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Monday, July 21, 2008

Buffalo to the Erie Canal

We've been taking it easier in the past few days and seeing lots of interesting sights. On our way to Buffalo we went a few miles out of the way to the Pedaling History Museum of bicycles. The museum is full of all kinds of old and odd bicycles and bicycle related things as well as a lot of related historical information. I didn't really know much about the history of bicycles so it was interesting to learn that while cars now dominate, paved roads were originally initiated by cyclists who wanted to be able to ride farther and more easily than they could on dirt roads. It was also interesting to learn that the machinery and technology developed for bicycles led the way to the machinery used for cars. Its sad that bicycles have now been pushed off to the side in this country.

We stayed in a hostel in Buffalo on Friday night. It was a nice hostel (except for the very loud snorer in the bunk room who kept me awake for most of the night). We were right on Main Street which seemed very empty with most of the store fronts for rent. There was some sort of street car system running along that street and some theaters and restaurants which were open. We went to a rooftop bar on a side street which was full of people.

On Saturday morning, about half an hour before we planned to leave the hostel, Ray realized that he had sent his passport back home with his handlebar bag (which he wasn't using any more). Our route to Niagara Falls was supposed to go from Buffalo into Ontario Canada for about 20 miles. Sigh. With the new "Homeland Security" rules you have to have a passport or a license and birth certificate to get across the border. While we probably could have gotten into Canada without it, I didn't really want to leave Ray there when he couldn't get back into the U.S. Funny how I bugged Ray for months to get his passport before this trip and we didn't go to Canada anyway.

We ended up following the "Seaway Trail," one of the scenic driving routes around the lakes. We were able to ride on a bike path for a lot of it and the road wasn't bad until we got to the town of Niagara Falls. We entered on some back roads near lots of factories where the pavement was broken, cracked and full of small craters. But, we made it to the falls. We got there before it was extremely croweded with tourists and stood by the giant waterfall. I think my favorite view was walking toward it from the river above and seeing the water just end with nothing beyond it. It was pretty looking at it from the from the more traditional view as well. We weren't able to go underneath the falls (you can only do that on the Canadian side!) so we decided to take a ride on the Maid of the Mist.

We piled on the boat with hundreds of people speaking many different languages and taking many pictures. Most everyone donned the plastic "souvenir rain cover" that they give you, but it was such a hot day, I used mine as a rain cover for the camera. We got really wet, but it was fun. We joked about keeping the rain jackets and wearing them while riding in the rain. We should have because shortly after we left the falls it began to storm. We took shelter at a large power dam which had a little exhibit about electricity and Niagara falls. It was interesting to learn that most of the water flow is diverted from the falls to be used for generating electricity, except during the tourist season. It seems sort of odd to realize that the falls are put up for the tourists, but its also neat to think of Niagara falls as being one of the first really big tourist attractions in this country. Supposedly they are one of the seven wonders of the natural world, but I am sure there are better waterfalls out there.

Yesterday we woke up to thunder storms so we slept late and explored the town of Lockport. It is right on the Erie Canal and has two locks so we watches some boats go through them up the canal. Yesterday and today we are riding on a trail along the canal. Its nice to be away from traffic for a bit, the canal is very calm and peaceful with little towns every several miles. We had some torrential down pours yesterday which made the gravel path pretty soft and slow going. Today it seems more solid but its supposed to rain off and on for a few days. Things are pretty damp, but we're really in the home stretch so I guess its okay if we arrive home covered in mildew (hopefully not, though!). We're having fun, I hope you are too!


Emily said...

Hey guys,

Keep up the good work! What amazing scenery and adventures you're having! Can't wait to see more pictures and to see YOU in PERSON!!


Anonymous said...

Dee got her postcard...very as excited as you can imagine. Dad, Stu and Nat are on the Bow River trip...yes it is raining there too! Too bad you didn't
get to go under the falls. Maybe you could go on your honeymoon! The boat must have been a memorable experience.