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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Weekend Adventure: Niagara Falls

In anticipation of our trans-American road trip next summer, we decided a trip to Niagara Falls should be done this summer instead of next. Niagara Falls is only about 6 hours away from us, so we wanted to knock it off the list of Places to Visit Before We Get Married.

We've had a pretty fun-filled (read: expensive) summer thus far, so we decided to budget this trip pretty tightly. Instead of a hotel, we decided to take advantage of the good weather and camp nearby the falls. We picked Lakeside Beach State Park in Waterport, NY.

"Budget" wasn't exactly the theme of this campground. We're tent campers, and as such, we require no electric or water hook-ups at our campgrounds. Unfortunately, this campground didn't offer tent sites with no hook-ups. The cost was $25/night, which is about twice the amount that I am accustomed to paying for a state campsite. We also brought only the bare bones for this trip, thinking we'd only use the campsite like a hotel room. Bare bones equipment includes the tent, sleeping bags, flashlights, a lantern, and some chairs. No kitchen equipment, no stove, no tarps.

We arrived around 10:15pm at the campsite after half a work day for both of us, and fun-packed afternoon of traversing the entire state of New York. The park rangers had already closed by the time we arrived, so we set up camp in the dark, past quiet time, on our reserved site. We didn't have a fire, and we slept with the fly of the tent  folded in the tent bag.

The next morning, we got up relatively early (as one is want to do when camping), and got ready for the day at the falls. When we left, it seemed the campground was a million miles away from coffee, diners, breakfast, and gas. We pushed the 1.5 hours out to Niagara via Route 18. Nothing but quaint fruit farmland. It was definitely beautiful, but pretty devoid of anything we could stop at besides a few picture opportunities on Lake Ontario.

We spent about 5 hours walking around the Niagara Falls area. I've got to say that the American side of the falls is depressingly unimpressive. We've got nothing on the Canadian side. There we a lot of Indian street vendors selling strange junk household kitchen goods like Pringles and Twizzlers. There was also an overabundance of cheap "I <3 NY" t-shirts. We didn't bother sticking around too much on the American side. We broke out our passports and went right over Rainbow Bridge.

The day was well-spent walking up and down the Canadian side of the falls. We did the Maid of the Mist boat tour, which was well worth the $15 admission fee. We got soaked and continued to walk down to Horseshoe Falls. We found a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer, and I demanded a picture with him. They do look fine in those uniforms, don't they?

We head back to the campground around 5 or 6, after crossing back over the bridge and back into the US. This is pretty much where the whole trip made an unmistakable turn for the worst. I'll do a separate entry for that, though. Let the bad not affect the good from this trip!

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