Niagara Falls – American Falls

Don’t you just love it when people go visit a place like Niagara Falls, take about 600 photos and videos, and then feel compelled to share their wonderful trip with you? But what the heck. You get to experience it vicariously on the backs of someone else’s dime and efforts to get there – which for us, David, Megan and I, meant driving 250 miles to the Salt Lake Airport, flying into Buffalo, NY, arriving at 11pm – renting a motel in Buffalo, renting a car the next morning, driving to Niagara Falls. We wanted to experience both the American and Canadian sides of the Falls, so we first rented a motel on the American side.

Just to flesh out the experience of flying, at the get-go in Salt Lake, in the security line, David got his pocket knife confiscated. He turns to me all annoyed since I’m the one that Googled ‘Can you take pocket knives on airplanes’ in the car getting to the airport and reported “Yes, you can honey” and read aloud all the detailed descriptions of size of blade, showed him the photos, it had to fold down, etc. But then after his knife was confiscated and we were in line at a kiosk to buy stamps to mail it back to us, I got onto another site that clarified that indeed, in 2013, the FAA had approved folding pocket knives on planes, but after blowback, had repealed the decision. I had obviously read a 2013 post. It cost $6.80 to mail the knife back, but the lady running the register, from Estonia or somewhere, would only let us buy $6.00 worth – “I need the stamps” she said. Great. No problem. David put our address as both the sender and recipient and sure enough the thing got delivered.

Thus, Travel Tip # 1: “Leave pocket knives behind no matter what you read on the Internet.”

Travel Tip #2: “When it’s time to board the plane, screw the lid tightly on your water bottle before putting it in your backpack.” Of course, you’re in such a frenzy gathering up all your stuff and securing your position in line to make sure you can grab what might be the last space for your suitcase in the overhead compartment. Good news, we had overhead space. Bad news, why was there a puddle of water under Megan’s backpack on my seat? I reach in her pack and pull out the empty plastic water bottle. OMG! Quick! Grab all the contents – movies, paperback book, journal, stuffed animal, sweatshirt, pens, cell phone and charger – now the pack is empty except for the puddle dripping through the bottom onto our feet. “Here, honey!” – I shove the pack into David’s arms. “What do you want me to do with it?” he says. “Give it to the Stewardess!” David jumps up and disappears – returns from the lavatory five minutes later. He had turned the thing wrong side out and dumped what was left of the water, wiped it as best he could. It was still soaking wet. Megan and I fly the whole way with a wet empty backpack nestled at our feet, its contents strewed across our seats, all of it drying out.

Oh, and by the way. (Travel Tip #3): The airlines no longer nestle those nifty folded barf bags with built-in ties in the seat pockets in front of you. So when you’re overcome with the urge to hurl you have to flag down a stewardess. (How many on that flight besides Megan suffered from flight anxiety?)

Good news and good news: Although Megan felt the urge to hurl through most of that 2-hour flight from Salt Lake to Minneapolis, she didn’t. The other good news: We had snagged ourselves, free from Delta Airlines, a right fine hamper-sized waterproof bag with handles, perfect for stowing a whole trips’ worth of dirty clothes. Albeit on the flight we now faced the additional challenge of keeping the bag in barf position while avoiding knocking the movies and other contents of Megan’s pack off our seats to seemingly Timbuktu since we didn’t have enough leg room to bend over and pick them up.

Flight barf bag - our first free souvenir

Flight barf bag – our first free souvenir

We dumped the dirty contents of the bag directly into a laundry basket when we arrived home. I’m saving the bag for future use – like maybe as a hamper on our next camping trip. Or a car barf bag, in case the whole family and the dog on a road trip all come down with food poisoning and/or nasty bug at the same time.

I could write a detailed blog by itself just about passports. First, you need an agreed-upon plan for managing your passports. Besides checking their expiration dates months before your trip, also find a safe and secure place to stow them while traveling, but also not so secure to where you can’t find them at Customs. I zipped my and Megan’s passports into a secure pocket in my purse. Which is where I also shoved my boarding pass. So when I whipped out my boarding pass at check-in the passports flew out and landed at David’s feet. “What the heck! Put those in a safe place!” Hey, they were in a safe place. He took over the job of managing all the passports, which reduced my stress tremendously. Now, no matter what, if they get lost it’s his fault. No tips for you on passports, other than: “Be cognizant and hyper-anxious at all times as to the whereabouts of all passports. Put one person in charge of them so there is no question as to who’s to blame if they get lost.”

