A Visit to Marquette, MI

Marquette, MI

The second day of our stay here we drove a few miles to the west to visit the city of Marquette.  With a population of over 21,000 Marquette is the most populated city of the Upper Peninsula. It is a major port on Lake Superior, primarily for shipping iron ore, and is the home of Northern Michigan University.  In 2012, Marquette was listed among the 10 best places to retire in the U.S. by CBS Money Watch.

We were taking a drive around the campus of Northern Michigan University when we came upon the strange building pictured below.  It looks a bit like a UFO sitting right in the middle of some athletic fields.

Is this a UFO or what?

It turns out the building is called the Superior Dome, but to the locals it is the Yooper Dome (residents of the Upper Peninsula are called Uppers, or Yoopers) and is an indoor athletic facility.  It holds over 8,000 people and is where the UNM Wildcats play home football games.

The dome is 14 stories tall, has a diameter of 536 ft, and covers an area of 5.1 acres.  It is a geodesic dome constructed with 781 Douglas Fir beams and 108.5 miles of fir decking. The dome is designed to support snow up to 60 pounds per square foot and withstand 80 mile per hour winds.  It has a permanent seating capacity of 8,000, though the building can hold as many as 16,000 people. The “Book of World Records – 2010″ listed it as the fifth-largest dome and largest wooden dome in the world.

The Dome features a retractable artificial turf carpet, the largest of its kind in the world. When extended, the turf can accommodate football, soccer, and field hockey.  Underneath the carpet is a synthetic playing surface that features three basketball/volleyball courts, two tennis courts and a 200 meter track.  The carpet is winched in and out of place on a cushion of air.  Retracting the turf carpet takes 30 minutes, with full setup taking about two hours.

This device rolls up the synthetic carpet

While reading some of the displays in the concourse area we learned that the university is a United States Olympic Education Center.

The United States Olympic Training Site (NMU-OTS) is one of 16 Olympic training sites in the country. With more than 70 resident athletes and coaches, the NMU-OTS is the second-largest Olympic training center in the United States, in terms of residents, behind Colorado Springs. The USOEC has more residential athletes than the Lake Placid and Chula Vista sites combined. Over the years, it has grown into a major contributor to the U.S. Olympic movement.

Current resident training programs include Short Track Speed Skating, Greco-Roman wrestling, weightlifting and women’s freestyle wrestling. NMU-OTS athletes attend NMU or Marquette Senior High School while training in their respective sports. They receive free or reduced room and board, access to world-class training facilities as well as sports medicine and sports science services, academic tutoring, and a waiver of out-of-state tuition fees by NMU.  Although responsible for tuition at the in-state rate, they may receive the B.J. Stupak Scholarship to help cover expenses.

We continued our driving tour along the shore of Lake Superior and came upon another strange looking structure, what appeared to be a large pier jutting out into the lake.

A closer look revealed full rail cars on top of the structure.

A nearby placard revealed the structure to be the Presque Isle Ore Dock.

This ore dock was built in 1911 and still serves the iron-ore industry today.  The way it works is the rail cars are pushed on to the dock and over top of one of the 200 bins.  A door on the bottom of the rail car is then opened and the iron ore pellets spill into the bin below.  A giant ore boat pulls alongside the dock as shown in the picture below (copied from a web site).

A large chute connected to the bin is then lowered over the ore boat and the ore pellets fall into the ship’s hold.

Iron pellets falling into a ship’s cargo hold

As we drove south along the lake into the main part of Marquette we came upon another ore dock, this one obviously not in use as there was no train runway leading to it.

This is the Marquette Ore Dock #6, built in 1931.  The dock’s railroad owner’s went out of business and the dock closed in 1971.  The train trestle approach was removed in the 1990’s and the structure now sits idle among pleasure boat marinas, as there is a legal fight on what to do with it.

After dinner in the motor home we walked over to the casino to see if the snack bar had anything for dessert (they didn’t).  As we passed one of the slots, John put in a dollar at the penny slot (they don’t call him “The Gambler” for nothing!) and Pam began to push the buttons.  We had no idea what we were doing but faked it as the machine kept whirling.  Only three things identified us as novices in this casino: we aren’t grossly overweight, we are not over 90, and we don’t smoke (that last one is a real giveaway at a casino).  The smoke began to get to us so Pam hit the “cash out” button.  What do you know, she had won $23.65!

