the power of the water.


This is the northern-most point of the tour, near the mouth of the Niagara River where it flows into Lake Ontario. About 12,500 years ago, the falls were at this point.


Due to erosion, the falls moved back several miles. Erosion has been slowed down by controlling the flow of the water with a system of tunnels and other diversions of the water. But erosion is still approximately 1 foot per 10 years, so in about 1,000 years the American Falls will disappear.

Later, we went to the Canadian side of the falls and got a different perspective. Here’s a view of the Horseshoe Falls from the top.


Upriver you can see a barge that held 3 men when it started moving uncontrollably toward the falls. One man jumped out and made it safely to shore. The other two “pulled the plug” and caused the barge to sink and catch on some rocks. They had to be rescued by a rope shot by harpoon from the shore. The barge never moved beyond that point.


I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in these waters and not be able to stop oneself from going over the falls. But these birds have found refuge in a calm pool, and they seem to like it here.


Finally, here are some views from the Skylon tower, 52 stories (520 feet) above ground.




90% of the Niagara River flows over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, at a height of 170 feet. During the summer, the flow is 34.5 million gallons per minute.



If I did it right, I’m inserting a brief video to show the power of the moving water.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Camp Perry, Port Clinton, OH

I can’t really say we “enjoyed” our stay here. If the weather had been nicer, and if we hadn’t been fighting colds most of the time, it might have been different. But it was a place to hang out for the Memorial Day weekend, when it would have been difficult or impossible to get into anywhere else down the road.

When we arrived on Tuesday, there was only one other RV in the park, another Phaeton motor home. It must be just a storage spot, as the slides were all in and nobody ever came to occupy it. This is what the weather was like on Wednesday.



By Thursday, the weekenders started arriving. The weather improved and was nice through the weekend. On Friday, the park was still less than half full.




Although most of the weekenders were young families, with lots of children, dogs and bicycles, the noise and campfire nuisance factors remained fairly low. By Monday noon, everyone else was gone and we were once again alone with the unoccupied Phaeton.

Here are some before/after pictures.





Camp Perry is an Ohio National Guard Military Training Site, established in 1906 on the shore of Lake Erie.





There’s a public beach; in fact most of the camp is un-gated, including the firing range. The red flag warns of live fire.




In the distance is a nuclear power plant.


There are lots of abandoned buildings. I guess they have plenty of land and there’s no cost to just allowing them to stand.


The weather turned ugly again after the weekend, and we had more rain and wind. But we didn’t really feel like doing much, so we just hibernated. To sum up, we’ve made it through the normally busy holiday weekend, are recovering from our colds (I had a milder version than Don), went to Wal*Mart twice, went to Kroger twice, and ate at Jolly Roger Seafood House twice! (Don said the clam strips were among the best he’s ever had.)


Tomorrow, we’ll be on our way to a new adventure two states away (PA, NY) as we drive to the east end of Lake Erie.