Paul and I had a mini-vacation in Niagara Falls this past weekend. We'd each visited this place when we were little, but neither of us had any clear memories of it, and we figured hey, why not take advantage of our northeastern Ohio location and drive a few hours to see some crazy impressive landscapes. So that's what we did. And the falls were very impressive indeed:
We weren't thrilled by the surrounding cities and (mostly rundown) tourist traps, but everything we saw of the actual falls -- on both the American and the Canadian sides -- was amazing. I love the color of the Niagara River:
That's a lot of water! (Note the tiny people in the top left corner of the next picture for scale.)
We even caught the tail end of the fall foliage, and the displays on some of the islands in the river were really fantastic:
All that mist made for some cool rainbows when the sun came out:
The waterfalls were awesome, of course, but I was also very curious to see what kinds of creatures live in this tumultuous place. I didn't see much diversity (perhaps because of all the human activity), but there were some cool animals around nonetheless. Below the falls, Double-crested Cormorants and Bonaparte's Gulls foraged in the water and rested on the rocks:
I'd never seen Bonaparte's Gulls before, and I think they're pretty darn cute with those bright legs and little black ear-spots (part of their winter costume):
There were lots of gulls around -- Bonaparte's and larger Ring-billed Gulls -- and sometimes they seemed to be part of the falls' roiling mist:
A few black Gray Squirrels were running around in the park. I don't get to see these guys very often!
One ledge in the middle of the American Falls had a little less rushing water than the surrounding areas, and when we got up near the top of these falls, I was absolutely astonished to see a few Mallards and Ring-billed Gulls foraging on this ledge:
I mean... what?? I know these are birds and they can fly and everything, but this is the edge of a gigantic waterfall!! Here's a view of those same falls from across the river; the birds' ledge is right in the middle (and again note the tiny people in the bottom right of the picture for scale):
Seriously, ahhh! I'm getting vertigo just thinking about that high/slippery/downward-rushing spot! These are definitely some daredevil ducks:
So yeah, Niagara Falls is a pretty cool place. I'm glad I got to check it out!