NY: Niagara Falls


06/03/2015

After almost a full year of inactivity (halfway done with my Masters program!), it’s time for a much-needed blog update. In addition to being extremely busy with school, I also just survived a history-making winter in Rochester. I’ve gone on a couple of excursions this past year that never made it into blog posts, but not many.

Two of those trips were to Niagara Falls: one on February 22 at a balmy 24° (surrounded by single digit days), and one just recently in the end of May at a beautiful 84°. I’ll also note that I didn’t take my camera with me in May. Partially because I was worried about it getting wet but also because I focus too much on changing lenses instead of the scene in front of me when I have my camera. So many of these photos are simple cell phone shots, sorry for the quality.

 

SUNNY NIAGARA… NICE!

We’ll start with the nice and sunny pictures of the falls to provide perspective for the winter photos. It’s a little less than 1:30 to drive from Rochester to Niagara Falls and we arrived late in the day, almost around 3:00 in the afternoon. It worked out well though because it was still plenty warm, and $10 parking was easy to find on Goat Island, in between the American and Canadian Falls.

First view of the falls after parking on Goat Island.

First view of the falls after parking on Goat Island.

It was so cold in February that I was actually starting to feel cold again just walking up to the falls in May. It took a few minutes to adjust my mental perception and get used to the nonthreatening weather. The #1 priority for the day was the Maid of the Mist excursion, so we immediately made our way off of Goat Island onto the American side of the falls.

The view facing Canada and Goat Island, one our way to the Maid of the Mist!

The view facing Canada and Goat Island, on our way to the Maid of the Mist! (The boat in the picture is the Canadian excursion, the Horn Blower.)

The Maid of the Mist cost $17/person, and you get a nifty souvenir poncho with that. After paying you’re allowed to descend the huge elevator to the base of the falls where you pick up your poncho and join the line of those waiting to embark. It was breezy at the base (probably always is), and the flapping ponchos made it sound even more windy.

Getting ready to board and put on the poncho.

Getting ready to board and put on the poncho.

Making my poncho a bit more stylish, mainly so it wouldn't blow around in the wind.

Making my poncho a bit more stylish, mainly so it wouldn’t blow around in the wind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The line looked quite long from the top of the elevator, but we ended up not having to wait at all to board the boat. Whether that was because they let a huge number of people on the boat, or because it was later in the day, I’m not sure. It was probably a combination of those factors. The top of the boat filled up immediately, but there was plenty of space to spread out on the bottom, so we stayed there. We probably got a little less soaked that way too. Within three minutes of boarding, we were off!

Insane boulder pileups at the base of the American falls.

Departing, and instant rainbow! Already worth the $17. Insane boulder pileups at the base of the American falls.

Other ponchoed tourists visiting the Cave of Winds and getting up close and personal with the falls. That looks like a drencher for sure.

Other ponchoed tourists visiting the Cave of Winds and getting up close and personal with the American Falls. That looks like a drencher for sure.

The intense Canadian falls, almost impossible to have a camera out at this point.

The intense Canadian falls, almost impossible to have a camera out at this point. This is probably the photo I most wish I had brought my real camera for, perhaps I’ll have to go back a third time (or fourth).

Beautiful double rainbow at the Canadian falls.

Beautiful double rainbow at the Canadian falls. And it wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t provide an explanation for how these double rainbows form.

Returning to the threat of incoming storms, looks like we rode just in time!

Returning to the threat of incoming storms, looks like we rode just in time!

All in all, the trip was probably only 15-20 minutes, but it’s one of those trips that didn’t need to be any longer to be worth the $17. Getting up close to the falls was an experience like no other. Plus we got to keep those awesome ponchos.

After debarking, guests are allowed to walk up a stairway off to the side of the falls. It seems similar to the Cave of the Winds on the other side of the falls, but less close, with less chance of a soaking.

Climbing up the side after departing the Maid of the Mist. Seemed similar to the Cave of the Winds, but not as drench-worthy. Still a very cool sight with the threat of storms.

