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Horn Blower (Maid of the Mist) June 27, 2016

100_9650Louise Speaks:  Day 3:  Our last day in Niagara Falls and we could not come here and not do the boat ride to the Falls.  In previous years this attraction was known as “The  Maid of the Mist.” This was on the Canadian side of the

American Falls

American Falls

Falls.  Turns out there was a mishap and Maid of the Mist lost their contract.  So the American side, which never had the boat ride picked up the contract.  Not to be out done, the Canadian side came up with a new company name of 100_9659“Horn Blower” and the boat rides continue.  It’s fun to see the boats however.  They take the exact same route but the American boat the guests wear blue raincoats and the Canadian side the guests wear red.  Still a Niagara Falls attraction you just can’t miss.

100_9660To avoid us from having to drive and find a place to park the RV, Bonnie once again came over and picked us up.  Now as a kid, Sonny and I used to walk to the Falls, that’s how close my aunt lives to the actual Falls.  But driving it 20160627_142359today, I’m glad we were driving and not walking…humidity is pretty bad today.  Since my Aunt has taken such a liking to Gracie, she offered to dog sit so we could enjoy the day.  Bonnie just dropped us off and we will call her when we are done.

20160627_142413Now I have been on this boat ride before but Thelma never has.  The boat leaves every 15 minutes and the cost is $18 Canadian money…meaning it’s about $12 on your American Credit Card.  Everyone is handed a “Red” raincoat and you are herded through long lines.  But since a boat leaves every 15 minutes the line does move very quickly.

100_9663This is a stand up ride.  They pack you onto the boat and you find a place to stand.  There are two levels.  You first pass the American Falls which are big and straight.  You head to the Canadian Falls which is in the shape of a Horseshoe, hence the name Horseshoe Falls.  There’s not much to write about except it is an experience you will never forget, and you will get very, VERY wet.  I am going to post pictures without writing as a picture says 1000 words.

20160627_142301It is very difficult to take pictures as it is almost as if it is raining the mist is so intense.  I took pictures as far as I could but didn’t want to ruin my phone or camera.  Once we turned around I could take more pictures of the American Falls and of Rainbow Bridge, the bridge we crossed when crossing the border.  Things sure look different from the bottom looking up.

100_9667When we were done with the boat ride we decided to do the tourist thing and just walk the boardwalk.  We went as far as the Niagara River which is the beginning of the Falls.  The river looks like it is moving so peacefully and then it just “falls”.  There are still many suicides each year of people floating down the river and going over the falls.  These are not suicide attempts, as no one survives the fall.

20160627_151720We were able to see just how close the boats get to the falls from up above.  Knowing that we were on one of those boats explains why we got so wet and shows us just 20160627_151611how close we were.  We were also able to catch a rainbow over the falls, which was a very beautiful site.  People like my cousins who live here don’t see this as a big deal, but us tourists were very impressed.

100_9672While walking along, I happened to see a young lady wearing an ASU shirt.  I had to stop her and ask for a photo with the falls as a backdrop.  I mean come on…what are the chances of finding a Sun Devil Fan at Niagara Falls?

20160627_145502After walking and going into the few museums and gift shops it was time for Ice Cream and to call Bonnie to come pick us up.  What a fun day and what an incredible experience.  Even though I’ve done it before, it is still an spectacular thing to see and do.

Tonight is our last night in Niagara Falls.  I really don’t want to leave as I have had such an incredible time with my family.  I know I have more family to see, but I can see my childhood memories flashing before me.  Oh well, this gives me another reason to come back.  Thank you so much Aunt Cecile, Bonnie and Bridgette.  You made this stop one I will never forget.  Love you all!!!

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Niagara Falls: Day 12: June 26, 2016

Louise Speaks:  Day 2:  Last night couldn’t have been more fun.  This trip is all about family.  There may not be that many fun things to see and do, but seeing my family is what it’s all about for me.  We are starting in Niagara Falls then going north and then exiting south again on the west side of Ontario. Our path is like a half moon.

20160628_094305My dad was one of 9 children.  My grandparents, his parents, moved to Niagara Falls after leaving the farm up north.  Two of my dads sisters lived in Niagara Falls and the winters are a bit milder here so this is where and why they settled in Niagara Falls for their golden years.  There are only two sisters left on my dads side of the family.  Even the aunts and uncles I had through marriage are all gone…two passing away within the last 4 months.  One of the reasons why this trip is so important.  Only one sister is left in Niagara Falls and she is the baby of the family…Aunt Cecile.  (Oh yeah, Gracie was a big hit)

It was very emotional when I walked into the kitchen  at my Aunts.  This is the house where all the family gatherings were once my grandparents moved to Niagara Falls.  The backyard is huge and there was always a swing set.  Even 15 years ago when I brought my parents here, this is the house where we had the family gathering.  My Aunt Cecile has three children, two girls and a boy.  I always say, that in this family I believe that all the women were pregnant at the same time, because I have a cousin in each family that is within months of my age.  In this family it was Sonny.  His real name is Alex Jr., but I’ve only known him as Sonny.  The girls, Cindy and Bonnie are younger.  I think one of them is close to the same age as my younger brother, so see another duplicate pregnancy.

Aunt Cecile, Cindy, Bonnie, and Sonny

Aunt Cecile, Cindy, Bonnie, and Sonny

My Aunt had all my favorite foods waiting for me at dinner last night, especially meat pies.  That is a Canadian tradition and one we usually only got at Christmas time, but my aunt had it tonight.  There was a piece left over, and I called dibs on it for tomorrows breakfast.  Yes you can eat meat pies at anytime of the day.  After dinner the weather was perfect so we all got lawn chairs and sat out in the driveway…another Canadian tradition.  It was so much fun to catch up and see what everyone has done in the past 10 years.  Yes it has been 10 years since I was back in Canada, but after an evening with my relatives it seemed like just yesterday.  Once it started to get dark, which in Canada is like at 9:30, and the mosquitoes started to come out,  my cousins left and my first night in Canada was over.

Aunt Cecile, Bonnie and Cindy

Aunt Cecile, Bonnie and Cindy

Sunday morning greeted us with a full cooked breakfast, and of course my meat pie and gravy.  Yes I might have left that out, we put gravy on the meat pies.  I hadn’t taken pictures of the cousins together so I asked them to come

Cindy and Larry

Cindy and Larry

back today so I could have my photo op.  I found out that Thelma had taken pictures but not formally…lol.  Cindy had a busy day planned but did stop by so I could get pictures of her and LarryBonnie also stopped by as she was our tour guide for the day.  Sonny couldn’t make it, as he has back problems and just couldn’t get out of bed this morning.  I was hoping to see Cindy’s two children but with work, they just couldn’t make it over.

100_9640Like I said, Bonnie was our tour guide so she drove us around Niagara Falls.  One of the places I wanted to go was the cemetery to see my dads parents and Uncle Alex, Cecile’s husband.  We had a funny experience at the grave site.  At the bottom of the head stone was a new marker.  It said 100_9643Edward, son of Mike and Mary.  I looked at my aunt and said, “who is Uncle Edward?”  My aunt had no idea.  I said well it has to be your brother if it says it’s grandpa and grandmas son.  My aunt said uncle Bob is buried her, but I don’t know who Edward is.  To make a long story short, we asked a few other cousins and no one knew Edward.  There is a book published of all the original residents of St. Charles, where my grandparents lived.  Under their family register they show an Edward Carl in the age order where Bob would have been.  So know one knows how Edward Carl became Bob, but it was fun doing the research.

