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Posts tagged ‘Niagara Falls NY’

Birthday Weekend in Niagara Falls

I celebrated my 63rd birthday in Niagara Falls, NY.  It was a weekend birthday celebration.

We departed home at 12:20 pm on Friday, February 22, and arrived at Comfort Inn The Pointe by 2:30 pm.  

Soon after checking in, we walked to Seneca Niagara Casino, where we ate a late lunch / early dinner at Thunder Falls Buffet.  After eating, we played the slots. Bob went through quickly his $20.00.  I hadn’t even spent $10.00 before hitting an awesome win. 

Awesome win! Happy birthday to me!

I ended up with 25 free plays and won $324.80!  That win was on an $0.80 bet.  I cashed out (I am no dummy!), and we left the casino.  I split my winnings with Bob.

We returned to our hotel room, picked up my camera and walked to Goat Island.  It was a nice afternoon for a walk.  It was partly sunny.  The temperature was around 38 degrees, with little to no wind. We walked as far as the overlook of the American and Bridal Falls, before turning around to go back to the hotel.

Rainbow Over the Falls

We stayed in the hotel for the evening. 

 

On Saturday we got up around 5:30 am.  We ate a complimentary hot breakfast at 7:00 am.  We both enjoyed waffles, eggs, fried potatoes, link sausage, orange juice and coffee for Bob and hot tea for me.

Around 9:45 am we went to the Aquarium of Niagara. The aquarium was a new-to-us attraction.  We saw seals, penguins, several fish in small aquariums, and a sea lion show. 

A pool holding rescue harbor seals was located outside, near the entrance to the aquarium.

Aquarium of Niagara Falls – Rescue Harbor Seals

Aquarium of Niagara Falls – Each Rescue Harbor Seal was fed and weighed.

After paying the admittance fee, we walked over to the Humboldt penguin enclosure.  We were in time for the 10:00 am Penguin Feeding/Presentation.

Aquarium of Niagara Falls – Penguin Coast

Aquarium of Niagara Falls – Penguin Coast

Aquarium of Niagara Falls – Penguin Coast (Feeding Time)

The aquarium is on two levels.  We circled the first floor, walked up the stairs to the second level and circled that floor as well.  There are several fish tanks on each floor.

Aquarium of Niagara Falls – Lionfish

In the center of the aquarium is a large pool.  The pool is at eye level on the first floor.  On the second floor visitors look down on the pool.  A Sea Lion show is held in the pool four times each day that the aquarium is open.

This short video clip is from the 10:30 am sea lion show.

 

We ate lunch at 1:00 pm at Hard Rock Cafe.  We both had pulled pork sandwiches with French fries, cole slaw and baked beans.  Saturday was my birthday, and lunch at Hard Rock Cafe was my birthday dinner.

After lunch we made a return visit to the aquarium to catch the 2:30 pm sea lion show.  We had not watched from an ideal location for the morning show.  We wanted to improve upon our vantage point.  We located ourselves across from the stage, instead of over top the stage as we were for the morning show.  I expected the show to be the same as the one at 10:30 am.  Some of the show was the same, but there were new additions as well. 

This video clip is from the 2:30 pm sea lion show at the Aquarium of Niagara.

I liked both sea lion shows; I am glad that we made the return trip.

From the aquarium we returned to the hotel and parked in the parking lot.  We walked to Prospect Point, where I photographed the American Falls from that vantage point.

The American Falls, as seen from Prospect Point

On our way out of Prospect Park a woman and young son asked where the falls were.  They were headed in the direction of the falls but thought the falls may have been behind them.  In all the years we have been coming to Niagara Falls we have never had that question asked.  We told them to continue to walk in the direction they were going, that they couldn’t miss the falls.

Phil P. and I have been Facebook friends since August 2012.   Our mutual interest in photography is what prompted our friendship.  Phil and I have had an almost 7-year-old friendship, and we had yet to meet in person.  That fact changed, when Bob and I met Phil and his wife Wendy for coffee / tea at Tim Hortons in the Seneca Niagara Casino.  Bob and I drove to the casino, rather than walk, as it was drizzling.  We drove around awhile before finding parking.  The casino was very busy! I think the casino was busy because it was “fight night”.  Phil had trouble finding parking too.  He and Wendy were delayed about 15 minutes for our 6:00 pm meet up. We enjoyed the hour or so that we spent together. We talked about photography, work, some politics, retirement plans and travel.  

