After we woke up in Erie, PA we decided to start making our way up the coast into New York. After all, we are already pretty drenched from the lightning storm last night. We might as well make our way over to Niagara Falls.
As fans of lighthouses, when we drove past the town of Dunkirk and saw a sign for a historical lighthouse, we could not help but to stop to check it out.
As luck would have it, they were not doing any more tours that day so all we had to do was walk around the dilapidated exterior and watch the girls fight over signing guest book so one writes malimish and other airstream.
We finally made our way to Buffalo, New York and found the Elks Lodge to be situated at quite the convenient location to Niagara Falls. Even though it is next to a massive construction site by the shopping mall, we are not picky when it comes to city camping.
Niagara Falls, as you might expect, is extremely busy and touristy during the summer. It is part of the Niagara River so water from Lake Erie can flow northward into Lake Ontario.
We decided that since we are here as tourists, we have to take a ride in Maid of the Mist. It is practically a requirement when you visit Buffalo.
This is called American Falls. It is on the United States side of the river. An interesting note about the Maid of the Mist tour is that traditionally it had always been on the Canadian side. You used to have to cross into Canada to catch a ride. When I say used to, I mean last year. This is the first year that the operation was moved to the US side.
This is the world-famous Horseshoe Falls.
From up above the river bank, you can see the Maid of the Mist loading passengers in blue ponchos into its round bow, pointed stern ferry boats. The reason why they moved to the US side is because Canada had not renewed its contract and accepted a new U.S. based company to run new boats from its docks instead. That would be the new Hornblower Cruises in their brand spanking new catamaran ferries shuttling people up the river in green ponchos.
If you ask me, Maid of the Mist is the way to go.
You might think this is so touristy and not worth your time, you’d be wrong. The ride up to the falls is worth every penny.
There is nothing quite like the experience of having massive amounts of water dumping on you as you are closer than you ever want to be under Niagara Falls.
They call it mist, but these are giant drops of water coming down on you.
We first thought that a few drops of mist can’t really be that bad but we were drenched even with our ponchos.
I was so unprepared for what happened I had no way or preventing our camera from getting wet.
I juggled all of my camera gear in an attempt to both protect it and take some action shots that it eventually ceased working altogether.
Who needs a DSLR when you have camera phones.
It seems like we were there for an eternity but it was just few minutes. There are several ferry boats constantly in motion taking people on tours, it is not really expensive nor does it take a long time to get yourselves out there. Bottom line, if you are near, get out there and experience the Maid of the Mist.
We made our way across into Canada for a couple hours so we can get to the top and see the brink of the fall. It is pretty amazing to see this much water flowing this fast.
Back at the Buffalo Elks Lodge, we are basically just camping in a parking lot. I guess I should not have left a space between me and the trailer but this lady decided that if we wanted to hitch up and go, too bad.
While we are here in Buffalo, we wanted to hit a couple more spots. One of them was the Richardson Olmsted Complex.
This place was built in 1872 and open in 1880 as an insane asylum. For the next 100 year, thousands of patients came through here. Who knows that kinds of stories would be told if these walls could talk. Unlike other deteriorated historical buildings around the country, the city of Buffalo is actually working towards to bring it back into use. I don’t know about you but I would love to walk the halls and listen to the quiet sounds of the walls.
Another must here in Buffalo is of course eating some hot wings. Wings of one of my favorite foods of all time and I have been looking forward to trying them in Buffalo. Here they are from Duff’s Wings, one of the more popular local chains. We also went to the original Anchor Bar where buffalo wings were invented. I’d have to say that they were both very good but probably not the best I’ve ever had. I may get a lot of heat for this, (see what I did there?) but I still like Buffalo Wild Wings.
In the city of Buffalo is also the house where Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as the 26th president.
Theodore Roosevelt had only been the vice president for a short time before President William McKinley was assassinated. It is here in this house where Teddy was sworn in to succeed him.
This is the exact spot where he stood and took the oath. Apparently he didn’t have his other hand on a bible and he didn’t end with ‘so help me God’. But both of those are just traditions set by prior Presidents rather than a constitutional mandate for the inauguration.
After we left Buffalo we started making our way to the finger lakes in Upstate New York. We stopped at Seneca Falls to earn another badge at the Women’s Rights National Monument. Here is Ava working hard on her 61st badge. She is creating her own suffrage banner… which exclaims that she can wear whatever she wants!!
It is right here in Seneca Falls during the summer of 1848 that a convention was held to push forward the movement for women’s rights.
For the night, we decided to check out another Harvest Hosts location at Buttonwood Grove Winery. As soon as we park the airstream and the van’s engine stops, they rip off their seat belts and swarm to each other. Swapping seats, squishing each other, laughing, trying get a few extra glimpses of a movie. These are the little moments I hope they remember.
We were pretty much the only people here.
We setup camp at the edge of the grass just across the road from this Scottish Highland cow named Melody.
We had to be careful as the fences around Melody are electrified. Marlene learned it the hard way. She got a little too close and nearly fainted from the shock. When she recomposed herself, she felt dizzy and smelled a little smokey.
Don’t worry, she is fine. Ava is not overly concerned as you can tell.
Free night of camping with this entire property to roam. Not too shabby.
Luka loved these grasses sticking out of the water at the edge of the lake. “Can Luka eat dis hot dog?”
Mila on the other hand had a giant epiphany during our stay. She told us, “People in the olden days were not in black and white… it was just the camera. I didn’t know that before!”
We did our duty as guests at a Harvest Host by participating in some wine tasting and buying a couple bottles of our favorites.
When we left Buttonwood Grove, we initially decided to drive up into the Adirondacks. Though we soon realized that without filling up diesel, we were going to run out half way up the mountain as there are no stations for miles. By the time we turned around, we had already come up with plan B. Adirondacks were just not meant to be. We will head over to Saratoga Springs instead.
On our way, we made three stops to check out some more historical locations. In this part of the country, we can’t really drive more than a few miles before seeing something interesting to stop at. This is Harriet Tubman’s house and that’s what the girls learned about for homeschool today. Whether they understood what she did or not is a whole different story.
Next stop is Fort Stanwix in Rome, New York. It was built by the British in 1758 during the French and Indian Wars and abandoned in 1768 after the war ended and allowed to deteriorate. In 1776, it was reoccupied by the American rebels during the Revolutionary War and renamed Fort Schuyler.
The girls learning how to build a fort. You know it’s going to come in handy some day.
Here is some of the original foundation of the fort under protective glass.
More badges, of course. It won’t be the last one for a long shot.
Our next stop in this leg through New York is Saratoga National Historic Park.
It is here in 1777 a turning point in the Revolutionary War that turned the tides towards independence. Yes, we did drive around the site of an important battle during the American Revolutionary War and peek into a 18th century farmhouse. But no, we didn’t do any of the hikes thanks to a million signs warning us of ticks.
And this is also ‘road school’. Ava doing cartwheels on a battlefield. Luka trying his best to copy her. Mila complaining that she has to go pee. I spend more of my time talking with a ranger. And Marlene trying to document it all with her phone.
Our next stop will be Vermont! We will be back through New York again when we visit the city but for now it’s more trees and nature before we return to civilization.
over and out,