Day 0: Planning/Overview
As always when I write these things the intended audience is partially a few fans who seem to enjoy them and partially because I know people find them useful for trip planning. I've set the detail level accordingly - feel free to skip to bits you might find more interesting than others. Only a few devoted fans read all of these things.
This trip was basically the answer to the question - "Where would we like to go in the fall?" This is a more significant question than normal because of work issues most years any vacations are in May or August. We also wanted to keep a good part of it in the US (to use up some free Southwest Airlines tickets and Comfort Inn hotel stays)
In researching this trip I came on a few good vocabulary words. "Leaf Peepers" are people who go leaf peeping - going to check out the fall color. Roughly synonymous with "tourist" in some areas so somewhat derogatory. The other was "Canadian Ballet". Used in Buffalo, New York, as in "Let's go see the Canadian Ballet tonight". This means going just across the border to visit strip clubs, which are apparently either rare or not very good around Buffalo (I'm afraid I'm a little vague on the details).
Day 1: Travel OAK -> Chicago Midway -> Manchester, New Hampshire
Your basic airport day. Get driven to the airport - learn more vocabulary. "Wicked Awesome" will make you fit right in if you're in New England (we were later to see a store named Wicked Awesome Ice Cream). Fly to Chicago. End up circling Chicago. For some reason it's impossible to fly to Chicago without circling, some kind of bad weather, and somebody on the plane vomiting. This time we arrived in Chicago very early so the circling put us down on time. Only on Southwest do they apologize for only being on time.
Of course the plane that was to become our connection was cancelled. They managed
to scrounge up another one from somewhere but obviously there were delays. So
plenty of time to eat pizza, hot dogs with little whole pickles in them (it's
a Chicago thing, I have no explanation) and actually finish our drinks. This
will date this trip report, I suspect - as of this writing you can't bring drinks
through security, you can buy more on the other side, but you can't bring them
on the plane. Also anything that's a gel, or basically not entirely solid. This
includes mustard on a sandwich. I'm reminded of a prior trip where we flew one
way before the shoe bomber incident, and on the way back they had some vague
idea shoes were bad but no real gear or instructions so they just kind of felt
around in everybody's shoes. Oh, the job satisfaction!
Anyway, basically at this point if they let us bring on our iPods we're happy. I'm guessing that will date this report, too. In the future they'll be implanted in a tooth or we'll plug a headset into our watch or something.
(Ironically I wrote this during the trip and by the time we flew back they'd changed the rules already to allow a quart Ziploc of travel sized toothpaste, deodorant, etc. Also a change to allow anything you buy in the sterile area - so you can get some water or mustard at the airport and bring it on the plane.)
We did eventually get to the Manchester airport but late enough that all the food places were closed and the luggage and car rental places were running on a skeleton crew and it took forever to get out of the airport. By the time we drove a couple of miles to our hotel and checked in it was 11:00 and we never really had dinner. Luckily there was a commercial zone just down the street and we found a Dairy Queen that was still open and got a bite to eat before bed.
Day 2: The Coast
Basically the idea here was to get up as early as possible without killing ourselves (the time change is always harder when you go east) and then take a relatively light day. It's also important to be outside as much as possible if you want your body to pick up on the cues that the time is different.
We drove out to Hampton Beach, which not surprisingly is on the coast. I think it's one of these towns that is just packed and crazy in the summer but in late September it's kind of a sleepy place. We wandered around a bit just to stretch our legs, then headed north, sticking to the coast. Highlights included watching some surfers. There's not a lot of surf but they did OK considering. I admit I had no idea there were surfers on the east coast at all.
We had an idea that we were going to stop in Portsmouth which has some very old buildings you can tour around in as well as a nice walkable old down town but just then it started pouring down rain. We were also getting kind of hungry so we decided to keep going north and get some food along the highway. We found a nice enough café just across the Maine border - offering both breakfast and lunch menus at 12:30 which is always a good sign to my mind!
By the time we were done the rain was over and we continued along the coast somewhat past Kennebunkport before getting on the 95 and heading back south. Just before we turned around we made a quick rest stop, and a gal on a bicycle said "It's going to rain, I hope I get back fast" and sure enough it started pouring down rain a few minutes later. One of those "I think I can see the end of my hood" rains. Luckily it didn't last very long but it caused a large pileup that we passed later - at least 15 cars were stopped but I think only 3-4 were badly damaged.
