New England is calling

Leaving Toronto on such a beautiful day was perfect for our sightseeing trip back into the USA.

We headed to the little hamlet of Grimsby, where there is an area of houses that are brightly painted. So pretty to see and if felt as if you had walked into a fair tale. Nearly all the residents of this area adhere to keeping their houses painted and decorated with the colourful theme even though it is not widely known about. But certainly worth a visit to see them.

We then headed down the road to the Welland Lock at St Catherine. We arrived in time to wander the museum and have lunch before the first boat arrived to go through the lock. The Welland Lock is the no. 3 lock of the Welland Canal which joins Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. The Canal opened in 1829 and has had 4 upgrades since then, the final being the bypass of the City of Welland in 1973. There are 8 locks on the Canal that enable ships to drop 326 feet (99.5 meters) from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario with the Niagara Falls being one of the obstacles that needs to be bypassed.

It took approx. an hour for the ship we were watching to arrive in our sight on the south side of the Bascule Bridge (a drawbridge that opened to allow the ship to pass) to passing through and out the north end of the lock, and rising approx. 49 feet (15 meters).

After the ship had gone through the lock we headed to Niagara Falls. I had heard that the town of Niagara was like Las Vegas, but as I haven’t been there yet, to me it was like stepping into an animated movie. I half expected Jessica Rabbit or Betty Boop to pop out at any moment.

The falls though were another thing. Again and I seem to be repeating this a lot recently, photo’s just not do these falls justice. It was the colour of the water that caught me first. That beautiful dark glacial blue, then the noise as the water thundered over the falls. The sun was shining from the right direction so the rainbow was showing off all of its sparkling bright colours as it dived into the base of the horse shoe shaped Falls. The breeze, that I hadn’t noticed until walking toward the edge of the falls was blowing across from the American side to the where we were on the Canadian side and drenched us with the spray from the Fall, (not a problem as it was one of the hottest days we have recently had).

The falls are quite mesmerising and I felt that I could stand and watch the water falling over the edge for hours and I have to agree with all those that said that if you are to view Niagara Falls at its best you have to do it from the Canadian Side. Next time we will take the time and do the boat trip to the base of the fall, but this time we needed to get back on the road.

We crossed the border into the USA and it was like a different world. The US town of Niagara that we drove through, seemed quite depressed compared to its Canadian sister on the other side of the border. It was quite sad to see such difference in such a short space. So we travelled on through to our stop for the night at Henrietta NY which is just outside of Rochester.

We set out early the next day, heading to Syracuse otherwise known as the Salt City as up until around 1900 this area was the main supplier of salt for all of the USA. As the ice age melted it left behind a “Salty Strip” stretching from the Hudson Valley to Lake Huron, named the Onondaga Formation. The Salt Springs (not salt mines) were located on the southern end of Onondaga Lake and were in the 1770’s people started boiling the water to extract the salt. Shortly after the salt production went into full swing to provide for the needs of the Country.

We wandered around the centre of the city and again while we were admiring the beautiful old buildings we wandered, where are all the people. We learnt that in in Syracuse there is the largest shopping mall in the New York State (and the 6th largest in the entire USA and is said to have 26 million visitors a year). So I guessed that was where all the people were.

But before we headed to the mall for lunch, we took a tour around Tipperary Hill. During the Great Potato Famine a large wave of Irish immigrants came to settle in the area as there was a lot of work available on the Erie Canal and in the Salt Industry.

When traffic lights were first installed in the city in 1925, one was placed at a major intersection on Tipperary Hill. It was consistently having stones thrown at it to break the red light as the local Irish were angry that the red (indicating the British) was above the “Irish” green. The city leaders realised that this would be an ongoing problem so allowed the green to be on the top, above the red light and it is still like this.

We did then headed to the great mall “Destiny USA” for lunch and guess what….. it was just a mall (admittedly with a full sized Carousel on the 2nd floor) and there were hardly any people there either. Where have all the Americans gone?

We set out for Schenectady after lunch, through such pretty farm land and the trees which are browning off and loosing their leaves fast to our stop for the night.

For our last night on the road, we headed out to find a local eatery and landed up at the Backstage Pub. Such a cute “little bar” with a great atmosphere and I have to say, a salad like I had been hanging out for.

After a little slower start the next morning we headed out to the Cohoes Falls on the Mohawk River. TOH had been reading about them and as they were in the direction we were heading we thought it would be worth a visit.
The Cohoes Falls, were once 2nd to Niagara Falls before the river had to be diverted to the locks for the shipping channel. These falls were once the power that powered the textile mills on its banks. Once the mills moved from their gorgeous buildings on the river edge, they lay abandoned till recently, were they are now nearly near the end of a complete conversion to apartments. They would be a wonderful place to live, particularly as they are halfway between the city of Cohoes and the picturesque little village of Waterford across the river, where the Hudson River begins it journey down to New York City.

We weren’t intending to follow the Hudson, even though it was tempting, so we turned away from the river and headed towards Vermont. Travelling through Vermont at this time of the year is as spectacular as travelling through the forested areas of Ontario. Except here there are not the beautiful reds, but the golds which are so rich you understand why gold is called gold. The trees, the colour of gold that many seem to just glow.

It seems that the tapestry of colours just goes on and on and on and now New England is casting its magic spell on us again.

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