Friday, July 10, 2015

New England Vacation: Days 7, 8, And 9

A week into our vacation and we, again, had a relaxingly slow start to the day but it would end with a running out of patience and a change of route.

We left the hotel at checkout time and stopped at a Denny's for a late breakfast/brunch.  We'd booked an Erie Canal cruise for 3:00PM but I was able to change it to an earlier 1:00PM cruise instead.  This was a good thing since there wasn't much in or near Herkimer, NY that interested us.

The Erie Canal.
We crossed the road to the Erie Canal Cruise office to board our small cruise boat.  The weather was perfect - sunny with a light breeze.  The captain talked about the history of the Erie Canal and cracked terribly lame jokes as we cruised down the canal and went through one of the original locks.   I learned a lot of interesting boating facts including the circumnavigation loop ("The Great Loop") that takes seven to nine months.  Many start it but many fail to complete it.  Kind of like through hiking the Appalachian Trail.  We passed a couple of boats flying the Great Loop flag during our cruise.  I'd be tempted but that would require the purchase of a boat.

Nikola Tesla - involved in the Niagara Power Generation
and genius.
After the cruise we headed west.  I wanted to take a route along the coast of Lake Ontario.  The AAA map we had marked the route as scenic and I hoped to see grand vistas of the lake as we headed West.  We made our way to the coast and started driving west 'along the coast'.  Turns out the scenic route doesn't stay close enough for you to actually see the lake.  It wasn't very scenic at all.  It was also veeeeerrryyyy slow.  About a third of the way to our destination, Niagara Falls, we gave up and changed our route to something faster and frankly just as scenic, or non-scenic, as before.  We were both ready to get out of the car at the end of this day.

The next day, day eight, we had another very lazy morning sleeping in before heading out for lunch.  At 1:00 pm we were picked up by our tour bus at our hotel by driver/guide Bob.  Bob was a character.  Sort of an encyclopedia with ADHD.  He was full of facts ... Some relevant and some not ... and he even managed to finish a story or two during the tour before being sidetracked with another story.

The tour started late due to the time it took to pick up everyone (which included visiting the same gift shop three times to pick up three different people) but in the end we had our full five hour tour.

Near the Cave of the Winds - The American side of Niagara Falls.
The tour took us around different parts of the up and down river from the falls and took us to the American side of the falls.  The view from the Canadian side is supposed to be more spectacular but we didn't have our passports, or the time, to check it out.  At the cave of the winds we took an elevator down, put on our free yellow ponchos and sandals, and walked into the mists of Niagara Falls.  Despite their best efforts, the ponchos could not compete with the roaring falls - We got soaked.

The roaring waters of Niagara Falls from our boat, the Maid of the Mists.
Next we took a short ride on the Maid of the Mist tour boat who gave us views of both parts of the falls close up.  Again, despite wearing a free blue poncho this time, we really got wet but it didn't matter as the view was spectacular.

A panorama of the American side of the falls. (Click for larger version)
After the tour we were pretty whipped so it was back to the hotel for dinner,  some laundry, and being lazy.
The parting shot of the falls before we left for the hotel.

Psychedelic Bus.
While I enjoyed Niagara Falls - it was one of the high points of the vacation - I have to say it is the first place I've visited where it didn't totally meet or exceed my expectations.  I always imagined it to be bigger, taller, and more imposing.  I wonder if this is more evidence that I (we) are becoming travel snobs.

Day nine was going to be a transit day mostly.  There was one stop and it turned out to be a cool place,  We left Niagara Falls earlier than usual and drove across the state to the small town of Bethel, NY.  In Bethel Woods we visited the Woodstock museum (though it was called the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts instead - probably for legal reasons).  The museum is well done and tells the story of the events and people of the Woodstock music festival through music.  Most of the museum is on video.  You move from one video to the next learning about different aspects of the music festival.  You could have spent all day there listening to testimonials and music.  One theater had beanbag chairs which just screamed "sit on me" - friends on Facebook have seen the picture.  I really liked the place.  I bought a t-shirt with the Woodstock logo, the first I've bought in a long time,

Not far from the museum is a memorial marking the field where it all took place back in 1969.  There was an old man there talking about the concert to a couple visitors,

The Woodstock logo on the memorial plaque.
After more driving we ended the day in Lenox, MA.  It felt like too much driving today.

 Tomorrow we return to our literature tour when we visit two historic authors' houses before we head for the Titanic museum.

Photographs have been added to the end on my 2015-06 New York, Boston,New England Google Photos album.

To Be Continued ...

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