After we crossed back into New Hampshire we switched to small roads and made our way down the coast and then inland back to Manchester. In Hampton we stopped by the Beach Plum which has great ice cream and food - wonderful lobster bisque with lots of lobster.
All in all a nice enough day. In a prior trip we'd wanted to do something similar but it was the high season and we ended up getting frustrated by the traffic and ended up not even getting near the coast. There were a few nice spots with fall color which was an added bonus but not huge amounts - more just the occasional tree or part of a tree. But we knew we would be heading north and things were likely to change over the next couple of weeks and we'd hit some good color sooner or later.
Day 3: Manchester, NH -> Mt. Washington -> Burlington, VT
We made our way up to Mt. Washington via some scenic roads, enjoying more fall color as we went. Mt. Washington is around 6,300 feet and is as tall as it gets locally. But since it's fairly far north and since the weather in this area is a bit random anyway they get all kinds of bizarre weather extremes on the mountain. It also has some nice layering of different ecosystems - broad leafed trees, conifers, a miniature conifer forest, and then eventually you're above the tree line in an area that averages below freezing and is usually in the clouds.
There are two ways to get up. There's the cog railway which we'd taken before. It basically goes straight up the mountain at an absolutely insane angle. It's well worth taking but we drove this time - there's an expensive toll road up a fairly steep winding road that's quite pretty. There are also guided tours for people who aren't comfortable going up narrow mountain roads without guardrails.
The time we took the railway it was a rare sunny today but today was more typical - lots of wind driven mist just below freezing that was coating one side of everything with ice crystals. Very pretty but we were happy to run up to the summit (not far from the parking), get some fudge at the gift shop, and back down out of the clouds.
We then made our way to Burlington, VT. Not a whole lot to say other than it was pretty.
Day 4: Around Burlington
Most of the day was taken up going to the Shelburne Museum. This is a little hard to explain. It's a bit Brookgreen Gardens meets House on the Rock if that means anything to you. It's a nice landscaped area with gardens, 45 structures of various historic natures, filled with a very random mix of fine art, Americana, and just plain "stuff". There are also some nice touches like the blacksmith shop has a blacksmith doing blacksmith stuff and so forth. But there's also a House of the 50s which provides a nice contrast to the other period structures. Well worth doing but very easy to get a bit dazed!
We also poked around downtown Burlington. It's your basic college town, I don't have a great deal to say about it. It's a lot like State Street in Madison, WI and if you hosed down Berkeley, CA and removed most of the homeless it would be pretty similar. Very similar to downtown Santa Cruz too now that I think of it. Lots of neohippies and chain stores selling T-shirts with anti-corporate slogans. The Ben and Jerry's stiffed us on our change and we couldn't get them to fix it. It was an absolutely trivial amount of money but I've never, ever, had that happen before. They lost a ton of goodwill in the process.
Burlington appears to be short on restaurants - big lines even in front of the chain places on the outskirts where our hotel was. Probably everybody will realize this at once, build new places, and three years from now there will be a glut.
Day 5: Burlington, VT -> Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
There's not a super direct way of getting from Burlington to Quebec City - either you can go up to Montreal and over or you can take much smaller roads on a more direct path. Since the weather was good and the area is scenic we went ahead and took smaller roads, working our way northeast.
We crossed the border at one of the smaller crossings - not only was there not a line but we had to wait a few minutes for somebody to notice we were there and wander on over. I've only crossed the US/Canada border a couple of times via car and each time's been a bit different. My understanding is that the Canadians are mostly worried about people avoiding customs duties or violating weapons laws and the Americans are mostly worried about drugs and terrorists. So since we were northbound once we ascertained that my pocket knife had no spring we were good to go.
Traveling in Quebec means there's a bit of extra complexity because you're in Canada (not a huge deal - you need to hit an ATM to get the right money, things are in metric, etc) plus in Quebec there's also the language thing. The amount of English you get seems to vary a lot depending on if you're in a big town or small town. It's also the kind of thing where the hotel desk clerk in the day may have excellent English but whoever's on the night shift not so much. We'd had just a tiny bit of trouble with this last time around so every time we had to talk to somebody there was a definite moment of wondering how it would go.
