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Hurricane Deck, Niagara Falls, NY
5th Jul 2008
Niagara Falls, New York

Today I spent a long time enjoying a very famous American attraction, which, along with the Statue of Liberty, Mt Rushmore and the White House, is probably one of the more famous US icons:  Niagara Falls.

Yesterday I purchased a ticket for a tour that comprised all the best parts of the area.  It was operated by a woman who, were she not so amiable, could have worked in Auschwitz or an abattoir.  Due to her excellent but forceful stewardship we managed to be at the front of the queue for the Cave of the Winds when it opened, and missed the 2000-strong queue for the boat:  she gave strict instructions about how to beat the other tourists, and marshaled us as effectively as if she had had a cattle-prod. 

The Caves of the Winds is a tunnel down to the bottom of Goat Island, the centre of the falls.  Here they have built a wooden boardwalk that takes tourists right into the water.  Despite wearing a raincoat we still all got soaked, especially when standing in almost the full force of the falls.  Great fun.

After this we went on the world-famous Maid of the Mist boat ride, which takes visitors right into the basin of the Canadian falls.  We were covered in spray the whole time but this and the roar of the water made for a very exhilarating stint.

We watched a very lame 3D video that would have made Native Americans (and the worst  budding actors) cringe, and then headed downstream to the Whirlpool.  This is a bend in the river a mile or two downstream where the rapids create a huge underwater vortex.  Very impressive.  The falls used to be at this point in the river because they are slowly moving upstream from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, and will one day make it all the way upstream.

The tour was very expensive but worth the money, because of our guide's ability to shepherd us so well. 


I need not have fretted about my paperwork, Canada, and potentially missing the best views through being on the US side:  the boat trip afforded the best international views, and I think we may have dipped West of the border at one point.

I felt very left-out as I was the only one in a group otherwise consisting entirely of couples and honeymooners.  It was one of the very few times that I wish I was on holiday with someone, particularly a partner, rather than doing this alone.



After leaving the waters I drove all the way across New York state, through such Euro-named towns as Rome, Syracuse and Rochester, to Vermont.  This (and the corner of NY too) is a beautiful state.  It's so nice to see deciduous trees at last after endless evergreen forests:  sycamore, poplar, lime, willow, and - hurrah! so homely! - some very grand horse chestnuts. 

Before entering Vermont I had been very scathing of the name "New England".  I had thought that it showed the same lack of imagination on the part of the early settlers that their descendants showed more recently in creating a country containing 10,000 cities each with an identical set of street names (Main, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, Oak, Maple, Washington, Franklin, Jefferson etc streets, and a Martin Luther King Jr boulevard [it's always a boulevard]).  However, this part of the country looks exactly like England.  Gently rolling hills, streams, deciduous trees, farms....  the only difference (today, probably not then) is that there is a lot less farmland here than in Old England.  So, to be fair to those who fled somewhere insufficiently puritanical to redefine and overuse the term "Freedom", it's a just moniker.


Next: Vermont and New Hampshire
Previous: Independence day - Buffalo, New York

Diary Photos

Hurricane Deck, Niagara Falls, NY

Hurricane Deck sign, Niagara Falls, NY

The Niagara River, NY

Niagara Falls, NY

Rainbow Bridge, Niagara Falls, NY

American Falls, Niagara Falls, NY

American Falls, Niagara Falls, NY

Bridal Veil Falls, Niagara Falls, NY

The Man of the Mist, Niagara Falls, NY

Boarding the Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls, NY

All falls, Niagara Falls, NY

Dan, Niagara Falls, NY

Downstream of the falls, Niagara Falls, NY

Countryside, Vermont

Sunset over a farm, Vermont

Bennington, Vermont

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