Slooooowly, I turned…

The title of this blog post could refer to my northernmost turning point.   Having tagged the Canadian border, I am now slowly turning my way back in a southwestern direction to be with my family in Texas for the holidaze.

Or, it could refer to my reluctance to turn 59 years old, as I did last Wednesday.  Just one more year until I have to form my lips into that utterly scary word of “sixty.”  (A bit of personal trivia; I share the same birthday with John Lennon, so my annual tradition is to listen to the White Album, if for no other reason than to hear him sing, “They say its your birthday…its my birthday too, yeah!”)

But no…..instead, it refers to….

If you are like me, a child of the 60’s and 70’s, growing up on a household with only one TV and four channels, then you instantly knew, “Oh…she is in Niagara Falls!”

After school TV was limited to only a few programs, and even fewer if you had an older brother.  😉    I was raised on TV shows like the Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and of course, the Three Stooges.   If you ever saw any Three Stooges episodes, you no doubt remember the cult-like response to the word “Niagara Falls.”   “Slooowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch”:…a skit which still cracks me up, even to this day.   So it was with a “Nyuah, nyuah, nyuah!” that I approached the highway signs directing me to a place that still evokes a response from us “juvenile elders.”  NIAGARA FALLS!!

I camped 15 miles outside of town at Four Mile Creek State Park, right on Lake Ontario.   It was immaculately clean and peaceful for a state park…all except for the night when the winds got up to 35 mph, as I stayed holed up inside, rethinking my “lakeside space” as I watched the tent awnings uproot and blow away, one by one.   Otherwise, it was a pleasant place to escape the heavily touristed Niagara Falls State Park, where I could still park for the day with my Four Mile Creek camping fee, a $10 per day savings.

Site 228 at Four Mile Creek SP with view of Lake Ontario in the background

I was surprised to learn that 20% of all the fresh water in the world comes from the Great Lakes, with all the outflow emptying into the Niagara river, eventually cascading over the falls. This happens at a rate up to 40 miles per hour, which can make any walk over a pedestrian bridge or a stroll along the sidewalk path feel a bit tenuous, like “living on the edge.” One small slip or trip for man, one giant leap for the ten o’clock news!

Niagara River rushes past sidewalk at up to 40 mph!

Unbeknownst to me, Niagara Falls is actually made up of three falls, the largest being Horseshoe Falls…

“Horseshoe Falls”

The mid-sized American Falls…

The “American Falls” (green structure is Observation Tower)

And the smallest, Bridal Veil Falls.

“Bridal Veil Falls”

Having come this far, I was going to “do it all,” so I bought the Discovery Pass, and started my orientation with a ride on the famous “Maid of the Mist” boat ride which cruises along the American and Bridal Veil falls, and stops 170 ft beneath the brink of Horseshoe Falls.

“Maid of the Mist” boarding, taken from Observation Tower

This entire ride takes only about 20 minutes, and takes quite a comedic turn as everyone starts out by posing for “selfies” sporting their bright blue “Maid of the Mist” ponchos. The first part of the ride is spent jockeying for position along the rail to get the absolute best possible spot to take photos. The middle part of the ride is spent retreating from that same spot, ducking for cover while torrents of water rain down from every direction. The last part of the ride is spent in a state of shock, shaking off water and disbelief like a soaked puppy, while examining camera equipment for damage from the unexpected deluge. Or at least that was my experience. I expected “mist,” not “monsoon!”

Next stop was the “Cave of the Winds” tour.   (Here’s a tip – do these attractions in reverse order.  Cave of the Winds gives you a lovely pair of souvenir water sandals that would have certainly been a welcome wardrobe addition for the “Maid of the Mist Monsoon” boat ride!)

An elevator takes you 170 feet down to the base of Bridal Veil Falls where you can climb a series of scaffolding-like boardwalks and staircases to reach the “Hurricane Deck,” where it is possible to feel the awe-inspiring, mesmerizing, thundering power of the falls.

Hurricane Deck beneath Bridal Veil Falls

Doing my best “Extreme Weather Forecast” imitation from the Hurricane Deck

This deck is torn down and reconstructed every year to avoid destruction by the flow of ice over the river.

Cave of the Winds Tour is dismantled and reassembled with every season

Next up….“Slooowly I turn” at the Canadian side…

10 thoughts on “Slooooowly, I turned…

  1. Well, Happy Birthday! (We just won’t mention the next one if you’d rather not).

    You had me L-ing out loud with the White Album tradition. Perfect! I imagine if Lennon were alive, at 73, he would be teaching us all how to grow old.

    • Thanks to all for the nice birthday wishes! I wanted to go over the falls in a barrel to celebrate like Annie Taylor, the 63 year old retired school teacher did on her birthday back on 1901, but turns out they frown on that sorta thing these days…still, it was a fun day!

  2. Your photos and descriptions brought back memories of my childhood. I grew up in Erie, PA and my dad loved to pile us all in the car for a trip to Niagara Falls, on our way to other spots in Canada or just as its own destination. I haven’t been back since I drove there once in my early twenties.

    Another favorite spot of his was Letchworth state park in NY.

    • Thanks, Jeanne! I drove right through Erie. In fact, I stopped for 2 nights in Lake Erie State Park. Did you ever go there? Definitely a lot of locals there, as I think I may have been the only “out of region” plates in the park. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  3. First I want to congratulate you on your photographs, they are awesome. I define as awesome photos which are as I would love to take, but seem to not quite make it. I am delighted that you took the Maid of the Mist boat ride. My family had to convince me to take that ride the first time we visited the falls and it was the defining event for our visit. Just Awesome!? I regret that you did not go into the Adirondacks of NY state, nor come east to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. They as well as MA hold many beautiful sites of mountains, rivers, lakes and ocean coast. Put it on the list. By the way I had just gotten comfortable with saying sixty when the next one came along. The wife is still getting used to sixty.
    peace and enjoy.

    • Thank you so much for your nice comment, Allen! I did a bit of exploring of Vermont, NH, and Maine when I lived in New York, but I didn’t have the RV back then. I will definitely have to come back and explore more! But for now, I am scurrying south for the winter. Thanks again for stopping by and commenting!

  4. I don’t recall staying at Lake Erie State Park in NY when
    I was growing up. It was probably too close to home to qualify as a “vacation” destination for my dad. We spent many weekends at the beaches of Presque Isle State Park, which is right in Erie, PA and quite popular for picnics, bbq’s, and watersports. As a teenager I would ride my bike to Presque Isle once or twice each summer (I think it was 26 miles roundtrip from our house). I hope to return to PA and NY in the next couple years.

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