The Pot of Gold!

Now she had the gambling bug!  Another dollar went into the machine and was quickly lost.  Another dollar was inserted and it, too, was quickly gone.  John then dragged her out the door, threatening to call the gambler’s hotline number on the wall!  But this stay has turned out to be a pretty good deal.  Two nights of free electricity and $20!

Tomorrow we continue our westward movement with a 250 mile drive to Duluth, MI where we will spend the next four days.

More on that later . . .

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Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI

Marquette, MI

After a three night stay near St. Ignace, Monday morning we headed west across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Our target destination was the Ojibwa Casino, a few miles east of Marquette.  The first two thirds of the 150 mile journey was through the center of the UP along Route 28.  The road was flat, tree lined, and pretty much deserted.

A traffic jam along Route 28

We arrived at the casino a bit after noon and found only two of the seven RV spots were taken.  We quickly set up in one of the available sites (50 amp electric, no water/sewer) and went into the small casino to sign in at the Customer Service Desk.  There is no charge for the RV site and, in fact, they pay you to stay here!  We received a $5 voucher that we could take to the cashier for cash or credit on a player’s card.  Since we really don’t like to sit at a slot machine and push the button we felt a little guilty taking their $5 and electricity without spending money there, so we opted not to cash the voucher.

Since the skies cleared soon after our arrival, we jumped in the Jeep and headed back east about 40 miles to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  Pictured Rocks is a U.S. National Lakeshore on the shore of Lake Superior.  It extends for 42 miles along the shore and offers spectacular scenery of the hilly shoreline with various rock formations like natural archways, waterfalls, and sand dunes.

Pictured Rocks derives its name from the 15 miles of colorful sandstone cliffs northeast of the little town of Munising.  The cliffs are up to 200 feet above lake level. They have been naturally sculptured into shallow caves, arches, formations that resemble castle turrets, and human profiles.

Our first stop was the observation decks for a view of Miners Castle, one of the best known features of Pictured Rocks.

Miners Castle

A closer view

The cliffs are made of sandstone so they are constantly changing.  Miner’s Castle is a good example as it once had two “turrets”, but in 2006 one of them collapsed.  See the small opening at the base of the Castle in the picture above?  A zoom shows it to be a cave that allows water to pass from one side of the Castle to the other.

The colors in the cliffs are created by the large amounts of minerals in the rock.  A look directly below us on this observation deck shows some of that color.

Looking to the north you have a nice view of some of the cliffs.  Tour boats are plentiful as the rocks are best viewed from the water.

There is a one and a half mile trail from the observation point that leads down to a beach along the lake shore.

Upper section of the trail to the beach

Exiting the trail on to the beach

From the beach you get another view of the cliffs to the north.  Sorry about the picture below.  We didn’t realize that a young couple photo-bombed our picture!

Hiking the trail back from the beach

About a half mile from the observation deck parking area is the trail head to Miners Falls.  Its a short hike (.6 mi.) out to a great view of the falls.  The falls drop about 40 feet over a sandstone outcrop.

Miners Falls from the observation deck

The falls from below

Pothole formations at the base of the falls

On our way back through the little town of Munising we noticed the junior-senior high school building.  From the road it looks a bit like a bunker but . . .

. . . it has a great view of the water on the other side.

Tomorrow we plan to visit the nearby city of Marquette.  More on that later . . .

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St. Ignace – Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

St. Ignace, MI

Friday morning we were up bright (okay, it’s a relative term) and early ready to continue north.  We left Empire, MI (20 miles west of Traverse City) and headed to the Mackinac Bridge.  We planned to stay in a casino lot that does not take reservations so we wanted to arrive early enough to get a spot.

After driving about 150 miles, we came to the bridge.  As bridges go, this is a pretty big structure.  The length of the bridge’s main span (length between the two towers) is 3,800 feet, which makes it the third-longest suspension span in the United States and 16th longest suspension span worldwide.   Measured shoreline-to-shoreline the bridge is 5 miles long.

The road is two lanes across the bridge, but construction narrowed both directions to a single lane, increasing the “pucker factor” for those with gephyrophobia (oh, just look it up!).

But the views from the top on this clear day were fantastic!

Looking to the west.  No gephyrophobia here!

