Saturday 9 May 2015

The headline is a little bit of a giveaway as today the travel party reassembles in the foyer, our cases are loaded onto our Greyhound and we head off as a group for Niagara and the Falls.

Along the way we pass over the Wellin Canal a route between the Lakes for large vessels and are lucky enough to see two passing; the canal has only recently opened for the summer as the ice has cleared.

Photos for the day are here.

Our first stop of the day is at the Niagara Whirlpool which we look down onto from above.  Then into Niagara itself just the width of the river away from New York State, but if we could cross the river it is then an eight hour drive down to New York City – just to give some indication of the scale of distances hereabouts.

The “Maid of the Mist” operates from the US side of the river; on the Canadian side the Niagara Parks Commission was forced to place their tours out to tender and they are now operated by “Hornblower Tours” on vessels capable of taking 700 at a time.  Once aboad and covered with a red poncho we head past the American Falls, then past the Bridal Fall to the Canadian Horseshoe Fall.  As we visit in daytime we see the full flow over the falls but at night the flow is reduced with diversions to reservoirs where the water is then used to generate electricity, being replenished overnight.  The output of the generators is use by both Canada and the US.

The drop of the falls is not perhaps as great as might be imagined but the flow of water is dramatic and there is a huge mist from the cascading water.  The ponchos keep a person mainly dry – although sticking out arms to try and get photographs means this is not entirely successful.  And with the camera steadily getting wetter is not obvious that the photograpic quality will be anywhere near the quantity.

A buffet lunch at the adjacent Sheraton hotel gives a very good view of the Falls and allows some rather better photographs to be captured.

After lunch we meander along a little way upstream from the Falls to get a view of the width of the water and then we drive along the gorge back around the Whirlpool and to the end of the Gorge where the Falls first fell about 11,000 years ago.  They are now working their way upstream about 1 metre per year, a much slower rate due to the reduction in water flow as it used to be 3 – 4 metres per year.

The river flows into Lake Ontario and situated at the river mouth is Niagara on the Lake, a pretty little town no doubt buoyed by the visitor influx.  We have a wander around before taking seats for a couple of drinks.

Then back to Toronto and we eventually board the Canadian for the trip to Winnipeg and then onto Jasper by train.  On the trip back Jackie is most impressed that she can load photos onto Faebook using the bus wifi,  Sadly the train is not equipped.