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Thursday, September 8, 2016

THE TWO SIDES OF NIAGARA & THE TALE OF THREE CITIES

 
New York State is very different from New York City. Our ferry docks in northern NY from Vermont and we follow the coast of the river for a while – although not much of the coast is open to mere passerby’s. We start heading south on the motorway so that we can do a big loop through the Adirondack Park – a huge Park/Forest area in northern NY. But tired of the busy roads we skip back on to the back roads and end up beside Schroon Lake. There is even beach access, so we stop for a coffee and end up swimming. Surprisingly it is not cold at all. Even I go in! Finally carry on in to the park. John has located a few spots to camp on his app, so we head to the first. Perfect! It has dispersed camp spots on an old stretch of road right beside Lake Durant. Even has a fire ring & table.
Meander through the scenic roads passing countless glistening lakes & tree covered mountains. Lots of towns – some a bit neglected & some very touristy. We stop at Lake Placid planning to put in the boat, but then decide it would be easier to find a spot to camp right beside a lake.  So carry on our scenic drive, heading to the tallest mountain – Whiteface Mountain. There is a road to the top & the view should be awesome. But sadly they say there is no room for us to park at the top (even though there are heaps of cars still being allowed up) I suggest that we don’t park, just drive up and back. But NO I can’t convince them. Pity we skipped the gondola miles back because we planned to drive up. Oh well, them’s the breaks.
Lots more exploring by foot & by car before heading to our planned camp spot – and yet another perfect one. There are only 3 camp spots here, and it is Friday night, so we are lucky to get a great one right beside the water. Glad we have 4x4 as it is a bit tricky getting in.
Before we know it we are out exploring in our rubber ducky. Followed by a camp fire. What a tough life! In the morning another outing in the boat before we pack up and leave. A few more scenic roads before we head out of the park and on towards what is known as “The Thousand Islands” area  along the St Lawrence River.
When we reach Waddington we see signs up about a boat show, and it is dated today. So naturally we head to the waterfront & yes the boats are out racing. We stop & watch. Great excitement as in one race a boat sinks (well not exactly – but certainly a bit) & in the other race a boat flips over. Both drivers are safely rescued – but it certainly makes it more exciting.
Continue meandering along the coastline finally making it all the way to the actual Thousand Island area (apparently there are over 1800 islands) and on to Tippet’s Lighthouse. It is getting late so we head back to the town of Cape Vincent to camp on the boat ramp, but spy a canoe access behind some old homes and camp there. No one bothers us, so it is a very peaceful night.
We wake to rain. Not a lot of point following beach front in the rain. So back on to more main roads. We are heading in to Canada shortly, so stop to stock up on food – much cheaper here in the USA. Then decide to have a last visit to Cracker Barrel for lunch, although by the time we get there it is more like lunch/dinner. Finally on to Buffalo. We want to have our air cond looked at – it has stopped working, (blown fuse) and boy do you notice it when it is 38deg! Very conveniently there is a Walmart a few blocks away from the workshop John has found online.
Monday all our chores done we head to Niagara, amazingly find a free parking spot and set off to explore the American side. First straight to the “Maid of the Mist” tour to book tickets. We can get on the boat straight away. How do you describe such awesomeness? You can’t, so take a look at the photos (and of course I took stacks more!) Then of course walk by all the scenic view points.
Time to tackle the border. We cross on the Rainbow Bridge with the most amazing view of the falls, and may I say never has a border been easier. Nothing on the US side, and Canada only takes our passports away for a few minutes and tells us to go. Obviously we think they will want to check the vehicle, but no they say to drive on, and so we do straight out the gate.
 Time to explore to best side of the falls - naturally packed with tourists. We spot a carpark & John isn’t too keen on paying $6 for 30min parking, but I say let’s just do it. So we race off to explore. Countless more photos amongst crowds of people waving selfy sticks & standing all over the footpath. Finally we leave the craziness & head to Crystal Beach to camp. Great spot overlooking Lake Ontario and there is another magic sunset. The signs do say “No Parking between 11pm & 5am”, but John checks with the policeman and now all is good.
Next destination is Toronto. Well not Toronto exactly. We are going to see Beth (our niece – well sort of) & Jordan who live in Brampton just outside of Toronto city. We haven’t planned to explore this massive city, just spend the day exploring the area, but after heading to Port Colbourne & watching a ship come down the canal (especially enjoyed watching the bridge that we had just driven over come up!), then following the Welland Canal back to St Catharine’s we realize that we really have enough time to pop in to Toronto before we are due at Brampton. So in we head on the massive motorway system, hoping to wing a carpark. Hahaha!! Finally find one after being turned down by three. The last we chose not to use because she wanted to charge us $60!! So instead we feed a machine & walk & walk & walk. The only thing I had wanted to do was go up the CN Tower… but bummer there is a 2 hour wait. Oh well more walking around town before racing back to GR2. I am so hot & sweaty I have a shower!
