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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!




Day 2 Thanksgiving 2017

Yesterday’s blog post detailed how Bob and I spent Thanksgiving Day.  Today’s blog post is about our drive back home from Niagara Falls.

We crossed over the Rainbow Bridge from Canada into New York.  Our first stop was in Niagara Falls, but not at the falls.  We stopped at the Old Stone Chimney.

_LG25239Old Stone Chimney

The Old Stone Chimney is a masonry chimney, which was built as part of a two-story barracks on the site of the French “Fort du Portage,” or “Fort Little Niagara,” by Daniel de Joncaire in 1750.  The Chimney has been repurposed several times since by British and American interests and relocated three times (1902,1942 and 2015).  The Old Stone Chimney is currently located between the Niagara River and the Robert Moses Parkway east of the Adams Slip along the bike path on the river. We have passed by it several times driving to and from Niagara Falls.  This was the first time that we stopped at the Old Stone Chimney.  What a beautiful location!  Standing in front of the Old Stone Chimney, the skyline of Niagara Falls Canada can be seen in the background.

As we did on Thanksgiving Day, we chose not to cross over Grand Island. Our route home took us down the east side of the Niagara River through Tonawanda. We made a couple stops in North Tonawanda. Our first stop was at Fisherman’s Park, where we visited two memorials: a U.S. Marine Corps Memorial  and a U.S. Navy Seabee Veterans Memorial.

_LG25243U.S. Marine Corps Memorial

The next four photographs are pictures of the U.S. Navy Seabee Veterans Memorial.




_LG25247This sculpture is what caught my eye on Thanksgiving Day, as we drove by the park.

It was 11:00 am, when we departed Fishermans Park.

We found the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, but it would not open for another hour.  We hope to visit the museum another time, perhaps with our granddaughters.

Our last stop in North Tonawanda was at the East Hill Foundation.

East Hill Foundation
The lighthouse caught my eye, as we drove through North Tonawanda on Thanksgiving Day.

20171124_161720720_iOSThe gate was locked, so I took pictures through the fence.

20171124_161839931_iOSEast Hill Foundation sits alongside Niagara River.

From North Tonawanda we followed I-290, I-90 and Route 219 through Ellicottville, NY.  We stopped in Springville at Ponderosa for lunch. It had been a while since we ate at Ponderosa, as we do not have that restaurant near to our home.  The buffet food selections were extensive. Everything we ate was delicious, especially the stuffed peppers. I went back for seconds of the stuffed peppers.

We were back on the road at 12:45 pm.

We drove through Ellicottville to Allegany State Park, where we made one photo stop.  We stopped at Bridal Falls.

It’s a short (~.25 mile) hike to Bridal Falls from the Program Site 62 sign on ASP Route 1.

Bob found these memorial stones near Bridal Falls.

20171124_190419064_iOSOne last parting shot of Bridal Falls

It was around 4:30 pm, when we returned home.  What a wonderful Thanksgiving mini vacation we had!  I hope that your Thanksgiving holiday, was as nice as ours!

Niagara Falls, NY Visit

On Monday, April 10th, after visiting Niagara Falls (Ontario, Canada), we crossed the Rainbow Bridge into New York at approximately 12:15 pm.  We parked at the Niagara Falls State Park parking lot. We didn’t incur the $10.00 fee for parking, as we purchased an Empire Pass Card earlier in the year.

We ate lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. Bob ordered a Java Lava Burger with French fries and an IPA that came in a souvenir pint glass. I ordered a pulled chicken sandwich with French fries, coleslaw and cowboy beans. Both meals were good. I can’t recall ever having a bad meal, or bad service, at Hard Rock Cafe.

After lunch, we crossed the pedestrian bridge onto Goat Island. We walked to Terrapin Point (Horseshoe Falls).

_LG20822Horseshoe Falls at Terrapin Point

_LG20824Horseshoe Falls at Terrapin Point

_LG20829Horseshoe Falls at Terrapin Point

It was a beautiful, but extremely windy, day at Niagara Falls. It wasn’t just mist that pelted us, when the wind kicked up! We made several attempts to get close to Horseshoe Falls at Terrapin Point. We finally made it to the brink of the Falls, without getting too wet.

From Terrapin Point we walked to Stedman’s Bluff, which overlooks Luna Island. As we approached Stedman’s Bluff, I noticed an addition.

_LG20833The Nikola Tesla Statue now sits on Stedman’s Bluff, overlooking the American Falls.