Looking east to Mackinac Island

Zoom showing the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

Just over the bridge is the little town of St. Ignace.   A few miles north of that is the Kewadin Casino, our destination.  We arrived a bit after noon and were able to get a nice spot in the corner.  The RV parking is a gravel area around a large paved parking lot near the casino.  It’s not much to look at but has electricity and water and there is a dump station on the drive out.  For $10 a night you can’t beat it, especially if you like to gamble.

The RV Lot. We are in the center of the picture.

St. Ignace has an interesting history as a Native American settlement before the arrival of Europeans, a transportation center for the fur trade in the eighteenth century, and lumber transportation center in the nineteenth century.  Today the town is a bit run down and the main industry seems to be as a terminal for three passenger ferry boat lines taking tourists to nearby Mackinac Island.  The three ferries are pretty similar, so the Star Line features a water jet shooting a rooster tail out the back of the boat.  The water jet doesn’t make the boat any better than the competitors, but it looks impressive.

There is a nice walking tour on a boardwalk running along the waterfront, with numbers marking places of interest.  We obtained a pamphlet describing these places at the Chamber of Commerce offices and set off to check them out.  After 25 stops along the boardwalk, we had a good understanding of the history of the town.  One of the interesting stops was at the Commercial Fisherman’s Memorial.

The plaque on the memorial lists the names of the 25 local fishermen who lost their lives in the fishing business since 1851.

 

As we walked out to a small lighthouse on a pier, we came across another interesting site pictured below.

It is the remains of the terminal for the SS Chief Wawatam, a coal-fired train ferry and icebreaker that operated in the Straits of Mackinac between 1911–1984. Her home port was St. Ignace and she shuttled back and forth during her entire working life between that port and Mackinaw City, Michigan.

The Chief Wawatam was 338 feet in length and could hold 18 full sized rail cars.  The rail cars were loaded and unloaded from the front of the ship.  A large sea gate (pictured below) was raised for loading and unloading, then lowered to keep water out during travel.  When it docked in the terminal great care was taken to align rails in the ship with the rails on the dock to prevent the cars from derailing.

Another interesting (to some of us) site in St. Ignace is the St. Anthony’s Rock, just a block off the main street of town.

 

We intended to stay here for two nights, but the weather prediction for today (Sunday) was for rain.  Since we do not travel in the rain, we decided to stay put one more day.  With nothing much to do here in St. Ignace, we recrossed the Mackinac Bridge and found a local coffee shop to visit.

The Starbucks in Mackinaw City is a bit unique in design.  The ground floor contains the serving area and the second floor the seating.  The third floor is the starting point of a zip line that runs away from the rear of the building over a miniature golf course.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for clear skies so we will be off early headed west to Marquette, MI.  More on that later . . .

 

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Empire, MI

The small village of Empire is right on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan just south of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  We have taken advantage of our unscheduled visit by taking a short hike one day and a 23 mile bike ride the other.

The short hike was on the Empire Bluff Trail, just south of the village.  The trail is only a mile and a half round trip, but leads to a  great view of the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

As we approached the bluff, a great view emerged on our right

Lake Michigan Shoreline with Sleeping Bear Dunes visible to the north

The next day we took advantage of some great weather and rode the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail from Empire to Glen Arbor, a little over eleven miles to the north.

The paved trail meanders through woods and open fields

A bit over seven miles on the trail we came to the parking area for the Sleeping Bear Dune Climb.  The part of the trail we just rode recently opened in June.  Before that, the Dune Climb parking lot was the southern end of the trail.

The dune climb

About three miles north of the Dune Climb we came to the former logging and canning community of Glen Haven.

The main (and only) street of Glen Haven

During the second half of the 1800s Glen Haven was a busy place.  The picture below is a close up of a display board located along the lake front.  In it you can see a dock with a rail car on it and a large steamer arriving at the dock.  The train brought lumber from a few miles away to the dock, where it was loaded on to the steamers.

There are still a few pilings out in the lake (marked by the arrow below) that show just how far out into the lake the dock ran.

Turn around from the lake front and you are looking at a restored red building, the former home of the Glen Haven Canning Company.  When the lumber business began to fade in the 1920s, the mill owner diversified into growing and canning fruit grown, especially cherries.