Leaving Tim Hortons, Bob and I went to the casino.  The casino gave me $5.00 free slot play for my birthday.  I lost the $5.00 plus $20.00 more.  Bob played $20.00 and won $150.00.  Bob split the $150.00 with me.

From the casino we returned to the hotel.  We returned to our room around 8:00 pm, where we stayed for rest of the evening.

 

We got up around 5:30 am on Sunday.  We were showered and dressed for the day by 6:30 am.

At 7:00 am we ate the complimentary hot breakfast at the hotel.  

We began our drive home at 7:30 am, ahead of the high winds and snow in Sunday’s weather forecast.  We had planned to visit the Buffalo Zoo on our way home but changed our minds, given the weather forecast.  

Our drive home was pretty much uneventful.  We decided to take Route 5 home, as the sun was shining and the winds were calm.  We did drive into some wind and a heavy downpour, while on Old Lake Shore Road.  Other than that it was a smooth drive home.  

We made it home by 11:00 am.  Soon after coming home, we saw the temperature rise to a high of 55 degrees.  The temperature dropped quickly afterward.  By mid afternoon it was snowing.  The weather forecast was calling for 2-4 inches of snow, with a high wind warning through Monday sometime.  We ended up with at least 6 inches of snow!

What a wonderful (and profitable) birthday weekend!

 

 

 

Memorial Day Weekend: Saturday

On Saturday, May 23, we spent the day riding. We left home at 8:30 am. I had put the liner back in my leather jacket and dressed in layers, as it was only 36 degrees when we left home en route Niagara Falls.

Approaching Peace Bridge

We crossed into Canada via the Peace Bridge. We had no delay crossing into Canada; however, the border crossing guard was a bit brusque. After we (and others) had entered the lane to his booth, he closed the lane.  I believe his brusqueness was due to his desire to take a break or to end his work shift.  The guard had us remove our helmets, not an easy task when one hand is holding passports. He could see I was having a little trouble handling my helmet and handing over the passports to him. He made no effort to help ( e.g. he did not step closer to reach the passports). I had trouble putting my helmet back on.  I was wearing a dew rag that came off, as I removed my helmet.  I needed two hands to put the dew rag back on, so I just put on my helmet.  I stuffed our passports in my jacket pocket.  We stopped soon after getting on Niagara Parkway so that I could put on my helmet properly, with dew rag underneath it. Bob placed our passports in a locked cubicle on the dashboard.

We drove along Niagara Parkway to Niagara Falls, enjoying the beautiful views of Niagara River along the way.  We drove through Niagara Falls to Rainbow Bridge.

The crossing into the United States was more hectic than the crossing into Canada. There were cars and people EVERYWHERE! Niagara Falls State Park’s parking Lot 1, located near the Niagara Falls Visitor Center, was full. Niagara Falls State Park’s parking Lot 2, located on Goat Island near the entrance to the Cave of the Winds tour and Top of the Falls Restaurant, was full as well.  We were directed to another parking lot somewhere on Goat Island, but the line was very long entering that parking lot.  We decided not to go for a walk in Niagara Falls this trip.  I much prefer visiting Niagara Falls off season, or at least not on a holiday weekend!

We began our ride back home.  We traveled by way of Route 219.  We made a fuel stop in Springville, NY and ate lunch at the nearby Ponderosa Steakhouse.

Prior to arriving in Ellicottville, NY we stopped at Griffis Sculpture Park–the largest outdoor sculpture park in the United States. For over 42 years, the steel sculptures of Larry Griffis, Jr. and other international artists have been residing in the woods, fields, and even ponds of Griffis Sculpture Park. The 400 acre park is located eight miles outside of Ellicottville near Ashford Hollow, NY (Cattaraugus County). Griffis Sculpture Park is split into two sections, the Rohr Hill Road Site and the Mill Valley Road Site. We visited the Rohr Hill Road Site, where a majority of the sculptures are visible from the road.

We wandered about the meadow and the woods of the Rohr Hill section of the park, while I snapped pictures of some of the sculptures.

Griffis Sculpture Park

Griffis Sculpture Park

Griffis Sculpture Park

Griffis Sculpture Park

Who would have thought that you could find something so beautiful in a meadow in the middle of nowhere!

Rather than take Interstate 86 home, we drove through the Allegany State Park via ASP Route 1.  Our NY State Empire Passport provided free entry to the park.  We made two brief stops, while in the park.