This bronze statue of Nikola Tesla was a 1976 bicentennial gift to the United States from the people of Yugoslavia.  The statue was moved from the center of the Cave of the Winds plaza on Goat Island to its new location.  I like the statue in its new location!

_LG20834Iconic view of Luna Island and the American and Bridal Falls from Stedman’s Bluff
(see the rainbow?)

From Stedman’s Bluff we walked down several steps to Luna Island.

_LG20840Bridal Falls, as seen from Luna Island

_LG20843Bob, on Luna Island
(see the rainbow?)

From Luna Island we walked alongside Niagara River, back over the pedestrian bridge, and along Niagara River to Prospect Point (American Falls).

_LG20850I liked this view of Canada across the Niagara River, while we were walking on Luna Island.

_LG20853Walking across the Pedestrian Bridge
This young couple has the right idea to get good pictures of the raging waters of Niagara River!

_LG20861Prospect Point View of the American Falls

We departed Niagara Falls soon after photographing the American Falls at Prospect Point.  We returned home around 6:45 pm.  What a GREAT day for a day trip!

On This Day in 2007 – Niagara Falls Day Trip

The date was May 5, 2007.  We spent the day in Niagara Falls.

After parking the car in Niagara Falls State Park’s Prospect Parking Lot, we walked to Prospect Point for a quick close-up peek of the American Falls.

NiagaraFalls200705_115American Falls

NiagaraFalls200705_117Bob at Prospect Point

After our quick look at the American Falls, we walked across the Rainbow Bridge into Canada.  Our first stop was at the casino, where we quickly lost $65.00 (I lost $40.00; Bob lost $25.00.).  Bob did win back his $25.00 but lost it again.  We walked from the casino to Horseshoe Falls and back (zigzagging along the way so I could see this flower or that statue or a different view of the falls).

NiagaraFalls200705_127Canadian view of American Falls

NiagaraFalls200705_129Daffodils and the American Falls

NiagaraFalls200705_137Horseshoe Falls

King George VI

This statue of Britain’s King George VI,
located in Queen Victoria Park, stands 10′ high.

UntitledKing George VI gazes upon the American Falls.

NiagaraFalls200705_138Carriage rolls by the American Falls

We ate a late lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.  Bob ordered a Hickory Smoked Pulled-Pork Sandwich; I ordered a Hickory BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger.  Our meals were good.  We have never had a meal at Hard Rock Cafe that we didn’t like!  After lunch we walked across the Rainbow Bridge and back into the USA.

NiagaraFalls200705_157One last view of Niagara Falls, as we walk across the Rainbow Bridge back into the USA.

This is one of many day trips that we have made to Niagara Falls over the years.  I hope one day to share the falls with our granddaughters.

Niagara Falls Daycation

[Please note that this blog post is backdated to October 10; the post was published on November 12.]


We went for a walk today…at Niagara Falls State Park.

We left home en route Niagara Falls around 8:00 am, arriving in Niagara Falls about 2 ½ hours later.   We parked at Prospect Point, where the Empire Passport provided unlimited day use vehicle entry into the park.  The Empire Passport saves us $10 each time we visit Niagara Falls State Park.

After parking and going to the bathroom at the Visitors Center, we walked to Terrapin Point.

_LG18728 4x6
We were disappointed to find Terrapin Point under construction.  Visitors will not be able to get up close and personal with Horseshoe Falls until Summer 2016.

_LG18729 4x6Terrapin Point

From Terrapin Point we walked to the Goat Island overlook of the American Falls and then to the Luna Island overlook of the American Falls.

_LG18738 4x6Goat Island Overlook of American Falls

20151010_152057838_iOSBob and I at Goat Island Overlook of American Falls

_LG18742 4x6Luna Island
Looking down Bridal Falls and seeing Maid of the Mist on Niagara River

(Select HD for best video quality.)
Direct link for video:

LJG18749-Niagara_Falls_NYLuna Island view of American Falls
I loved watching the rainbow form in the video displayed above this photograph.

I can’t recall the last time we were on Luna Island. It had been a while.


From Luna Island we walked to Prospect Point for one last view of the American Falls.

_LG18750 4x6En route Prospect Point

_LG18764 4x6En route Prospect Point

_LG18766 4x6En route Prospect Point
See the drone?

_LG18769 4x6Prospect Point

_LG18771 4x6
Prospect Point

What a nice walk we had!  I never tire of the sights and sounds available in Niagara Falls.

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.

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