Niagara Mini-Vacation, April 2011 - Part 1.
By the time you're reading this, John and I will be taking our comprehensive exams. They start May 9th and go until about June 6th. We get 4 weeks to answer 3 questions, 20+ pages each. It's daunting, but we're both trying to stay positive. It will be hard, but we can do it. We'll be busy, but not insane.
(I've written several blog posts in advance, so the thrilling one-post-per-week pace won't change during May).
John in the Falls parking lot. Check out the hotels up on the ridge. Niagara Falls-the-town is sort of like Vegas, but you know, tackier.
Several friends of mine have had babies in the last year or two, and so I've learned about the concept of a "baby-moon." It's what you do while you're pregnant to make the most of your just-the-two-of-us time before the baby comes along and your lives change so drastically. John and I decided that this would be a good time to have a "comps-moon" or a pre-comps vacation. Not that babies and comps are similar, but since there were only two weeks between finals and comps, we wanted to make the most of that time, get out of town for a couple days, and see some sights.
One of the great things about London is its proximity to touristy places, even though the city itself isn't really one of them (which is fine with us). Since it's too cold to go to the beach, we decided to try the Niagara region. Besides the falls, the area has a variety of wineries and cool places to visit. I'll break the Niagara posts up into three, since there were two days and a lot of pictures. Here goes #1!
The beautiful Falls Welcome Center.
The Ontario locals recommended seeing the falls, but that we would otherwise want to stay away from Niagara Falls itself. It's very touristy, sort of like Vegas, but really more like Branson, MO. Still, they've really spent a lot of money making the falls an easy, lovely, place to visit.
We started at the Falls Welcome Center, where John pretended to be a lookout. They have a few attractions there, like Niagara's Fury, and the Journey Behind the Falls. We opted to do the latter, since it wouldn't involve any motion sickness for me.
The Journey Behind the Falls is pretty simple - you get a poncho, and they take you down an elevator to some tunnels behind the falls, and you can walk around and look out.
The tunnels were mostly built in the 1930s, and I had the sensation while we were descending that the whole operation got more and more low-tech the lower we went under ground. The tunnels open up to portals where you can see the water rushing around. It doesn't seem like a water fall because of how the water sprays every where. It looks like it's spraying from all directions.
After 10 minutes walking around the tunnels, we went out to the special, Behind the Falls observation deck.
The lower level of the deck was so wet that I put the camera away. I was grateful for the poncho at that point, since we were able to walk right up to the falls, and they sprayed constantly. The temperature was also a solid 10-15 degrees F below what hit had been above ground, away from the falls, so we pulled our arms inside the ponchos for warmth.
Our feeling about the Behind the Falls trip was that it was fun and worth doing once, but I wouldn't pay to do it again. It's fun to see the falls from above, too, and I'm glad we went there.
After we'd had enough time up close with the falls, we headed back above ground to take more photos and walk around. The weather was supposed to thunderstorm, but we were lucky and caught the warm, sunny front before the storm.
Horseshoe Falls, a.k.a, the Canadian side.
The falls are pretty windy.
Falls come from Lake Erie, go past Niagara, down the Niagara River, and into Lake Ontario. They recede every year, and apparently they'll recede into Lake Erie eventually and disappear.