The cannery went out of business and other ventures didn’t fair much better so the town slowly declined.  In the 1970s the National Park Service purchased the land and incorporated it into the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.  Many of the buildings have been restored, like the old cannery building which houses a display of old boats.

About two miles further up the trail is the little touristy town of Glen Arbor.  This part of Michigan is known for growing cherries, so it is not surprising that one of the most frequently visited places in the village is the Cherry Republic.  There are three buildings in the small complex: a retail store (Great Hall of the Republic), a tasting building, and a small restaurant.

Outside the Great Hall of the Republic is a bit of a strange display, the rear end of a car attached to a wall.  Cherry Republic began in 1989 with a young guy selling t-shirts and Cherry Boomchunka cookies from the trunk of his car.  As a way to remember the company’s humble beginnings they chopped off that trunk and put it on display!

The Trunk

The cookie

Right next to the gift shop is the tasting building where you can sample wines and sodas made from, you guessed it, cherries.

The line was a bit too long in the tasting room so we walked around it to the other side where we found an interesting competitive sports facility, the Cherry Pit Spitting Arena.  Who knew!

The arena

The official rules are simple but very practical.

We stopped in the restaurant for lunch and both ordered the chicken salad sandwich with a glass of water.  Guess what was in the chicken salad? Cherries!  Guess what was in the bread? Cherries!  Guess what was floating in the water?  OK, this is getting old!  Good thing we love cherries ! ! !

And so ends our brief side trip to the Sleeping Bear Dunes area.  Tomorrow we pull in the slides, raise the levelers, fire up the diesel and head about a hundred and fifty miles north to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Our plan is to stay overnight just across the Mackinac Bridge in the town of St. Ignace.

More on that later . . .

 

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Clayton, NY – The Thousand Islands

Clayton, NY

When we last blogged a few weeks ago, we had just ended a great month on Dave and Sue’s lot next to beautiful Conesus Lake just south of Rochester.  From there we drove about a hundred and fifty miles north to the village of Clayton, along the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River.  We go there every summer to visit Pam’s mother, Fran, and to do a few odd jobs around the house for her.  While there, we park the motorhome in an unused drive of a friend of Fran’s, John Eppolito.  It is just around the corner from Fran’s, so we spend most of our time at her house but are able to sleep in our own bed each night!

The Eppolito RV Park (no frills)

This year we wanted to be there to attend a high school graduation party for our niece Daniela, Pam’s sister’s daughter.

The party begins (Pam’s mom is seated in the center)

The proud graduate

It takes a confident man to sit in a pink chair

In between polishing a car, cleaning windows, and completing some general repairs, we managed to get in a couple of side trips.  The first was a hike around the west end of nearby Wellesley Island.   Access to the island is done by crossing the Thousand Island Bridge on I-81.

A little out of focus, but you get the idea (picture borrowed from the web)

 

The trail is in the Thousand Islands State Park and begins at the nature center.  While not exactly hiking the Rockies, it does have some pretty good ups and downs . . .

. . . and plenty of great views of the river.

The Clayton Tour Boat in “the Narrows”

On another beautiful day we did our annual international bike trip to Kingston, Ontario.  To get to Kingston we drove the Jeep about ten miles to the west along the river to the tiny village of Cape Vincent.  There we hopped a small private ferry for the short (15 minutes) ride to Wolfe Island ($2/person), owned by Canada.

Once we cleared Canadian customs it is an eight mile ride across the island through beautiful farm fields.

At the little village of Marysville we boarded a free ferry to the mainland.

The empty ferry

Five minutes later, the full ferry

After two weeks we feel the need to get back on the road again.  Since returning from our trip west last August we have spent the past year basically returning to places where we had previously stayed (Clayton, York, Atlanta, Myrtle Beach, etc.).  We’re now anxious to head west again to explore new territory.  So on Monday we were up early and headed out.  While we do want to head “west” the first leg of our journey was to the “east” as we headed to the Thousand Islands Bridge to cross into Canada.  The bridge helps get the old heart rate up for the trip as it is a bit narrow and steep!

