Off to Niagara Falls

The family went on a two-week vacation, leaving on Saturday, July 30. As noted, this was the very first time I’ve taken off for two weeks from work in over a decade. OK, I was off for a couple weeks when my mom died in February, but that’s a different beast.

The vacation plan was initiated by the Olin international family reunion on August 5-7 in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. More on that down the road.

We decided to essentially circumnavigate Lake Ontario. We were going to travel from Albany, NY to the Sterling Renaissance Festival in the middle of the state. That, however, would have meant two one-night hotel stays in a row. I find them unnecessarily exhausting. And that’s a trip we could take at another time.

So instead, we decided to go directly to Niagara Falls, about six hours from Albany. Now, I suppose it would be unkind to say that Niagara Falls, NY is a little bit…shabbier than NF, Ontario; unkind, perhaps, but, in my previous experience, true. On the other hand, it was cheaper, especially since, at that particular time, the dollar was taking a beating against other currencies; something about a debt ceiling crisis?

I know it’s an exaggeration, but it seems that every time we decide to go away, some national disaster occurs. I remember when we went to New Jersey in 2005 to visit friends of my wife, Hurricane Katrina hit. In addition to the terrible loss of life and property, gas prices spiked from $2.66 a gallon to about $3.25 in one week. (Ah, wish we had $3.25 gas now…)

We get to a motel in NF, NY and my wife, when given the choice, will always take the second floor over the first. She believes, not incorrectly, that the first floor is noisier from cars and people than the second. What she never inquired about, however, was whether there was an elevator to the second floor; there is not. So I’m schlepping these bags up the stairs. The worst bag is my suitcase, not because I packed so heavily, but because I actually had some extra room, it became the catchall for everything that didn’t fit elsewhere. By the end of the first week, it was my suitcase that became irreparably damaged.

The good thing about our hotel, is that it is on the route for a free shuttle, what they called a trolley, to the Falls. The not-so-good thing is that, except for the airport, it was the farthest point to the Falls, taking nearly an hour to get there.

We finally make it to the Visitor’s Center. While waiting in line to buy a Discovery Pass, a man falls down. It was assumed that he slipped on the wet pavement, though it did not appear so to me. He gets up, but then staggers into a garbage can and falls down again. The people at the Visitor’s Center sit at their booths, dumbfounded, while tourists help him. I suggest to the employees that they ought to call 911. I didn’t say to them that he was either drunk, unlikely at 10 a.m., or, more likely, he had some sort of medical condition.

The Discovery Pass allowed for discounted travel to these Niagara Falls State Park attractions:
Niagara: Legends of Adventure Theater
Aquarium of Niagara
Cave of the Winds Trip
Discovery Center
Maid of the Mist

Where shall we go first?

(To be continued…)

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2 thoughts on “Off to Niagara Falls

  1. Everybody touts the Canadian side, but for actually seeing the Falls, I’ll take the American side, any day of the week, because it has more vantage points and it makes the Falls seem more, I don’t know, natural. The Canadian side is a carnival atmosphere, with so much stuff being built over there. Every time we go — we average a visit every other year or so — there’s another gawdy tower on the Canadian side.

    But the actual city of Niagara Falls, NY? It’s one of the most depressing towns I’ve ever seen.

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