Saturday, 11 June 2011

Over a barrel

Syracuse seems such a long time ago now yet only a week has passed since then. The remainder of the trail alongside the Erie Canal continued to be a joy and thankfully no more crashes, from which I still have a painful shoulder.

The generosity of the American people also continued. We had stopped for the night beside a small marina where we could camp for free and I had just started to tinker with my rear brake problem. Just as I was about to resign myself to an expensive repair in the next bike shop, Josh from the bike shop in Brockport happened by out on a run. Within twenty minutes he had my rear brake all fixed and payment was a handshake and our story so far.

The following day was a sluggish for us both as we set off for the last stop on the Erie Canal, Lockport. On the way we dropped in to our first real American diner in Medina before checking online using a local wifi connection for somewhere to camp that evening. A number of months ago we had joined the network Warm Showers, which is a group of like-minded adventurers who offer a free bed and shower etc. We found one in Lockport under the names of David and Kathy Greenfield. As members of Warm Showers the etiquette is to give two weeks notice but on this occasion we were asking David and Kathy with just a few hours left in the day. No problem said David. After a monstrous vanilla milkshake in Lockport city we set off for David and Kathy’s house. We had just turned the pedals when they pulled up beside us in the main street! They were an absolute delight and it was a great luxury to have a real bed for the night and a real towel to use for a shower.

We bid farewell to our new friends and set off for our destination that day, Niagara Falls. Although it was only 25 miles we were battling a strong headwind all the way, which slowed us down to a crawl. Finally though we pulled into the city of Niagara Falls. All the time I was wondering how we would navigate our way to the falls, when ahead of me, rising above the buildings in the distance, was a billowing cloud of water spray.

Even though most of us have seen this natural wonder in books and television and occasionally in the movies, nothing quite prepares you for the natural wonder itself. The roar and sheer power of hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per second cascading over the edge is incredible. At the American Falls there are points where you can get to within just three feet of the rushing torrent and it sets the heart racing. Why anyone has ever thought it was a good idea to go over the falls in a barrel baffles me, but many have and some have lived and some have died. Their choice of falls is the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, which was out next destination just a ten-minute walk away. From the American side you don’t get a great view of either falls to be honest, so I decided to dig deep and pay for a helicopter ride high above, the result of which is included in my latest video diary on the website.

Way back on the 28 May we met a great couple Connie and Tom at a campground who put us in touch with their niece in Lewiston, Kris. Lewiston is a very pretty little town north of Niagara Falls steeped in history. On my day off I had a lot to do in terms of servicing the website and missed out on seeing the best of it, however Pauline was able to indulge and I’m sure her blog will fill in the details. It was here that we spent a great two nights, and I wish we could have stayed longer. Friends popped round, namely Clair, Ellen and a local police officer Dan, who very kindly gave me a collectible police badge from Niagara Falls as a keepsake of my visit.

Fed, watered and laundered, we bid farewell to them all and after a quick visit to the Orange Cat coffee shop, hit the road to cross the border into Canada.

Which is where we are now. Today our bikes are in the mechanics shop being serviced and having a few replacement parts fitted overnight. Our first night in Canada is at a campground just west of Fort Erie and my first impressions of Canada are not good. Mainly I would say that opinion centres around the cost of everything. This evening we have a lumpy patch of ground to pitch our small tents on, which has cost a colossal $55. From my experience this is the most expensive campsite in the world. If I had driven a monstrous RV (camper van to my fellow Scots) onto the site and not required an electric hook up, it would have been just $5 more. I feel this is very unfair. As you can imagine I intend to say something before I leave.

Hopefully they won’t turn nasty and nail me into a barrel and toss me into the Niagara River.

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