Day 6

Tuesday, May 31, 2005Niagara Falls, ON
Miles: 231Health: Better!

Ponchos, ponchos, ponchos! Today was all about ponchos. We got up, had breakfast at Biffy’s, the oddly named restaurant that is not physically attached to the hotel, but is the hotel restaurant, then booked our butts to the Maid of the Mist dock to get on the first boat of the day. We didn’t make it to the first boat, but made the second and donned our pretty blue ponchos of surprisingly sturdy plastic.

The ride was cool, though quite wet. They try to tell you history while you’re putt-putting out the falls, then shut up while you sit in the mist area and get wet, or at least the ponchos get wet. Keath managed to take some photos without breaking the camera, but the best part of the ride was what we saw while we putt-putted; people in yellow ponchos going under the American falls. Under. Dude. We had to do it.

Keath recalled a pedestrian walkway joining the two sides, so we found that and walked our way across the international boundary and back into our home country. We found the attraction with the yellow ponchos in Niagara Falls State Park (the first state park in America!). This was a high class journey we were about to undertake. We gave our tickets to a woman who in return gave us not only ponchos but cheap sandals. Cheap, comfortable, waterproof sandals that could be reused in campground showers. We once again donned gaily colored ponchos and made for the elevators.

Once on the side of the cliff that the water runs down, we traversed red painted wooden walkways with a guide that was really only there to make sure you didn’t hurl yourself off. This was the coolest freakin’ thing. Screw the Maid of the freakin’ Mist, this was so cool. We walked up, up, up the side of the cliff on the walkways, the mist turning to spray, spray turning to a shower. On the Hurricane Deck, the top deck of the structure, there were many spots where the water from the falls ran over the deck and where the water bouncing off the rocks was blinding and poncho-penetrating. There was one particular alcove that I kept going back to that let you get close to the rocks and therefore close to the water. There you could just get pummeled by the water and feel a tiny fraction of the power of the falls fall over your back. I eventually gave up on my poncho hood and just let the water wash all over me. It was awesome in the non-slang sense of the word.

Besides the inherent coolness of this whole experience, this was a great tourist thing because it made people stop acting like tourists. The previously pushy, grouchy, wary people turned into children, whooping and laughing as they frolicked in the mist and spray. The group went down to the ‘recovery deck’, but then I just had to go back up for one last shower. Needless to say, we were DRENCHED when we got out.

We dried in the sun a bit while we ate lunch, but I still had to buy a new t-shirt at the gift shop so I didn’t freeze. We wandered the state park a little longer, noticing the fact that while the US side is severely lacking in views, they make up for it slightly with their walking paths and green open spaces that meander around the falls, allowing you to get right up close to the lips of both the US and Canadian falls. The Canadian side has tremendous views, but the town is like Atlantic City. There’s a walkway along the edge of the gorge, but then the whole mess is casinos, a midway and strip clubs. At least it’s safe though, since it’s still Canada.

After our American adventures, we went back to Canada for some work and a pedicure (you guess who did what). We had a yummy dinner at an Italian place, then walked the Midway without going to any haunted houses or other nonsense. We did go up in a sky ride to see the falls from above, which was sort of silly. We sat on the edge and just sat and looked at the falls for a while, since we hadn’t just hung out and enjoyed. Then we decided to have an early night so we could have an early morning.

Day 5

Monday, May 30, 2005Lake Placid, NY
Miles: 231Health: Improving
After a tearful, but laughing goodbye with Ceridwen’s parents in Whitehall, we took off for the ‘virgin’ part of our trip. We slapped in Tomorrow May Never Come by Social D, which has become the anthem for the trip, and drove through the Adirondacks. We stopped in Ticonderoga Village and took a walk in a park there, getting the blood flowing and such like.

We stopped in Lake Placid, sad to see that the bobsled area was closed. We went to the ski jump site instead and watched some ski team aerialists jump around on a trampoline. We went up the chair lift, then the elevator to the top of the ski jump. I like heights and there’s no way I would strap skis on and slide down that. You can’t see where you’re going to land. Scary.

When we returned to the ground we discovered that the aerialists had moved on to the real practice; strapping on their skis, climbing up the ramps and jumping into the air and landing in a pool. In their skis. I can’t imagine that feels good on your knees and feet, but it was cool to see. We wished we knew their names so we could watch for them during competitions. It was cool to see athletes train. I was tired just watching them trudge up the staircase to the top of the jump, but they trudged on, jumping again and again.

Miles: 576Niagara Falls, ON
After Lake Placid we drove. We drove, we drove. A lot. The Adirondacks, at least the northern section, are not that exciting. We drove some more. We got to what we thought would be the scenic Seaway Byway, which runs along Lake Ontario. Sadly, it actually runs about two miles away from Lake Ontario. Along the Seaway we caught one glimpse of the Lake. It is a big lake, but sadly, we saw little of it. We drove more, through farms, huge plots of land with trailers on them, through very tiny towns. I was getting very grouchy.

THIRTEEN hours after we left, we arrived in Niagara Falls. We had intended to only drive for seven hours or so a day, so first on our mental task list was to revise our driving mileages for the future.

After we checked in we went out in search of pizza. We had originally thought we would just get pizza and pay our bills, but on the way in I caught sight of the falls and was amazed, so we had to go back and check them out. They were lit up and gorgeous, but we were starving. The entire Canadian side of the falls (where we were staying) has a sort of boardwalk walkway with great views of the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls (also on the American side), and the Horseshoe Falls (Canadian). We thought there would be food around on the boardwalk type thing, but alas, there was nothing. We would find out the next day that the late night food was up on the midway, but that didn’t help us. We stayed for the Victoria Day fireworks, then ran for food, which came from Denny’s in the form of Boca burgers.

