We woke up in the van right down the road from the Erie canal. The plan was to finish the drive up through Buffalo and spending the day at Niagara Falls. We got there around 8 and the place looked dead. We had two main goals - 1.) Ride the Maid of the Mist and 2.) Go on the Cave of the Winds Excursion. Because of COVID the hours and the capacity for each were reduced. By the time we got to the Maid of the Mist (around 9) the line was already really long. But it started moving in about 20 minutes and we ended up getting on the boat. Kristen had never seen the falls before, so the boat ride was her first really good view of Niagara Falls.
We were a little nervous because it was crowded, but we did our best to stay distanced and kept on our masks on. We boarded the Maid of the Mist (#7) and set sail for Horseshoe Falls. It was quite a spectacular sight. As we passed the American Falls we got a great view of the water rushing down and crashing ont ot he rock. But it got really good once we got in to the center of the Horsehoe Falls. The water was really turbulent and the mist was going everywhere. And on more than one occasion the wind turned us all into a bunch of ballons because we had big blue ponchos on. The water was rough and whirlpool-y under the falls, but there was a duck in there just swimming along. Kenny proceeded to yell "What is that duck even doing down there" a bunch of times.
![blogPics](/static/img/171/boat.jpg "Maid of the Mist")
After the boat ride we spent some time just walking around the paths and taking in the views. We lucked out and snagged tickets for the Cave of the Winds without having to wait much. We tried to find some healthy places to eat lunch, but most of the places were in Canada. Because of COVID the border was closed except for essential travel. The US side had some really great smelling street food, but we opted for eating in the van to try to be healtheir (to balance out the Buffalo wing tasting we had planned for later).
![blogPics](/static/img/171/rainbow.jpg "Double Rainbow")
After lunch we went on the Cave of the Winds journey! If the boat ride was a 10, the Cave of the Winds was a 11! We took an elevator ride down to a wooden walkway where Kenny procceded to belt "Into the Unknoooooown" every time the doors closed (watch Frozen 2 if you haven't already). The views were great but the best part was getting to actually feel and touch the waterfall. As you walked around your feet were splashed with water and you could reach out and touch it. The highlight was at the end of the walkway - The Hurricaine deck. You actually go to stand under the waterfall and get soaked (albeit in a poncho). The wind was high, the water was strong, and the sound was roaring - but it felt great and it was super neat.
![blogPics](/static/img/171/hurricaine.jpg "Standing in the Falls")
We had some time to kill before dinner so we decided to go for a swim/shower at Woodlawn Beach State Park. This was our first swim in a Great Lake and also our first time swimming in New York. It was a nice beach but they charged $7 to park. The water was also a bit weird because it was a lake - it was cold, greener, and a little rocky.
![blogPics](/static/img/171/beach.jpg "Woodlawn Beach State Park")
Then it was time for the Buffalo Wing tasting! We decided to order classic wings from two different places -1.) Anchor Bar (home of the original Buffalo wing) and 2.) Gabriel's Gate (ranked #1 according to an article from Bon Apetit). They were conveniently within a quarter mile of each other so we grabbed both to go and ate in the van in the Anchor Bar parking lot. Gabe's Gate won out though - more/better sauce and a crispier wing. They were delicious!
Finally we headed back up to the falls to see the lights at night. It didn't really get dark enough to see them around 9, but after that it was an awesome sight! But it probably would have been a lot better from the Canadian side, we had mainly side views. The best would have been to be able to see it from both.
![blogPics](/static/img/171/night.jpg "Falls lit up at night")