O Canada

Trip Start Jan 06, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday, October 4th

After crossing the border we drove to the Campark campground where we are staying in Niagara Falls.  We arrived in time to listen to the Phillies play game 3 of the NLDS.  Our plan is to relax, listen to the game and get a good night rest for the falls tomorrow. Go Phillies!

Wednesday, October 5th

Today we decided to sleep in some and head down to the falls a little bit later since we figured we would be out somewhat late tonight after watching the Phillies game.  We caught the shuttle down to the falls and got our first glimpse of the falls.  They are gorgeous and definitely worth the trip up.  After checking them out for a while and taking tons of pictures we headed in to the welcome center to purchase the adventure pass, which would get us in to the Maid of the Mist, Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara's Fury, and the White Water Walk.  They had to set us up for times for the Journey Behind the Falls and Niagara's Fury so we decided to take the next times for each of them since they were located in the same building we were in. 

We headed up to Niagara's Fury first, which is a 4D attraction that takes you through the creation of the falls.  It was ok, Jared and I definitely thought it could have been cooler. The floor moves around to make it feel like you are in the water, but it really doesn't feel that much like you are in the water.  Water sprays out at you at different times during the movie, which was pretty cool. 

When we finished up Niagara's Fury we had some time to kill so we went back outside to get a closer look at the Horseshoe Falls. We were able to get line up right where the water falls over the edge and it was pretty cool to see it up close.  Jared was hungry so we bought a way over price hotdog and split it and then we headed to Journey Behind the Falls.

At Journey Behind the Falls an elevator takes you 150 feet down to the tunnels that lead to the Cataract Portal and the Great Falls Portal, which are one third of the way behind the falls. Then you can walk to the Upper and Lower Observation Decks at the foot of the falls. I thought that the Cataract and Great Falls Portal would have been cooler, but you are actually pretty far back from the sheet of the falls coming down and the water is moving so fast that it is hard to see through the sheet of water and it just looks like a big white sheet covering the opening. The observation decks were pretty cool though. You are right at the foot of the falls and it was pretty neat to see them from that angle.  

When we finished up at Journey Behind the Falls we walked up the Niagara Parkway to the location for the Maid of the Mist. The lines weren't long anywhere, but there was definitely more people at the Maid of the Mist then any of the other things we did so far. We were able to head right through the ticket booths because we already had our tickets as part of our pass so we were able to get right on the boat that was loading. Unfortunately people were already on the boat so we couldn't get a good spot in the front right on the rail. We were right behind people on the rail of the boat and decided that was a good location. The front of the boat is definitely where you want to be if you want to get wet from the falls. The mist at the base of the Horseshoe Falls is insane. I was really glad that we had the ponchos they gave us. We got lots of pictures and got pretty wet. Our camera got wet too so some of our pictures have drops on the lens. This was definitely the best attraction at the falls to do. 

After finishing up at the Maid of the Mist we decided to walk around the town some before catching an early dinner.  The area around the falls is definitely very touristy and we walked up a crazy street Clifton Hill.  There were tons of haunted mansions, Ripley's Believe It or Not, Guinness Book of World Records, all with crazy huge things on their store fronts that would make any little kid go nuts wanting to do it all. We checked out some of the stores for a magnet, but didn't go in to anything else. When we finished walking around we were heading back down towards the falls to find a place to eat. We were thinking about eating at a restaurant that overlooks the falls and were contemplating eating in the Skylon Tower with the revolving dining room. We figured both would be expensive, but decided we would treat ourselves. We were walking through the parking lot for the Skylon Tower and noticed that they had an early dinner special. Since we were trying to eat dinner and finish up before the Phillies game we figured this would work out great. We headed in and discussed if we were falling for a really bad tourist trap. We figured at least we would get to go up in the tower and get a cool view and eat something for dinner. It was definitely worth it. It was gorgeous with great views. The food was pretty good too. I got a huge piece of roast prime rib and Jared got Beef Tenderloin Strips Stroganoff. 

When we finished up dinner we played some air hockey in the arcade down below with the free tokens we got.  Jared won both games.  Then we headed up the street to Shoeless Joe's to watch the Phillies game.  There were two Cardinals fans and another Phillies fan at the bar watching the game too. Unfortunately the Phillies lost. 

After the game we headed to an overlook of the falls to see them lit up with different colors.  We didn't really get any good pictures though, they are pretty fuzzy.  Then we decided to head out and catch the next shuttle bus to the campground instead of having to wait an hour for the next shuttle.  When we got back  to the RV we headed to bed.

