Falling For Niagara | My Family Travels
MIT Leaves, Photo Ian Drake
Old Fort Niagara Photo Ian Drake
Niagara Falls State Park, Photo Ian Drake
Granary Burying Ground, Boston, Photo Ian Drake

I am from central Texas, where we only have two seasons; hot and less hot. Because of this, fall is a beautiful season I never had the chance to appreciate until I visited New England in November, 2016. The contrast of vibrant leaves on the trees against the dull browns of the trunks and the still green grass, were something I thought could only be achieved with editing software. As well as touring MIT, we explored Boston to experience some historical sites. At the time, I was in the middle of junior year US History, so it was interesting to see the places I had only read about.

As amazing as Boston was, my most memorable day began in New York with a visit to Niagara Falls. My family loves nature, and tries to experience natural wonders wherever we visit, which is hard to do in crowded tourist areas. So when we arrived at the falls, which usually garners around 30 million visitors each year, and we were the only people there, we were understandably surprised but took advantage of the situation. We had time to take beautiful photos of the glistening water cascading down Horseshoe Falls, got shots of the mist flying off the rocks of Bridal Veil Falls, and the majestic splash of the American Falls. The weather was frigid, and the water even colder. Winds rushed so strongly, we feared our hats would blow off, and get lost in the mist below. If you want to have a different experience at Niagara Falls than most, do what we did and visit at 9:00 AM on a Sunday morning in the middle of November.

One of my favorite things is being in a place that is normally crowded at a time when it isn’t. So it was a gift that on the same day we visited the falls, we explored vacant Old Fort Niagara, a French, colonial era fort built in 1726 on the edge of Lake Ontario. Temperatures were still low, but warmer than the falls. The wind was a different story. I don’t know has fast it was, but I could lean into it and not fall over. We arrived at the fort about 15 minutes before it closed. Usually, my family and I take our time in old forts and castles, trying to internalize every detail. But somehow, racing through the entire Old Fort Niagara in 15 minutes, we managed to create what we agree is the best fort experience we’ve had. I remember it more vividly as well—the way the whole fort shook in the wind, the coldness of the stone, the waves crashing into the seawall, and the wind carrying the mist 50 feet or more inland.

The next day, we drove down to Ithaca on Highway 89, a scenic byway running along the western shore of Cayuga Lake that is by far the most entertaining route to Cornell University. Shamefully, I fell asleep in the car, but woke to find it had started to snow! Our rental car slid around on the icy roads and the snow was so thick we couldn’t tell where the side of the road stopped and the fields began. In the midst of all the flurries, we pulled into my all time favorite coffee shop, Tim Hortons. Warm coffee felt so good in our hands on the way through the ice and snow back out to the car. In a span of three days, I got to see Boston in the fall and New York in the winter. I am now seasoned in the seasons.

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