Photography of Roy Thoman

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Journey Behind the Falls: Niagara Falls Canada

When you visit Niagara Falls, you need to take part in the more “touristy” activities, that you may try to avoid while visiting other destinations. I’m not sure but I think “touristy” was invented in Niagara Falls. Pretty much since they were first discovered, people have been coming up with creative ways of taking making money off of people visiting the falls. In the early days there was a big privacy fence all the way around the falls. You had to pay to look through a hole in the fence just to see the falls. Things are somewhat better now, but you still need to reach into your pocket. At least now after you pay to park your car you can walk along the river and get amazing views of the falls. A lot of people could just stop there, what fun is that!

For the more adventurous, you can reach into your pocket again and do the zip-line along the river. We did the Journey Behind the Falls. The journey begins at the ticket window where you reach into your pocket and buy a ticket. From the ticket window you head to the elevator (I would highly recommend a trip to the potty at this point). You end up in a little area where you don your requisite El cheapo plastic bag poncho. Take the elevator down to a dark wet concrete tunnel. At this point you have two options. One, go to the outside viewing area (very cool). Two, continue down the dark wet concrete tunnel. If you choose option one, keep in mind that you are going to get WET! We maximized our dry time by choosing option two first. Continuing down the dark wet tunnel brings you first to one and then another dark wet tunnel. At the end of each of the two shorter dark wet tunnels, there is an opening where you can see, hear, and feel a wall of water cascading over the opening. You are now well behind the big Horseshoe Falls. Some people seemed unimpressed looking at this big grey wall of water. I think you need to think about the gravity of the situation. You are dozens of feet down and dozens of feet through a solid rock wall, looking at the back side of one of the largest and most fierce waterfalls in the world. You are ten feet away from being sucked into a torrent of water with more force and power than almost anything on the planet. I was pretty impressed.

Now it’s time to get WET! Back through the dark wet tunnel to the outside viewing area. It’s like a huge patio where it’s always raining. The roar of the big Horseshoe falls is deafening. Although you do need to go through a pretty wet area to get there, if you stay to the left side of the patio you will stay pretty dry, what fun is that! If you venture over to the right side of the patio, you find yourself right next to the big Horseshoe Falls. Not only will you get drenched, you can literally feel and hear the power of the mighty waterfall, totally awesome! You will also be able to look down river and get a great view of the American and Bridal Veil Falls as well as the Rainbow Bridge. When you have sufficiently “soaked” in the view it’s time to head back to the top and your next adventure. Oh, and yes, exit through the gift shop please! Try to keep your hands in your pockets.

The A Moment in Time Bed and Breakfast Niagara Falls Canada

After a nice drive from Toronto in our cute little red Canadian rental car, my wife Robbie and I arrived at the “A Moment in Time” B&B in Niagara Falls, Canada. The B&B is an amazing turn of the century, pretty much original, Victorian home. Being a photographer I consider a photograph to be “a moment in time.” In fact, I have used amomntntime for an email address for many years. So when I came across the “A Moment in Time” B&B while looking for a place to stay in Niagara, well, it was fate.

David and Doddy are the owners and hosts. Doddy prepares the amazing breakfasts and takes care of the beautiful gardens. Breakfasts were delicious and the presentation was beautiful! We were there in mid-May and the tulips were in full bloom. We found Doddy in the garden on several occasions caring for his tulips. As each variety came into perfect bloom he would photograph it. David is quite the fixer upper. They own several other B&Bs in Niagara and David has done all of the work on them himself. He was telling me about the front entrance to the B&B we stayed at. Now there is a really nice blue arched front door. Originally there were two front doors. One door for the main floor and one door for the upstairs. The cold Canadian winds blew into the doors when you opened them. David had a friend who was removing the neat blue arched door from his building. David acquired the door and created a nice mud room to protect the original entries. It looks great and is very practical. I was looking at the B&B web site and noticed there is a photo of the front of the house from before David added the blue door. I copied it and added it for comparison.

I noticed that some of the reviews said that the house was dilapidated. That’s just not true! These people must be accustomed to 5 star resorts or have no idea what a 120 plus year old home is like. If that’s you, you should stay at the Casino. We found the B&B to be very quaint, nostalgic and lovely. It brought back memories of when my grandparents would take me to visit one of the church ladies in her Victorian home after church.

The B&B is in a nice, old part of town. There is free parking at the B&B. So if you are not opposed to walking and you would like to save on the high parking fees, it’s not a bad walk to the falls. We walked to Horseshoe Falls and then down to the Rainbow bridge and back to the B&B. It was about a 7 mile round trip (including walking through two attractions). You don’t need to do it all at one time, there is a lot of stopping and doing things along the way. Be advised though, there is a fairly large and steep hill down to the river gorge. It’s not bad going down but remember, what goes down must come back up!

