From Batavia to Niagara Falls

We’re not in Louisiana any more, Heather.

By the time we landed, got our rental car, checked into the hotel and rode around Batavia, NY looking for an appealing place to eat, it was dark, and I could not get any decent snow photos.  But first thing Friday, with a rare sun-shiny day, came my chance for a photo op.

Only problem was that all the snow was old.  It had been piled up and sitting for weeks and was not the fluffy dry stuff that movies and snowmen are made of.  No matter, I still found one white spot along the sidewalk up to the Falls and couldn’t resist the urge to take the above photo.

Along the way from Batavia, through the outskirts of Buffalo and up to Niagara Falls, the countryside still held an element of beauty with snowy hills and rooftops.  I could just imagine the same country side in the green splendor of summer–the barns standing tall and red, each with its accompanying silo or two towering overhead.

As we drew close to the exit for the Falls, I could not believe my eyes. Did that sign say Grand Island?

Grand Island?  Are you serious?  Of course I wanted to go there, but that will have to wait for a summer trip.  I did a little homework after I got home and learned this island has a rich history and is pretty big as far as islands go.

In the upper left-hand corner of this image, are the Falls.  The dark blue are the Niagara Rivers West and East, which flow AROUND Grand Island.  So, all that green in the center is the actual island.  That is pretty cool and way bigger than Grand Isle, LA.  I wonder how much their water-front lots cost?

After we took the proper exit for the Falls and rode along the entrance road, I was amazed at the water flowing to our left.  The white caps and waves were tremendous, and the power of the fast-flowing water was evident.

What in the world would possess someone to think for one second they could float along in some kind of wooden barrel and survive?  Why do humans think they need to or can overcome these powerful elements of nature?  Why can we not just appreciate them for what they are?

The idea of floating down these rapids in anything, least of all a wooden barrel,  just struck me as absurd as I watched the beauty and power of this magnificent water.I’m not sure what all Heather’s thoughts were as she watched the rapids at a location just before they blast over the rocky crag.  I am certain of one thought though, “Man, I need a hat.  My ears are FREEZING!”  Because even though the sun was shining and New Yorkers were calling it a beautiful day, the wind coming across this freezing-cold water was just as freezing cold.  I mean C O L D, people.

And the moment you’ve all been waiting for:

The beautiful Wonder of the World, Niagara Falls with Canada off in the distance.  At least I think that’s Canada.

The second thing that most amazed me was the color of the water.  Would you just look at that color?

I kept calling it blue-green, but it’s not.  It’s clearly Coke-bottle colored water.  Absolutely stunning.

And down below, the water had frozen in some places, forming what looked like icebergs.

Pretty cool, huh?  Of course, like the boring slide shows “back in the day”, I have a zillion images, but I won’t bore you with them.  Well, maybe I will bore you with a few more.

When I looked down as far as I could from behind the railing, I could see what looked like boats on dry dock.  With my last battery blinking “LOW”, I didn’t take the time to switch to my zoom lens to get a better look a them.

Look closely at this photo,  I still can’t figure it out and was just too cold and overwhelmed to go inside and ask the folks inside the Welcome Center about them.  If you compare the size of the boats to the building, they appear to be pretty big boats.  But I just can’t imagine the river coming up high enough to ever float them off their resting places.

Can anyone from up that way enlighten us as to whether these are “Maid of the Mist” boats and are they on the US side or the Canada side?  And how in the heck do they get them off that dry dock?  And yes, that white is frozen river–solid ice–not just snow on the ground.

We stayed, enjoying the majesty and power of these falls for as long as our body heat and my low camera battery would allow.

On our return trip through small cities, towns, and countryside, we saw lots of these places.

Tim Horton Coffee Centers were located at every rest stop we saw.  That’s right.  NY allows free enterprise to set up shop in conjunction with their Rest Area / Welcome Centers.  Isn’t that amazing?

We spent the rest of the day browsing NY antiques and resisting the urge to buy things for which we would have to purchase another suitcase.  We left behind some pretty good deals, too.

The number of wine trails on the maps amazed us, too.  We settled for a tasting of wines made from grapes and fruits grown on Becker Farms at their Vizcara Winery who had a little booth set up inside one of the antique shops where we stopped.  The fruit and grape blends were interesting.

That night, back at Genesee Community College, the cross-cultural began with dinner–a NY rendition of  jambalaya.  We visited with other guest speakers and my old friend Diane of Bayou Grace Community Services, who first told Lori (our hostess) about my wetland tours.  It was great seeing and catching up with her again.  After dinner, we were entertained by Mumbo Gumbo, a band from Buffalo, NY who did a great job of playing some New Orleans favorites.

Eventually, some of us got over our shyness enough to tap our feet and sway to the beats of their great renditions.  As always, there was a shortage of male dance partners willing to dance with us, but we had a good time anyway.

The food, music, and dancing were a great way to end a day of experiencing new scenery, wonders, countryside, and people and a great way to launch the conference.

Glad to be back from freezing winds!


To be continued . . .

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  1. Glad ye enjoyed yer trip to the (mostly) frozen north! Ye’ll have to come across to the Canadian side in summer and see the Falls…and visit the little village of Niagara-On-The-Lake (originally known as Newark, Upper Canada – the original seat of Government for Upper Canada before being transferred to Kingston).

    That is one o’ the many Maid O’ The Mist tour boats – they are a decent size to pack the tourists on…and a fun trip into the business end o’ the Falls!

