Posts Tagged ‘waterfall’

A Whirlwind Tour of Niagara Falls

The view from our hotel room

The view from our hotel room

For the weekend, Evan and I went to Niagara Falls. I’d never been there before, so I was really excited to see the falls — and to return to my homeland, Canada. We had a great room on the top floor of the Sheraton Fallsview that had an incredible view of both the Canadian and American falls. We were just glued to the window every time we were up there.

A very misty morning at the falls

A very misty morning at the falls

We of course did the requisite wander by the falls, and we rode the Maid of the Mist — a boat that takes you so close to the falls you are completely enveloped in its mist and can’t really see anything. It felt like being hit by a giant storm at sea. Everything got soaked and it was so windy it was hard to keep my eyes open. And I only realized after I was drenched that my mascara wasn’t waterproof. Oops. The ponchos they gave us helped, but our pants, shoes and sleeves still got pretty wet.

Emerging from the waterfall's "mist" completely drenched

Emerging from the waterfall's "mist" completely drenched

Once we were done with the touristy falls sights, though we ventured toward the very quaint and charming Niagara on the Lake. We stopped at the botical gardens and butterfly conservatory, which was fantastic. The gardens weren’t in bloom yet, but there were tons of butterflies flying around in the indoor garden, which just created a magical experience. I tried to capture it on video.

Evan also took some great photos of the butterflies.

ButterflyIn Niagara on the Lake, we had tea and scones at the Irish Tea Room, and the night before, we had a wonderful dinner at the Stone Road Grille. We wandered around the cute shops on the main strip, bought some cookies, and checked out Lake ontario. We could JUST make out Toronto in the background.

The view of Lake Ontario

The view of Lake Ontario

We also found out that Niagara has a wonderful wine country, so we went to the Peller and Hillebrand vineyards for some wine tasting. They both had excellent chardonnays, geverztraminers and ice wines and we bought a couple of bottles to take home — apparently you can’t get much Canadian wine in the U.S. at all.

It was a marvelous weekend, filled with new sights, good food and of course, excellent company. I really miss traveling. You can check out more photos in my Niagara galleries on Facebook (more of the photos of me and Evan) and on Flickr (more of the landscapes and butterfly photos)

Zip-Lining Through the Thai Treetops

We’ve got our gear, now where do we jump?

Today Evan and I went on the Flight of the Gibbon treetop zip-line adventure. We got picked up at 8:30 a.m. and driven out of Chiang Mai, up a windy mountain road. We got outfitted with harnesses, helmets and “brakes” — V-shaped pieces of bamboo. Then our group of 8 was driven to our starting point — a platform by a tree on one side of a gorge.

After some brief instruction, which included pretty little — basically, you just hold on to the rope, keep your feet up and brake when told — we were clipped in, then sent off, one by one, hanging from a steel cable, to a platform on a tree maybe 10-seconds’ journey on the line away. When we got there, we were clipped to a safety line while we waited for the rest of the group to cross, swaying the tree each time they hopped off the platform and put their weight on the line.

Oh, I jump now? Here I go…

The day continued with us leaping between the trees, past streams and by plenty of lush greenery. There were also a few rope bridges to cross as well as 3 points where our instructors belayed us down to lower platforms — sometimes as frighteningly fast speeds for parts of the journey.

We were constantly reminded, “Legs Up!” to keep them from smashing into the landing platforms, and of course to “Braaaake!” Some group members did better than others with taking directions, but everyone ultimately got across safely, including a little kid who one the longest line got stuck halfway across because she wasn’t heavy enough to make the journey. The instructor went out and met her, the pulled her to meet the rest of us. One of our guides, Jabu, liked to cross the gaps upside down, which was quite a sight. I don’t think we could have done that in the harnesses we had, though.

Post-lunch activity: waterfall hike

When we were done with the tree course, which lasted about 2 hours, we had some lunch up by the main office. Then we were driven to a pretty waterfall that we hiked up (well, climbed the stairs to) as a group but sans guide.

Sadly, that was the last stop on our mountain adventure. We drove back to town, had some food, and shopped at the outdoor market by Tha Pae Gate. Then I got all caught up on my blogging (whew!).

Check out all of our high-flying photos (they’re quite funny) in Evan’s Facebook album.

Hammamat Ma’in and the Dead Sea

July 6, we went to Hammamat Ma’in and the Dead Sea.

hammamat ma\'in hot waterfall
Going under the hot waterfall at Hammamat Ma’in

Hammamat Ma’in is a hot spring complex off a windy road with views of the Dead Sea. We got past the gates, where there’s a hotel and spa (which are both closed and apparently everything by them is off limits), parked, and were directed to the main attraction — a hot waterfall.

We walked up the steps to the caves behind the waterfall and found two men sitting in the steam who told us that the water up there is too hot to go in. On the lower tiers, under the falling water, the temperature was a bit cooler, but not much. We were only able to stay in the water for a few minutes before getting too hot.

I went in wearing my shirt and Evan’s shorts since there were some families also in the water, and the women were just going in wearing all their clothing, veils included.

There was also another waterfall we had access to, but nobody was swimming in it because it was even hotter than the one we went in. Our guidebook promised nice walks through the gorge, which we were hoping to do, but we were turned back by guards every time we tried to explore farther than the main waterfall, which was a bit disappointing.

Evan by the Dead Sea
Evan covered in Dead Sea mud

After the hot springs, we drove on a winding road down to the lowest place on earth — the Dead Sea. We got day passes to the Marriott resort, and went down to the beach to slather ourselves in dead sea mud, bake in the heat, and float around in the seriously salty water, which didn’t feel as slimy as I remembered from my trip to Israel 10 years ago.

When we were done by the sea, we had some lunch at a Champion’s sports bar, which felt eerily like being back in the U.S., then hung out by one of the three pools.

If you’ve been following my Twitter or Facebook updates, you should know that this is the day that my dehydration problems started — a rather uncomfortable combo of a stomach bug and not being able to absorb enough water, which resulted in spending the afternoon in a clinic getting IV fluids and antibiotics two days later… on both Evan’s and my birthday. More on that soon.

To check out more photos of us at Hammamat Ma’in and the Dead Sea, check out Evan’s Facebook gallery.