Friday, October 17, 2014

Traveling in New York: Corning and Niagara Falls

We like museums and William's uncle worked for Corning Glass, so a trip to the Corning Glass Museum for a tour was a natural choice.
The museum covers 35 centuries of glass making and glass art from an ancient Egyptian glass Pharaoh head to delicate Venetian glass. I was interested in the history, but began to glaze over after too much glass art.
a contemporary art piece

a glass spider

snuff bottles

The first Palomar telescope lens that was spoiled

Glass blowing demonstration
This piece is for sale. Only $44,000.
 The story of the glass works was interesting. It came to Corning after the Erie Canal and really contributed to the growth of the city. The demonstrations and innovations were quite worthwhile. We watched a couple of glass shaping and blowing demonstrations. Corning Glass has been responsible for a lot of innovation and inventions in glass products. But most of them seem to have been by accident. They would work for seven years to develop a product and then someone left an oven on too hot or broke a jar or some other thing would lead to the development of either the product they had been searching for or another product that would prove to be very valuable.
 I still use my old glass ceramic pots. Glass ceramic was an accidental discovery. I was looking for a lid to a small one. The glass lids do break when they hit granite. When I discovered that small pot was discontinued in 1987. Time flies. I can of course buy it on eBay for $12.95 plus $32.55 postage. I think not.
At Niagara Falls State Park, we did the hop on hop off trolley tour. This is a good deal for $2. We hopped off quite a few times and did a lot of walking. The trolley covers the whole park including Goat Island.
on the trolley

So much water

We are high up right at the edge of the American Falls

Pretty color back in the rapids back from Bridal Veil Falls.
Giant spider in the middle of the path. I almost walked into it.
Contrary to all posted rules and regulations these people had climbed over the fence just to get a picture right at the edge of the falls. She was wearing slick soled leather shoes. This is at the end of the Three Sisters path with huge rapids right before Horseshoe Falls the largest of the falls 177 feet high and about 700,000 gallons per second flow. Although the first woman to go over the falls in 1901 survived, she did have a barrel and a cat. She survived with only a few cuts and bruises, probably from the cat. No word about the cat. We didn't stay to see if these people  got back.
I didn't know black squirrels are pretty common in the east. We saw both black and gray squirrels in the park. 
Next is the ride on the Maid of the Mist.
You can see the boats far away at the bottom of the falls.
We signed up for a tour that took us to the Canadian side of the falls, since for $2, we had seen most of the sights on the American side. On our own we had seen the huge Occidental Chemical plant that dominates most of Niagara Falls, New York, except for the Niagara Falls State Park, hotels and restaurants. The Headquarters of Occidental Chemical used to be here. Now it is in Alabama. I've read too much about the Bhopal chemical plant explosion to love chemical plants. 
After picking up six other passengers including a couple from Kentucky and a guy from Perth, Australia, we are off in a small tour bus over the Rainbow Bridge to Canada. Our guide/driver was Martha, small, chatty and very knowledgeable about the area. 
The Niagara River connects Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Over 35 miles the river drops 326 feet, counting rapids and the great Niagara Falls. Power has been generated here since Nikola Tesla's inventions made possible large scale power generation. The river's flow is managed now to maintain the attraction of the falls while minimizing erosion and maximizing power generation.
Our first stop is the Journey Behind the Falls. A tunnel was dug behind part of the Horseshoe Falls to give you the experience of walking behind the falls.  You are given yellow garbage bag type rain ponchos. Then you head down the tunnel to open ports where water splashes in.
Port Hole
An observation deck at the edge of the falls puts you right up next to the water.
Yes, the Niagara water is green. The color comes mostly from dissolved limestone.
Up at the edge of Horseshoe Falls
The tour boats come as close as they can to the falls.
We drive along the edge of the Niagara River and stop at various points along the River Road and the Niagara Parkway. Although there are certainly a lot of businesses clustered near the falls, the impression as we drive, is of a very beautiful area. There are stately homes, mainly operating as bed and breakfasts. It reminded me of Victoria with the lovely gardens in the front yards. We drive by the Botanical Gardens and a lovely golf course, but stop to view a few scenic overlooks at the Giant Whirlpool, a huge power plant and the Floral Clock.
Across the river we see the church that was the last stop on the underground railroad for slaves escaping to Canada.
The colors were lovely at the Giant Whirlpool.
If you squint hard, you can see a white speck that is a high tower in Toronto.
The Floral Clock. Here since 1950. The 1814 is commemorating the end of the War of 1812. The American war of aggression against the Canadians. According to the Canadians. Americans, who do not remember history, forgot about this long ago.

Then we get a half hour break at Souvenir City. Don't skip the samples of Pumpkin Fudge. It was good and William bought some.
Here I go Over the falls.
Giant Inukshuk made by the Inuit as guides in the vast Canadian Arctic wilderness.

After this it was time for us to go on the Hornblower tour. This is just like the Maid of the Mist tour, but on the Canadian side. We get red garbage bag ponchos for this trip. William spends most of the trip outside in the spray.
William braves the wind and spray right up to the side of Horseshoe Falls.
William seeks some shelter.

I venture out when the spray is not too bad. Even though the sky is mostly cloudy there is a bit of sun and the crowds are light. In the summer they cram 700 people on the Hornblower, with a shoehorn I guess. There were only about 70 people on our trip.
After the trip, off the boat,looking a bit damp. William looks cold.
The venues will shut down soon due to winter ice and not open up until the ice is gone in the spring. In the summer the traffic is bumper to bumper all over Niagara Falls, New York and Ontario. Just like the summer bumper to bumper all around Lake Tahoe.
It's pedal to the metal in the morning as we seriously start to head west.

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