Our “long term” goal is to go up into the Canadian Rockies and visit Jasper and Banff National Parks.  To get there we’ve decided to meander along US-2 through Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Montana.  US-2 begins just over the Mackinac Bridge on the Upper Peninsula.  So the shortest route from Clayton to Michigan is to take Highway 401 through Ontario.  On Monday we crossed into Ontario and drove about 370 miles to Wyoming, ON, where we stopped at a nice RV park just off the highway.  Early the next morning we drove about twenty miles more  before crossing back into the US at the Sarnia/Port Huron bridge.  Then it was north on I-75 to the Mackinac Bridge where we planned to stay at a casino in St. Ignace.

But wait!  Why should a couple living in a house on wheels follow a set plan?  As we drove north on I-75, Pam mentioned a great resort we visited during our first year of full-timing twenty miles west of Traverse City along Lake Michigan.  As we talked about what a nice park it was, the idea arose to see if they had a spot available.  Sure enough, a quick phone call and we had a reservation.  So a few miles more on the interstate, then we turned to the west and headed for Indigo Bluffs, near Empire, MI.

 

We booked the above site for three nights, then we’ll continue our journey to the Mackinac Bridge and the Upper Peninsula.  Or maybe not, depending on how we feel.  It’s a tough life, but somebody has to lead it!

Let’s close this post with a couple of shots of the sun setting over the Thousand Islands.

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The Ring of Fire

Geneseo, NY

When we arrived at Dave and Sue’s beautiful site along Conesus Lake way back on June 1st, we intended to stay for two or three days.  Dave described a neat activity along the lake they call the Ring of Fire that takes place “on the third.”  We said that was great as it was only two days away so we would be there to see it.  Dave said it was not held on June third, but on July third.  That’s a month away, we told him!  But when they invited us to stay longer and Mr. David’s Sewer Pump Installation Service arrived the next day to get the sewer working, we began to re-think our stay.  A full hook up site along a beautiful lake!  Great local guides to show us the area!  A golf course nearby!  A Starbucks in  the nearby college (SUNY Geneseo)!  Are you serious!  We’re in ! ! !

The month quickly passed and the third of July soon arrived.  Now it was time for the famous “Ring of Fire.”  That night tradition says that everyone around the shores of Conesus Lake builds a bonfire to be lit at dark.

Wow, they even sell shirts for this shindig!

Apparently  in past celebrations Dave took great pride himself in building one of the largest fires in the area.  Although maybe not up to those past standards, he said he would bring some wood down the morning of the 3rd for a small (for him) blaze.  Sure enough, he arrived bright and early (ok, we’re retired – early is around noon!).

Just a few pieces of kindling, right?

John helped Dave unload the wood, which they threw down the bank to the lawn next to the lake.  One large piece had a mind of its own and rolled across the lawn, over the break wall,  into the lake.  Of course, the log couldn’t drift back to shore, instead  it headed out toward deeper water.  Dave was afraid a boat might hit it, so he sent his trusted assistant in to the water to fetch the wayward log.

Got it!

While ignoring a short rain shower, the boys quickly assembled the fire structure, carefully following the MDBCI methodology (Mr. David’s Bonfire Construction Instructions).

The boss and his helper, Igor, survey the final structure

Proper supervision is the key to a successful project

This bonfire stuff is not Dave’s first rodeo.  He knows that if you wait until it is dark to light the fire,  it will not produce good hot coals for toasting marshmallows until you are ready to go home.  So a bit less than an hour before dark he set the pile ablaze.

Flames quickly rise up from the kindling in the middle of the pile.

Soon it is a rip roaring inferno!

At dusk the fireworks begin across the lake from us.

These people must have spent a few bucks on fireworks as they continued to shoot them off for hours!

The activity is called the “Ring of Fire” because at a designated time everyone lights flares along the shoreline on their property, creating a “ring” around the lake.  At the appointed hour (10 p.m.) John helped Dave light up the many flares Dave had set up earlier in the day.

The effect of the flares was spectacular!

While the flares put on their show, we settled in to the time honored tradition for enjoying a bonfire: S’mores!

We sat out until almost midnight enjoying the many firework displays up and down the lake.

The next evening Dave made another fire from the still hot coals and we enjoyed a final dinner by the lake.  Although it was the Fourth of July, things were much quieter than the previous night!

Benjamin Franklin once said “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”  Wow, we must really stink!  Its now time to end our great stay along the banks of Conesus Lake.  So Saturday morning  we fired up the motorhome and headed north about 150 miles to the banks of the St. Lawrence River.  Pam’s mother and sister live in the village of Clayton in the Thousand Islands.  Her sister’s daughter just graduated from high school and they are having a party Sunday afternoon to celebrate, so we need to be there.

