East Coast 2018:
Day 9 - Niagara Falls and Ontario


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East Coast 2018: [Day 1: West Virginia] [Day 2: Virginia/Maryland] [Day 3: Washington DC] [Day 4: Washington DC] [Day 5: Washington DC] [Day 6: New Jersey] [Day 7: NYC/Connecticut] [Day 8: New York] [Day 9: Niagara Falls]

Sunday, April 8, 2018: We had a several hour drive ahead of us so we started out before 6 AM.
We got breakfast at a McDonald's somewhere along the way and got to see their amazing conveyor belt system for delivering food to the drive-thru window.
We drove through snow for the last hour, ...
... but it cleared up just as we reached the Niagara River.
We followed the river along the Niagara Scenic Parkway to the falls. Where could it be? If only there was a large column of mist to indicate the presence of mighty falls.
We had been to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls before, but this was our first visit to the American side.
We stopped at a parking lot to view the rapids in the Niagara River.
That's Goat Island across the way, ...
... and the First Street Bridge.
There's the Goat Island Bridge.
We continued to the entrance where we learned that the parking fee was $10 for any visit that lasted longer than 20 minutes.
So we had a mission: see as much as we could in 19 minutes, minus two minutes for a bathroom break. That's the Rainbow Bridge to Canada, where we'd be in approximately 21 minutes.
Across the river was the Canadian side's Maid of the Mist operation, completely closed down for the season, which is for the best because the river was nearly completely frozen over.
Looking upstream toward the falls is the Hennepin View, where Father Louis Hennepin stood in 1678 on the La Salle Expedition.
This is the Niagara Falls Observation Tower. It didn't open until 10 AM, and we had places to be, such as out of the parking lot in 16 minutes.
We got our first really dazzling view of the American Falls and it took our breath away. Or maybe it was the frozen air. But it was really beautiful.
Here's a closer look at the giant wall of ice created by the even more giant wall of water splashing on it.
Let's zoom in on those buildings over in Canada. In 2002, we stayed at the hotel in front of the Tower Hotel (the one that looks like a golf tee).
We strolled a little further ...
... and were rewarded with an even closer view of the water. By now, the sun was coming out and we were dazzled by a rainbow.
We made it to the rest rooms and back to our car just under the 20 minute time limit, then stopped on a city street to prepare for our entrance to Canada, which mostly consisted of digging out our passports and entering our route into Waze.
We passed this adorable Twist of the Mist hut just outside ...
... the entrance to the Rainbow Bridge.
Here we go!
There's the view to the north/downstream.
The immigration agent seemed a little surprised that our only reason for entering Canada was to drive back to Indiana on the Canadian side of Lake Erie instead of the American side. There's almost no difference in driving times, and the American side does not have poutine, so it was an obvious decision for us.
We were welcomed by Ontario, ...
... and then more specifically, by Niagara Falls.
Debbie associates this stretch of road with the Bee Gees' song, "One," from a long-ago visit, so she queued it up.
Tom says, "Take a picture of that!" Done.
In no time at all, Lake Ontario was visible to our right, ...
... with Toronto shining like a mirage in the distance. Someday, we will go there for a real vacation.
The lightpoles along the highway have ER as part of the design, for Elizabeth Regina.
Queen Elizabeth Way goes through wine country, with vineyards and wineries at every exit.
We passed the burned shipwreck of a replica of La Grand Hermine in Jordan Harbour. Look it up.
So many vineyards, so little time.
The last time we drove this way, flags were half-mast for the Queen Mother's death in 2002. The Internet tells us that these were at half-mast one day early for the victims of the Saskatchewan hockey player bus crash (the half-mast period was April 9 - April 23).
We've heard rumors that Canadian McDonald's serve poutine. We did not go in to confirm.
We saw this mysterious sign as we entered London, Ontario: London Tree Trunk Tour.
It didn't take long to figure out that this referred to numerous carved wooden statues along the streets.
Here's one.
Rock on, wooden Bigfoot.
More tree trunk art.
And more.
Oh, that's some nice juxtaposition there.
We were hungry but no matter how enticing the restaurant name was, we had to hold out for our ultimate destination. But someday, we will eat at Rob's Wicked Chicken and Wedges. Oh, yes.
So, there's downtown London. Tom had just been in the slightly more famous London two weeks earlier, so he was trying to collect them all.
Colorful tree sculptures lined the downtown streets.
In addition to blue, orange, and yellow, we saw green and red.
We had gathered all of our Canadian money leftover from previous trips, including this ancient $10 bill picked up in Vancouver in 2002. Our goal was to spend it all on lunch, which we did, except for those pennies that Canada no longer uses. Clever Canada!
Here's our lunch destination: Smoke's Poutinerie. There are locations all over Canada and even a couple in the US, but this was the one that worked best for our route and our appetite.
We ordered and paid with our motley assortment of Canadian money and a credit card.
Poutine! Tom had the Korean BBQ poutine, and Debbie had the bacon chicken ranch poutine. So delicious and so very, very bad for you.
We were surprised to see an East Side Mario's as we left town. Since ours disappeared years ago, we assumed that they were out of business, but apparently, their business is thriving in Canada.
Speaking of Canada, they even have their own very specific gas station brand.
Before leaving Canada, we needed to visit a Tim Horton's, so we went into Windsor to find one.
Mmmm, donuts.
There's nothing particularly better about Tim Horton's over any US donut shop other than they are Canadian and still a novelty to us. Once they become ubiquitous in the Indianapolis area, they won't be such a treat.
Almost five hours after entering Canada, we were crossing back over into the US ...
... across the Ambassador Bridge.
There's Detroit across the river, ...
... and Windsor to our right, with large Canadian and American flags along the waterfront at Windsor Sculpture Park.
Here is where we spent 25 minutes waiting in line to cross the border. All other lines moved more quickly, so we can only assume that the car stopped at the front of our line was a clown car filled with smugglers.
Yay! America!
Who doesn't love seeing a gigantic tire next to the freeway?
As is our tradition once per road trip, we listened to the entire Hamilton soundtrack as we drove.
Ohio? We weren't expecting this, so we missed the "Welcome to Ohio" sign. Please accept our apologies and this sign with the shape of the state of Ohio on it.
Here's a callback to Day One of our trip: an ad for Frisch's Big Boy, which is the chain that Tom remembers from his youth.
Here's our final state sign: Indiana.
After ten states, one territory, and one province, it was good to be in our home state.

** THE END **


East Coast 2018: [Day 1: West Virginia] [Day 2: Virginia/Maryland] [Day 3: Washington DC] [Day 4: Washington DC] [Day 5: Washington DC] [Day 6: New Jersey] [Day 7: NYC/Connecticut] [Day 8: New York] [Day 9: Niagara Falls]

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