Part 19: Melville, NY to Niagara Falls, NY


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The Trip

We left Marguerite's house in Melville and headed across Queens and the Bronx toward Niagara Falls.  This segment would take several days due to the distances involved and our late departure time from Melville.  We did finishing touches on the bathroom right to the bitter end.  The exit from New York City was not too bad, but as always, there was plenty of traffic.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

As we headed west from Melville toward the city, we got a view of the old World's Fair site which conjured up only one thought: "Men In Black".  The structures do look like flying saucers.

We turned north toward the Bronx and passed this field full of soccer players.  Note the apartment buildings in the background of the photo above.

From the elevated roadway we could see the industrial section of town.  The barge on the river brings in aggregate for the concrete plant.  Also, the owner of the plant has a private docking facility for his speed boat just to the left of the trucks.  To quote Mel Brooks from "History of the World: Part I": It's good to be the king.

The NYC area has no shortage of infrastructure, particularly bridges.  The photo above is the approach to the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge which uses E-ZPass.  Kathleen worked on this project when she was at TransCore.

From the crest of the bridge, we could see the Throgs Neck bridge to our east.  We did not take that bridge due to repairs being conducted.  Note the 4 story shack at the bottom right of the photo.

We left the NYC area to the north and crossed the Hudson River via the Tappan Zee bridge.

The Tappan Zee bridge is big and it is interesting to note that it has a differing number of lanes going into the city than outbound.

In waterfront areas, barges hold construction equipment.  Above, 3 barges are chained together to create the work platform.  The crawler crane is moved onto the carrying barge and the locking poles are elevated using the crane.  A tug moves the barge and when it is in the proper position, the poles are lowered into the river bottom thus providing an anchor point.

Our path toward Niagara Falls took us past many rivers and streams.  The fellow in the photo above has a pretty nice setup.

Along Hwy 17 we encountered many sections that were under construction.  Hwy 17 is being converted into I-86 and in so doing required some upgrades to meet interstate specifications (grade, curvature).  Above, equipment gnaws away at a cliff that is in the way.

Just as we passed, the trac-hoe above dropped that huge boulder.  We were surprised that it could actually move it due to its size.

Sometimes interesting things pass you on the road.  This odd object is a rear stabilizer for a large aircraft and despite the custom mounting fixture, it still takes a lane and a half.  Note the overhang on the right side of the trailer.

We found a nice camping area just north of Corning, NY (same as the glassware).  Our site had the only stream view.

Excluding the long hike over hill and dale to get to the restroom, this was one of the better places that we have camped.  Concrete pads are somewhat rare.

Looking to the west from our camp, there were nice groomed grounds for group camping.  Happily, these were vacant when we were there.

Next morning, we headed northwest again.  From the road we could see wind power generation towers on the hilltops.

Our path took us through some beautiful country.

Further down the road we encountered a truck with a windmill tower.  The tower was huge and transport of the tower component required several police cars and a number of pilot vehicles.  Later in the day, after chores in Buffalo, NY, we stopped at the Niagara Falls Campground for the night.

Next morning, we attempted to get a tour bus to take us to Niagara Falls.  But the tour guy was MIA so we decided to ride our bikes the 8 miles from the campground to the falls.  In theory, this would give us more options and better mobility while avoiding the parking issues.  In this case, practice did not correspond with theory.  Along the way, I picked up some debris which caused my tire to leak.  As we proceeded, the leak got worse causing us to stop ever 1/4 mile or so to refill the tire.  Just as we got to the falls, the whole assembly failed.  So, we locked the bikes to a tree and set off on foot.  Above, Kathleen stand next to one strand of the Niagara River before it heads over the American Falls.  The guard rail and 2 steps is all that separates her from her maker.

In the background, the Canadian side is visible (which is much bigger and nicer than the American side).  Also visible are the American Falls and the bigger Horseshoe Falls in the distance.

Note the spot in the bottom center of the photo.  This could be a bird or a fish; I could not tell from the source photo.

We attempted a fix on the tire and failed.  We located a reasonably close bike shop and made plans for a visit on our exit from the falls.

It was overcast and sprinkling so the lighting was sub-optimal for good photos.  But, despite the hindrance, the photo above gives a pretty good feeling about the scale of Horseshoe Falls.  Mist created by the falling water obscures a majority of the structure of the falls.

We ate lunch at the Top of the Falls Restaurant and were treated to an over-priced, mediocre lunch.  The weather cleared briefly and it allowed a clear photo of the power plant that is upstream of Horseshoe on the Canadian side.  This plant is decommissioned.

Due to the perspective of the view point, the water in the river just seems to fall into a hole and disappear.

From the ridge above the view point, Horseshoe Falls is hidden in its own mist.  This is as good as it was going to get with respect to visibility.

The Canadian side had much more development than the American side.  There is a restaurant at the top of the tower that rotates as you eat.  We did not go to the Canadian side due to the unreasonable hassles provided by a border crossing in two directions.  We had our passports with us, but due to time constraints, we declined.

The noise from the falls was awesome.

An icon of Niagara Falls is the Maid of the Mist tour.  There are several boats that provide tours that take folks right to the base of the falls.  Note the blue slickers that are provided for the tourists.  You WILL get wet, there is no way to avoid it.

The boats are fast and powerful.  They have to be powerful to fight the current in the river downstream of the falls.  About a minute later than the previous photo, the photo above shows the upper limit of the tour.  The boat can just barely hold its own against the current and visibility is impaired due to the large amount of spray in the water.  The boats hold there position for several minutes and then drift backwards in the current and return to the dock.

Rainbow Bridge that spans the gorge.  The observation deck on the American side is visible at the right of the bridge.  American Falls is to the far right.

As stated above, the Canadian side has much more tourist amenities.  The American side, to coin a phrase used by my next door neighbor who is from this area, is "economically depressed".  Depressed indeed; on our departure from the area we saw hookers in doorways and what appeared to be a drug deal going down on the sidewalk.

A parting view of American Falls and Rainbow Bridge.

Given that it was getting late in the day and given that I had a flat tire on my bike and given that it was an 8 mile walk if the tire was not fixed, we left around 4pm and headed to the bike shop.  Two miles of "power walking" later, we arrived at the shop with minimal time to spare.  The owner replaced the tire and tube and we rode back to the RV park.

Niagara Falls is worth seeing, if only once.  We were impressed, but it is not the most impressive waterfall we have seen.  That honor goes to Palouse Falls in Washington state.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2012, all rights reserved.
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