Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Eastern Adventures

American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls
As much as I enjoy Illinois’ subtle beauty, I’m always ready to travel to other places. Since it had been two years since our last family vacation, (that included my husband) I was rearing to go. We had discussed a trip to Colorado but decided to head northeast, toward hopefully cooler and moister weather. We had visited Niagara Falls six years ago and thought it would be a good starting point. Despite traffic and road construction, we made it to Buffalo in ten hours. After a dinner of local favorites—much appreciated after a long drive—we made plans to get up and get moving to visit Niagara Falls State Park the next morning, before it got too busy.

Horseshoe Falls
Starting off the day in rain, we got even wetter on the Maid of the Mist boat ride. Once the rain cleared away, we were left with beautiful views as we walked around the entire park, getting up close and personal looks at the Niagara River, rapids, and the waterfalls. I was disappointed we could not travel through and stay in Canada (since we did not get a chance to do that last time), but there’s always the next time. I think the Canadian borders opened shortly after we returned home.

Chimney Bluff State Park
The next day we headed further east, driving through the Finger Lake Region. The parks we visited featured more lovely waterfalls, but totally different than the massive Niagara Falls. The Taughannock Falls State Park was a last minute sidetrip, en route to Robert H. Treman State Park. We were glad we made the stop, as Taughannock Falls plunges 215 feet past rocky cliffs that tower nearly 400 feet above the gorge. There was also an amazing pollinator garden at the visitors center that made me feel like I was back in one of my favorite places—an Illinois prairie. By then, we thought we’d seen enough waterfalls and wanted more Finger Lake time. However, once we realized Robert H. Treman State Park was more waterfalls, we hiked to both the upper and lower falls, with amazing views along the trails of the surrounding woodlands, gorge, and falls.

Fair Haven Beach State Park

Even though we didn’t get to explore as much as the Finger Lakes themselves, though drove through the region and had beautiful views of them, we did make sure we had plenty of Great Lakes time. If you’ve read my articles before, you may remember that I’m slightly obsessed with the Great Lakes. On our Lake Ontario Day, we started off at Fair Haven Beach State Park for a neat large pebble beach experience before heading west to Chimney Bluffs State Park. Not only did we spend much time hiking along the beach near the massive clay drumlins that look like chimneys, but we had a beautiful skyline view of the royal blue waters and contrasting gray drumlins. The steep hike was well worth the view.

Adirondack Mountain Stream
The Adirondacks were next on the itinerary. We spent the next day exploring these subtle mountains of dark green trees and other plant life, plus multiple mountain lakes and streams. Though the day was cloudy and hazy, we still enjoyed getting a taste of this six million acre park. I know this area would be even more beautiful in the fall, when leaves are at their peak!

As we started for home the next day, we opted to visit Lake Erie. Stopping at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, we enjoyed the driving along this interesting peninsula park—an oasis so close to Erie. Full of beautiful beaches, inland marsh and swamp areas, and an interesting lighthouse, this park is a real asset to the area. It was nice to stretch our legs for a lakeside hike along one of the many beaches and lighthouse area before doing more driving toward home.

The rest of the trip was downhill after that, as we hit more traffic and construction than we did on the way east. Even though we tried to change our route to avoid some the areas we hit driving east, it did little to help. Still, it was a fun family road trip, and we will savor the memories for years to come.

Chimney Bluffs State Park on Lake Ontario