We got sandwiches for lunch in a small town on the way to Quebec City and were reminded that there's an amazing number of questions that go into ordering a sandwich and if it's the first time you've used your French in a while it can be difficult to remember how to say "Turkey". Sort of an unfortunate choice to get back into the swing of things but no big deal.
Quebec City has a very compact and nice old part of town. It's very walkable so we basically ditched the car and planned not to use it until we checked out. We wandered around a bit and got some dinner - no real issues there. I basically remembered where things were - it had been 10 years since I'd been there but the changes were minor. I stayed in the same hotel - Chateau Bellevue - which is pleasant enough. I know some of the American guests staying there were horrified at how small the rooms and especially the bathrooms are (I think people in the next building overheard them), but if you've traveled in Europe outside of American-style hotels it's pretty plush. And the location is ideal - it's exactly where you want to be to my mind.
One thing that was different were the crowds - not so many in late September! Many people in the area seemed to be tourists but local - just getting away from Montreal for a couple of days, perhaps.
Day 6: More Quebec City
We wandered down to the Museum of Fine Art and enjoyed it very much. In particular there was an Inuit carving section that had opened that day that was very interesting.
We walked a good chunk of the city walls (almost always a nice thing to do in a walled city) and generally poked around town. Generally a very pleasant day but not a great deal to talk about.
One little note is that all the folks we interacted with - buying tickets, getting meals, dealing with hotel stuff - all were very pleasant and would kind of charmingly pop in and out of French when speaking with my wife. I think partially everybody's just more relaxed during the off season but also there's not so much in the way of temporary help or people who just started - they know their jobs and even if their English isn't stellar in general and they prefer to mostly speak in French if you hit some stumbling block chances are their vocabulary covers stuff in the shop. In a prior summer visit we had a great deal of confusion because the word for "scoop" failed us and in an ice cream shop they didn't know the English word either. You can see how this would be a problem. It all worked out in the end, it's not like it's a big deal or anything, I bring it up only as contrast to this trip where there weren't even little hassles because of language.
I should also say - if you had to you could manage with no French at all - please don't let my focusing on language stuff discourage anybody from coming - it's just that everything's a bit more pleasant and flows better if somebody in your group can handle the basics. In any country it always seems better off to start in their language even if you're terrible and if they can speak your language (believe me, they'll know from your accent which one it is) they'll just politely switch, or maybe just for a few words if they know they're tricky.
Another little note is that most of the tourists - especially the American and Japanese tourists - seemed to be in the lower part of the old town - I think mostly because the tour busses can get there more easily. Also judging from the time they arrived and left I think many of them were just on day trips from Montreal (about 2.5 hours away). So while we hadn't really seen any the day before today, they kind of came and went.
Japanese tourists are pretty funny when they walk into unisex bathrooms, incidentally. As a male American there's always a moment of making sure I'm in the right place and not likely to get swatted, but with the Japanese you could see a real look of astonishment or horror. One woman actually left, kind of gathered her courage, and headed back in.
Day 7: Still more Quebec city
Rain! Lots of it! We'd been quite lucky and the weather had been lovely but no longer. Luckily we'd finished most of our "must do" list (which would have been much longer if we hadn't already done things like get a tour of the Citadel on a prior trip) and this extra day was intended as something of a rest day anyway. We tend to under schedule one day a week so we can take it fairly easy, read a book, whatever.
We went to the museum at Place Royale and poked around that area a bit more. Somehow the old stone buildings all look even more cool in the rain. But basically at lunchtime we got some to-go sandwiches and retreated to our room and spent a good part of the afternoon there.
In the evening, we poked around town a bit, had crepes, very nice but not much to talk about. It was still raining but not hard enough to be any real bother.
Day 8: To Montreal
The weather was lovely so we took the scenic route - the 132 - to Montreal which is on the south side of the river - little towns, wonderful fall color the whole way, had a bit of a picnic at one point. It took up the majority of the daylight hours to do this. If you took the direct route it would be about 2.5 hours.
We poked around the neighborhood around our hotel a bit - near McGill University. It's a heavily English-speaking area which was in some ways a bit surreal. All the signs and so forth are in French only or the French on top as the law specifies but listening to the crowds maybe one conversation in one hundred was in French and there were almost no French accents.
It's worth noting that there's a growing immigrant population (25% of the current population is of neither French or English descent) and the current law is that they have to go to French speaking schools but of course most of them learn English as well.
