“Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to.”
First night sleeping in a tent review: 1am – 6am featuring Joe’s snoring and what I can only presume to be every single bird in the USA. Noisy, BUT… woke up super excited to tick off an item off my bucket list; Niagara Falls!
After a quick shower in the surprisingly well-equipped showers (hairdryers, charging points and loads of mirrors), and dodging a few dead wasps in the shower itself – (was trying to seem really camp-savvy at this point so barely mentioned it even though it was freaking me out!), we gulped down our hot chocolates and bagels, and headed to Niagara Falls!
Actually pulling up to Niagara Falls was an experience in itself; every time we saw a glimpse of water we were all yelling and pointing, screaming “NIAGARA FALLS!” – no. It wasn’t. It was just a river. It got to the point where we’d done it so much that we kind of gave up looking – which was just as well because the way we drove in you couldn’t really see it until you got there anyway!
We decided to have lunch before seeing the Falls, but we were all so excited it was essentially us all shoving wraps in our mouths, running to the toilets and then stuffing all the coolers back in the van before running off like kids entering Disney World for the first time.
One of the first things we learnt about Niagara Falls is that the term ‘Niagara Falls’ is actually the collective name for three waterfalls; ‘Horshoe Falls’, ‘American Falls’ and ‘Bridal Veil Falls’.’Horseshoe’ and ‘American’ Falls are typically what people think of when they think of Niagara Falls and are always in the movies and adverts, an ‘Bridal Veil Falls’ is a smaller – yet still impressive waterfall, that we made our way to first.
Standing behind a tiny barrier at the edge of the waterfall, with tons of water slipping into oblivion was such an incredible first experience. The spray of the waterfalls itself is enough to soak you and that’s from above the waterfall – nevermind below it. Whilst we were all becoming absorbed in the facts and figures (3,160 tonnes of water flow over Niagara falls per second), and getting snap-happy, I turned around and witnessed another phenomenon…
a black squirrel.
I’m not going to lie. I freaked out. Quite a lot.
I’d never even heard of a black squirrel, never mind actually SEEING one in it’s black furry flesh!
This was going to be a good day.
After reluctantly leaving the black squirrel, we walked OVER one of the waterfalls! Now, i’m not one to get scared when it comes to things like this; roller coasters? no problem, high buildings? fine. But for some reason, walking over this bridge that was maybe a metre or so higher than the gushing water made me feel so uneasy! If you looked down, you saw the water hurtling past you, dragging tree branches and whatever else it can find with it. If you look across, you see this almighty current plummeting over the edge. It really made me realise how powerful and incredible nature is!
(Me pretending to be OK and not freaked out that there is a waterfall UNDER OUR FEET!)
At this point we were left to our own devices and had just over an hour and a half to explore Niagara Falls. There were two things I really wanted to do; the Maid of the Mist experience, and I wanted to go to Canada! If you don’t already know, Niagara Falls is on the border between Ontario, Canada and New York so you can actually walk across a bridge and into Canada. You need to have your passport with you and there is a sometimes a small queue, but the view of Niagara Falls is apparently even more amazing from the Canadian border and therefore a lot of people do decide to make the journey across to Canada (and it’s cool to get another stamp on your passport!)
Sadly, we didn’t have time to do both so we decided to fully immerse ourselves in the Niagara Falls experience and jump on the infamous Maid of the Mist!
Decked out head to toe in our blue ponchos, we raced onto the boat and managed to get a great spot right at the front (bow?) of the boat with an amazing view of Niagara Falls! In retrospect, the boat sails to one end of the Falls, turns around and then comes back, so whatever side of the boat you’re on, you’re guaranteed an incredible view.
I have to say, the Maid of the Mist experience is hands down one of the best things I have ever done! It really is an experience like no other; hundreds of you standing on a boat in matching blue ponchos, buzzing with excitement.
I felt like we didn’t go that close to the waterfalls, but I wouldn’t have actually felt safe if we had gone any closer! The sheer power of the waterfalls is unbelievable! Before you can feel (and fully see), the extent of the waterfalls, there is a roaring noise that gradually gets louder and louder as you continue your journey closer to the Falls. With that noise comes these crazy hurricane-like winds that carry droplets of water from the waterfalls – the kind of rain and wind combination that drenches you to the bone!
So currently, you’re standing in what is essentially a hurricane, the wind is so strong that it almost comes from under you, and consequently your blue poncho (which by this point, you are desperately trying to tie as tightly as possibly around your neck to avoid any water getting in), has turned into a giant blueberry, inflated by the crazy winds which are also deafening. Then you look around and realise you are on a boat, in a hurricane, with 100 other blueberries, everyone laughing and screaming in delight, all whilst trying to take a half-decent picture of the incredible falls!
If you’re planning a trip to Niagara Falls you HAVE to do Maid of the Mist – it is something not to be missed and only $18 for the trip – plus, you get a free poncho!
