Monday, October 31, 2016

Niagara Glen Nature Reserve

Now that I've shown you the highlight of my visit to Niagara Falls, all the rest is less exciting, but I enjoyed it, so hope you will too.  First up is the Niagara Glen, an area on the Canadian side where the slope into the gorge is a little gentler, and there are trails down almost to the water's edge.  We went here when I first arrived, in late afternoon.

We drove up the parkway from Niagara- on-the-lake and stopped at the whirlpool viewpoint, before you get to the city of Niagara Falls.  This part of the river is all free to see, though if you want to ride the rickety old gondola that hangs from these cables, you need a ticket.  The cable car is entirely in Canada; the point of land on the left is the U.S.

The geology is obviously very interesting, and easy to see, especially from the Canadian side.  In fact the Niagara Gorge is one of the most studied geological sites on the continent, and epitomizes the Niagara Escarpment.  You can also see a riverside path here.
After a short look and a few pictures there, we headed back downstream to the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve access point, again a free attraction.  Here we're looking back upstream toward the whirlpool in the corner.

Looking north, you see the gigantic Robert Moses power plant on the U.S. side.  I couldn't get a picture of the Canadian power plants of course, without going to the U.S.!  They're opposite one another on the river.

The Glen is accessible by a short stairway, which took us straight down to the base of the top geological layer, below.

I'm half-way down here, looking at the vertical face of the Lockport Dolomite, the 'caprock' of the Niagara Escarpment in this area.  There's an easy path along the base of this cliff.

After that it stops being easy, and is a rocky scramble, though there is evidence of a trail and even some steps built of rock here and there.  Notable are these huge boulders, which have fallen as blocks off the Lockport formation, an unusual feature along the gorge.

Soon we were getting down far enough to see the river through the trees, and here it roaring.

When we got down close I took picture after picture, even though none of them are good!  I could have stayed there for a long time just watching and listening to the water.

Then we had to find our way back up.  In places like this it was easy, but do you think we could reverse our tracks without getting turned around?  Not a chance; we got down the wrong trail several times and had to backtrack.

Obviously other people had got frustrated on previous trips too, and put up their own directions!

But it didn't take us long and we were back at the foot of the stairs.  Just up all those steps and we headed home for a delicious home-cooked meal.  A good start to my visit.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Niagara Falls

I felt the need of another little adventure, and Mrs. F.G. was heading away for a Quilting Retreat.  So I headed out too, to visit my cousins in Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL as they write it).  And I asked them if they'd take me over to the falls to get some pictures.  I don't think I've been there for 40 years!  We had a great two days exploring, and in mid-week, late October, there were no big crowds.

Here's the Horseshoe Falls, widely known as the Canadian Falls.  We didn't visit things in this order, but it seems best to start with the falls themselves.  Simply spectacular!  When you visit the falls though, you have to take the weather you get, unless you're visiting for longer.  That day the wind was blowing a bit from the east, carrying the huge cloud of mist up and over the Canadian side, leaving everyone close to the falls viewpoint soaked!  We stuck to drier views this time.  Notice the Maid of the Mist tour boat approaching on the left.

This is the closest full view of the falls I could get; it's huge!  The Maid of the Mist passengers were getting their money's worth this trip, assuming that they came for the mist!  The international border goes down the middle of the river, so the left 1/3 of the Horseshoe Falls is in the United States.

Next time, I'd like to get closer pictures of the lip of the falls, but we'll have to choose the day we visit carefully.  Here you get at least some impression of the incredible power of the water dropping over the brink.  Imagine riding over that sealed in a barrel, or walking across on a tightrope!

The closer you get, the more you get that sense of the power of the water.  In the background here you can see one of the old power plant buildings, this one no longer in use.  The water would be several metres deeper if a lot wasn't diverted to power plants on both sides of the border, and a treaty agreement regulates how much water must be left to flow over the falls during the daytime hours.

I really enjoyed the chance to get these photos, but I'm now thinking of this as just a 'reconaisance visit', there's so much more to see and photograph.  I feel the need to take many more pictures!

Turning to the left without moving much, you view the American Falls, as well as Bridal Veil Falls, the smaller separate stream on the right.  I never even knew it was considered a separate waterfall, but it is divided from the bigger falls by Luna Island.  So there are 3 falls to see here in Niagara.  The tower on the left is the observation tower on the American side, and the access for the American Maid of the Mist tour.

