grab your barrel and raincoat

I have a list of trips in my head. Places I want the kids to see before they are grown. Perspectives I want them to have, views I want them to store away, memories I want them to treasure. Two of those trips were crossed off my mental list last weekend: Niagara Falls and Gettysburg.

First up – the falls.

We arrived in Niagara at dinnertime and after eating outside along the beautiful Niagara River we checked into our hotel and walked over to the Niagara State Park. Our goal? To tour the Cave of the Winds that night. I’d read that doing this tour at night was something special because the falls are lit up with different colored lights. It was indeed a special view of the falls in so many ways. Doing the tour at night we had no crowds at all – literally there were half a dozen people down there with us. And seeing the falls at night with the lights was a view completely different from daytime. Well worth the dark, slippery path and lack of pictures.

I tried to take pictures with my waterproof camera but it was too dark, none of them came out. That’s a shame because this was our favorite view of the falls. At one point we were next to the rocks at the bottom of the American Falls watching 75,000 gallons per second crash onto the boulders. A few steps later we were all but inside Bridal Falls. It was hard to hear each other over the roar of the water but the smiles on our very wet faces told everything – this is an amazing way to see the Falls. It is only available on the American side of the falls. And it is worth every dollar.

An added bonus to our plan? We came up from the bottom of the Falls less than five minutes before the fireworks show started. We thought we might have to walk a bit to see them but it turns out the best view of all was right in front of us – again with no crowds. Perfect timing 🙂

In the morning we did the Maid of the Mist tour. This boat ride is probably the most famous way to see the Falls. It lives up to its name too – the mist blowing off the falls is not light! But it’s worth getting wet to see all the falls – this view of Horseshoe Falls is incredible. A very fun tour that is the same on either side of the river but on the American side it also includes access to the Observation Tower with some great views of the falls in their entirety.

We were done with our tours and hikes and water-filled views by noon that second day. Is there more to do in Niagara? There is, but much of it is very touristy and expensive. We made sure we saw the Falls from all possible perspectives and that was my goal. We left in awe of the never-ending power of these natural wonders. A beautiful trip well worth the drive.

That afternoon we wandered our way down to Southern Pennsylvania. Perhaps not the normal addition to a Niagara trip, but it was just the excuse we needed to get out to Gettysburg. And I’ll tell you all about that trip tomorrow!


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