Sunday, September 29, 2013

New York, Canada, New York

This last week has felt eternally long. Hmm.. I guess this isn't the first time I've said that. But I do have difficulty believing that just 10 days ago I was in Ohio still..

This last week I broke my longest week travel record by 1 mile, but traveled a bit further, as, in order to meet with contacts, I was assisted along about 70 miles further down the line, bringing my total to almost 600 assisted miles (or just over 10% of the total anticipated distance). At some point I'll have to slow down enough that being assisted along my way will become unnecessary, but in the last two weeks I have cut down the estimated time till Maine down by a full week..

I started out in Brocton, NY. Because I chose to take care of emails instead of giving myself a head start, I started on Monday with ~75 miles to cover that day. Fortunately, I didn't care to arrive before dark, so I had about 12 hours to get there. 

Before this week, my longest day was 63 miles. 

Buffalo, New York. Yet another site of Rust Belt decay..
Arriving in Buffalo, I managed to deal with the traffic without too much difficulty. However, finding the pedestrian access to the bridge across the Niagara River into Canada was a little more of a challenge. I finally asked a couple Customs and Boarder Patrol officers for directions. As it turns, I'd already passed the place, and now had to backtrack around the block. 

Apparently they were doing some sailboat racing. This was one of two groups in the channel.
"Where are you riding to, and from?"
"Oh, from Oregon, to Maine, to Florida."
"Oh, yeah.. that's nothing at all. I do that all the time."
"That's a long ride.."

After the traditional though not overly repulsive hassling at the boarder, I was in. The first thing I saw once I hit the road again was a Smart car.

Darkness fell, and the temperatures with it. I managed to stay warm enough, however.
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. A vastly more brilliant sight than the US side of the river..
Finally, at about 9:30, I made it to the falls. I've pretty much avoided tourist areas on this trip, not so much deliberately, as because they rarely fall along my intended path. Niagara Falls is a tourist attraction in the truest sense.. 

I noticed that people were almost more reluctant to make eye contact, or any contact for that matter, than in downtown Cleveland, or Toledo, or Rochester, or even Buffalo (several people stared at my bike, but no one said a word to me while I was at the falls). I guess it's because, first, tourists are more likely to be big city folk, second, being a tourist means by definition that you are on someone else's turf, so more cautious by nature. Third, tourist attractions are like magnets for strange travel people, and maybe I didn't seem all that abnormal after all..

Interestingly, Orthodox Jews seemed in the majority as far as tourists went.

The American falls
The source of light and color for the falls, something first attempted over 150 years ago..
After a couple hours, I ended up finding a closed road, which turned out to be a perfect place to camp for the night. 

The Canadian power houses seemed to resemble fortresses, or palaces perhaps, externally. 
In the morning, I thought I'd find, rather than make, something to eat before heading back to the US. I changed $20 USD into $18.05 CAD, then looked at my options for food. Then I learned that, for $15, I could visit the backside of Niagara via tunnel. As this wouldn't leave enough money to eat anything, much less a meal of the proportions necessary after a record setting ride the day before (and a light supper), I decided to use my debit card instead. Not realizing that as soon as I paid I was taken to the falls, I had left my camera on my bike, so only had my phone camera to document the trip.

I wasn't sure if it was worth the money. 

Due to erosion, tourists were not allowed to the edge, and seeing a wall of water from 15 feet isn't all that inspiring..
While I was down there, a group was debating what coin they saw, as it looked like a euro, but the metals were reversed. I jumped the fence, and recovered a $2 Mexican Peso, and picked up some Polish currency. So, it wasn't a thoroughly lost effort..
Well, I did get a side view of Niagara Falls.
After coming back up top, I got the best deal I could find - $13 for a pre-made veggie burger, fries, and a 12 ounce cup of soda. 

Finding my way out of Canada was as difficult as finding my way in. However, the boarder patrol officer was just a little less cordial. Not harsh or unkind, but lacking in warmth.. 

By the time I made it out of Canada, still starving, I had spent more money in a single day than I'd spent in the prior 5 weeks (each, not total). At least I got some decent images, and a few stories..

After cutting across a field, I made it to this road, which was actually on my map, and the recommended route. 
After reentering the US, I was put in contact with my Dad's cousin Mark, I've not met in so long I can't remember. He was quite enthusiastic about me visiting, that night. On arriving, I was greeted with a characteristically warm and generous Wood family welcome, slept in a bed someone gave up for me, and a big supper, and breakfast, and was sent off with a large lunch (which I managed to eat by the time I arrived at my next destination).
The former rail line went on top, the foot bridge was build underneath.
My next stop was the former Hiram Edson farm, where many of the Adventist doctrines were first unified. I called ahead, and let they caretaker, Roena, 83, know I was coming, not arriving until 9 pm. 

As it turned out, I arrived at a good time (of the year), as Roena will be leaving in a few weeks for the winter, and had lots of food to get rid of.
Hand planed timber, at the Edson barn.

The Erie Canal 

Lake Ontario - the third and last of the Great Lakes I will see on this trip.
For some reason I'm finding myself irresistible drawn to this part of the country. Maybe it's because of realizing I'll spend more time in this state than anywhere else, so it's growing on me. Maybe it's because people I know and like say it's a great place. Maybe it's because I keep seeing potential employment opportunities. Maybe it's the beauty of the area.. The culture doesn't seem that striking (positively or negatively), but maybe I'm picking up something I like, but haven't put my finger on it yet. Maybe it's just that it's Upstate New York, after all.. haha, I don't know. At any rate, if I were to move anywhere in the US right now, where I'd previously been drawn to the western plains, now I'm adding upstate NY to that list.

Apparently they were flushing the hydrant system. I was wondering if they were doing studies on urban hydroplaning. 
Well, now I can say I've been to Mexico.
Low lying northeastern fog. A strange sight for a westerner..
Friday night I slept behind the small Pulaski, NY Adventist church. How small? Well, no one else was there till 9:25. At the end of the service, there may have been 18 people present, including myself. The guest book was only 2/3 used, and yet had been in place since I was 5 years old.

There was no potluck, but I had a contact, who drove down and picked me up. However, I found myself alone at the church for about 45 minutes. Not having anything better to do, I decided to sing, for the fun of it. Not having done a lot of singing lately, I had to keep shifting down the scale to keep from straining my voice. It was great being able to belt out at full volume. I've always liked singing, but I've always been afraid to let anyone hear me, at full capacity. It seems somehow self assertive.. Nonetheless, I've found nothing more euphoric than singing (by myself in this case), powerfully and energetically..
My first picture proving I've seen Amish activity. I actually saw three wagons on Sabbath - or maybe it was one twice..
Bill Meyers is a good friend of a person I've actually never met in person, but have become friends with through Facebook. Old enough to be my grandfather, his mission in life is being a missionary to US military personnel - having spent years in the Air Force himself. He's lived an exciting life, visiting every state, 13 countries, living 6 years in the Caribbean, traveling extensively.. Not being able to put me up in his house, and wanting me to have a good night's sleep, he set me up with a hotel room for the night.

Well, I think that's all I have to say for now..

Till next time..

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