Tagged with "water"
26 Jul
2017
Posted in: travel
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Take a Trip: Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls rainbow

We didn’t fully prepare our children for what we’d find at Niagara Falls in New York. We read books about the history of the falls, from its discovery to crazy stunts performed there. I didn’t make it clear that Niagara Falls is a money-sucking tourist trap. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful and a wonder to view. However, it’s also overrun with people, casinos, restaurants and kitschy tourist-driven businesses.

Niagara Falls

When we began planning our epic road trip, we went back and forth on whether or not to travel as far north as Niagara Falls. Once we decided to do it, we went back and forth on whether or not to purchase passports and go to the Canadian side of the falls. Ultimately, we opted to just visit the United States side of Niagara Falls and felt that was more than adequate.

Niagara Falls sidewalk with pople

Our vision of what the falls looked like was all wrong. We all envisioned the falls flowing from the opposite direction and not quite as wide as we envisioned. As you’re driving from Buffalo, New York to Niagara Falls, you can see the mist from the falls from miles away. That was a good sign we were in for a powerful showing from Mother Nature.

mist at Niagara Falls

We arrived late in the afternoon and the parking lot was full at Niagara Falls State Park, forcing us to park a few blocks away in town. It was a short walk to the park, but the amount of people was similar to a busy day at Yellowstone National Park. Visitors were a little on the rude side, and staff didn’t seem overly interested in helping direct traffic or answer questions. Thankfully, we do quite a bit of research leading into vacations. I was prepared for the tourist-trap vibe, but had not prepared the kids. They were a little shocked by the amount of people traffic. They had linked waterfall with nature and had it mentally situated in a more rural setting. I can only imagine how amazing viewing Niagara Falls would have been before the cities, people and power plant.

Niagara Falls overlook with children

Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest in the U.S., dating back to 1885. Every second, 75,750 gallons of water pour over the American and Bridal Veil Falls. The more famous Horseshoe Falls sees 681,750 gallons every second. It’s a lot of water and intensely powerful to experience from the mist forming a continuous shroud over the falls to the sound of the water crashing over the edge. I cannot fathom the idea of going over the falls in a barrel. People have done it and survived, which is crazy. The Niagara River is fed by four of the Great Lakes which then feeds into Lake Ontario. The Great Lakes are something to behold and worth visiting. Each are uniquely different.

family selfie on Maid of the Mist

We purchased Maid of the Mist boat tour tickets before leaving on vacation. I highly recommend doing that if you visit. It saved us from a long ticket-purchasing line. The line for access to the Maid of the Mist was continually moving, and we had no wait. There’s a large viewing platform before taking an elevator down to the water to receive your poncho and board the boat.

tourists on Maid of the Mist

The vibe on the boat is electric. There are a lot of people, but we felt like we had plenty of personal space. Everyone is so excited to get close to the water. As the boat moves closer to the falls, the noise increases and at one point, the spray makes it difficult to see. We were treated to wonderful rainbows and a five-senses onslaught. It truly was fantastic.

overlook of Maid of the Mist

There is no shortage of tourist activities to pay for including Cave of the Winds, an aquarium, a Discovery Center and theatre. We didn’t do anything more than Maid of the Mist. No one seemed to want to brave more crowds than necessary. I’m glad we decided to add Niagara Falls to our vacation. It truly was a unique experience worth the effort to view.


 
Take a Trip: Great Lakes Love
By     |    Dec 29, 2016
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Take a Trip: Great Lakes Love

For someone who has spent almost 40 years living near mountains, I sure do love the beach. I love the sound of the waves crashing. I love the feel of sand in my toes. I love the pure joy my kids have in the water. However, I don’t love what the salt does to skin or hair. I don’t love the smell of the saltwater-soaked towels or swimsuits. This summer I learned the perfect substitute for the ocean is the... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
By     |    Nov 10, 2016
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Take a Trip: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

All outdoor enthusiasts or lovers of beautiful landscapes should place Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan on a must-see list of places to visit. The foliage-covered sandstone cliffs of Pictured Rocks rise above the aquamarine water of Lake Superior lending itself to picturesque views around every bend. I couldn’t get enough of the landscape. While the view was truly mesmerizing, our nemesis on the trip, stable flies, were in full-force. Stable flies are quite possibly the worst insect we’ve encountered... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Mississippi Headwaters, Voyageurs National Park
By     |    Nov 8, 2016
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Take a Trip: Mississippi Headwaters, Voyageurs National Park

