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October 7, 2015 travel fallfoliage

Fall Foliage, Day 21 - Four Mile Creek State Park, Youngstown, New York and Niagara Falls

This morning I had some work time while Christian slept in (driving days are tiring for him).

Once he was up, we went for a run around the park, stopping at the camp office to sort out which we spot we would be in this night and paying for last night since we arrived after they were closed. The gentleman who had reserved our spot for the next week was already here and in the spot across from us, so we switched with him and had a nice chat about traveling and Canadian Thanksgiving (celebrated on Monday, our Columbus Day).

Lake OntarioLake Ontario

We finished our run, then got ready to head to the Falls and do some sightseeing. Based on our new neighbor’s recommendation, we went to the Canadian side (Ontario) instead of the New York side - a good choice!

After paying the exorbitant parking rate ($18 CAD), we walked a couple of miles along the bluff away from the top of the Falls. I hadn’t actually realized that there were multiple falls in Niagara Falls” - the big one is the Horseshoe Falls, and then the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are on the American side.

And this is the off-season...And this is the off-season...

Horseshoe FallsHorseshoe Falls

To get the full tourist experience, we did the boat tour (Hornblower, which replaced the apparently-corrupt-according-to-our-neighbor Maid of the Mist) that took us right up to the base of the Horseshoe Falls. I was cracking up at the people who were freaking out when they got wet, and the one guy in the back who just kept saying Woohoo!” (literally woohoo,” not just a generic exclamation of excitement) over and over again.

The HornblowerThe Hornblower

Stylish ponchosStylish ponchos

Light through the mistLight through the mist

Then we did some research on where to eat/what to do next (and saw Elvis leaving the building) before settling on the Skylon Tower and observation deck before dinner.

"Thank you, thank you very much.""Thank you, thank you very much."

Skylon TowerSkylon Tower

There was a nice walk on the way over through some pretty gardens. Canada had weird squirrels:


At the tower, I succumbed to my basic instincts and got a pumpkin spice latte while Christian got the tickets. We decided to go for the combo observation deck/4D movie package, deciding on the movie first. It was an adventure getting there (which should have maybe been a warning that it wasn’t as well thought out as the tower itself). We went down an escalator, through the abandoned arcade section, out a couple of doors, down a flight of stairs, down a hill, and finally found the theater. Ten minutes of memorizing the overly dramatic looping movie pitch later, and we were finally inside the theater. The only ones inside the theater, in fact.

The 15-minute 4D Legend of the Falls” movie was terrible. There’s no way around it. We should have checked the TripAdvisor reviews for it separately instead of assuming it would be as highly rated as the tower.

The move opens with some old-timey clips of the Falls with voice-over of two men, one of whom has turned off the water to them accidentally? and then turns it back on. Zooming 3D letters, a squirt of water in your face as the camera flies you over the falls, and then a spider drops down from the top of the screen (what? why??) and pokes you with his leg (the seats shake).

Alright, we’re already laughing derisively at this point - haha, they threw in some cheesy effects, okay time to get to this magical adventure’ and see the famous legend of the Maid of the Mist come to life before our eyes,’ right?”


The plot was that a lady of Native American heritage (this is important later) is visiting the Falls, talking to David” on the phone about meeting up tomorrow. She sees a rainbow - BUT THEN IT DISAPPEARS dun dun DUN.

Meandering towards an observation bridge with her backpack (this is also important later), an apparition of a Native American man appears hologram-Princess-Leia-style and leads her off the path where she finds a decrepit stick lean-to that somehow has a few artifacts in perfect shape hanging from the inside.

She drops her backpack outside, swats away another cheesy spider in his web, walks inside, finds a mysterious cloth-wrapped bundle, and unwraps it. A gold eagle’s head thing flies out of the bundle, addresses her by the tribal name only her grandmother knows - What? Who is that??” - and asks her to bring back the rainbow by finding three elements before sunrise that create the falls by digging into the history of the Falls - and herself!

The acting is pretty terrible, and the audio and video don’t even sync up. Christian is muffling his laughter to avoid startling the single employee working the ticket booth outside.

I’m thinking, okay, she’s going to go do some research, call up her grandmother, it’ll be a cool mystery movie kind of thing. Nope. She picks up another artifact that represents the different animals, the floating eagle head tells her the story of the Maid of the Mist (animated because why not?), and she magically realizes that the first element is water. After filling up a jug from the river, a single drop falls from her finger and floats in midair, then the eagle head gets a tramp stamp.

The rest of the movie doesn’t get much better. At one point there are some glowing blue letters that rearrange themselves a lá I-am-Lord-Voldemort. The eagle head already knows everything - the only thing she contributes is filling that jug and then picking up a stone later - the eagle head even lights a campfire for her. We were unclear as to what the second element was, since the tattoo looked like wind but nothing was ever said about it. In fact all that was said in the second element chunk was I don’t know what’s worse, spiders or bats!”

The third element (the rock) didn’t produce a tattoo, but instead some more glowing blue light. Then she runs back to the Falls WITHOUT GRABBING HER BACKPACK OR EXTINGUISHING THE FIRE (it’s miraculously way past midnight, though the last time we saw her was in the dark woods) and aw man the rainbow still isn’t there!

She turns away in defeat (“I forgot that only I can prevent forest fires!“) but somehow turns back just in time to see the most dramatically inaccurate terrible CGI microscopic zoom-in of a rainbow forming. Then David sneaks up behind her and dangles another spider! #truluv

Throw in a few more water face-squirts and you might have an idea of what this experience was like. I really can’t say enough about how terrible this movie was - I would have rather just seen silent clips panning across the falls or a narration of the creation of the tourist area than this.

Christian: Everyone involved in the creation of this movie should be legally barred from any type of film creation ever again.

Quoting cheesy movie lines to each other, we made our way back inside the tower for the observation deck, getting temporarily stuck behind a couple at the green screen photo station who really struggled with the concept of acting like you’re in a barrel.

The view at the top was stunning and made up for the bad movie.

Left to right: American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Horseshoe FallsLeft to right: American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Horseshoe Falls

Horseshoe FallsHorseshoe Falls

At the bottom again, we picked up our car and headed to dinner at Taps on Queen Brewhouse and Grill (still in Canada) for some authentic Canadian food!

Beer flight (pumpkin, red cream ale, something Wit, IPA)Beer flight (pumpkin, red cream ale, something Wit, IPA)


Christian's curry poutineChristian's curry poutine


Christian had seen a French restaurant down the road a ways, so we stopped in for dessert.

French caféFrench café

Christian's apricot jam crepeChristian's apricot jam crepe

My Queen crepe (dark chocolate, banana, Chantilly cream)My Queen crepe (dark chocolate, banana, Chantilly cream)

Both of the restaurants had a cool payment system where they brought the card reader to your table to pay so your credit card never has to leave your sight. It makes a lot of sense to do it like this, as it’s less work for the waitstaff, reduces the number of interactions between you and the server to give them money, and mitigates the risk of credit card skimming.

"The machine""The machine"

Back across the border, we made our way back to the park for a little work time before bed.

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Fall Foliage, Day 20 - Willoughby, Ohio, to Youngstown, New York We took a lazy start to the morning today, doing a little maintenance on the RV (filling tires) and on dbinbox (a critical piece of the database
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Fall Foliage, Day 22 - Four Mile Creek State Park, New York, to Green Lakes State Park, New York THIS WEATHER. SO GOOD. It’s the perfect temperature for leggings/pants/sweaters/scarves, or for running and not feeling completely disgusting. We