Friday, September 28, 2018

On The Way Home From Canada, We Saw Niagara Falls, Theodore Roosevelt, and Trilobites!

Here's our first stop at Steamtown National Historic Site.

And then we started home, sightseeing all the way. 

I mean, really. You can't drive right past the Niagara Falls without stopping to take a look!

We stayed the night on the Canada side, and we tried to explore the town, but... my, it's a VERY tourist-friendly location! Go-carts and haunted houses and T-shirt shops and Ripley's and ferris wheels and towers and hotels and water parks and restaurants and arcades and wax museums and bumper to bumper traffic and more people than the sidewalks could possibly hold. I can handle national parks and historic sites and museums and zoos and hikes and people-watching. I cannot handle tourist traps and giant crowds of tourists.

We parked on the veeeeery edge of the tourist traps and walked the Riverwalk past the Rainbow Bridge to an overlook of the Niagara Falls, thus avoiding 99% of the tourist-heavy areas--turns out that there were far fewer tourists actually looking at Niagara Falls than there were doing go-carts and haunted houses!

We stayed past sunset and into the night, because I wanted to see the fireworks. I did know that they made the Niagara Falls tacky after dark, but I wasn't quite prepared for what that would look like:

The fireworks were spectacular, though, if equally tacky when you consider their location:

The next morning, my plan was that we'd do either Hornblower or Maid of the Mist, as we did the last time we were at Niagara, but the kids, perhaps as tired of tourists as I was, both vetoed the idea. We had seen the long lines for Hornblower the previous night, so that probably had much to do with their reluctance. Instead, we crossed the Rainbow Bridge back to the US, paid admission to Niagara Falls State Park, and parked on Goat Island to do some hiking.

Ahhh... much better!

You get a better view of the Falls from the Canada side, but you can get much closer on the US side!

There were lots of tourists by the best lookouts, but we passed very few people as we hiked to Three Sisters Islands and back:

This is exactly one photo of everyone with their eyes open, out of approximately 400 that I took of them with a varying amount of eyes squeezed shut. There was even a tourist behind me, shouting at the kids, "Just hold your eyes open for a minute! A nice picture is worth it! Come on, do it for your Mom!"

We spent the entire morning at Niagara Falls State Park, then drove over to the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site just before they opened with their wonky Sunday hours. I was ambivalent about this one, but the fact that we were right there, and that it had a Junior Ranger program, were our deciding factors.

It was... well. It was right there. It has a Junior Ranger program. It was also awfully expensive for what we got, and the guided tour was less than half-hearted, although Matt's excuses that our tour guide was perhaps new and super nervous did not fly after I noticed that he had no problem gregariously flirting with the woman working the front desk. My own guess is that the tour guides have a script, and this particular tour guide has discovered that if he rattles out the script as quickly as possible, and leaves no room for anyone to ask questions, then he can get his tours over with and get back to flirting.

Anyway, here's one interesting photo from the inside:

And here's one interesting photo from the outside:

Fortunately, the thing that I most wanted to do in New York is also right there. We went back to Penn Dixie!

It's my favorite spot to search for fossils, and if we lived nearby, I'd be there every day. As it is, I purchased a family membership so that we could make the most of our limited time by staying after they'd closed to the public. Seriously, you move your car outside of the gate and then they just leave you there. It's quiet and lovely, and you can dig away as happily as you please.

There's me, happy as a trilobite scuttling in the mud on the bottom of the shallow ocean floor!

Matt wanted to get Buffalo Wings for dinner because, you know, Buffalo, but I had zero interest in that food, and so I convinced him to take the kids off to a Daddy-Daughter Buffalo Wing Dinner while I stayed all by myself at Penn Dixie. It was the first time I'd been alone since Halifax. The area was completely absent human and traffic noises, and I blissfully wandered here and there, digging for a while in one spot and finding beautiful things, and then another, finding yet more beautiful things. If it was just me I'd have fetched my sleeping bag from the car and stayed there all night, so that I could begin again at first light, but alas, as soon as the light began to fade my family came back for me, an order of baked potato skins in tow, and we went to our hotel so I could eat them and watch Princess Bride.

And the next day, we went home.

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