My birthday is at the end of January. That means a lot of cancelled birthday plans for bad weather. It’s meant that some years I’m reluctant to even try, so I had one main goal this year… hike a waterfall in Hamilton. Hamilton is known for its waterfalls and I’ve only seen maybe three of them. My cousin Liz said she’d go with me on my actual birthday, a Sunday. Of course, the weather wasn’t good. It was insanely foggy, which, by the way, is very weird for a Canadian winter. We went anyway, and despite the ridiculous amount of mud, which added weight to our boots, it was worth it.
I couldn’t really see the waterfall, but I managed to create some of my favourite images in years.
There is something about fog that instantly adds a level of mystery to your photographs. The world becomes an entirely different place. Devil’s punchbowl is on the far east side of Hamilton, and it’s also home to a really amazing bakery, (Best peanut butter pies you’ve EVER eaten).
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The downside to Hamilton waterfalls – even in the bad weather – there are tons of people who hike there. We saw at least three other groups of people and heard more. Although I guess that’s not exactly busy. It’s just not remote/secluded, like places where you would hike in Northern Ontario.
The trails here are slightly steep, so if it’s muddy, be careful unless you want to go for a slide, but otherwise, I would do it again – especially in the fog.
Somedays I want to travel so badly, I almost can’t stand staying in one place. A lot of times, I just want to say home and forget a world exists outside of the rabbits jumping around in the backyard. Fortunately, there are enough places in Southern Ontario to explore that most days I can be satisfied with the balance. I always think it’s strange that so often we fly to faraway places to see new things, when so often there are really interesting things in our own neighbourhoods we haven’t yet explored. I’m obsessed with abandoned places currently, so if you know of any good ones in the Haldimand/Hamilton/Niagara area, please let me know. It isn’t the same as returning to NYC with it’s other worldly rhythm, or even camping by a lake. I haven’t felt what it’s like to experience an entirely foreign culture, and landscape, which is definitely a priority in the future, but I do enjoy what’s around me, and that helps fills that wanderlust that colours my night-time dreams.
I use to hate visiting Niagara Falls, until I took a thirteen year old girl there, who had never seen it. We did all the touristy things on Clifton Hill and rode the Maid of the Mist. Ever since then, I’ve enjoyed going. Being a tourist in your own area is a lot more fun that sounds, if you can get over the embarrassed and cheesy feeling of doing touristy things.
This is a little place we found about twenty minutes from home.
You can see other blog posts on abandoned places I visit here and I’ve started a 500px account exclusively for my travels. There isn’t a lot posted yet, but there will be.
Even if you travel the world every few weeks, don’t forget to look around at what is right beside you. You could visit a busy city or a quiet countryside and not see anything that speaks to your heart, but in my home county, I find so many beautiful things. I guess it depends what you’re looking for really; I’m just suggesting you don’t forget to travel to your hometown and be a tourist there for a while.
So many times we visit a place over and over and miss the secret things that exist there. You can pass a bright orange building more times than you can count, and not even know that it’s an abandoned treasure. Finally, a friend of mine decided to look in it, and he snapped some photos and then I saw it for the first time. It’s like when you see a quotation or read a book, and it doesn’t speak to you, until suddenly it does. Sometimes I wish I could speed up those revelatory moments, but it just doesn’t work that way.
The best part about this place was the light. It streamed it through the empty door off the river. It wasn’t the easiest building to photograph from that standpoint, a wide dynamic range, but it illuminated the old stove and our faces when we stepped near the doorway.
I know that we can’t force revelations to happen, we can’t find perfect places that we don’t know exist, but somehow we need to find a way to be open to new experiences and not miss the chance when they come our way.
This spring has been full of abandoned places, and I love how you are transported back to the past for the length of time you are there. Yet, even there, time doesn’t stand still. Nature takes back the space. People visit and stay over night, or have parties there, and leave their drinking cups or water bottles. The dust is disturbed, the mattresses are moved. No place is untouched by humans, but it’s nice to venture into places that are neglected and discarded. There are so many, but you have to look. You have to be ready to slam on the brakes. You have to be willing to see beauty in unlikely places. Hopefully then, the overlooked places and knowledge will be easier to find.
If I lived in another country, and was visiting Canada, I would want to know about these kinds of places. That’s how I justify thinking of my blog as a travel and adventure blog even though I rarely go further than a few hours from my hometown. I’m preparing myself for when I can take bigger adventures. You’ll be the first to know.
I love exploring this Antique Shop. It has so many random items and fun kitsch. There are legitimately nice antiques too, but I don’t really care about that stuff. The building is divided into stalls, and an assortment of vendors rent the space, so you may see an over priced mason jar in one section that is much more affordable a few units down. Often times the stalls are decorated or styled, so they’re interesting to look at even if you don’t purchase anything. I always check out the vintage cameras.
I didn’t go into the town of St. Jacob’s this time, but I checked out the Farmer’s Market. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and people were EVERYWHERE just enjoying the day, chatting and eating at a leisurely place. There is a great variety of food. There are other vendors too, but I never feel the need to purchase anything from them. They tend to sell more assembly line type products rather than real handicrafts. I can purchase tupperware and cell phone cases anywhere, you know? But check it out for the food, definitely!