Thursday, October 6th

We got up today and drove down towards the falls again.  We wanted to head to the White Water Walk, which opened at 10am.  We got there and were able to park in a free lot across the street from the entrance.  An elevator takes you down to a boardwalk that goes along the edge of the water.  Before you get out to the boardwalk there were boards describing all the people who have tried to ride the rapids in barrels, or swim the rapids, or gone down the rapids in boats.  There were survivors, but also a good amount of deaths.  Our guy taking us down in the elevator informed us that they are class 6 rapids and they looked intense.  We walked all the way out to the end of the boardwalk and were standing on the platform leaning on the railing watching the water.  All of the sudden the water hit a rock and splashed up on Jared and me.  Jared got most of it and it was hilarious. haha  After he got wet we headed back up the boardwalk to catch the elevator to the street.  We then drove a little bit down the road to check out the whirlpool that is at the end of the rapids. 

After that we headed up to Niagara-on-the-Lake, which has about 22 wineries in the city. On our way in we stopped at the first sign we saw for a winery, which was the Frogpond Farm. It is an organic winery and is committed to 100% organic wine.  We enjoyed the red wines there and tried one of their ice wines.  They are really just to sweet for me.  We ended up buying a bottle of Cabernet Franc. Then we drove the rest of the way through downtown and out to some more wineries on the other side of the downtown. We decided to drive past the 5 wineries that were on the road and start from the farthest away winery to work our way back towards downtown. 

This brought us to the Palatine Hills Winery.  We tried some more reds here and really liked them also.  The guy serving us our tastings was very talkative and suggested some places for us to eat lunch downtown later.  We decided to purchase a bottle of the 1812 Merlot Cabernet.  Then we headed out to stop at the next winery, Konzelmann.  As soon as we walked in one of the guys doing the tastings yelled "Go Steelers."  We figured we would head to him and get our tastings from him.  He was quite the chatter and told us that he saw our Steelers license plate when we drove in.  We thought maybe he would be from the states, but know he was born and raised in the Niagara area.  He told us that we wouldn't have to pay for our tastings and let us try all the reds that we wanted to.  We decided to buy a bottle of the Cabernet Sauvignon. We decided to hit up one more winery before heading to lunch and stopped at the next one down the road, Hinterbrook. This one was pretty cool because they just started making their own wine and these bottles were their first year of wine. They have been a vineyard selling their grapes to other wineries for years and just decided to start making their own wines. They were pretty good too, but we decided not to buy another bottle.  All the other wineries had pretty reasonably priced wines at about $12 or $13, but the last winery's cheapest bottle was $18. 

After finishing up at the wineries we headed in to downtown to get some dinner.  Two guys at two different wineries suggested that we check out the Angel Inn.  Angel Inn is Ontario's oldest operating inn with an English style pub on the first floor.  It was a cool little pub with 26 different beers on tap.  Jared got a Reuben and I got the Steak Guinness and Onion Pie, which was delicious and an excellent choice. Jared was jealous of me. When we finished up lunch we walked around downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake for a little bit, which is a cute little town with lots of shops to check out. When we finished up we headed back to the RV and back to the campground for the day.

Friday, October 7th

We got up today and packed up the RV to head out.  We wanted to check out the locks in the Welland Canal.  The Welland Canal is a canal that enables ships to ascend and descend the Niagara Escarpment and to bypass the Niagara Falls.  The locks are basically a series of shoots that the ships pull in to and then doors close to keep the ship in the particular shoot they are in.  Then water is either filled in to or let out of the shoot to either elevate or lower the ship.  This way the ship can either climb up the locks or go down them to go up or down river.  We did see one huge ship in one of the locks.  It takes about 30 minutes for the ships to get through each lock so we didn't see the ship head through the lock, but it was crazy to see how little room there is in the locks around the ships. It is a tight space and I couldn't imagine trying to get a ship in them. 

After we finished checking out the locks we headed back in to the states.  The guy in the truck in front of us had a lot of difficulties getting through.  They ended up taking him out of his truck and then driving his truck somewhere to be searched.  The guy in the booth at the border was checking around his tires and in the bed of the truck.  It looked like they thought he was smuggling something through.  He had an Ontario license plate.  We were nervous when we pulled up because we were hoping the guy wasn't in a bad mood now from having to deal with the guy in the truck.  When we pulled up though it was quick and easy.  He just commented on how Jared has longer hair and a beard now compared to his passport picture (which was taken in 2005).  Jared was just like yeah and the guy said ok have a nice day. All around it was a much better trip getting in and out of Canada this time.  I guess having no guns on board will do that for you. 

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