1YoT: Niagara Falls

With this post, we’ve reached the end of the roadtrip portion of our one year of travel. Our final roadtrip destination: Niagara Falls.

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Upstate New York (and south-western Vermont) was very beautiful, but monotonous as well.

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Monotonous until we reached Lake Ontario, where we witnessed this sunset as we drove along the shore.

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We spent the night on Lake Ontario, at Four Mile Creek State Park (the third great lake we camped at on our trip), and this is what the lake looked like in the morning. If you look really closely, you can see Toronto in the distance.

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Here we are at the Niagara River, where Lake Erie water rushes to Lake Ontario.

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And here is the water rushing off a 175 foot cliff. This waterfall, which actually consists of three separate falls, is Niagara Falls.

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This photo, taken from the American side of Niagara Falls (the falls cross the US-Canada border), overlooks Bridal Veil Falls, the smallest of Niagara’s three waterfalls. The Canadian side is known for having better views than the American, but we still wanted to see what the falls looked like from our side.

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So maybe the view is better on the Canadian side. So what? Here is the American view of American Falls, and it was spectacular.

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Spectacular!

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And here is the American view of the largest of Niagara Falls’s three falls: Horseshoe Falls. From this angle, you can see the shape that gave this waterfall its name.

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Upstream of Horseshoe Falls was beautiful as well. What struck me more than anything was how much water flowed over these falls. There was so much! The rapids were swift and there was so much water that they formed an entire layer several feel thick as they cascaded over the cliff. Much different than the otherwise similar Iguazu Falls we visited a couple years ago.

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Here we are, in front of the falls.

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And here is the view from an observation deck on the American side of the falls.

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From the observation deck, we dropped down to water level, where we took the Maid of the Mist boat tour to get an upclose view of the falls.

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American and Horseshoe Falls, as viewed from the boat. How much more spectacular can this get?

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is Niagara Falls.”

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One final water-level shot, with American, Bridal Veil, and Horseshoe Falls all in frame.

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Next up, Inna and I walked across Rainbow Bridge, a US-Canada friendship bridge, so we could see the falls from the Canadian side.

These are the views from the Canadian side. My favorite viewpoint was where Inna is standing in the lower right photograph. We were so close to the falls here, we could feel the power of the water as it rushed over the edge. It was incredible.

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Also on the Canadian side was this tribute to Nikola Tesla. For those who don’t know, Tesla was the inventor of alternating current, the electrical system that powers pretty much the entire world (direct current, developed by Thomas Edison, lost out to alternating current in what is now known as the War of Currents). According to the monument, as a boy Tesla saw a picture of Niagara Falls and was so inspired that he wanted to capture its energy and “power the entire world.” Later, Tesla would be instrumental in developing the world’s first hydroelectric power plant near the base of Niagara Falls.

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Alas, we’ve come to the end of our Niagara Falls visit. As we left, we stopped by Fort Niagara, a fort located downstream of the falls. The fort was built by the French, conquered by the British during the French and Indian War, ceded to the US after the Revolutionary War, conquered again by the British in the War of 1812, and released to the US once and for all at that war’s end.

While at Fort Niagara, we found some Coast Guard troops playing pickup soccer. I joined in (I’m traveling with my cleats so I can play soccer as I go, I’m especially excited to play in Germany!) and it was lots of fun.

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At this point we traveled back to Erie, where we spent the evening with Inna’s cousin and his wife, who recently moved here for med school. We got really lucky when we visited, they had just finished a round of tests and so were able to spend the whole evening with us. (Their school’s unofficial motto for anything not study related? “Ain’t nobody got time for that!“)

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At this point we’d reached the end of our roadtrip. We drove to Rochester, location of both a CarMax and a Megabus station. CarMax offered us $500 for our vehicle, but luckily we had put out a Craigslist ad a couple days earlier and were able to sell our car private party for $1600. 

In the weeks leading up to our trip, we were nervous about how our car would handle it: 11 years old, 135000 miles, and we had some difficulties on a test drive road trip we took before this trip. But the car held up so well, not a single problem as we drove over 7000 miles, across windy and unpaved roads, through rainstorms, and over 10000 foot summits. This car had a lot of life left in it and the new owner got a great deal, add to this the fact that this was Inna’s first car: we were sad to let it go!

But the adventures must go on! We had a flight to Paris coming up, and it was leaving from Toronto. We took Megabus to get there, Canada here we come!

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