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While I had a great time in Niagara Falls and exploring the park, it was time to continue on my quest on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail and into Fort Niagara State Park. I'm also considering overnighting in Golden Hill State Park off of Lake Ontario. The state parks around here are just gorgeous.

Things to do Niagara FallsAll my research pointed to Youngstown, New York and the Old Fort Niagara museum and the fort itself.

I'm a sucker for history and there's so much of it on the east coast since this is the area where it all started with European settlers.

My bicycle pedals are still broken from falling off at Niagara Falls. There is a local bike shop in Niagara; however they didn't have the crank in stock that I needed so I found a bike shop in Rochester, New York – still on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail – which I'll be passing through.

What a mess that was and seriously, I have no idea how I didn't know there was a left and right pedal and you have to screw them in on the correct sides. Ge'ez!

It was a plant-face-in-palm-of-hand-moment when I discovered this simple little lesson.

Visiting Old Fort Niagara Museum

Fort Niagara, or Old Fort Niagara, sits on the northwest side of Lake Ontario and directly across from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada in Youngstown, NY.

It costs $12 for entrance into Old Fort Niagara and well worth the price for the museum and to tour the actual 18th century buildings and artifacts from Native Americans, British and American soldiers, and French who occupied and worked at Fort Niagara from the 18th to the 20th century.

Fort Niagara Castle

Fort Niagara Weapon

Garrison Flag

I was amazed at the history, the old pictures, and the Garrison flag in the museum. It gave me goose bumps to walk amongst the same buildings, rooms, and grounds as soldiers who had fought for these water ways.

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The Garrison flag has a long history of changing hands between those that fought to hold or takeover the fort. In the museum is the original Garrison flag and older than the Star Spangled Banner. It was the flag that was flown during the War of 1812.

Fort Niagara Garrison Flag

Three Nations at War

British gained control of Fort Niagara in 1759 during the French and Indian War and maintained occupation of the fort during the American Revolution until the treaty was signed in 1796 to hand it over the United States.

However the British once again gained control of the fort in 1813 with the War of 1812 and then handed it back over to the United States in 1815.

The significance for the unbridled desire to occupy this fort was purely to control the water ways from the Atlantic ocean and into the Great Lakes. This was a vital source of commerce for whoever controlled these waters.

This is a special place on hollowed ground and well worth the visit and $12.

Walking through 18th Century Fort Niagara

In each building there was a person dressed up like the time period in the 1800s and doing the job of that person then.

~ I met a bucket-and-barrel maker who showed me how barrels were made to store food, grain, and alcohol.

~ I met a woman scrubbing clothes, and not in a washing machine, but the old-fashioned way by hand.

~ I met a man who took care of the artillery and spoke in the dialect of that time period.

~ I met soldiers and saw the raising of the three symbolic flags for the nations that held Fort Niagara – French, British, and United States.

It’s hard to explain the feeling you have walking around the same land where soldiers fought and wars were planned, but I was impressed and in awe at what had transpired over time on these grounds.

It makes me thankful to be living in this time period, but also grateful to so many people who paved the way, sometimes with their life, for us to have the life we have today.

New Friends for Me and Not-So-Welcoming “Dog” Friend for Lily

Next I moved east, hugging Lake Ontario to Olcott, New York where I spied a beautiful sandy beach with kids swimming and sail boats sailing.

Lake Ontario Olcott New York

There is something about the water that makes my heart beat a little faster. It's so beautiful and provides so much joy just gazing at its sparkling ripples and flowing edges.

As customary with having a dog, I meet people all the time who have dogs, especially when Lily lunges forward to do the “dog greet” – you know – the sniffing-each-end-greeting with other dogs.

I met some gorgeous men – Mark and Grant – with this little dog named Queenie and they confirmed that the Golden Hill State Park campground was a great place to overnight. They were new to RVing with the shiny new Airstream Serenity. Um – yes I'm jealous. It's gorgeous and airy and full of light!

Okay, side note. Lily ran up to Queenie, you can see this in the video, and was excited, tail wagging, and the sniffing game was on – until Queenie lunged at Lily to play in Queenie's playful puppy way. Lily was not having it. There might have been some growling, but crazy Queenie was persistent. I disagree with Lily though, I loved Queenie. She's the sweetest girl, yes a bit crazy, but she's young and still learning.

Maybe when we visit their house in a couple of months they can become play buddies.

So while I made some new friends, Lily wasn't quite certain of Queenie. She loves Grant and Mark, but Queenie puts her on edge.

I decided to go ahead and try out Golden Hill State Park on their recommendation, which is only about 33 miles from Fort Niagara traveling east on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.

Fort Niagara to Golden Hill State Park

Overnighting at Golden Hill State Park

I had been looking at Golden Hill State Park campground on my AllStays app and trying to decide if I would stay there or somewhere else, but also concerned about the Internet service since I needed to work. Supposedly Internet was a bit spotty. If you're thinking of RVing and traveling around the North America, then try out the AllStays app for your phone or desktop.

Allstays App

As you can see here, I can look ahead on my route to find out what campgrounds are nearby, Walmarts, gas stations, dump stations, propane, and more. There's a ton of filtering options so you can isolate whatever items you want. For example you can filter it to show only Walmarts that allow you to stay overnight or only state parks vs private rv parks.

Allstays App

When I clicked on the Golden Hill State Park info button the Allstays App gives me additional details about this campground, or whatever the vendor is that you are clicking on. It provides reviews, phone number, images, a link to the vendor website and also the ability to click on “G Map” (Google maps) to immediately get directions.