After such an exhilarating experience together, the group had definitely formed a solid bond after two days and everyone felt really comfortable around eachother – something that I had been worried about when initially booking the trip.
Setting up camp in ‘Geneva State Park’ was another chilled experience; camping on the brink of a forest, next to the showers and in between the cutest RVs decorated with blue, red, and white fairy lights, just for that extra USA-feel. They all looked gorgeous when the sun had set and the only lights in our area were the glow from campfires, twinkling fairy lights, and the incredibly beautiful sky!
Myself, Joe, and Helen (Team A), were the first group on cooking duties and decided to go for a veggie chilli (my Mum’s recipe). It was quite difficult actually coming up with recipe ideas for our group as there were two vegetarians and two lactose-free, so a 5 bean chilli recipe was gladly accepted by all!
The rest of the evening was spent swapping stories over the campfire, sipping on our drinks (Angry Orchard Crisp Apple Cider for me – my best USA find), and continually chasing away a family of raccoons who seemed pretty intent on getting into our food coolers! I found this hilarious but then we were told racoons can use their tiny hands to unzip your tents (!!??) which freaked me out a lot. Thankfully no racoons made it into our tents that night!
Day 3 of our trip entailed my favourite thing: ROLLER COASTERS! Me and Joe went to Orlando a couple of years ago (my 14th time – slightly obsessive I know), and as huge fans of big rides like Universal Studios’ Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and Hollywood Studios’ Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster… we thought we’d seen the best…until we went to Cedar Point!
By this point we had made it over the state line to Ohio via the enormity of Lake Erie, set up our tents in record time, and split into two groups of those who wanted go to the theme park and those who wanted to chill by the pool (scaredy-cats).
Our guide Peter dropped us at Cedar Point just after lunch, giving us a full day of fun. If you’ve been to theme parks in the UK like Alton Towers or Thorpe Park… or even Universal Studios and Disney in Orlando- Cedar Point is on an entirely different level. Although the park is packed with rides for all ages, the park is definitely aimed at thrill-seekers. The park has 18 rollercoasters, (16 of them really as 2 are for younger kids) as well as tonnes of other thrill rides! We managed to make it on all but 2 of them as they were broken down which was so annoying!
One of the highlights of the day was the World’s highest and fastest wooden roller coaster; ‘Mean Streak’. With incredible views of Lake Erie, this coaster was awesome in both height and laughter; as the ride is quite old and the structure made entirely of wood, the ride is really bumpy… this lead to one of the New Zealand girls’ boobs popping out of her top unexpectedly and lead to us all crying with laughter whilst trying to hold on as we were dragged around the track! Coincidentally, this was only one of two boob-incidents of the day! We headed to another coaster, ‘Magnum XL-200’, which looked OK… a little thrilling but nothing too scary.
It was super fast and had one particularly big drop in it that my Topshop-cami did not seem to appreciate and folded over itself – above my bra! Unbeknownst to me, I carried on the majority of the ride with full bra on show, hands in the air, and on discovery, was laughing so hard I was dribbling/ being thrown around so much that I couldn’t even fix it. The walk up to the photo-point of the ride was extremely nerve-wracking for me, as I imagined children pointing and laughing at the lady “with her bra out”. In some sort of theme park miracle, the camera had broken and the bra-incident went unnoticed!
Although the park itself doesn’t necessarily have a theme, they’ve done such a good job of ensuring everything is spotless and really high quality; we came across this gorgeous diner whilst looking for rides.
Something I would have never normally spent my time doing was the Chairoplanes. I’ve always thought they were boring and a bit of a waste of time when you could be on a more thrilling ride. If you do go to Cedar Point make sure you head to the Chairoplanes for sunset! As the park is at the Lake-front of Lake Erie, you get the most gorgeous view of the sunset reflecting over the water, and the silhouettes of the rides against the glow of the sun, (that is if you dare get your camera out of your pocket whilst you’re up there – it is HIGH!)
Managing to leave the park without any more boob-incidents, we headed for some food. There’s an awesome local restaurant in the town of Sandusky across the road from the campsite that do simple food like chilli cheese fries, pizzas, burgers etc. at really cheap prices! There was a lovely homely feel to the place as it’s so small, and the owners and chefs like to come and have a chat with you, even bringing you sharpies to sign their wall filled with names and places of travellers alike.
Here’s a little clip of what we got up to on day 2 & 3 of our trip (thanks to Joe)
1) Keep your maid of the mist poncho and use it as an emergency waterproof; it weighs nothing and you can squash it up in your backpack so it takes up basically no room!
2) If you decide to go on the Maid of the Mist, I’d advise you only use cameras/phones at the beginning and end of the journey as they will get SOAKED. This is definitely a time to use a waterproof camera/gopro!
3) When planning your trip, save a few potential recipes to use whilst you’re away – it’s a nightmare trying to come up with them with no internet!
I hope you enjoyed the post!
Feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have below!