30 July 2018

Crazy Trip™

I have a friend who is wont to fly off to an exotic (or domestic) locale, for merely a long weekend. She calls those Crazy Trips™. This weekend, we emulated her.

The child is attending a two week summer camp, in upstate New York, roughly midway between Buffalo and Rochester. She needed to be dropped off yesterday, a Sunday, so I came up with the glorious idea of driving to Niagara Falls on Saturday, and staying overnight. Because, in all my born days, I had never been to Niagara Falls.

So off we went, early in the morning. We dropped our stuff at our overpriced mediocre hotel and headed straight for Canada. The falls are indeed spectacular, and indeed better seen from Canada.

Horseshoe Falls, from Canada

Note red navigation buoy near falls. If you're navigating near there, I think you're toast.

After a side trip driveby of scenic Niagara on the Lake, we retreated to our depressing hotel, where the TV set defaulted to Fox News.

In the morning, we walked down to the Niagara Falls State Park (proximity being the only saving grace of the mediocre hotel), and got on line for the Maid of the Mist because I am a sucker for a good tourist attraction, and the Maid of the Mist is, as my friend Yale said to me on Facebook, "the shit". I grinned like a fool for the entire little trip into the waterfall.

Horseshoe Falls from Maid of the Mist

American Falls in the foreground, as seen from the cantilevered viewing platform at the top of the elevator down to the boats

Then we hit the road.

My demand for the weekend had been Niagara Falls; my husband's was an exploration of the Erie Canal. Lockport was the location of a double set of five locks when the canal was originally built; later, a modern two step set was built alongside. The old locks are partly extant, and on weekends, a team of volunteers demonstrate the workings of the hand-moved wooden gates. Happily we got to Lockport at just the right moment - a paddlewheeler and two kayakers were coming through the 100 year old "modern" lock, and the volunteers were putting the adjacent antique gates through their paces.

Antique canal lock gate, at Lockport

One of my favorite bits was the pair of men in t-shirts labeled STAFF. On closer inspection, they turned out to be staff of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, some two hundred miles to the east. I asked one, "busman's holiday?" He grinned and copped as such.

Even though we'd seen Lake Ontario from Niagara on the Lake, we decided to detour north before heading for camp. We ended up in Olcott, a tiny adorable town with a 25 cent carousel and a Wurlitzer Band Organ. Why yes, I did have to stop and make a video.

Because it was awesome, and it was right there.

Boxes of Wurlitzer Band Organ rolls

Finally, we walked over to the shores of Lake Ontario. I wasn't prepared to go swimming, but I did have waterproof sandals on, so in I went. It's the first time I've been in a Great Lake.

Lake Ontario

To the child's great happiness, we concluded our sightseeing and headed straight to camp.

Signed, sealed, delivered, a whirlwind 24 hours.


George said...

"Go ahead, leave a message. I don't bite"?

Except you do....

Anyway, a delightful post. Thank you. I've driven alongside sections of the Erie Canal on the way to Rochester and have stuck my toes in the Great Lakes only at Chicago. But the canal area has always interested me because George Simonson, one of my great-(great?)-grandfathers (I'm the fourth George Simonson in a row), was said to have been a toll-keeper (and probably a gate-opener) on the Erie Canal before the Civil War.