Thanks so much to Dave and Sue (Buluga’s Great Adventure) for your great hospitality!  We will miss you and the dogs (Sasha and Lewis) but know we’ll see you soon somewhere in our travels (San Diego this winter ? ?).

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Niagara-on-the-Lake

Geneseo, NY

Dave and Sue both grew up (many years ago) in the Buffalo, NY area and often visited the Niagara Falls area.  Recently they invited us to a day trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario,  a quaint little touristy village along the shore of Lake Ontario where the Niagara River empties into the lake.

From Geneseo, Dave took us on a scenic route that lead through the beautiful farm land of western New York just south of Lake Ontario.  After about two hours we entered Canada by crossing the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, one of three bridges that span the Niagara River as it flows 35 miles north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.  Once in Canada it is only a short drive north to Niagara-on-the-Lake.  We parked next to the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Course where we enjoyed lunch with a great view of the Niagara River emptying into Lake Ontario, with the US visible across the water.

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Lunch with a view

This beautiful little nine hole course claims to be the oldest surviving golf course in North America, with play beginning in 1875.  Dave played it a few years after it opened and says it hasn’t changed much since then.  As we proceeded through the parking area John couldn’t help but admire the beautiful MGB pictured below.  He owned a similar vehicle (painted British Racing Green) when he first met Pam.  Two year after we were married, we traded the MGB for a baby boy!

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Dreaming of younger days

A short walk from the golf course is the main area of the town.  This place is a paradise for those who love flowers.  Most of the houses in the residential areas have beautiful gardens and the main street of town is filled with well-manicured flower gardens.

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Some people still stop to smell the roses!

The Shaw Cafe and Wine Bar, pictured below, is a good example of the colorful flowers along the main street.  The cafe takes its name from biggest event of the year in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Shaw Festival.

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The Shaw Festival is a major Canadian theater festival,  sponsored by the Shaw Festival Theater Company, the second largest repertory theater company in North America.  Founded in 1962, its original mandate was to stimulate interest in George Bernard Shaw and his period, and to advance the development of theater arts in Canada.

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The Prince of Wales Hotel

Just up the street from the Shaw Cafe is the famous Prince of Wales Hotel.  Built in 1864, the three story 110 room hotel went by several names (Long’s Hotel, Arcade Hotel, The Niagara House) and was renamed after famous guests, Duke of York (and Prince of Wales) and the Duchess of York, in 1901.  Queen Elizabeth II stayed at the hotel during her visit to the area in 1973.

After a walk through Niagara-on-the-Lake we drove south along the Niagara River, stopping at a viewing area to check out a view of the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge and the Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station.

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Lewiston-Queenston Bridge

The Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station is a hydroelectric power station.  The plant diverts water from the Niagara River above Niagara Falls and returns the water into the lower portion of the river near Lake Ontario. It utilizes 13 generators at an installed capacity of 2,525 megawatts.  Canada has a similar power station that is almost directly across from the Moses Plant.

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The Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station

We continued our drive along the river and soon entered the city of Niagara Falls, ON.  After parking the car we walked a short distance to the river where we were treated to a great view of the falls.

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The Canadian Falls

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Two Americans with the American Falls in the background

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Dave and Sue check out the Canadian Falls

If you have ever visited Niagara Falls, chances are you took a ride on the Maid of the Mist.  With its iconic blue raincoats, the Maid of the Mist has enjoyed a monopoly on taking tourists right into the mist at the base of the falls for over a century from docks on both sides of the border.  But recently a company called Hornblower arrived on the river.  Hornblower already runs tours to Alcatraz and the Statue of Liberty. Two years ago it won a bid to run tours on the Canadian side of the falls.  Now Maid of the Mist only operates from the American side of the river.

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Hornblower passengers in red, Maid of the Mist in blue

Both boats take you right up close to the base of the falls.  We took the Maid of the Mist trip many years ago and highly recommend it.

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Walk south along the Canadian side and you can get a close up view just as the water drops over the falls.

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Looking down over the Canadian Falls as a Maid of the Mist boat approaches (can you see the rainbow?)

Many thanks to Dave and Sue for this fun international trip.  We had a great time!

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