We stopped at the Red House Administration Building, where we purchased a bottle of water at the Gift Shop.

We stopped alongside Quaker Lake.

From Allegany State Park we took Routes 280, 321 and 59 home.

We returned home at 5:45 pm. Our trip odometer indicated that we put approximately 280 miles on the motorcycle.  By the way, it began to reach a comfortable temperature around 3:30 pm!

Niagara Falls Day Trip

Yesterday we went on a day trip to Niagara Falls, NY. We almost didn’t go. I didn’t sleep well on Saturday night, woke up at 6:00 am with a headache, and didn’t feel like getting out of bed. We had planned to leave for Niagara Falls at 7:00 am. I told Bob that I changed my mind about going to Niagara Falls and went back to sleep.

I rolled out of bed at 7:15 am. After taking a shower, I felt better and asked Bob if it would be okay if we went to Niagara Falls as planned. Bob agreed to the trip. I ate a quick breakfast (Bob had eaten breakfast earlier). We departed home, en route Niagara Falls, around 8:30 am.

About an hour into the drive we discovered that neither of us had remembered to bring our U.S. passports. When we planned this day trip, we talked about walking over Rainbow Bridge into Canada for picture-taking opportunities and to pick up whiskey at the Duty-Free Shop. The walk into Canada will have to wait until another day.

Yesterday was our first use of the Empire Passport that we purchased earlier this month. Without the Empire Passport we would have had to pay $10 to park at Niagara Falls State Park.  Initially we purchased one passport.  We discovered upon receipt of the passport that it had to be permanently affixed to our vehicle.  At least half of the year we travel by motorcycle, so we decided to purchase a second Empire Passport for our motorcycle.  If we visit Niagara Falls State Park twelve more times before the end of March 2016, we will break even with our purchase.  I am sure that we will break even before then, though, as we plan to visit as many NY State Parks as possible in a year.

Our first destination upon reaching Niagara Falls was to see the falls from the Observation Deck.

Observation Deck view of the falls

 

When I took the photograph of the falls shown above, I was standing on this observation deck.

From the Observation Deck we walked to Prospect Point and then along Niagara River and across the bridge to Goat Island.

Prospect Point

Niagara River, just before it rushes over the brink of the American Falls

Looking across to Canada from Goat Island

From Goat Island, there is a lovely vista of the American Falls.  The photograph shown above is a close-up picture of the impressive snow and ice sculpture on top of the American Falls from the Goat Island Overlook.  The photograph shown below is a wide-angle picture of the same vista.

From the Goat Island Overlook of the American Falls, we walked to Terrapin Point.

This was our first look at Horseshoe Falls, as we were walking to Terrapin Point.

Terrapin Point Overlook of Horseshoe Falls

What a wonderful day it was for a day trip.  Sunday started out snowy, but the sun came out before we reached Niagara Falls. The sun shone rest of the day. The bright sunshine didn’t do much to warm up the day, though. The temperature stayed in the low 20s throughout the day.

Niagara Falls Weekend Getaway (Sunday)

Since Monday I have been sharing photographs and details of our Niagara Falls weekend getaway.

On Sunday, February 22, after eating a hot breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and made one last trek to Goat Island.

The sun was shining, when we began our walk to Goat Island.

By the time we had reached the island, though, the sun was being covered quickly an icy mist.

See that white circle in the sky?  That’s the sun!

I had hoped to capture a photograph of the American Falls with a blue sky as a backdrop.  Unfortunately, a heavy icy mist surrounded the falls.

Goat Island Overlook of American Falls

We stayed at the overlook for a few minutes, hoping that a puff of wind would push the icy mist over to Canada. It didn’t happen.

On our way back to our car in the hotel parking lot,
Bob asked me to take his picture beside this tree.

When the snow is gone, Bob wants to stand by this tree again to show how high the snow was in the park.

image If accuweather.com is accurate in its weather forecast for Niagara Falls, that snow is going to stick around for a while (at least through the month of March)!

We returned to the hotel parking lot, hopped in our car and began our drive back home. We were on our way back home by 9:00 am.

 

Niagara Falls Weekend Getaway (Saturday, Part 2)

On Saturday, February 21, we visited both the Canadian and American side of Niagara Falls.  I shared photographs from our visit to Niagara Falls, Canada, in yesterday’s blog post.  In today’s blog post I will share photographs from the American side of the falls.