    1. I figured ye would be the one who could help me out with all this. So busy catching up since I returned Monday at midnight that I still have not answered all my emails . . . yet to do . . . and I would love to go to the Canada side and photograph the US side from there, as well. And is it true that I must now have a passport to do that? It seems so close, and so odd that I would need a passport!!!

      1. Yep, gotta have a passport for Canada and Mexico now. We had to get one for our cruise to Mexico. We got the Passport Card (looks like a credit card) good for Canada and Mexico only.

          1. It has a photo, and if I remember correctly it last for 10 years. Check with the Post Office about the length of time. I think it took about a month to receive ours, and we were surprised because we were told it might take 3 months.

            1. The card is good for land travel only so if you get into Mexico or Canada and have to be flown back over for any reason it is invalid. The passport book is good for any type of travel. I have my passport but I also have my tribal identification which works as a passport too but I’d rather have the book just in case of emergency. The card is cheaper though and if you just plan to cross the border for a day trip, etc it shoud be sufficient.

            2. Oh and the cards good for cruise ships too, just have to come back through the port you went out of. Forgot to mention that part. lol.

            3. The bad thing about the cards too is that they have a chip in them that allows you to be “found” wherever. I’d rather have the regular passport.

    2. I have visite Niagra On The Lake. Wht a great little town! That whole area is fantastic with all the vineyards and good eating places. I remember camping next to fields of flowers. Very beautiful! I think we spent close to a week in that area.

  2. The falls look even more beautiful in the winter! I have seen them from the Canadian side (really the best view) during the summer. We did not go on the boats. I didn’t feel like getting wet. Looks like you had a great time dancing and eating in true LA style.

  3. The photos ARE good. They give us a peek at what many of us will never get a chance to see in person. Thanks for sharing the experience (and the photos) with us.

  4. I have to laugh…Niagra Falls in the dead of winter? What in the world were you thinking, my dear Bayou friend?? 🙂 Glad you had such a great time! xx

    1. Well, I was invited to speak at a Bayou Cross-Cultural Conference at a nearby college, and there was no way I was going that close to Niagara Falls on a free pass without going to see them. It was really quite a nice adventure! We just forgot to cover our ears!!!

  5. Y’all got to take the train to the Faux Falls up through the heartland across the Candian side to the falls. I think you go up through Wisconsin cross at top of Lake Michigan.

    My Mom did this twice while legally blind and loved the boat rides at the base of the Faux Falls.

    I know I know Why Faux, Blu? Well cause like most fabulously looking babes now, she’s fake. Without concrete and steel added wouls have eroded away like well like Loozy.

    If you leave now you can get here in time to help shovel this weekend.

  6. Lovely photos and I do envy you. That is one of the places I have always wanted to go.

    The water is so fascinating and it seems like it is alive and pulsing with energy. I think I can understand why men would want to try to “beat” it by going over the falls in various things. It has to do with proving man is stronger than mere water. But, I think the water will win one way or another.

    1. I’m sure you’re right about man’s desire to overpower the water; but if you just sit there and watch that water churning and coursing, riding those currents in a kayak or a barrel is just unfathomable. I’m so glad you like the photos, and so you went to the Falls with me! (vicariously)

  7. The water is a beautiful green color in those photos! Glad your back in the warmth! It’s 33 degrees here in Oklahoma today. I’m about to consider a permanent move to a more tropical environment!!!!

    1. Okay, my dear, those photos are not “photo-shopped”. The water really was that color. However, the camera did not capture that color in the rapids, but when you look at the rapids from the side, the water color was evident below the white caps. It was so pretty.

      Hey, come on down. We might need a Commodities Lady down here! Except we don’t have a Federal Tribe. Sorry.

  8. What wonderful photos! Now that I think of it, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Niagara in winter. There’s a lot to be said for off-season travel, though – I saw Stonehenge during hte winter solstice, and there weren’t any tourists around, for sure.

    This is completely off-topic here but related to your wonderful posts about the gar. Did you hear about the record-setter caught in Mississippi? Over 8′ and 375 pounds or better.

    1. No, I had not seen this. Thanks, but quite honestly, he won’t know how to clean it, and because it has lived to about 60 years old, I hope he let it go back to live another 60. Bayou Fabio brings in fish almost this big (six feet long) but cleans them and sells them as part of his subsistence fishing.

      1. I went back to verify my memory – Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks was called in. They verified the weight, etc. Now it’s in the hands of the Mississippi Museum of Natural Sciences staff, which is going to have it mounted and then displayed in the Museum as part of a teaching exhibit.

  9. That thing is huge! And here I was thinking the 27″ catfish my brother caught today in his private pond was big! And he turned it loose to grow some more. (He feeds them corn and dog food.)

  10. Everyone – The continuation of this is delayed because I’ve been on my sick bed for three days now. Guess it’s more like the flu than a Yankee cold! I’ll be back here as soon as I can to continue this saga.

  11. Sorry you are sick. There is a NASTY cold/stomach virus going around our area and my daughter kept her 1 yr old grandson and now she and 4 others at her house have the same stuff. It is bad to the max too!

    Hope someone makes you some herbal tea and warm chicken soup.

  12. What great pictures of the falls! We were there in November and they were beautiful then, but I would love to see them in winter. All that ice! I can imagine your lil wetland bodies were in shock from the cold, though.

    Get well soon, Wendy. We’ll be waiting.

    1. Hi Sue! Great to hear from you. I am on the mend. I had been mentally bragging about how I made it through the winter without getting ill—but airports and conferences harbor lots of germs, so I did not escape after all! It’s like spring here, and I’ve had to spend it in bed. Darn it! Will hopefully get to the next part of the story today. BW