Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jellystone Park: Part III Niagara Falls, NY

Sunday we had planed to spend part of the day in Niagara Fall, NY. I had pre-purchased the events tickets which included five attractions as well as the trolley to take us to each. Last time we had gone, we were able to get all attractions done in one day and pretty much had the place to ourselves. The plan was to again max out our day and head back to camp, completing all things Niagara Falls. (notice the Plan was in this sentence) This time was VERY different. We left around 9:30am and drove about an hour North passing Buffalo on our way. I took a few pictures of the Buffalo skyline and waved in the direction of where my friend Tricia USED to live, missing her. (she now lives in Florida). We had made trips to visit her several times in the past, and at least one trip to Niagara Falls was made with her when my older two children were little.

Hi Buffalo, by Buffalo. We drove past quickly on our mission to see Niagara. We got a little lost on our way, we all had to pee, and feeling most miserable when we came upon some of the most INSANE traffic I had ever seen. There were ton and tons and tons of people, buses and cars EVERYWHERE. I was sure at one point we were going to get hit by a tour bus. The place was so packed the State Park, that we could have parked at for FREE and where we were eventually going was CLOSED due to a full lot. They gave us some crazy directions to another entrance, but after additional driving around in the madness settled for a $10- parking garage. I would have NEVER imagined this kind of CROWD in a Million years. In my head I was thinking it's only May, who takes these trips in May and on a cold May day? Well I was SO Wrong! There must have been some kind of a TOUR company special and they all showed up on that Sunday. It was CRAZY! We finally parked and with my hopes still high, we headed on towards the falls ready to make the best of it. When we arrived at the visitor center and noted the line that sprawled out the front door I knew we were in for a nightmare.
here is a picture at the State Park entrance, I couldn't even attempt to get a picture with the kids in front as there were people waiting in line just to do the same. We skipped around the lines looking for any way to bi-pass the long line when Mark suggested we get the tickets at the Trolley stops, which we were informed would grant them to us. I still had to wait in line, but it was much smaller then in the visitors center. Tickets finally in hand we headed to the MAIN attraction the Maid of the Mist.

 This is the line we ran into to get to the Maid of the Mist. This is just one leg of the wait. The line traveled around several of those metal bars, and looped back three times, even before we got to the observation tower.
 This is the line on the observation tower, that also looped around three times, just to get to the elevator to descend down to the boats.
This is what the line looked like at the bottom of the elevators. Needless to say, we were in for a LONG wait, just to get on one attraction. We were already deciding we were not going to attempt the additional four attractions on that day.
 Here are a few pictures of the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. The Fallsview hotel was were my hubby and I stayed once several years ago.

 The bridge seen in this above shot is Rainbow bridge, which will take you to Canada. I have walked across it in the past. This was before you needed an enhanced license or a passport. I also walked across it in the early spring and looked down at the still frozen water, it had an amazing affect on my senses. It looks as if the bridge is moving. I was trying to think about how many times I have been to Niagara Falls over my lifetime, and couldn't count. I just never recalled seeing SO many people in any of my previous trips. My hubby thought it was due to the new casino that was erected within the last few years. Our last visit was in 2006.
Another view of the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.
As we waited in line we joked about throwing "some people" over just to get the line moving, the boys had asked about throwing pebbles etc, and both Mark and I informed them that they would get arrested, they did not believe us, when we came upon this sign I just had to get a picture. And they thought we were kidding.
 Here she is, The Maid of the Mist.

 Here is what was waiting for us at the bottom, notice the time. We had arrived at Niagara Falls around 10:30am. I wish there had been a clock at the beginning of the line up top. We still had the last leg of the line before we actually got on the boat.
looking up to the Observation Tower. Once at the bottom things started to move quick, we got our blue signature Maid of the Mist rain coats, we were one step closer to getting on the boat. We were the last people to board, and I was getting nervous we would not be able to be on the edge and see everything. We got lucky and were right at the ramp to both get on and off. Last ones on, first ones off, Mark said.

Here we FINALLY go.
 The America Falls.

We had perfect viewing pleasures on the ride into the bigger (often claimed to be the prettier Canadian Falls) Horseshoe Falls.

 This is a picture of people walking in the falls, one of the attractions on our passport we passed up on. Cave of Winds.
 There is too many words to describe the feelings when you are smack dab in the heart of the Horseshoe falls. Your five senses go into overdrive; the sound of the rushing water with just a faint seagull cry, the smell of the air is fresh and clean with a hint of fish, you can taste the air and the spray of water as it hits your skin dancing lightly about your face and arms exposed from the raincoats. You feel the boat fighting the current underneath your feet and the engine roars loudly to sustain it's stance in its place. Oh and the sights, these pictures can not do it justice. Thousands upon thousands of gallons of water rush over these falls at such a rapid pace, ever moving ever flowing. The electric charge is in the air and you can feel it. Despite the many people we were sharing the boat with I truly felt all alone as I allowed myself to simply be in those few moments with the falls. If you have never been to Niagara Falls, I cannot say enough about taking the trip. Despite the crowds, and I am the type who has anxiety attacks in these situations, nothing can change the magnificent senses of these amazing falls. I would do it all over again, lines and everything.

We were able to get a family picture on the return back to the dock. The fun did not stop there that Sunday. We all agreed we should come back at a later date and enjoy the rest of our attractions and made a beeline to the elevators. bathrooms, and headed as far from the State Park into The Hard Rock Café for lunch.
 A few pictures from the shore. I like this one of the Maid of the Mist. Below are some picture of the top of the American Falls, and you can see the Horseshoe falls in the distance.

 Here is where we had lunch. My husband the goof that he is wore his raincoat all the way to the front door, until we insisted he remove it. He intentionally looked silly, little did I know I had raccoon eyes all through lunch, and no one informed me. Thanks family.

Lunch was delicious. We had nacho's as an appetizer and I had a burger and fries (of course).

 I had to get a picture of the GRAND hotel Casino. Seneca.  Maybe when we come back we can stay there. (or not)
We made our way back to camp, taking one last picture of the Buffalo as we entered onto the Thruway by Buffalo, NY. I love these guys, what a nice hello to fellow travelers to have Buffalo wondering around.

SOME FINAL THOUGTS: 1. Niagara Falls is AMAZING! 2. Get your tickets online before you leave. 3. DO NOT (I repeat) DO NOT go on a Holiday weekend, try a random day during the week. 4. BE ready to Be THRILLED with the sights, it was absolutely beautiful.
 Camp awaits, and there is a band this evening, as well as several activities yet to engage in. Plus it was actually somewhat warm. Well not totally. We did have a few extra guests stay the night in our warm cabin.  See Part IV for the rest of our Jellystone adventure.