The Great American Road Trip travel blog

Brock thought the cockpit of a an F-16 training module at the...

Evan and Brock sit on a ship cannon outside the military museum.

American Falls are seen at left, with Horseshoe Falls in the background...

Amercan Falls are lit with spotlights. Canada is on the left and...

The spotlights beam in on Wendy and the boys at one of...

It shouldn’t have been a long drive day. We left our campsite at Seneca Lake and toured the Military Museum there, part of Sampson State Park, a former Navy and Air Force Base.

The boys had fun looking at all of the World War II memorabilia and weapons. We climbed through lots of poison ivy (I did a Google images search on my iPhone and now we know what it looks like) to successfully nab a Geocache.

On our way out of town, we checked a couple of places for wifi access to post to our blog. We tried a couple of weak signals that ended in frustration. Then we went to a Starbucks, got a coffee, and sat down. Turns out you have to pay for wireless use at Starbucks around here. Ugh! We gave up and posted when we got to our destination.

As we were leaving town, thunderclouds and lightning rolled in. We felt lucky that our camp night was over, but discouraged that it would ruin Saturday night’s planned camping near Niagara Falls. As we drove, we were pelted by the biggest storm so far on this trip, with lots of lightning and thunder. We couldn’t run the wipers fast enough!

The cheapest hotel we could find was $129 in Buffalo, several miles away from the falls. But we went ahead and made reservations. As we got closer to Buffalo, the thunderheads cleared. It was blue and sunny. It was before the 4 p.m. deadline, so we canceled our hotel.

I checked my iPhone GPS and found a new route to the first of two campgrounds we wanted to check out. The first one was about 30 miles up what looked like a straight country road. Those 30 miles took more than an hour, because it was like driving Douglas Boulevard in Roseville for 30 miles, never reaching the 35 mph speed limit because there were so many traffic lights.

When we finally reached the first campground, we realized the commute would be like this back and forth to Niagara Falls, so we continued to the second one, a KOA just 12 miles from the falls. It turned out fine, but was noisily filled with a bunch of families there for a girls’ soccer tournament, and quite a hike to water or a bathroom.

We pitched our tent, then headed out for dinner and night viewing of Niagara Falls. We ended up eating at Denny’s around 8 p.m., then walked around the falls for a couple of hours.

It was amazing, a definite high point on our trip, but not exactly what we expected. I thought it would be more like the national parks we have visited, with a few crowds at the overlooks. It was a Las Vegas-like spectacle, with hordes of people, especially at night. There was also a Sugar Ray concert at the Hard Rock Cafe, so that made it even crazier.

They shine colored spotlights on the falls from 9 p.m. to midnight. It was a whole different perspective Sunday, when we saw the falls in the daylight and from the river.

The best land views are from the Canadian side, but we didn’t bring our passports. What’s stupid about the passport rule is that Americans don’t need one to visit Canada, they just need one to get back into their own country!

-- Wendy

Miles driven today:

Miles so far on road trip: 4,655

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