Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Niagara Falls - Canada

I've got a whole ton of posts coming your way this week and next so get ready!!  We've been crazy busy so that means there's lots to document here on the blog.

Last week we had our second big camping trip of the year.  It all started out about a year ago when my cousin Cathy announced that she was planning a Ritterbusch Family Reunion for August of 2014.  The reunion was scheduled for 4 days and was going to be held in the Mohican State Park about an hour north of Columbus, Ohio.  The location is pretty central for our family that's scattered across the country and I knew from the  moment she sent out the information that Ryan and I would be in.

After doing a Google search I realized that we really weren't THAT far from Niagara Falls.  Well, for some perspective, my dad tells a story that when my Uncle Chuck decided to come out for my wedding (in Northern Illinois) he decided that the family was also going to go see Mount Rushmore because it was "close".  HA!  Well, maybe I should say that Niagara is closer to Columbus that we are in Hampshire, so it seemed like we should take the opportunity to make a trip out of it.

After doing TONS of research I finally settled on a campground about 45 minutes west of the Falls on the Canadian side.  Let me tell you, finding the perfect campground and the perfect site was NOT easy.  I did tons of searching online to find a park that wasn't privately owned (we tend to stick to national/state parks because they are usually the BEST when it comes to actually looking and feeling like a camp ground and being AWAY from major highways.  We HATE places that look like Jellystone or KOA's).  I ended up picking a park managed by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority called Chippawa Creek.  It was perfect and for anyone else looking for a camping recommendation for the area, this gets my vote a thousand times over.

* I think that might be my most favorite picture of the whole trip!!  It's perfect!

Since our campsite was a bit of a drive from the Falls we decided we'd go there early in the trip (Monday) and then we could decide if we wanted to come back for another day or two of if the one trip was enough.  We stayed in Canada til Thursday and then headed to Ohio for the reunion.  Turns out we decided just one day at the falls was enough for us.  We thought we were being smart to go on a Monday and try to avoid some of the people, but Canada actually ended up having a holiday on the Monday we were there.  It's hard to say if it was more or less crowded than any other day but there were definitely plenty of people there.  We spent the afternoon walking up and down the long walkway near the falls, just taking it all in.

The Falls were amazing and I'm so glad that we had the opportunity to visit. It's one of the wonders of the world for goodness sake!  We must see it at some point in our lives!  I worried that Abby would be afraid of the boat ride into the Falls (Maid of the Mist) and it was about $50 per person so we opted to have lunch on a beautiful (yet expensive) patio that overlooked the falls.  The food wasn't anything to write home about (read: $10 hot dog and $7 beers) but the view....that was worth every penny!!  Lunch was great and the prefect way to spend a few hours (with a small lady that needed a nap, badly).

Note:  Alcohol in Canada is expensive no matter where you go.  In fact, we "imported" 4 cases of beer from Illinois just to avoid having to buy much there.  For some perspective, a case of Miller Lite runs about $45 in the $50 we spent on 8 beers overlooking the Falls really wasn't THAT crazy.

The landscaping all around Canada was particularly amazing.  We visited many places in our 4 days there and we were always commenting on how beautiful all the flowers and plants were.

When we got to the Falls we ended up parking about a half mile away to avoid paying a million dollars just to park.  On our walk down to the water we ended up stopping to use the restrooms at the Hershey's Chocolate store.  It just so happened that you need to use the restrooms in the attached hotel lobby and the men's room was out of order so Ryan ended up needing to go the 10th floor.  He admitted to "accidentally" seeing the Falls before anyone else.  HA!

Interestingly enough, Dad didn't find the Falls all that impressive as we walked up to them.  This was our view from the ledge when we first got down to the walk way.  Across the river, that's the US side.  Everyone I talked to said that the Falls are nicer on the Canada side and that was hard to understand until you were actually there.  See to the right of the above picture, there is a tall glass building right near the falls.  That's on the American side.  If you were trying to see the Falls from that angle you'd actually be looking mostly DOWN at them instead of across at it.  And, the horseshoe falls would be nearly impossible to see from the US side.  See to the left of the above picture the land mass there is actually a small island and then to the very far right you can see just a small bit of white spray from the Horseshoe Falls.  The only way to see that from the US would be to take the ferry across to the island and then still you'd really only have a sideways view.

This picture (above) was taken right next to the Horseshoe Falls.  I said earlier that Dad wasn't very impressed with the Falls when we first arrived, but standing here, watching the water crash over the side, that's the part he liked best.

These two pictures were taken from a giant Ferris Wheel we went on near the Falls.  I was worried that Abby would be scared by the loud wet Maid of the Mist and the "Behind the Falls" tour was on the American side so we opted for a nice view from a little farther away.  The view from the top was amazing!! Still closer to the American Falls that was our best view, but in the below picture you can see the spray from the Horseshoe (or Canadian) Falls.  All in all it was really quite impressive and I'm so glad we tacked this part of the country onto our trip.

Abby's favorite part??  The Dino mini put put directly under the Ferris Wheel.  She could have cared less about seeing the Falls from up high, but those dinosaurs, they won her heart.  She's one funny kid I tell funny kid.

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