On the trip, we encountered many places claimed themselves as ‘World Famous”: a World Famous Clam Chowder in Seattle, a World Famous Cave in Ontario, a World Famous restaurant in New York, and, of course, the World Famous Niagara Falls. American FallsI cannot dispute that Niagara Falls is world famous; well, at least, I had heard of it even when I was a little kid in Taiwan. However, I wondered about all those other World Famous places; was I too naive to know about the places or were they only meant to be famous for subject experts or were they props to get people to go there? I know marketing sometimes, if not lying, can stretch a truth beyond imagination. Anything for money!

We stayed at Days Inns on the US side as a change as we would like to go to Canadian side to see the night scene and would like to be within walking distance. Last time I was at Niagara Falls 15 years ago, I didn’t bring my passport but I took my chance crossing the border, neglecting the caution by a Canadian border officer that I would have a problem getting back to the United States. I was detained later at the US border for a few hours as I watched other Americans walked through without passports. The ironic part was I was in that area for a top secret project for the US government and here I was, Niagara Falls at nightbeing held because I didn’t look like an American. This time we weren’t taking any chances; we had our passports and Bryden’s birth certificate with us.

The USA side of Niagara Falls is New York Niagara Falls State Park; The Canadian side has a lot of hotels and restaurants.
The view from the American side was from the side of the American Falls. We paid to get on the observation tower so we can get a better view of the Falls (see Kadia on the right). Although we would like to get closer to the Falls, we didn’t take the Maid of Mist boat tour because of two kids. American FallsBut we went down to the docking area where we got a great view of the American Falls close-up; it was fearsome to hear the roar of the water and be splashed upon. It seemed that water was falling from the sky, from an invisible air faucet.

Niagara Falls at night
Niagara Falls actually consist of 3 different falls, American, Horseshoe and Bridal Veil Falls. The best view was from the Canadian side where all 3 Falls were in plain view. Best of all, all 3 Falls got illuminated at night. We stayed there until 10PM to watch the fantastic light show. Spot lights at Niagara Falls

I believe Niagara Falls was once the number one destination for honeymooners. Although we love waterfalls—we saw over 50 waterfalls on this trip and we often hiked over 10 miles just to see them, I failed to see Niagara Falls being so popular. Some people must have done a wonderful job of marketing it. Yes, it was gorgeous and awesome and we would love to see them again but I wouldn’t fly thousands of miles to see it. However, if we had to hike 10 miles to see it, then it might be worth it! There was a Niagara Gorge Trail; perhaps we should take it next time.

Last year, Sports Illustrated named Dwyane Wade as the sportsman of the year. Was he really the best athlete of 2006 or was he chosen so SI can make the most money of selling their magazine? I know at least a couple of athletes were better last year: Roger Federer and Tiger Woods, and perhaps many other also were more deserving. Things are never what they seem to be.


Chinese Version

About 12 years ago, I went on a trip to Vancouver with another family and we drove by Columbia River Gorge between Washington and Oregon. Susan, Kadia and Bryden with the famous Multnomah FallsI remember that it was beautiful and I made a mental note to come back to explore it more. While planning the trip, Susan wanted to visit Multnomah Falls (see right) in Oregon. I had never heard of Multnomah Falls so naturally I was interested. As a bonus, it is along the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, thus, giving us an opportunity to see both the same time.

We drove down on highway 97 from Washington State and reached Columbia River Gorge near Maryhill State Park. We were taken back immediately by the stunning view, a wide open gorge with a river run through it (see below) The river had a feel of a big lake, not sure it was due to the Dalles Dam just down river or it was always like that. The road along the north side is high above the gorge where as the road along the south runs along next to the river down in the gorge. We drove along the road on the north side for 30 miles to take in the view of the gorge before heading down and crossing the river at The Dalles.
Columbia River Gorge from North Side

On the south side, we drove along the river and saw the gorge from a different perspective. We felt much closer to the nature, reminded us the time we hiked down to the Grand Canyon: the views along the way down were much more spectacular than only looking down from the top. We camped at Memaloose State Park that night along the river. It was a beautiful campground but it also confirmed our observation: wind and gorge go together. Luckily it wasn’t as windy as it was when we were at Buffalo Bill State Park in Wyoming where we had to take shelter in the van to eat our dinner.

The next morning, we set out to find the Multnomah Falls. Along Columbia River Gorge One thing we always did on the trip was to stop at the 1st welcome center after entering a new state to pick up guidebooks for that state. We found all state guidebooks informative and useful. A lot of states also provided free maps. We had discovered a lot of interesting and unheard of places in those guidebooks. We had picked up some Oregon information at The Dalles and discovered that we could take this historical trail where we can see lots of falls. Waterfalls for us are like candies for kids. We thought we hit a jackpot but we didn’t have to hike much as a lot of them were just off the road: this worried me a little bit.

I always thought of seeing a beautiful fall after a long hike would make it look better and be more fulfilling. I remember a grueling hike we did at Yosemite to see a series of falls, Tuolumne Falls, Glen Aulin Falls, California Falls, Le Conte Falls, and Waterwheel falls. It was a 16 miles round-trip hike. We started too late and had to turn back at California falls and luckily we did as we had to use flashlight for the last ½ miles on the way back. Horsetail Falls Along Columbia River GorgeWe have to go back one day to see them all. All the falls were beautiful but if we were to see them off the side of a road, we might not have felt the same way. Therefore, we kept our expectations low.

The first falls we saw was Horsetail Falls (see left). It was early September so the water was not plentiful but it was graceful nevertheless. There was a hiking trail where it led up to upper horsetail falls. We only planned a day to see all the falls so we decided to skip the hike and moved on to the next falls, Multnomah Falls.

The Multnomah Falls is the most famous falls in the Northwest, according to some publications. Kadia with Weisendanger Falls along Multnomah Creek It was definitely unique as it dropped down from over 600 feet in two tiers with a bridge across the middle, a view to remember. There was a gift shop down at the base of the falls with thousands of falls pictures. We felt like tourists instead of explorers. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful falls. We hiked up to the top of the Multnomah Falls and continued down the Multnomah creek to see two more falls, Dutchman Falls, and Weisendanger Falls (the picture with Kadia). I found the Weisendanger Falls extra charming, perhaps because we hiked 1 ½ miles to see it. The hike was quite nice, secluded and shady. I wish we had more time so we can go further beyond the Weisendanger Falls.

Bridal Veil Falls Along Columbia River GorgeHorsetail Falls Along Columbia River GorgeWe made another couple of stops to see Bridal Veils Falls (see left) and Latourell Falls (see right). Each one had its own charm but it was not as rewarding as they were easily reached. We also drove up to the Crown Point/Vista House to take in views from high up (see two pictures below). I wish we had a little more time so we can explore the area more. Although most of the falls we saw required little hiking and water volume was low, we still felt it was worth the trip. Also, we discovered there were a lot more to be explored via hiking. It is definitely a place we will go back again.

Along Columbia River Gorge
Columbia River Gorge near Crown Point, Oregon, looking upstream into the gorge, past the Vista House, from Portland Women’s Forum Viewpoint (Chanticleer Point)

Along Columbia River Gorge
       Columbia River Gorge, looking upstream into the gorge, from the Vista House