On the drive now, from Buffalo to Viagra Falls. Uh, Niagara Falls. (My computer auto corrects to ‘Viagra’ when I misspell Niagara as ‘Niagra’)

I don’t know what bridge this is but I like the picture.

Must be going over the Niagara River?

Must be going over the Niagara River?

Hey, I was stressed here, okay? – taking photos, trying to relax a little, had we left something back at the motel in Buffalo? Where’s our phone charger?? Megan do you have your phone? Did I leave my book on the bedside?…

We decided to spend our first full day at American Falls, or at the American side of Niagara Falls. We’re watching that “Maid of the Mist” boat loaded to the gills with folks in blue raincoats. (It’s coming and going with a corresponding boat loaded with folks in red raincoats.) The boat lingers for several minutes right at the base of the Falls. Must be a thunderously wet, but exhilarating (perhaps, if you’re not buckled over the sides with sea sickness) experience.

"Maid of the MIst"

“Maid of the MIst”

The one with red raincoats is right at the Falls now:


We’re in line now, alongside a large group of, Mennonites??


contemplating whether to take that “Maid of the Mist’ boat to the falls. We decide just to pay to get on the upper viewing deck. What a fantastic view:

View of Niagara Falls from American side - notice the walkway that leads to the falls

View of Niagara Falls from American side – notice the walkway that leads to the Falls

Oh, a boat is returning.

Blue Maid of the Mist returning from the Falls

Blue Maid of the Mist returning from the Falls

We decide to go down and take that walk along the shore up next to the falls. We arrive near the dock just as the masses of folks in blue raincoats are getting off the boat. Gee it would be nice to be wearing those raincoats when we’re up next to the falls… No problem! People are taking them off and tossing them in the recycle bin. Hey you paid for those! Great. We pull three of them out of the trash, what the heck, put them on …

Megan and David - outfitted for the mist

Megan and David – outfitted for the mist

We merge with the blue crowd off the boat walking the misty path that leads you alongside American Falls. Along the way I’m humming that low-toned “HarUmmmm-Um, HarUmm-a-rum-a-rum” song from the ‘Wizard of Oz’ movie when Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion, with his tail sticking out, dress as Guards, and merge with the group of Guards marching into the Witch’s castle, to rescue Dorothy.

There, you see the Falls thundering ahead…

American Falls at Niagara Falls

American Falls at Niagara Falls

We’re as close as we want to get now … here, I took a video

Granted mostly all you see is mist. That’s Niagara Falls, Canada, across the River.

There’s lots of touristy things to do in Niagara Falls. Here you see advertised the Discovery Pass combining five major tourist attractions saving ‘up to 29%’ in price:

'Unforgettable memories at an unbelievable price'

‘Unforgettable memories at an unbelievable price’

Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, Niagara: Legends of Adventure Theater, Gorge Discovery Center, Aquarium. You know, if you have time…

Plus, this attraction:


Can’t believe David passed that up looking for a place for lunch. We ended up having lunch at the Rainforest Cafe:

Megan nestled comfortably with her bench companions

Megan nestled comfortably with her bench companions

Next to the Apes: (Not to be confused with the ‘Alps’)

We have to shop for a t-shirt or some kind of souvenir. Hey, let’s check out that huge Made In America Store.

Heading toward souvenir city

Heading toward souvenir city

That building is so huge, the stuff they sell could even be made right there. Perhaps there’s a clothing factory in those upper stories and other manufacturing/packaging businesses as well?

Ascending the stairs to the Made in America Store, with a patriotic skip in our step.


Checking out the clothing racks. How do you get more American than this shirt!


Made in America for sure, could’ve even been made upstairs!


Made in Bangladesh?

Okay, well uh, guess I kinda got off track seeing as I have maybe, 40 more photos of the Falls alone. Plus video. Actually I’ve only covered the first 1 1/2 days of our 7-day trip. “Oh, please don’t put us through this, Jody” you say?

What, you want to make the trip yourself?

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