Day 9: Montreal
Rain again. We decided to go to the McCord museum which was just down the street. It's mostly about the history of Montreal but there were some other odds and ends. A very nice museum - I particularly liked a section they had on dealing with winter in different eras.
In the afternoon it was still raining so we made some changes of plan (suddenly the botanical garden seemed to lose its appeal) and went to the Biodome. It's a bit hard to describe - it's a big dome, I think built for the Olympics (it's in the Olympic Park with the big stadium and so forth) and it's been divided up into different habitats - and within those habitats they have suitable animals. So in many ways it's basically a smallish indoor zoo with really nice environments for the animals. It's easy to spend hours there since the animals can be a bit hard to find but once you find them they're acting in a very natural (and more interesting) fashion than they might otherwise.
It turns out porcupines can climb trees. Who knew?
Oh, and I'd say overheard conversations in the Biodome were roughly 50/50 French/English.
Also, just as a trip planning note - you can get a combination ticket with the Biodome and the Insectarium which as you might guess is kind of a little zoo/museum devoted to insects. I've been there before - it's worth a visit and it's basically across the street.
Day 10: Montreal -> Lake Placid, NY
We exchanged the last of our Canadian money for pastries (hey, gotta spend it somewhere) and since the weather was once again good we took the scenic route.
This meant we once again crossed on a relatively small crossing (a numbered highway, but not the interstate). We had to wait a few minutes for two guards (not sure what the border folks official title is - they're law enforcement, not military so I guess I could go with "cops" but whatever). One went into the little hut and the other stayed behind the car and read off our license plate. Both were carrying sidearms (the Canadian guards will be armed starting in 2007 - right now they're not and many crossings only have one guard which isn't really a great situation).
The guy questioned me for quite a while as to where we were going and why. I'm not sure if I confused him or if he was trying to catch me in a contradiction because he kept asking where we were headed (Lake Placid! They had the Olympics there! Twice! It's only 50 miles away! Surely you've heard of it!). They also asked me to pop the trunk, checked the rental agreement on the car, etc. At some level it's very frustrating that it's easier to enter a foreign country than to get back. My feeling is that if he's determined who I am (a US citizen) and that I'm not carrying contraband, why is he asking what we intend to do in Lake Placid? Um, I'm a tourist. I'm going to do tourism, not that it's any of your business, I live here.
He also seemed confused by the rental papers on the car, and that we'd driven into Canada in the first place. He kept asking me questions like we'd flown into Canada and driven back to the US with a rental car with Florida plates and rental papers from New Hampshire. Very odd. I have a feeling 90% of the people he talks to are local Canadians crossing the border to do a little shopping and not American tourists revisiting - this road makes sense if you're going from Montreal to Lake Placid but what are the chances of that? So probably his mental script wasn't really designed for us.
It wasn't awful or anything - it took maybe 5 minutes to cross the border - it was just a very odd conversation.
My recollection of crossing the border into the US by car the last time we did it, a couple of years ago, was that he asked us maybe three questions and sent us on our way. He certainly didn't inspect the car. I just checked my trip report from that trip and my only comment was that we hit about a billion grasshoppers in Alberta.
Anyway, eventually we got where we were going. We stayed at the Comfort Inn, big shock, and were in a set of six rooms in an outbuilding right on the lake. Our first reaction was "We have our own ducks!". They had some various kinds of little boats at a dock so we went back to the front desk for life jackets and paddles for a canoe and poked around the lake a bit. (It's in a fairly sheltered bayish area so as long as you don't stray into the main lake with much larger boats you can't get into too much trouble). It's a nice way to explore and see various kinds of birds landing and taking off and so forth. We got a good look at a merganser (fancy fish eating duck) which I'd never seen before.
We then drove around the area a bit, saw more of Lake Placid and Mirror Lake, and walked around the main part of town.
Day 11: Around Lake Placid
We had originally intended to do something outdoors - perhaps a hike - but it had rained overnight, was expected to rain in the morning, and everything was kind of soggy. So we drove to the Adirondacks Museum which is about 1.5 hours away - very pretty drive though, lots and lots of fall color.
