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  • Writer's pictureLeon

By the Falls, By the Falls

By the beautiful Falls, I will run, I will hide, I will waaaaant to climb.

Bonjour, mes amis! C'est moi - Leon le Chat Gris! It has finally warmed up in Western New York. There is even humidity. I am sweating - it is wonderful. Actually, cats don't sweat - it is beneath us.

Staring out across the Niagara River.

This past Monday, the human took me up to Niagara Falls, New York, with her mama. It is about an hour and a half from where we live, so it's a nice easy trip, but long enough to feel like an adventure.

The human insists that I need to get out and meet people, but they always want to pet my head and rub my back ... and they swarm. As long as I have my human, though, I am fine. She doesn't mind if I scratch her.

Niagara Falls - A History

When we lived in Korea, the human explained that Niagara Falls is indeed two cities. Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, and Niagara Falls, New York, United States. Other facts that I did not know:

1. Niagara Falls is not in Central Park or New York City.

2. Niagara Falls cannot be turned off at night.

3. Niagara Falls is made up of three falls: American, Bridal Veil, and Canadian (or Horseshoe).

In North America there are five big bodies of water (they are the largest bodies of freshwater in the world), and they are called the Great Lakes. Four of the lakes are connected, but the fifth one, Ontario, is separated from the others. It is connected to the other four by way of a river, called the Niagara River. It is 36 miles (58 kilometers) long and flows from south to north. It is about half the width of the Han River in Seoul and considerable shorter (the Han is over 300 miles long).

Niagara Falls is formed as the Niagara River goes over the Niagara Escarpment (escarpment is a word for a sudden rise of land - I'd call it a cliff, but it isn't really). This makes the river move very quickly, but it's also shallow enough to see the bottom of the river.

The cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York, have similar histories: both were in the land of the Iroquois Confederation, and was actually controlled by the Neutral Indian tribe.

And then the French came, and everything went to pot after that. The French built a fort along the mouth of the Niagara River (now called Fort Niagara). The French said that the place was a trading post. Of course it didn't stay that way because, the British came along and defeated the French in the Seven Years' War (or French and Indian War).

The British controlled the region for twenty years or so, but during that time period, their American colonies decided to have a revolt and declare independence from Great Britain. Many of the colonists who wanted to remain British moved up to the area.

Forty years later in 1812, both sides of the river had been established by the white inhabitants. But, the Americans decided that Canada (the place that was inhabited by former colonists who wanted to remain British) in reality wanted to be Americans.

The human tells me that Americans at the time were rather optimistic. After the War of 1812, the division between the United States and Canada solidified at the Niagara River.

Overlooking Horseshoe Falls

Niagara Falls - A Day Trip

Niagara Falls is easily accessible by car, but there are a few things you need to know before going:

1. Bring your passport (unless you have an enhanced driver's license like the human mama does). You cannot get into Canada without a passport, and you really want to see the Falls from the Canadian side.

2. Tolls. The fastest and easiest way to enter Niagara is by going over Grand Island which means driving over two bridges. There is a toll on the bridges, but it is done electronically through a thing called EZpass.

3. Prepare to walk. The area is just under two miles (3.2 kilometers) to walk from the American edge of the Horseshoe Falls around to the Canadian end of the Horseshoe Falls.

4. Have cash on hand for the parking, it is $10 USD, and exact change is required.

We parked on Goat Island at the end closest to the Horseshoe Falls and walked down to the edge of the Falls. It's quite pretty (you can see the photo up above). There are a couple of places to park on Goat Island, but it adds to your walking. Since most of the parking locations are $10 USD all day, it's wiser to remain at one spot.

There is also a trolley that travels around the park area ($3 for an adult). The trolley drops people off at the top of the area, so you still have to walk down the path to the falls. Also, the railing only goes so far up the river so if you have overly rambunctious animals or children, be warned.

Maid of the Mist

There are a couple of must-do things (especially if you don't live nearby and can come up often like the human and I can). First is the Maid of the Mist and second is the Cave of the Winds. These allow people to experience the power of the Falls from up close.

The human says it's worth it but she did them years ago when she was a kid. Also, if you have a sensitive stomach, you might want to stay off the boat, and if you fall easily, the Cave of the Winds might not be the best. The human wouldn't go down now because she has a bad knee.

Walking from the Horseshoe Falls to the American Falls takes about thirty minutes. You can't see much of the Niagara Gorge along the walk because of the trees, but it is pretty. This area is also where you can go to the Cave of the Winds tour.

Niagara River

A photograph of the Niagara River revealing the Rainbow Bridge (the arched portion crossing the river) and the observation area (the tower just up from the American Falls). If you want to enter Canada by foot, car or bicycle, the Rainbow Bridge will take you there. For bicyclists, it is best to bike across as the pedestrian pass will not allow bikes through.

There are a lot of other things to do in Niagara Falls, but that will be a later article. The human is attempting to learn what I need to get into Canada (we want to do a road trip).

Safe journeys!

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