It will also provide other feedback about its location. In this case, vital details like, the length of RVs that can stay at this park, if there is a dump station, hookups, water, and other amenities.

So I use this app all the time when traveling in combination with some others, but this is the one I use most just because of all the great information in one place.

Allstays App Details

Once I reached the campground, I spoke to the camp host who allowed me to enter the park and find a spot where I could get good cell service. So off I went holding my hotspot up in the air with one hand to find the perfect spot.

Score!

Golden Hill State Park Lake Ontario

Golden Hills State Park

Golden Hills State Park Flowers

Cost and Amenities at Golden Hill State Park

Golden Hill State Park was only $28 – $5 more because I'm not a New York resident – and I scored a prime spot facing the beautiful Lake Ontario and with about 2-3 bars of 4G service on Verizon.

Some camp spots had very sporadic cell service so just a word of caution, this could be different depending on location, openness of the area, or if you're under numerous trees.

Since I have solar panels, and would prefer to derive my energy from the sun, even when I have electrical hookups, I try to find more open spots with full sun. Now if it's 85+ degree weather, I'm gonna say, “Forget the panels, give me some shade and electric hookups so I can run me some A/C!”

Sites here have electric, but not all sites have water. You'll have to get water by the dump station where you'll also dump your sewer tanks. There's potable water and rinse water.

Make sure you're using a water filter that you hook up to your hose, especially if you're drinking out of your water tank, and also a lead-free water pressure regulator and gauge to make sure you don't damage your RV pipes when filling up the fresh water tanks.

I would have stayed two nights, but my spot was already reserved for the next night which was a real bummer. Such is life when you fly by the seat of your pants with travel and don't make reservations.

Golden Hill State Park RVing

Not only did have I a grand ole time with Queenie and her parents, Mark and Grant, sitting next to their new Airstream Serenity, and gabbing about everything from politics to religion to careers. Seriously, what a random meeting and then we talk about the most taboo topics of societal political correctness.

It was refreshing to have meaningful conversations instead of ideal chit-chat. I'm pretty sure we know how to solve all the worlds problems from that one conversation.

They have invited me to their rural log cabin home, in the Catskill Mountains, on my way back from Maine. So of course I said I’d love to, especially after getting to know them more and really enjoying our time together.

I ended the night watching the sun go down over the lake and then a campfire with my other – also from New York – neighbors.

They called me “Washington” every time I saw them – well in case you didn't guess it, because I'm from Washington with Washington plates.

It was a pretty perfect day!

We Do Errands and Laundry – Even in RVs

The next day I took off for Rochester, New York, which was only about an hour away, so I could get my bike pedals fixed, add some fenders to keep dirt from hitting Lily in the eyes in her bike trailer, grocery shop, laundry, and do some miscellaneous errands.

The fenders were important, because sometimes dust and gravel might fly up from the back wheel and fling towards Lily in her bicycle trailer. She didn't take to well to her goggles that I bought her to prevent eye damage so this was my next option to install the whole wheel fenders.

Lily Goggles

Lily Goggles 2

I ended up staying in the area for three nights to complete my errands and rest a bit.

Have you ever been into a Wegman's grocery store? These grocery stores are seriously amazing. They have market place cafes with live music, dancing, and food, as well as a ton of great organic and natural foods.

Wegmans Cafe

Wegmans Dancing

However, one thing caught my eye. It was the recycling center. Look at this wall of electronic, self recycling bins. I love this concept! Easy and attainable for everyone.

New York Recycling

Only a couple of more days before I finish the Great Seaway Trail. It’s really been an amazing quest and filled with beauty, history, and new friends.

Things to Do Around Niagara Falls

There were so many great things to do around this area so I wanted to share some of the things I did, plus some I didn't and would like to do the next time around.

  • Visit Niagara Falls either on the American side or Canadian or even both.
  • Bicycle through Niagara Falls State Park
  • Visit Old Niagara Fort Museum
  • Bicycle through Fort Niagara State Park
  • Visit the numerous farmers market stands along the roads for fresh veggies and produce
  • Overnight for free in your RV at Walmart in Niagara, New York
  • Stay at Golden Hill State Park on Lake Ontario in your RV or tent
  • Walk along Olcott Beach in Olcott, New York
  • Visit Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada just across from Fort Niagara. This was the opposing fort that was in battle with Fort Niagara.

If you are looking for places to travel and understand more of our history, then definitely visit Old Fort Niagara. Get there as early as possible though to beat the buses that bring in tourists.

Let me know if you've been to Niagara Falls area. What else in this area should we add to the “Things to Do Around Niagara Falls” list?

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Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: Golden Hill State Park in Barker, New York / $28 per night

Places Visited/Cost:  Old Fort Niagara Museum, Youngstown, New York / $12 entrance fee

RV Accessibility:  Any length

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  1-2 bars sporadic

Park Pass:  N/A


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

Water Filter –  Filter is for your RV hose when filling up your fresh water tank. Helps to keep the tank clean and the water filtered for consumption or showers. Even brushing your teeth and rinsing.

Lead-free Water Pressure Regulator – I use this every time I fill up my fresh water tank to protect the plumbing. You never know when filling up at all of these random locations what the pressure is and you want to make sure its a lower pressure so that it doesn't damage pipes.

2 Comments

  1. Sheila

    Wegmans is awesome! That is one of the few things I miss from living in VA.

    Reply
    • Amber

      LOL…RIGHT!?! Loved that place. Wish they had these out west. I'll be back to that area next year and can't wait to hit up Wegmans again.

      Reply

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