Becky, John and Bridgette

Becky, John and Bridgette

My other aunt that lived in Niagara Falls has long passed, but two of her daughters still live here.  We were invited over to my oldest cousin on my dads side for dinner.  What a wonderful time we had.  I correspond with Bridgette all the time on Facebook but it is so much fun to be able to visit in person.  Her husband John is Italian so we had the most delicious home made meat balls I have ever tasted.  I know several other things were served, but those meat balls are still fresh in my mind.  I don’t know how many I ate, but I’m sure I had my share.  Bridgette has three children and one of her daughters happens to teach at a California University not far from my daughter.  Although I am on Facebook with Melanie, we have never met, but I’ll make sure I do that next time Bridgette and John go to California.

My other cousin Brenda couldn’t make it as they were out of town.  Brenda is the same age as me, so another family pregnancy.  Since Brenda couldn’t make it,  my second cousin, Becky, Brenda’s daughter came in her place.  What a wonderful young lady.  She did give me a hard time about eating vegetables, which I shared was not my favorite food, but the kidding was in good faith.  I was able to find out about Brenda and the rest of her children through Becky so it was a good night.  Becky and I are now on Facebook, so I can be kept in the loop.

What a great family day.  I saw my aunt, six cousins and Sonny last night.  Then the visit with my grandparents and Uncle Alex and Uncle Bob.  This trip is starting out way better than I could ever have imagined.

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Crossing the Canadian Border: Day 11: June 25, 2016

100_9624Louise Speaks:Day 1  As we approach the border we must cross the Niagara River…the same river that goes over the falls.  There is more than one way to cross into Canada, but our GPS took us over Rainbow Bridge and right by the falls.

100_9625As with every other day on our trip we have been greeted by road construction.  Today was no different.  There was actually a detour to get us over the bridge and across the border.  Signs were great and the arrows helped guide us to where we needed to go.  The last turn was actually through a guarded parking lot, but the guards just waved us through.

20160625_161920There was a back up over the bridge.  But this was a good thing as it allowed us to take our first pictures of the falls.  Rainbow Bridge is a bridge that you can walk across as well as 100_9630drive.  This means that people were actually parking on the American side and pulling  suitcases walking to the Canadian side.  This seems pretty laxed to say the least.

100_9632As we got closer there was a separate lane for RVs so we pulled off to the left.  We had all our papers in order, passports, permanent residence card, drivers license, and all of Gracie’s paperwork.  We pulled up to the parking spot and I opened the window.  The border patrol comes out and asks if we 20160702_122059could open the door.  We go to the door, papers in hand, and he says hello.  He does NOT come inside but from the door asks if we have knives or weapons.  We answer no.  He asks if we have alcohol, we say a few bottles of wine.  He then asks for our documents and we hand them to him, and he says passports only.  I then offer Gracie’s paperwork, and he says any dog as prim and proper as her does not have rabies, I don’t need her papers.  Thelma asks for a stamp in her passport and he says we usually don’t do that but I’ll see what I can do and he leaves.

20160625_162722In just a matter of seconds he returns with our passports, and tells Thelma he got her a stamp, but that he can’t stamp mine as I’m coming home…I have a Canadian passport.  He tells us to have a safe trip and sends us off.  ARE YOU SERIOUS???  We have an RV with a ton of underneath storage.  Some spaces large enough for us to sit inside.  We have a huge bedroom in the back and he doesn’t even step inside or ask us to open a storage bin.  This is way too easy to get into Canada, and don’t say it’s because we were two old innocent looking woman…that would be opposite racial profiling.

canadaAnyway, we were in Canada.  I was home.  And it was just a short distance to my aunts house.  Today’s total miles were 149 making our total miles to get to Canada 3,134.  Not bad considering all the stops we made and the ontariomany detours we had to take due to construction.  Let me also say, we did this whole trip without taking one turnpike or toll bridge.  We went through every little town you could find and many many country roads, but we avoided all turnpike costs.  That’s probably why we have more miles than normal and it took us 11 days to do a trip my dad did in 3…lol.  We have trekked across 10 states to get here, some I had never been in before.  So now the real vacation starts!


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