Some years ago the Corps of Engineers stopped all water flow to the American Falls because of fear that it would eventually become just a series of rapids.  But the decision in the end was to let nature take its course.

Obviously the view of the falls from the American side is very different, so many American visitors come to Canada for better views of all three falls.  But on the American side a series of access points and boardwalks allow very close access to the base of the falls on both sides, giving you a view that doesn't exist on the Canadian side.  Can you see the people in the lower right?

Even though only 10% of the river flows over this falls, and a lot is diverted on the U.S. side for power generation as well, it looks very powerful to me!

We did watch the Maid of the Mist sail past the American Falls and up to Horseshoe Falls while we were there.  I have a vague memory of riding that boat as a child, but I'm not sure I'd go for it now.  What I would like is getting as close to the edge of the falls as possible.  Maybe I should even visit the American side.

As I noted above, the Maid of the Mist passengers got their money's worth of mist on these trips.

I feel like I've just scratched the surface of the story here.  The history, the power generation, the 19th Century daredevils, it's all fascinating.  Now that I've seen it again, I'm going to have to plan a more extended visit.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing is the parkland all along the riverbank.  From Niagara-on-the-Lake all the way south and past the falls, the shoreline is entirely public park, and completely accessible to visitors.  It's remarkable that we have saved that open space the way we have when you consider the industry that was along here in the late 19th Century.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Few Barns in the Valley

I got away on an adventure this week, to Niagara Falls, but I haven't sorted out my pictures yet.  So I looked through my pictures from the last month or two to see what I could find.  I've pulled out a number of barn pictures that I hope I haven't shared before.

This was of course a few days ago, when we had our brief first snow flurry; it shows up well on the ploughed field.

This on the other hand was more than a month ago, when the soybeans were still in the field.

This two was a month ago, when the fall colour was just beginning.  I think I've posted another view of this barn, which sits below Old Baldy, in the last few weeks.

This is a totally different barn view, extending over the entire valley.  I think there are at least 8 barns that show up in the picture, most of them tiny rooftops in the distance.

A former dairy farm, this is the busiest farm I drive by almost every day, heading into Markdale.  Always seems well cared for.

Two different views of the same barn - which do you prefer?

And finally, a really big quilt barn I don't think I've shared.  I think this quilt block just went up recently.

Linking to:

The Barn Collective

Friday, October 28, 2016

Outside Our Window

As the reds and oranges of the Sugar Maples turn to brown and fall colour begins to fade away, we get a week or two where the world seems to be mostly yellow outside our window.  The first 4 photos below are actually taken through our windows; the 2nd group of 4 outside in the yard.

At this point the White Birch and the Silver Maple are turning colour, and they're mostly yellow.

A few orange and red Sugar Maples still show up across the road.

But out in the yard, the colour is mostly yellow.

My favourite view in the yard, down the old fencerow under the branches of the old Apple Tree where all the Hostas are turning yellow.

Yellow-green Redbud leaves, a species probably too far north here.  It grows, but doesn't bloom.

Our two Tulip trees, also a southern species, have done much better, and look like young saplings now, maybe 15' tall.

And the very last flower to bloom in our garden, the Monkshood, also known as Wolf's Bane, and Queen of all Poisons, among other names.  It is highly poisonous, but not to the touch.  This flower doesn't even come into bloom until all the others are finished, and it's still out there.

Snow is gone, and it was a beautiful afternoon.  Got out for yet another hike on the Bruce Trail.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Morning Mist and White Stuff!

A couple of weeks ago the sun rose behind the trees directly into a blue sky, but with the cool fall temperatures, the mist was lying across our meadow.  It's not the usual sunrise, but I got some neat shots of sunbeams through the morning mist.

The sun first showed up as a bright spot behind the maple trees in the fencerow.

As it rose, it highlighted the mist in the meadow.

Very very briefly it was just a beautiful morning; a lot of careful cropping to create these shots.

This shot, like all of these, was shot through the living room windows.

And behind me (out the front window), the sunrise was catching the Sugar Maples across the road.

Today however, it was quite different stuff falling from the sky - our first noticeable snowfall, about an inch around here.  Snapped these on my drive home from further south.

The meadow and the yard are looking very different now, but it will all be gone by tomorrow afternoon.  The temperature is forecast to rise to nearly 10°C. by mid-afternoon.  And we aren't quite ready for this yet!

Linking to: