Category Archives: North America

Wild Niagara: The Best Outdoor Activities in Niagara

Niagara Falls is such a beautiful place. The river and the Falls themselves are so impressive, but some potential visitors might wonder what there is to do after they’ve seen them. Niagara has an impressive roster of sights and activities that don’t necessarily involve the Falls, many of which are exciting and invigorating outdoor pursuits that are fun for people of all ages and ability levels.

Niagara Falls

Niagara is located in what is known as the Niagara Escarpment, a unique geologic formation that is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The area is unlike any other, which makes it a treasure for those who love the outdoors.

Take a look at some of the outdoor activities that are available. No matter the season, there are several great ways to experience the beauty of this part of the world.

Hiking

One of the easiest and most accessible ways to experience the scenic beauty of Niagara is to simply walk around in it. In and around the area of the Falls are over 15 kilometers of hiking and mixed use trails that are available to everyone. Various trails are accessible to hikers of all abilities and range in duration from easy hikes of less than an hour, to moderately difficult hikes of 6 or more hours.

Some of the more popular areas to hike are the Niagara Gorge Trail, Niagara Glen, Dufferin Island or the Botanical Gardens. For the truly adventurous, the Niagara River Parkway’s 56 kilometer trail is open for full or partial attempts.

As with any hiking pursuit, it is wise to be prepared. Check in with a ranger or official at the park, if possible. If not, advise a friend or a member of your hotel staff where you plan to hike. Carry water, snacks, a hat, rain gear and extra clothing.

Cycling

Niagara is simply one of the best places in the country for cyclists. With kilometers of trails dedicated to cyclists, this area is a haven for riders of all abilities. Additionally, with the advent of the bike train from Toronto to Niagara, cyclists have more access to Niagara than ever.

For cyclists who prefer leisurely rides along relatively flat land, the Welland Canals Trail offers views of the ships going through the locks, or the Niagara River recreation Trail, which shows off the Falls in all of their glory. The Friendship Trail is perfect for those who like their cycling punctuated with stops at cafes along the way. All of these trails are perfect for beginners, or those groups who have riders of mixed abilities.

For the more adventurous cyclists, the Twenty Valley and Pelham areas contain steep hills and grades, but you’re rewarded with stunning views. Mountain bikers can check out Short Hills Provincial Park, but be advised that equestrians use these trails as well.

Golf
It seems there is always someone in every group who loves to golf. Niagara is the perfect place for a golf vacation, or simply a golf diversion.

There are several top notch courses to choose from in the Niagara area, including North America’s oldest golf course, Niagara on the Lake Golf Club, established in 1875. Rockway Glen Golf Club has the distinction of having its own winery, which is the perfect place to unwind at the end of a game. The Niagara area also boasts several golf instructors and golf schools to help you improve your game or to brush up on rusty skills.

Camping
For many people, a vacation just isn’t a vacation without camping. The Niagara area offers a host of campgrounds and RV parks, many of which are just a few kilometers from the Falls and other activities. In fact, access to the famed Niagara River Parkway Trail is a source of pride for many of the area’s campgrounds.

For those who prefer the convenience of cottages, many rental agencies specialize in providing exceptionally cozy accommodations to families and groups.

As you plan your Niagara Falls vacation, make sure to budget time to take in the beautiful scenery and abundant outdoor activities. A trip here just wouldn’t be the same otherwise.

About the Author: Camille Van Buren is a hiking and cycling enthusiast who authors a blog about her pursuits.

Exploring Maui, the Garden Isle

It’s a rough life. I don’t understand it sometimes, but I am sure appreciating the hell out of it. The rough part isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just that I haven’t had a chance to post anything in the past few days ’cause Mink Hippie abducted me and took me to a remote upcountry villa on Maui. Like I said, it’s a rough life. Anyway, Maui was beautiful. Strange how a bunch of people from California moved to Hawaii and have done one hell of a job turning it into what California used to be. Beautiful, rustic, and cool. Our first day we watched the Paniolos strut their stuff at the Makawao Rodeo. Day two we ascended dormant Haleakala (10,000 feet +)

and watched the sunrise then drove the remote road to Hana where we had lunch in a classic 1940’s resort. I had a kobe hamburger. The most expensive burger I’ve ever bought. On the way there we drove through Hawaii’s only drive through Botanical Garden, The Garden of Eden.

Eden

The rest of our time there was blur as we visited Lahaina, went shopping, just blissed out. We are absolutely loving these $19 fares on Go Airlines. Last weekend it was Kauai, this week was Maui, the week before that was Bambi’s wedding in California…and coming soon will be our first trips to Molokai and Lanai. It’s promising to be a great summer for us. Hopefully for you too as we may not be posting as much as when we are tied to our computers.

Big Island New Year – Aloha and Ahui Ho

Aloha to Everyone out there…thanks for being patient while we were away….a quick update on what is going on….

Hamakua Coast Hawaii, Big IslandMink Hippie and I spent the past few days on the Big Island of Hawaii where we stayed at a promising healing retreat and resort called The Dragonfly Ranch. Mink Hippie enjoyed it more than I did. Don’t get me wrong, I love sleeping nearly outdoors, the bed was incredibly comfortable, and I liked the overall vibe of the place. I just didn’t really enjoy the overall hippier than thou attitude of the owner or the general state of dirtiness. A private bathroom in our lodgings would have made a huge difference, even an outhouse. Overpriced, but really pretty cool, and I don’t want to leave the impression that we didn’t have a great time on the Big Island.

dragonfly

We arrived on the 30th just at Sunset and because a kind stranger we talked to on the plane knew the manager of a car rental company we had a Mustang convertible for $46 a day when everyone else was getting charged $100 a day for Festivas. Or told there were no cars. It is always worth it to make new friends. Sometimes being friendly even saves you some cash, but usually the reward is it’s own.

Hawaiian GodsWe settled into the Dragonfly and went to sleep in the Pavillion where we were staying. In the middle of the night, I awoke to something odd outside our digs…it was a horse. To give you the sense of what was going on…This was basicly a roof in a meadow with a bed in the middle of it covered by a mosquito net. The horse was checking us out. Scared the crap out of me. MH slept right through it. MH was sure that the horse had a sexual interest in me…judging by the gigantic hardon he got everytime I was around…she may have been right…When she tried to take its picture, the beast turned away and the wood shriveled….chilling…

horse dick

Next day we drove to the Volcano through some incredibly stark landscape and a couple of really picturesque Hawaiian towns. We stopped and chatted with Elizabeth at Kau, Tropical Espresso and Organic Fruitstand where we learned that her uptight neighbors want her hand painted signs replaced with ‘nice vinyl signs’ to protect their property values. Lol. The espresso was great, the chocolate brownie was divine, and her slow roasted Macadamia nuts were incredible. We vaulted through the Thurston Lava tube looking for a ladies room for Mink, but there wasn’t much need to linger there. At sunset we watched the lava flow down the side of the volcano.

lava

The next couple of days were great as we had a quiet New Year’s Eve and woke up early to get a great breakfast and cruise through Hawaiian plantation towns and the Paniolo (Hawaiian Cowboy) town of Waimea. Yesterday we cruised the Hamakua Coast and waterfalls galore. We caught one more sunset on the way back to the airport and made our way back to our little town of Kailua on Oahu. I was happy to get home, not that the vacation weekend wasn’t good, but just that I love where I live. That becomes more obvious whenever I am away.

As to other things…

Well…it seems that our friend Bernest Ernstein has been deported from Japan for a misunderstanding regarding a pair of underpants…hopefully he will take the time to explain this and we will let you know when we know more.

Recent questions about my political leanings and religious philosophies have reignited my desire to learn more and I am returning to school to finsh my higher education. I’ve been accepted to the University of Hawaii and went through new student orientation today. I register for classes tomorrow and start classes next Monday.