Time to get to Brampton, and guess what – it is rush hour. Still it isn’t as bad as the Gateway in Brisbane. Great evening catching up with Beth & Jordan. And we fit in to their back yard to sleep for the night. They have a tap in the yard, so we can’t resist doing some washing – finally our sheets are clean again. We manage to fit 2 into our tiny machine. While we are finishing off we meet one of the neighbours – he has a media studio & ends up writing an article about our visit to Brampton in the local paper: here is the link.  http://www.bramptonfocus.ca/global-roamer-2-stops-in-brampton/
Finally we are off back in the great outdoors. Lots of lakes & heaps of cottages.  Carry on to Algonquin Provincial Park. It is getting towards evening so we don’t do any hikes, just stop at viewpoints. Sadly no wildlife spotting for us today. Finally outside the park stop at Bark Lake for the night. We have a fire, and then at dusk some of the locals come to swing from the rope into the water….Brrrrr.   In the morning stop for coffee at Barrie’s Lake. Some guys in a work ute stop & chat, and naturally John asks them if they know where a scrap yard is. The long & short of it is that they take the no plate off their truck for John! Amazing.
 Finally move on to our next city – Ottawa. John has located a camping spot just over the river in Gatineau, so we head straight there driving straight through the city. A local guy points us in the right direction and we walk in to town. Phew it is pretty hot today, so it feels like a long way. But we manage to explore heaps. No way we can get a tour of Parliament today (we will have to queue up tomorrow), but we do manage a tour of the High Court. We even suss out a carpark for tomorrow – so we head in bright & early to nab it. Then feed the meter & stand in line for free tickets for the tour. Yay, in by 9.30am. Heaps of security – amazing inside, but the best is the views from the top of the clock tower. A final explore of Notre Dame Cathedral & lunch in GR2 before heading out of town. Next stop Montreal in Quebec. “Parle vous Franchise. Non!” The bonus is great croissants!
Again we have been told of a spot over the river from the city, so we head straight there. We think we have found it, so drive straight in. There are heaps of motorhomes here. We discover that we have crashed a music festival. Our spot is further along the river. Oh well we will just stay put as we are right beside the water. The next morning we head along the river to the ferry port (this is where we should have camped!), pay for a day’s parking & head to the ferry. Lovely little ride up the river to the riverfront of Old Montreal. Here we follow the Lonely Planet walking tour to discover the old town. The Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal is stupendous. As it is Saturday there are Medieval Markets on the river front. All the stall owners are in full costume – such fun.
Finally back to catch our ferry and find our way out of the city. One wrong turn & we are caught up in all the roadwork’s happening around town. So it is a slow & much longer than anticipated drive out of town. Finally follow the Richelieu River all the way to St-Antoine-sur-Richelieu to visit friends Mathieu & Pascale who we met travelling in Columbia a few years ago. A lovely afternoon, evening & part of the next day chatting & swapping travel stories of course!
Next destination is our last city – Quebec City. We have been again told of a spot to stay over the river, so we head straight there & stay there for the night. It has been cold & gray, so fingers crossed for a fine day tomorrow. We have magic views of the old fortified city from our spot, and in the evening the fountains play with lots of colours. Rather like watching fireworks.
The day starts overcast, but clears magically, which is fantastic as this is truly an awesome city. A huge fortress circles the old town & to top it off there is the amazingly turreted Chateau Frontenac slap bang in the centre. Of course I want to see the changing of the guards at the fort – and yes we are in time. This really is a very British tradition with a French twist. Crazy watching these guys look so much like beefeaters, yet everything is in French! We also want to tour Parliament, but will have to wait quite a few hours, so decide to head back to our ferry. We think we will take GR2 across on the ferry & head out of town, but we are too tall, so end up crossing on the bridge further south. See a Walmart & stock up with food and as a result end up driving through the city (on motorways) at rush hour!
We are heading to the great outdoors of Eastern Canada – in Quebec, Labrador & Newfoundland.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 comments:

  1. The falls look amazing as did Quebec and all those lovely lakes. Congrats for getting in print - more blog followers for you Lynda

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  2. Just saw you driving on Main St in Dartmouth this afternoon..and the website link. Welcome to town and hope your visit and journey around The Maritimes and Newfoundland goes well.

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  3. Spotted you on Lower Water Street in Halifax! Had to check out your site after seeing your amazing rig. Looking forward to reading about your adventures! Take Care!

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