2018 Travel Blog

Having left the Bruce Peninsula behind we headed south and east through Ontario down to Niagara Falls. Neither of us had been to see the world famous falls before…we had a mixed reaction.

The Falls are renowned both for their beauty and as a valuable source of hydroelectric power. Balancing recreational, commercial, and industrial uses has been a challenge for the stewards of the falls since the 19th century. They have of course, provided the backdrop for many films…and as a major tourist destination on both sides provide for a high level of employment in the services industries with a myriad of hotels, restaurants and amusement parks.

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A slightly different shot....the pumping station part of the hydro electric plant above the falls.

The facts - Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that straddle the international border between Canada and the United States; more specifically, between the province of Ontario and the state of New York. From largest to smallest, the three waterfalls are the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The Horseshoe Falls lie mostly on the Canadian side and the American Falls entirely on the American side, separated by Goat Island. The smaller Bridal Veil Falls are also on the American side, separated from the other waterfalls by Luna Island. Located on the Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, the combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world that has a vertical drop of more than 165 feet (50 m). Horseshoe Falls is the most powerful waterfall in North America, as measured by vertical height and flow rate. The falls are positioned between the twin cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York. While not exceptionally high, the Niagara Falls are wide. More than six million cubic feet of water falls over the crest line every minute in high flow, and almost four million cubic feet on average.

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The Blonde Photographer with some space at last to set up her tripod.

The Blonde was in high anticipation of a photographic mecca….now, I know we should have realized this but we were genuinely surprised by the number of tourists visiting…so to start with we found it hard to get a campsite and when we did we were equally astonished by the price…but hey, this is Niagara Falls. Jumping on the tram to get to the Falls from the campsite was a breeze…but as we got closer we realized the emphasis was more towards entertainment rather than necessarily the spectacle and I honestly do not believe we have seen so many fast food places in one area anywhere else in the world. On the tram ride back to the campground, which was only 4 miles, I counted twelve McDonald's alone!

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Lady Of The Mist, taking another boatload of passengers to the foot of the main falls.

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You want to get close...you're going to get wet...and nice rainbow forming over Lady In The Mist.

To be fair, we did get some good shots after we had muscled our way through the crowds but the whole tackiness of the place overshadowed the experience, certainly as far as I was concerned…therefore for me it was a genuine case of…been there, seen that….and probably won’t bother to come back again…and that I guess is what a very large majority of the people there were feeling or achieving as well. It is impressive, but Iguazu Falls it is not and there maybe the crux of the matter as far as we were concerned. Had we not have been to Iguazu prior to seeing Niagara, just maybe we would have been more impressed.

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At their best?  Nightime photos with the falls all lit up.  

Back on the road again and another border crossing….Ontario into New York State….as you would expect, this is a very busy crossing point but we were not delayed for too long and we were not stopped for a search…so we were quickly out of Buffalo and heading west along the shore of Lake Erie to Ohio. This was again new territory for us….into “The Rust Belt”.

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Auto plant which used to supply parts to Ford.

The Rust Belt is a term for the region straddling the upper North-Eastern United States, the Great Lakes, and the Midwest States, referring to economic decline, population loss, and urban decay due to the shrinking of its once-powerful industrial sector. The rapid economic development following the Civil War laid the groundwork for the modern U.S. industrial economy. An explosion of new discoveries and inventions took place, causing such major changes that some termed the results a "second industrial revolution." The "Gilded Age" of the second half of the 19th century was the birth of tycoons. Many Americans came to idealize these businessmen who amassed vast financial empires. Often their success lay in seeing the potential for a new service or product, as John D. Rockefeller did with oil. They were fierce competitors. Other giants in addition to Rockefeller and Ford included Jay Gould, who made his money in railroads; J. Pierpont Morgan, banking; and Andrew Carnegie, steel. “Some tycoons were honest according to business standards of their day; others, however, used force, bribery, and guile to achieve their wealth and power. For better or worse, business interests acquired significant influence over government.”

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Old grain elevators now defunct.

Oil was discovered in western Pennsylvania. The typewriter was developed. Refrigeration railroad cars came into use. The telephone, phonograph, and electric light were invented. And by the dawn of the 20th century, cars were replacing carriages and people were flying in airplanes. Between 1890 and 1930, migrants from Europe and the American South came to the region in search of work. During the World War II era, the economy was fueled by a developing manufacturing sector and a high demand for steel. By the 1960s and 1970s, increased globalization and competition from overseas factories caused the downfall of this industrial center. The designation “Rust Belt” originated at this time because of the deterioration of the industrial region.

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Old steel plant now mothballed and left to rust.

We were really taken aback by the sheer number of large industrial buildings of all shapes and sizes, now deserted, abandoned and in total decay. I don’t believe either of us had had any real idea what happened to this area and of course the impact its decline has had on the local people. It was also a real indicator to us for the first time what a dramatic change in fortunes there was in this area, and how this was now playing out in the political arena of a pending presidential election….and so it transpired.

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Amanda & David Wood

Explore, Dream & Discover

For the next five years or so we will become true earthroamers as we drive around the world.

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