On Friday afternoon we had walked from our hotel to Prospect Point to the brink of the American Falls.  Because of a heavy icy mist the falls were barely visible during that visit.  On Saturday morning the view was so much better!

American Falls at Prospect Point

 

While at Prospect Point, Bob photographed me with his buddy, Binnie Ocular.

From Prospect Point we walked along the Niagara River and crossed a bridge onto Goat Island.

Goat Island Overlook of American Falls

While on Goat Island, we also viewed Horseshoe Falls from Terrapin Point.

Horseshoe Falls

From Terrapin Point we walked back to our hotel.

See the squirrel? It was perched 5 stories high on the ledge of our hotel building. We saw it climb up the side of the building. Crazy squirrel!

 

We were back in our hotel around 10:00 am.  We warmed up and relaxed for a couple hours.

Our next trip outside was to go to lunch.  We ate lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, which is located a block from our hotel (Comfort Inn The Pointe).  We each ordered burgers.  Bob ordered the Mushroom & Swiss Burger.  I ordered the Hickory Barbecue Bacon Cheeseburger.  French fries accompanied our burgers.  Lunch was good and very filling.  After lunch, we returned to the hotel.

Our last trip outside was to go to dinner. We ate dinner at Legends Bar & Grill, which was located halfway between the hotel and the Seneca Niagara Casino. For less than $25 we dined on 12-ounce strip steaks, accompanied by tossed salad, onion rings and broccoli. Dinner was very good; service was okay.

We walked back to the hotel after dinner, where we stayed for rest of the night.

Niagara Falls Weekend Getaway (Friday)

I awakened on Friday, February 20th, to temperatures below -20 degrees for the second time in less than a week! It seems this month we have been experiencing either frigid temperatures or chilly temperatures and snow. A warm-up is forecast for Saturday, with snow in the forecast.

As if we haven’t had enough of the cold, we headed north for the weekend to see the partially frozen Niagara Falls.  Our weekend getaway was planned as an early celebration for my birthday.  My actual birthday is today, February 23rd.

Bob came home from work at noon, which is customary for Friday. We were on our way to Niagara Falls by 12:30 pm. We made one stop at Tim Hortons in Fredonia, NY for coffee/tea. We arrived at our hotel, Comfort Inn The Pointe, at approximately 3:00 pm.  We checked into our hotel room, a two-queen bed room on the fifth floor with a park view. After I changed into long johns and we bundled up, we walked the short distance to the brink of the America Falls at Prospect Point.

This Niagara Falls mural is located near our hotel.  Bob took my picture here, on our way to Prospect Point.

 

It was very, very cold with temperatures barely above 0 degrees Fahrenheit.  The sun was shining, and the sky looking away from the falls was a deep, brilliant blue.

Snow- and ice-coated trees creates a winter wonderland!

Snow- and ice-coated trees along Niagara River

Snow- and ice-coated trees along Niagara River

 

The view was markedly different, when looking toward the American Falls.  The falls faded in and out of an icy mist.  The mist contained ice pellets, which bombarded us the entire time we were in the vicinity of the falls.  My glasses glazed over with ice, making it difficult to see!

 

I did take one picture of the American Falls.  I wasn’t even sure if the falls were visible, until we returned to the hotel and I looked at the pictures I had taken.

The American Falls emerging out of an icy mist

Soon after taking the photograph of the falls, we returned to the hotel.  After we had thawed out, we bundled up again and walked the three or four blocks to the Seneca Niagara Casino. We ate dinner at Thunder Falls Buffet. Dinner was good but more expensive than we expected. We paid $29 each for dinner, when we were accustomed to spending $16.95 each at the Seneca Allegany Casino.  We learned that the Seneca Niagara Casino charges $3.05 more than Seneca Allegany Casino for its buffet dinners. On Friday nights crab legs are added to the buffet, and dinner was $29 each.  We don’t eat crab legs.  There were plenty of food selection, though, and dinner was good.  I ate too much, which is usually the case when we eat at an all-you-can-eat buffet. We did have an opportunity to get back some of the money we paid for dinner, as we each received $15 in casino dollars for eating at Thunder Falls Buffet and paying cash. Luck was not on our side. We did know enough, though, not to put any of our own cash into those one-arm bandits!

