Thursday, July 30, 2015

NIAGARA FALLS- Part 1 of 4

 On our way east to Vermont, we spent three nights at Niagara Falls. Both of us had been there before, but it had been a long time. These shots were taken on Friday July 10 in a Canon Power Shot SX150 IS.

My advice for those visiting the falls area is avoid the weekend, go early, and bring $$$. Parking lots fill up early and off site parking is dear. We toured only the American Falls, saving for “next time” views from the Canadian side. There is plenty to do and see on just the American side to occupy one for a full day.



Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the US. In addition to parking, fees are charged for each of 5 attractions listed above and the trolley. On Friday we did just the trolley and movie.



Above is our first view of the Canadian side and the rapids below the falls. Here are the Canadian boats taking tourists up the Niagara River  to close to the foot of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.

Of the water in the Niagara River leaving Lake Erie, Canada takes 25% and the US takes 25% for generating electricity. 80% of the remaining water goes over Horseshoe Falls and the rest over the American Falls.



Jo at the edge of the American Falls with the skyline of the Canada side in the background.



Downstream is on the left. An observation bridge in the middle leads to an elevator to take passengers down in elevators to the walkway to Maid of the Mist boats at the foot. I vaguely recall riding the Maid of the Mist boat with my mother in 1941!  Then it was a long walk down!


Good view of the American Falls in the foreground with the Horseshoe Falls in the far back.


We took the trolley over to Goat Island from which we enjoyed views of both falls.


Looking downstream from Goat Island with mist at the right from the American Falls.


Water level view of the edge of Horseshoe Falls.


The rapids above the Horseshoe Falls drop 40 feet.



 View from Goat Island showing most of Horseshoe Falls. The mist column always is there.



View from Goat Island of the American Falls. The observation area is on Luna Island at the top of the Bridal Veil part of the American Falls.





On Sat. July 11 we took a commercial tour of the American side with 15 others folks. We saw parts in detail which we bypassed the day before.



Our guide, Eric, teaches History in a local junior high school. He did a fine job of showing us some of the sights and avoiding long lines to the more popular attractions.



Today’s tour began downstream from the falls where cable cars run across the gorge, with boarding  the Canadian side.


Cable car riders get a great view of the whirlpool at the end of the rapids. Our guide said that a body entering the whirlpool will emerge downstream about 6 months later.





 Here are the rapids in the gorge looking upstream from the whirlpool.



This view of Horseshoe falls differs from that of the day before due to the wind pushing the mist away from the falls.



We were treated  to a rainbow in the mist.


Our view of the day!


 Our next adventure on the tour was Cave of the Winds. It was not really a cave but a very wet walk on steps beside Bridal Veil falls up close and personal.

The ticket price included the yellow rain ponchos here and sandals, presumably to make the walking less slippery.

Our guide collected our shoes and sox, returning them when we returned to the bus. Very convenient. Those on their own carried their shoes in plastic bags.




The red wooden walkways and platforms are erected every spring and taken down in the winter to avoid being destroyed by the winter’s ice. Horseshoe Falls is at the left and an abandoned power plant is on the Canadian side. Below, gulls find the area fine for nesting.




 The falls are more impressive looking up at them from near the bottom.



The sound and force of the falling water is experienced so close to it.



The rocks fall from the upper part of the falls as the force of the water erodes the lip of the falls up the Niagara River.



Here is the crowded Canadian tour boat.


Much of the walk is directly over water just coming over the falls.


This platform is aptly called the Hurricane Deck. Jo is at the right. Picture taking opportunities were limited by having to keep the camera dry.

NIAGARA FALLS – Part 4 - Maid of the Mist

Four large elevators took the passengers down to near river level. After an walk down more, we were issued blue rain ponchos, with our guide instructing us not to put them on until the boat disembarked, as one gets sweaty wearing them while in the sun. Most ignored the advice.


The two Maid of the Mist boats (VI and VII) were able to keep up with the steady stream of passengers coming down the elevators.



Here is most of the width of the American Falls from the boat.



At the left is the tower for the elevators



At the center is Bridal Veil Falls with the Cave of the Winds walkways .




The gentleman at the left helped Jo put on her poncho.


 Lots of gulls chose to take a mass afternoon flight.


Across the river on the Canadian side is the building and walkway for those on that side to take a walk under Horseshoe




The width of Horseshoe Falls is visible here.



As we approach the place for disembarking, the other boat at left is preparing to leave with the next load of tourists.



Here are nice views of the American Falls from the top of the walkway where the elevators are loaded.



Sunday, July 5, 2015


Our RV park was the site of garden tractor pulls on May 23 and again on July 5. I had never seen one, so I asked a few questions about the sport. I learned that they competed in 9 classes, that the garden tractors cost from $1,000 to nearly $40,000 (without the trailers to transport them) and a few run on alcohol or nitro.  Engines in the tractors generally had 2 cylinders. Weights are added at the front of the tractors to keep the front wheels on the ground for steering and at the rear to get more traction out of the back wheels. There were two lanes but each competitor went down the course alone. The winner in each class pulled the sled farther than the others in the class.

The entry fee is $15.00, $10.00 going to pay the prizes. First place in a class typically will have a prize of $15.00, not enough to pay the cost of gasoline to get it to the track!

Classes are based on the weight of the tractor and driver or the  horsepower of the tractor engine.  Many of the tractors are not significantly modified other than to have adjustable weights to get in the desired weight class. Others in the higher classes have special engines.



The sled increases the weight to the front flat plate (orange and white striped) as it is being pulled down track by the garden tractor. The forward motion pulls forward the weighted black box (here over the back wheels). 


This tractor just left the starting line pulling the sled. The sled is owned by the Mississippi Valley Garden Tractor Pullers Association.


 Many tractors have custom bodies. Some are lettered  “Alllis Chalmers”, others have the green John Deere paint scheme  and lettering. Those in the entry level class usually are Cub Cadet models made by International Harvester.



While the sled is being  towed back to the starting line by the large John Deere farm tractor, the red farm tractor pulls a roller over the course to smooth out the dirt stirred up by the garden tractor rear wheels and the sled.



This is a highly modified tractor with the hood up. In the picture below it is going down the track with wheels in the air.


The tractors below also are heavily modified.






I was told that this tractor develops 80 hp for 80 seconds for a run.




Spinning tires on the highly modified tractors kick up the dust here.




This one is powered by a 3 cylinder diesel engine. It did well.



The drivers of this one and the one below must be no more than 12 years old.