We stayed in the Shirriff’s Tower Suite on the second floor. The bathroom, complete with Jacuzzi, was in the cool turret in the front of the building. Francis Shirriff  who owned a Toronto marmalade and desert topping company had the home built in 1894. Shirriff was like the Canadian Smucker’s, in fact Smucker’s is now making some of their products. We enjoyed our stay at the “A Moment in Time” B&B while we were in Niagara.

 

Lake Ontario Ghost Ship

My wife Robbie and I had a wonderful time in Toronto. But it was time to start the second part of our journey, Niagara Falls. We woke up to a rainy Canadian morning. Niagara Falls is an easy drive from Toronto. We walked down the street, in the rain, to pick up our cute little red Canadian rental car. After stopping at the hotel to pick up our bags, we were off to Niagara. We had been driving a while on the QEW and we were getting hungry. I spotted a nice looking restaurant, The Lake House, right on Lake Ontario. I got off at the next exit to find my way to the restaurant. Driving along Lake Ontario we spotted this old rusty ghost ship, aground in a little cove. This was something that needed to be explored, even in the rain. But not until after lunch. The ghost ship could wait. The Lake House was a great restaurant with an awesome view of Lake Ontario. After a really nice lunch we stopped by this amazing old ship. It was still raining, but not very hard, I was able to get a few photos without getting too wet.

The old ship has a rather long sorted past. It started life in 1914 as a ferry and then a cargo ship on the St. Lawrence river. In 1991 it was converted into a replica of one of three sailing ships that explored the St. Lawrence in the mid 1500s. At some point it was turned into a restaurant and casino that went bust. Someone thought it would make a good floating restaurant in the Niagara area. Apparently on its way to Niagara, the project ran out of funds and it was abandoned in its current location. At some point some ingenious individuals thought it would be a good idea to sneak aboard and have a BBQ. They proceeded to set the whole ship ablaze. The original ship was steel but the facade of the replica was wooden, it all burned. So now this old ship sits aground in this Lake Ontario cove. A curiosity to all who travel the QEW on the way to Niagara.

Some maintenance is required!

Jetty Park sunrise SpcX launch 06-29-18 003

In order to get this sunrise photo, I needed to abuse my tripod a bit. I spread the legs wide and low to get the angle I wanted. I also wanted to get the water from the retreating waves in the photo. This meant that the surf was washing up over my tripod legs. Sand and saltwater was everywhere inside and out of my tripod legs.

Tripod cleaning copy

So, when I got home, I needed to disassemble each leg and clean it inside and out. This is why you need to spend more money than you want for a really good tripod. It needs to be made of good quality materials. It also needs to have the ability to be taken apart and put back together. I have been using and abusing this tripod for nearly 30 years. It still works like it did when it was new.

Rocket Launch at Dawn

An excellent photo opportunity has presented it’s self. SpaceX has scheduled a resupply mission to the International Space Station, launching right at dawn. There was a really good chance 45 minuets before sunrise, there could be some really nice color in the sky.  I could not pass this up, I had to give it a try.

 

The CN Tower Toronto

No visit to Toronto would be complete without taking a trip to the top of the CN Tower. The tower was constructed by the Canadian National Railway, hence CN Tower. The tower is 1,815 ft. tall and it was the worlds tallest free-standing structure from 1975-2007. There are three visitor levels and a revolving restaurant. Robbie and I skipped the restaurant on this trip. We were visiting in the off season, so we just went right to the elevator. It looks like certain times of the year there can be a rather long wait to get to the top. The elevator ride is a short one. You are traveling at 20 ft. per second, the trip to the Indoor Lookout Level takes 58 seconds! The elevator shaft is glass so you get a nice view of the city on your way up. Oh, you may or may not want to look down, the floor is glass too. Your ride ends at the beautiful Indoor Lookout Level at 1,135 ft. It’s a large climate controlled area with huge glass widows. You get amazing panoramic views of Toronto and Lake Ontario. Don’t forget to look up at the mirrored ceiling, very cool. The friendly CN staff will happily take your photo with your camera.

Next you can visit the Outdoor Observation Terrace. Protected by wire mesh you can feel the wind in your face at 1,122 ft. get a 360 deg. birds eye view of the area. I think we walked around 3 times. Next visit the Glass Floor. There is an area inside on the terrace level that has a glass floor. The glass is super thick and super strong and super safe, but walking over the glass still made my tummy crawl! Standing on the glass and looking 1,122 ft. down is quite the thrill! You know nothing is going to happen but still, your seemingly standing on thin air! Your brain is telling you, this.is.not, a good idea!

I’m not sure if we were lucky or if this is an off season perk. On the day Robbie and I visited the tower, the trip to the Sky-Pod was free! There is normally an extra fee. Another short elevator ride takes you to the highest level of the tower at 1,465 ft. The pod has smaller glass windows and a great view of the area. For you thrill seekers, there is the Edge Walk. For $225ca you can strap on a harness, connect to a safety cable and walk around the outside of the tower and hang out over the edge! Maybe next time, NOT!

 

 

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