Two years of traveling and we finally see the Atlantic!
September, 2000

Niagara Falls, New York
Well, we're almost to the Atlantic, but first a few more stops.

Niagara Falls was impressive --  a column of mist rises from Horseshoe Falls in the background.  This was the first image we saw as we approached the falls.  The cloud of mist rises high in the sky.  In the winter this must produce a lot of snow nearby.  Next, we crossed a bridge into the New York State Park where Niagara Falls is located. 

The river behind the falls races by at thirty miles an hour or more.  There are several ten foot drops.  The excitement to see the falls was building.  Down stream we could see where the river drops out of sight. The falls, (behind the boys in the photo above), is the American Falls.  Just past the mist is Bridal Veil Falls.

There used to be a trail that took you to a cave -- The Cave Of The Winds -- right under the falls.  However, many years ago the roof collapsed, so now the cave is closed.  They still use the original trail, but now it takes tourists, (us included), down by the cave and right up against the bottom of the waterfall.  It's real windy at the bottom of the trail as the water pushes the air all around -- (you can barely see the wooden platform in the mist.)
The deck has water coming over the top of it with bursts of water and spray.  It was real easy to imagine that we were standing on a large sailing ship caught in a hurricane.  (Gee, maybe that's why they call this the "Hurricane Deck.")   Even with the yellow slickers on we all got quite wet.  We attempted to take photos from the deck but there was so much wind and water that it was hopeless.  I took the photo on the right from the Maid of the Mist, a boat ride that goes near the bottom of Horseshoe Falls.

Down river from the falls is Fort Niagara, a National Historic Landmark.  It's near Youngstown, New York on the Niagara River at the mouth of Lake Ontario.

Back in 1679 this was an important piece of real estate --  whoever controlled this spot, (first the French, then the English, and finally the Americans), also controlled the only shipping lane to the interior lakes and waterways.

The French established the first post here in 1679 and 40 years later built much of the fort that stands today.  Britain gained control in 1759 during the French and Indian War.  The British held the fort throughout the Revolution but were forced, by treaty, to turn it over to the United States in 1796.  The British recaptured the fort in 1813.  It was ceded to the the US a second time in 1815 after the war of 1812.

Here's a picture of the crank and counter weight for the drawbridge on the castle built by the French in 1726.

Since we're from the west, we used to be impressed with historic sites with dates in the late 1800's.  Now that doesn't seem so long ago.


The Erie Canal
I don't remember the specifics, but here at Lockport New York, the Erie Canal rises 100 to 150 feet.  There are a series of four locks here with three of them right behind me.  Prior to the railroad, the east coast had hundreds and hundreds of miles canals and locks. 
The Erie is still in use today.  We talked with a couple on a small cruiser that were going through the locks.  They said it cost them $15 to go through all of the locks from Lake Erie to the Hudson River, (i.e. New York City). 

Corning, New York
We toured the Corning Glass Museum.  We learned about the history of glass, how it is made and its past, present and future uses.

Since he's learned how glass used to be made, Mitch likes to check older looking houses and buildings for window panes made the old fashioned way.  The glass makers used to spin it like pizza dough and then cut out rectangles from the round sheets.
 

 

This museum houses a great collection of glass utensils, art and furniture from around the world and of the ages. They also have great "hands-on" glass technology displays -- ones on lenses, mirrors and fiber optics.

I'd be fun to come back one summer and take one of Corning's week long classes on glass blowing.
Next stop:  Easton, Pennsylvania, and the Crayola Factory.  The actual Crayola factory is ten miles out of town and not open to the public, but there's a nice visitor and activity center in the heart of town.

Easton is a very quaint town.  The buildings are all over 100 years old or built to match the older style.  Most midwest and eastern towns have a town square or plaza area, and Easton is no exception.  Next to the Crayola building was Bixler's Jewelry.  They have been in business here since 1785.
The third floor of this building houses a museum on canals and canal boats.  Since we had just visited the Erie Canal this was an interesting display and we learned a lot about the history of transporting goods in this country.  OK, so back to the crayons ...
You probably don't remember crayons in boxes like the ones above.  They go back to 1903 through 1934.  We watched how the crayon material is melted, poured into the molds and then dropped out. Each mold produces 1200 crayons.  From there they are placed in the wrapper machine and then boxed.  This is a picture of the machine that packs boxes of four colors used in restaurants.


Atlantic City, New Jersey -- on the Boardwalk
The boys were glad to do a little boogie boarding again -- (that's Atlantic City in the background).  Though we had a lot of fun on the New Jersey coast, we didn't think much of Atlantic City.  Other than the boardwalk and a strip of casinos, there's not much here.  Crime is high and the rest of downtown is pretty run down. 

There is an almost gaudy look to the place -- old, brick buildings that are badly in need of repair, right across the street from huge, flashy casinos. And everywhere, buses full of very elderly people looking for the buffets.

I said "there's only senior citizens here".  Cheryl replied, "no, they're all much older than that."  We figured that the casinos must give them all a free bus ride and buffet coupon.  Most of them appeared to be from upstate New Jersey or New York on a one-day excursion.
Max enjoyed his 9th birthday.  I got the boys out of the house and Cheryl decorated the trailer.  When we got back home from Atlantic City, Max was the first one in and found the place ready for a celebration.

The Bridge Building Competition
The boys built these bridges out of toothpicks and glue over several days.  They had design specifications for the height and width of the ship that would sail under the bridge and the width and height of the vehicles that would travel on the bridge deck.  They also had to keep track of material purchases for each days activities.  Then they were judged on meeting the specs, overall costs, bookkeeping and structural strength.
The bridge on the upper left is under a large load.  On the upper right you can see the load system.  The bridge spans the two mountainous chairs and weights are hung below an opening in "the river".

We had four rolls of quarters, a large speaker magnet and a hammer on Mitch's bridge before it finally gave way.

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