We got back to the room around 11:30, and endeavored to attempt that whole paying bills thing again, but the gods are clearly not in favor of this. Either we are in a huge void in Sprint’s wireless coverage, or the wireless internet plan Keath has through work has a “no Canadian access, punk” policy somewhere in the fine print.

Day 4

Sunday, May 29, 2005Whitehall, NY
Miles: 138Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!
Dad and I went for a walk down by the canal. I still can’t talk. This has made the weekend interesting, as I’ve been whispering everything, which leads to everybody else whispering back to me. We all feel like we’re sharing secrets. I’m frustrated because I can’t be heard if everyone is talking at once, and if someone calls out to me, I can’t answer back. My throat just hurts too much to talk.

After our walk, we had pancakes. Krusteaz pancakes. Odd name, yummy pancake mix. We hung out a while, then Bruce (Ceridwen’s uncle) arrived and we went to the Skenesborough Museum, the museum for the history of Whitehall, which used to be Skenesborough. It was interesting, except for the creepy doll room, filled with wide eyed dolls that stared at you. The children’s play area had quite a safety hazard. Iron dumbbells were perched precariously on the side of the wall of the play area. Easily pulled down to smack kids in the head. Lovely.

Day 3

Saturday, May 28, 2005Whitehall, NY
Miles: 138Hark! Sunshine!
Still sick. Yuck. More drugs, less feeling like crap. We played Bocce on the lawn, using Lewis rules (throw the balls, get closest, move on) and then went for a ride on the boat up the lake.

Other than that, the four of us went for numerous walks, drove out to Ft. Ann to get Bud a new harness and generally hung out in the sun. We ate a huge cook out dinner and waddled around and played pool and Lewis rules ping pong (the ball remains in play as long as it’s bouncing, therefore it bounces off walls, the ceiling fan, etc, etc).

Day 2

Friday, May 27, 2005Whitehall, NY
Miles: 138Health: Mute!
I woke up on Friday unable to deny it any longer: I had a hideous chest cold and it was not, as I had previously thought, simply a little tickle. I had slept on the couch so I could sit upright to sleep, since lying down made for racking coughs and an inability to breathe. After the first of many, many trips to the Whitehall CVS, I holed up reading Cosmo while Keath worked.

My parents arrived on Friday night, my mother bearing many homeopathic remedies for colds, including vitamins and some terrible tasting herbal tincture stuff. All night I took that stuff, some echinaccea, vitamins, cough syrup and other assorted tastiness.

Day 1

Thursday, May 26, 2005Whitehall, NY
Miles: 138Health: Waning . . .
Buddy (the Lewis family doggie) woke Keath gently with his inquisitive nose, but Keath being Keath, he was able to get back to sleep. I slept really late, Keath hooked up my parents’ new computer, and then we were headed for Whitehall and the real start of our journey at the bright and early hour of 1 pm.

After brief stops in New London and Newport, we had a rather uneventful trip to Whitehall. Signs on Route 4 claimed that Hubbardton Battlefield was off the next exit. During the planning phase we had decided to take advantage of such signs and take the time to smell the roadside attractions, so we took the exit and drove along a stream, found a farm, but no battlefield. We headed back to the highway, stopped for some food and made it to the ‘summer cottage’ in Whitehall in time for dinner. We ate dinner, went for a walk and then tried to get this very website worked out.

Day 0

Wednesday, May 25, 2005Concord, NH
Miles: 0Fare thee well Concord!
Our last day in the house. We had sold our bed on Tuesday, so all that was left to sleep on was the floor or the comfy bed in the van. We chose the van, therefore we didn’t spend our last night as homeowners sleeping in the home. The house was beautifully empty. All that was left now was a few bags; some bound for Goodwill, some bound for a dumpster and some bound for the mobile storage unit, also known as the Mystique. After loading that stuff into the appropriate vehicles, we were ready to go have some breakfast before out 10 am closing. Except I had somehow locked the keys in the van.

AAA is an amazing thing and in ten minutes we were loaded up and ready to go. Breakfast crisis averted, we made it to the diner, downed some eggs and even had time to go back to the house and take some photos. One looks like this:

The closing was what we expected: a bunch of paper, a lot of signing and eight relative strangers crammed into a smallish room around a biggish table. We loved the buyer and wished we had met her earlier so we could have hung out. Her agent was insane and kept making random comments while the rest of us tried to ignore her. After an hour and a half of paper signing we went on our separate ways to dispose of the previously mentioned bags and deposit a pleasantly large check. I met with my writing friend Joyce one last time, during which no writing was done, and Keath handled the big check drop off.

Our afternoon was spent in front of the fire at Panera taking advantage of their free Wi-Fi. Keath worked, I read a book about becoming a travel writer and quickly decided it’s not the career for me. I like having a relationship with my husband and I’m a little too disorganized. The thought of having to keep track of multiple trips, storylines, deadlines, writing styles, editors, queries, bills and invoices gave me heart palpitations. I guess I’m more of a ‘mosey about at my leisure and write novels, kind of girl, or perhaps long and wandering non-fiction essays about travels. Keath agreed that he likes spending more than a few weeks a year with me, so that worked out.

After Panera, we had dinner with Mandie and Tony in their fabulous new kitchen. We had a good time talking on the porch and laughing and generally being rude and obnoxious together. After dinner we drove to my parents in the rain, thinking that we would miss our buddies and would definitely have to keep a space clear in our new home for guests. We did not fare well on this particular endeavor in our last house, as our guest room became known as the Cavernous Void, filled with an assortment of crap.

We spent the night on my parents’ couch after eating a midnight snack of No Pudge Brownies and Cool Whip that mommy left out for us. Yummy.