We’re in the middle of a crazy warm November in Wyoming. The temperature has been hovering in the mid-60s with sunny skies for weeks now. I’m not going to complain about beautiful, fall weather, but it makes me itch to travel. By this time most years, we’re settled into shorter days and cold, blustery weather. Dry, snow-free ground makes me want to plan a trip and hit the highways again. School schedules and extracurricular activities have us staying at home.... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Flagstaff Area National Monuments
By     |    Apr 27, 2016
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Take a Trip: Flagstaff Area National Monuments

This year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. There are over 400 entities run by the NPS. I’ll share tips from different National Park Service sites we’ve visited throughout 2016. When anyone inquired where we were headed for spring break this year, I answered northern Arizona, which translated as Grand Canyon to everyone who asked. While Grand Canyon was on our list of stops over break, it was just one of several. The Flagstaff area is home... [Read More]

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Universal Studios Florida
By     |    Jul 1, 2015
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Universal Studios Florida

Walking through the brick wall into Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida is magical in a way I didn’t know existed. Looking up the crooked narrow street leading to Gringotts Bank and the massive stone dragon perched on its roof stopped us in our tracks. It was the Diagon Alley I had envisioned all those years ago when I read the Harry Potter series the first time. Harry Potter and Ron Weasley could walk out of the Leaky Cauldron any minute. The air... [Read More]

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Florida: Universal’s Islands of Adventure
By     |    Jun 30, 2015
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Florida: Universal’s Islands of Adventure

The main draw for us to visit Universal Orlando was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The Harry Potter books captured my imagination in college and now I have my own muggles who wield wands and casts spells like their favorite Hogwarts characters. Universal Orlando consists of two parks: Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. In order to tour both parks, visitors need to purchase park-to-park tickets granting access to both parks. I’m going to discuss the parks separately,... [Read More]

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Beaches vs. Mountains
By     |    Jun 29, 2015
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Beaches vs. Mountains

I’ve always lived within an hour drive of mountains with their curvy roads and sweeping vista overlooks. Our outdoor adventures tend to include elevation climbs, trails through woods, rock outcroppings  and running water flowing over rounded stones. When we have the opportunity to travel to a beach I look forward to spending an evening in the sand believing we’ll be satisfied with a quick dip in the ocean. I become salt-water drunk after those first few minutes on the shore.... [Read More]

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Arkansas: Crater of Diamonds State Park
By     |    Jun 27, 2015
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Arkansas: Crater of Diamonds State Park

Years ago I read about Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas and was intrigued by the idea of digging through 37 ½ acres of plowed dirt in the hopes of finding treasure. I tucked the idea away not thinking we’d ever find ourselves in Arkansas. Eventually the traveling bug bit us, and we decided to start taking long road trips, young kids and all. Fast forward to planning for this summer’s epic road trip. We planned our route, in... [Read More]

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Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park
By     |    Jun 26, 2015
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Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park

Honestly, I didn’t have high expectations for Hot Springs National Park located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I thought the kids wouldn’t find the bathhouses interesting enough and that the water you can collect wouldn’t taste good enough to warrant bringing home with us. Wrong and wrong. Wisely-named Hot Springs National Park revolves around the local hot springs, which have a history of people flocking to the area for therapeutic purposes. Bathhouse Row sprang up in the 1800s as wood and... [Read More]

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Camping Yurt Style
By     |    May 26, 2015
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Camping Yurt Style

Two years ago we tent camped in Guernsey State Park in southeastern Wyoming. We were on a drive through the park when we noticed a group of yurts at the top of a point overlooking the reservoir. We’ve been wanting to try them since then but didn’t get around to it until this last weekend. The final nudge for me to make yurt camping happen was our oldest son’s experience camping with his Boy Scout troop in December in the... [Read More]

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St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun Mischief
By     |    Mar 17, 2015
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St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun Mischief

I’m a sucker for fairy tales, unicorns and magic. The wave of a wand, pixie dust and true love’s kiss were the root of my dreams as a little girl. Daily life  can be harsh, unforgiving and difficult to navigate. I try to fill childhood at our house with a little bit of magic and wonder. Our house has hosted a wee mischievous leprechaun for quite a few years. She makes an appearance while we sleep March 16. There’s always... [Read More]

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