The museum is wonderful - another one of these distributed museums with 21 buildings scattered around a pretty area. Some buildings were fairly extensive museums on a particular topic (boats, logging) others were small examples of a mountain hut in different eras or whatever. Everything's very well done, we got a nice lunch there, it's well worth going to.
Then it was pretty much time to head back and watch the ducks until it was time for bed.
Day 12: To Albany
The whole end of the trip requires a bit of an explanation. Basically we were trying to figure out what else we wanted to do in the region and it became clear that we could either sort of poke around and find things to do or we could have some longer travel days and do some larger things. I'd never been to Niagara Falls, and that's doable but there's not a whole lot in between to break up the trip. But I'd also never been to New York City - this seems like it's not much help because it's totally the wrong direction. But as it turns out you can use Albany as your halfway point to the falls, and take the train down to New York City and back as a day trip. It's a bit hectic but quite doable.
So basically this day we drove to Albany, stopping at Fort Ticonderoga to break up the day. The fort's very cool - it's one of these stone star shaped forts from the era where your big concern was canon positioning - ideally you want great coverage of the area with overlapping fields of fire (in case a gun goes down) but where you can't accidentally shoot your own walls. There's a museum inside with some cool stuff although it could use updating.
Day 13: New York City
The train was pretty painless - 2.5 hours but very scenic along the Hudson river and there may have been some napping in there. The train dropped us off at Penn Station which is in midtown Manhattan.
We mostly wanted to see the city itself a bit and go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It seemed more important to wander around a bit and check things out than to try to be efficient and fit in a lot of stuff, so basically we picked a walking route that was reasonably direct but interesting. Basically this simply involved walking down 5th Avenue there and Broadway back. It's over three miles each way but we took it kind of slow (you pretty much have to with all the streets you have to cross). We knew if we were running late on the way back there's a variety of faster things than walking (bus, taxi, subway) but walking turned out to be fine.
I liked it more than I expected. It was clean - enough so that I'm ashamed San Francisco can't do better - and everybody was very nice and actually seemed more cheerful than in most of New York state where our general impression was that people are a bit grouchy. Never saw any rats (well, one mouse). Central Park is lovely. Lots of kids running around. Seeing various iconic landmarks - the Empire State Building, the Public Library, St. Patricks, Times Square, the Ed Sullivan Theater, is of course cool. And the whole place just looked like New York - there are so many recognizable things.
The museum is one of these huge old places with a bit of everything. Mostly very good although you'll find some things that could use updating or where the collection's a bit uneven. You can't see everything in one day, there's just no way. There was lots of renovation so some choices were made for us but we took at least a quick look in every section and spent a lot of time in key areas. The organization is a bit bizarre - you can be walking through this amazing Impressionist collection and wonder why they don't have anything by Mary Cassatt even though they mention that she was the subject of a Degas painting (assuming you know who she was) and then later realize that's because she's in the American section and they have a half dozen. I think we saw Picassos in three sections to give another example.
The cafeteria downstairs is very nice - I guess that's relatively new although I'm not sure what relatively means in this case. The suggested admission is a bit steep but as far as I can tell if you hand them any amount of money and say "two please" they'll give you two little clips to show you've paid without any guff. (Well, no more than normal anyway). It would be reasonable to pay the senior/student rate if that seems more fair to you - it's not like they're going to check since it's just a suggested rate anyway. It's an interesting system.
The train back was painless - they assume for a late train you'll be sleeping and put little tags above you so the conductor can wake folks at your stop. Very civilized.
Again, the point of this trip was a) so I could say I've been to New York, b) to see the art, and c) to get some idea of if I loved or hated the place for future reference for more trip planning. We made no attempt at all to do everything you could do. As it was, it was a very long day (7 mile urban hike plus 5 museum hours) But it was a lot of fun and I'm sure we'll be back.
Day 14: To Niagara Falls
Well, this day mostly consisted on getting on the interstate, paying the outrageous $11 toll for two lanes of avoiding trucks for hours, and not much else.
We did manage to get there before dark, so we walked over to the falls (there's a Comfort Inn that's basically across the street from the American Falls and the pedestrian bridge over to Goat Island and from there you can walk over to Horseshoe falls). Then we got some dinner and did part of it again since it's lit up at night. The falls are cool and we understood the layout enough now to make some decisions for the next day.