Climbing up the side after departing the Maid of the Mist. Seemed similar to the Cave of the Winds, but not as drench-worthy. Still a very cool sight with the threat of storms.

After exploring around the base of the falls we made our way back up to the elevated pathway and took in the impending storm. It was a great sight to see half of the scene shadowed and the falls under sunlight. Even better was the fact that it was still plenty warm out.

Wouldn't be a complete trip without the panorama. Falls in sunshine, park under storm clouds.

Wouldn’t be a complete trip without a panorama. Falls in sunshine, park under storm clouds.

The storm never did break, and the clouds were already clearing out as we made our way back to Goat Island (after a lengthy diversion to find the aquarium, which turned out to be closed). The Cave of the Winds excursion (shown below) looked like a lot of fun, but maybe that’ll be for next time.

On the way back to the car, looking down on the falls and the tiny people visiting the Cave of the Winds.

On the way back to the car, looking down on the falls and the tiny people visiting the Cave of the Winds. There are people on the walkways in the far right of the photo, almost completely hidden by the spray.

After the falls we drove into Buffalo, where buffalo wings were invented apparently (this goes to show how often I eat buffalo wings). There are a couple stories of where these were actually invented, but the most popular one references the Anchor Bar, so we headed there.

Finally time to relax, at the restaurant that supposedly invented buffalo wings (in Buffalo, NY, shockingly), the Anchor Bar.

Finally time to relax, at the restaurant that supposedly invented buffalo wings (in Buffalo, NY, shockingly), the Anchor Bar.

 

WINTER NIAGARA… DUN DUN DUN

Back in February I did in fact take my camera with me, so most of these pictures are higher quality than the ones above. It’s a shame you can’t see anything. Overall, the trip was pretty miserable. Back then I parked on the American side, also for $10, and made my way over to Goat Island instead of the other way around. Even with the cold temperatures though, it was an amazing sight in winter.

Similar views to the summer photos, except now a deserted winter wonderland (or wasteland, depending on how miserable you are in the cold).

Similar views to the summer photos from Goat Island, except now a deserted winter wonderland (or wasteland, depending on how miserable you are in the cold).

This bridge was easy to see in the photos above, even with a cell phone camera. Even with a zoom lens in winter it was hardly visible.

This bridge was easy to see in the summer photos above, even with a cell phone camera. But with a zoom lens in winter it was hardly visible.

Looking toward Canada while crossing the bridge to the other side of the American falls.

Looking toward Canada while crossing the bridge to the other side of the American falls.

A winter's worth of snow drifts built up against the partially frozen falls, and an almost completely frozen river.

A winter’s worth of snow drifts built up against the partially frozen falls, and an almost completely frozen river. Obviously the Maid of the Mist wasn’t running at this time.

Partially frozen falls.

Partially frozen falls.

You won't have much luck looking through the spotter in winter, but at least it looks pretty happy.

You won’t have much luck looking through the spotter in winter, but at least it looks pretty happy.

Snow is just shoved off to the side throughout winter, eventually covering the park benches and trash cans. Not that anyone would want to sit outside anyways.

Snow is just shoved off to the side throughout winter, eventually covering the park benches and trash cans. Not that anyone would want to sit outside anyways.

The squirrels didn't seem phased by the temperatures, as long as they were still being fed by the tourists.

The squirrels didn’t seem phased by the temperatures, as long as they were still being fed by the tourists. This is my favorite photo from the winter set; I spent far longer than I care to admit taking pictures of these squirrels instead of looking at the falls.

I even got to play with my macro lens a bit and try out some snowflake photography!

I even got to play with my macro lens a bit and try out some snowflake photography!

Okay, so there you have it! A double whammy post to make up for a year of inactivity. I truly hope there will be some more posts throughout this summer. The weather is getting warmer and I already have a few places in mind I’d like to visit. Thanks for reading!

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