Monday, August 14, 2023 - Today, we drove from Erie, Pennsylvania along the coast of Lake Erie to Buffalo, New York and then beyond to the coast of Lake Ontario and the small town of Wilson. We stopped at the Daisy Barn RV Park right on the shores of Lake Ontario. The drive took three hours and the weather was excellent. No problems with the drive.
After setting up the RV, Lisa and I walked around the RV park. They have very nice facilities, including a new swimming pool. We then had dinner and just relaxed as we planned out the next few days activities. There are bike trails nearby, so that is a plan. We will also go to see Niagara Falls and, this time, take the hike across the bridge to the Canadian side. Covid stopped us last time were were here from seeing the Canadian side.
Tuesday, August 15, 2023 - Fort Niagara Underground railroad. Today, the weather was supposed to be a little "iffy," so we decided to go visit Fort Niagara where the Niagara River flows out into Lake Ontario. This was one of the first forts in North America and was built, initially, by the French. They built the first actual, multi-story building at the fort our of bricks and rock. The French built this fort in 1726 and they had built a working relationship with the Iroquois Indians who frequented the fort to trade. The English took the fort away from the French in 1759 during the French and Indian War, and held onto it until 1796 when the United States took control. It was basically ceded to the US after the Revolution, but the British retained control for another 13 years. During the War of 1812, the British again attacked the fort. The British again relinquished the fort under the terms of the Treaty of Ghent. It has been in US hands ever since. Lots of history here. The French created a "Grand Portage" here around Niagara Falls and the deadly Niagara River. See the photos of the fort in the photo gallery.
Wednesday, August 16, 2023 - Since the weather reports called for a clear day, we elected to go to Niagara Falls to see the falls again and to also walk over to the Canadian side to see what is there. We arrived at the Niagara Falls State Park at about 10:00 am and parked in lot #1 right next to Horseshoe Falls. It cost $10 to park at Niagara Falls, but there is not entry fee. There are several fun activities to do while at the falls. First, to the right side of Bridal Veil Falls (looking downstream) is the Cave of the Winds. This is a hiking path that takes you down to the water level and then back up the slope right next to the falling water. This really gives you a chance to experience the power of the falling water. We did not do this, this year, since we had a lot of walking to do and we had done it before. We then walked over to the Observation Tower for the Maid of the Mist boats that can take you right up-close-and-personal with Horseshoe Falls. You can also walk out on the observation deck for a $1.25 charge. It is well worth it to get some better camera angles of the falls. We decided not to take the Maid of the Mist boat trip, but to walk across the Rainbow Bridge to the Canadian side and then take the City Experience boat that does the exact same thing as the Maid of the Mist. The Maid of the Mist boats are blue and the passengers all wear blue plastic rain ponchos. The City Experience boats are red and their plastic ponchos are red. You will definitely need one if you take these boats to the falls. Next, we walked over the Rainbow Bridge from the US to the Canadian side. You pass through a gate and are then on the walkway to the Canadian side. I took several photos and videos while on the bridge. You get great views of both sides of the river. The middle of the bridge is the border between the US and Canada. Once we reached the Canadian side, we were ushered through Canadian customs one family at a time. It was harmless and quick. We answered a few questions and confirmed that we did not have over $10,0000 in cash on us. They then allowed us access for the four hours that we would be there. We went to the City Experiences boat ticket offices and used a QR code to schedule our boat trip at 2:30 pm. We then decided to walk up the hill into the Canadian town of Niagara Falls. It is a tourist mecca (trap) with all sorts of venues that you would expect out of Las Vegas; including casinos. There were lots of places to eat and the prices were about twenty-five percent more that they should have been. We found a unique place to get hamburgers and fries. The cost was a little high at about $45 Canadian. Thanks goodness the exchange rate is about .75 so we only had to pay about three-fourths of that cost. We always use our USAA credit card for these transactions since it is easy, and the bank always gives us the best exchange rate. We also do not get charged an "international transaction fee" for our purchases through USAA.
After lunch, we toured the Canadian side and took phots of the falls from what is actually a better vantage point. After taking photos and hiking the Canadian side, we walked back to the City Experience boat location. We went down the elevator to the boat level by the river; about 200 foot drop. There is a very cool Funicular Tram that you can ride down and up for a fee, but we chose to use the elevator. We then took the ride to Horseshoe Falls from the Canadian side. It is a fun ride and you get to experience the power of the water coming over the falls. After the boat ride, we decided that it was time to hike back to the US side. We walked to the Rainbow Bridge and went through the doors stating the path to the United States. We had to pay on dollar each to walk back across the bridge and this is collected on the Canadian side. I used a couple of "Loonies" that we had from our previous trips to Canada. The Canadian dollar has a picture of a "Loon" bird on it, so they are referred to as "Loonies." Once we reached the US side, we showed our "Global Entry" cards and were allowed access back into the states. After customs, we walked back to our truck for the drive back to the RV. We hike for just over 8.5 miles during the course of this day. It was a beautiful day, and we really enjoyed the visit; especially the time spent on the Canadian side. This was all new to us.
Thursday, August 17, 2023 - WE have been looking for places to ride our bikes, but many of the Rails to Trails routes were quite a distance from our RV. We finally decided to ride the Shoreline Trail along the Niagara River. We would start our ride at the family park in Lewiston, New York and then ride south to the falls and back. This entire trail is paved and there are no cars on the trail at any point. We did venture into the town of Lewiston for pastries, so we had to get on the local roads for a while, but it was not a problem. There was not much traffic and the traffic we encountered was very courteous. There is a Scenic Byway road that parallels the Shoreline Trial along the Niagara River. In some places, the trial is actually two complete car lanes wide and is half of the Scenic Byway. There are no cars to compete with and the views of the Niagara River from the top of the bluff are pretty spectacular. There is also a power plant area where water is channeled from the Niagara River above the falls and converted into electricity at these plants. Only about half of the water coming down the Niagara River to the falls goes over the falls. Half is diverted below the falls for electricity and to protect the falls from more aggressive erosion. We also rode past the place on the river that is called "The Whirlpool." This is a place where the river channel creates a whirlpool in the river that is about 40 feet across. It is very dangerous and there are jet boats excursions that travel up into this area, but they stay pretty clear of the whirlpools. The river above the whirlpool is "above Class VI rapids,' and very dangerous. Above Class VI, essentially, means a waterfall. Very dangerous and no jet boats are allowed up there since and accident in the 1970s that cost four lives. We rode all the way to the falls and then rode around the falls area on our bikes. This is so much better than hiking as we could cover much more area on the bikes. Also, there were not rangers who came up to us to tell not to do what we were doing. We ended up riding 31 miles for the entire course of this ride. On the way back to our truck, we stopped at the same pastry shop in Lewiston because they made sandwiches too, and they had a "pot roast" sandwich on a homemade sesame roll. It was very good and just the right amount of food for Lisa and I to share. After lunch, we rode back to the truck and then drove to the RV to relax. It was a very good day.
Friday, August 18, 2023 - Today we drive to the Ridge RV Campground near Mount Morris, New York. This is a three hour drive. We did not have to leave until around noon, so we drove into the small town of Wilson that is located about five miles east of us. We wanted to see the town and to also buy some eggs (which we forgot the day before). After returning from Wilson, we began the drive to Mount Morris.