Note that most of the really nice hotels and general excitement is on the Canadian side for historical reasons (dating back to it being where you could get a marriage without waiting or a blood test, buy alcohol during prohibition, etc.) But there's a decent amount of stuff on the American side and if what you mostly want to do is walk around and look at the different areas being in walking distance of Goat Island has its advantages. (You can also park there for $8 if you want to stay on the other side and drive over and basically do what we did in reverse).
So basically if you just want to poke around the falls a bit the American side is fine (and has some advantages I'll get to tomorrow) but if you want to make a multi-day trip with lots of tourist activities that frankly have nothing to do with the falls go Canadian.
Day 15: Niagara Falls
We walked across to the falls again, taking pictures with the morning light. We walked down to Rainbow bridge which is your best bet to get over to Canada. Basically as a pedestrian you go through some turnstiles and then you're in a sort of no-mans land - the border runs across the middle of the bridge and even if you don't go into Canada they kind of half to assume you might have gotten out of a car or something and you have to "re-enter" the US.
The view of the falls from the bridge is very cool - it's well worth walking. You can't see much if you're driving to Canada - the drive back you can see some but still - walk it, it's fun.
Getting back to the US we got to present our passports once again and have the usual odd conversation, especially since we hadn't really left the country for any practical purposes. (All the why-are-you-here-where-are-you-going stuff - again, um, big waterfall? You might have heard of it?) The border guy was a bit gruff but he did wave us over in front of a large tour group of Chinese nationals that were about to overwhelm them so points for that.
Then on to the Maid of the Mist, which is the boat trip that takes you right up to the falls. It runs from both sides, but on the US side 1) the line is shorter, 2) it includes a cool observation deck, and 3) it includes the option to walk on some boardwalk/stairs right up to the side of the American falls. If you're intelligent you'll do this before taking off the included rain poncho!
Speaking of which, you do get absolutely drenched but the poncho is quite nice. A gallon Ziploc was handy to keep the camera protected but accessible for quick shots. I did go back to the hotel and put on some new socks though!
Do note that if you've already done it from the other side, it is possible to get admission for $1 to the deck and the walk and so forth - but ask somebody getting off the boat if you can have their poncho (most people drop theirs in the recycling bin). We gave ours away to a guy who asked. This is a great deal because the elevator to a similar walkway on the other side of the same falls is $10ish (Cave of the Winds - the actual cave collapsed in the 1950s) although that includes both a poncho and some cool sandals and I think you do get a bit closer. I can see doing both on a longer stay but I thought getting soaked once per day is plenty, at least in the fall.
On the Canadian side the Journey Behind the Falls is supposed to be cool but it's a bit different - their observation deck is kind of half way up and then you go through a tunnel behind the falls that looks out through Horseshoe falls. In the 1800s it seemed reasonable to blast a tunnel so tourists could do that - there's a lot of tourist activities that you could never get away with these days.
The other big tourist thing we did (other than get some excellent frozen custard at the Twist of the Mist - you'll know it if you see it) is to go to the Niagara Aquarium. It's a small but cool aquarium focusing mostly on the local fish - mostly strange looking huge fish that live at the bottom of Lake Erie. It's fun and relatively cheap. If you're not a fish person there's other random tourist stuff in the area to do. The aerospace museum is supposed to be good, there's a casino, there's balloon rides basically they assume tourists want to do tourist stuff and really you can only look at the falls for so long so even on the American side there's a lot of fairly random businesses.
Do note that other than a billion Indian restaurants (why?) the food mostly seems to be lunchtime burger/dog options. The Misty Dog (next to the Twist of the Mist) was a relatively fancy option. But dinner was oddly lacking. We eventually found a Dairy Queen. Most hotels seem to have their own restaurants, but still, where do the people who live there eat? There didn't really seem to be a commercial district anywhere. Very strange.
Day 16: The flight Home
We'd printed our boarding passes the night before (the hotel didn't have anything resembling business services but if you ask nicely at the desk they'd let you use the office computer for a moment for that sort of thing.) so we had a good number to get a decent seat (you learn to do this stuff if you fly Southwest). Out flight was at 2:00 and the Buffalo airport isn't that far away and the recommendation was to get there "only" an hour before so we had some time in the morning.
Basically we used that time to poke around Goat Island some more. The weather was absolutely perfect, the angle of light on the falls wonderful - huge rainbows from the mist. A perfect ending!