I noticed the moon as soon as we stepped outside the casino. I didn’t have my camera with me.  As soon as we returned to the hotel, I took pictures of the view through our hotel room window.

View from Comfort Inn The Pointe hotel room

If you stay at Comfort Inn The Pointe during a visit to Niagara Falls, be sure to ask for a park view room.  You can’t see the falls; however, the view is still picturesque..

The crescent moon was so pretty hanging in the sky above Niagara Falls.
The planets Mars and Venus illuminated the dark side of the moon.

As you can see by the two evening photographs displayed above, it was a clear night.  We did consider for a moment making another trek to Prospect Point to see the falls illuminated . At -1 degrees Fahrenheit, though, we opted to not make that trek!

My Birthday at Niagara Falls

Bob and I celebrated my birthday (February 23) in Niagara Falls.

We opted to spend the night in Niagara Falls, rather than drive up and back the same day.  We spent the night at Comfort Inn The Pointe in Niagara Falls, NY.  The hotel is centrally located.  We were one block from the Seneca Niagara Casino, and the entrance to Niagara Falls State Park was right outside our front door.  We were within walking distance of several restaurants, both in New York and in Canada.

Soon after checking into our hotel, we went for a walk.

This mural was painted on the side of a building near our hotel.
Can you tell how happy I was to be in Niagara Falls on my birthday?

We went for a short walk to Prospect Point, where we viewed the falls from two different vantage points.

Vantage Point 1 was at the brink of American Falls.

Vantage Point 1 was at the brink of American Falls.

Vantage Point 2 was the view of the American and Horseshoe Falls from the Observation Tower.

We went for a short walk because it was lunch time, and we were hungry.  We ate lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.  While we were eating lunch, Bob asked if I wanted to walk over to Canada.  I thought it a good idea; however, we did not bring our passports with us.  Well, little did I know!  Bob did bring the passports with him.

After lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, we walked across Rainbow Bridge into Canada.

American Falls and the Observation Tower

American Falls

So, Saturday was my birthday.  Are you wondering how old I am?  In Canada, after taking a couple photographs of the falls, Bob and I walked toward the corner of Clifton Hill and Falls Avenue — the location of a clothing store in which I wanted to shop.    As we approached a crosswalk, a lady caught my eye and smiled at me.  When I smiled back at her, she told me that she liked my hat.   The three of us ended up walking in the same direction for a while.  I learned that she was from Australia and in Canada on business.  She thought Bob and I were from Canada because of the hat I was wearing.  I told her that we were from Pennsylvania and that we purchased the hat in Canada.  In fact we were on our way to the clothing store in which I purchased the hat.     I also mentioned that we were spending the night in Niagara Falls to celebrate my birthday.  She asked me how old I was.  When I told her that I was 57 years old, she did a double look at me.  “No”, she said; “you don’t look a day over 40!”  Such a sweet lady!

The Australian lady parted ways with us at the clothing store on the corner of Clifton Hill and Falls Avenue.  We made a small purchase in the clothing store.  When Stacey first saw my Canadian hat, she wanted it.  Now, Stacey will have her own Canadian hat.

Our final stop, before walking back over Rainbow Bridge into New York, was at the duty-free shop.  I took these two photographs from the parking lot of the duty-free shop.

The bridge you see is the Rainbow Bridge. 
The tall building to the left of the bridge is the Seneca Niagara Casino. 
Our hotel was to the right of the bridge, near the tall brown building.

 

One last glimpse of the American and Horseshoe Falls

Bob purchased a bottle of Maker’s Mark at the duty-free shop.  It was a 1 liter bottle of whiskey that was priced lower than what is available at home in 750ml bottles.  This was the first time that we made a purchase at the duty-free shop, while on foot.  One of the shop attendants walked us to the border crossing, ensuring that we left Canada with Bob’s bottle of Maker’s Mark.

Bob took this photograph of me, soon after we returned to New York. 
It had been at least a couple hours since we had sat down. 
It felt good to sit!

 

Later in the day we walked to the Seneca Niagara Casino.  I had hoped for some birthday luck.  No such luck.  The one-armed bandits were not kind to us.

We ate dinner that night at TGI Friday’s.

Bob spoiled me very well for my birthday by spending the night in Niagara Falls with a birthday lunch AND a birthday dinner.  I am a lucky girl to have such a sweet man for a husband.  Thank you, Bob, for a wonderful birthday weekend!

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