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May 30, 2006

When today day arrived I woke up early and made sure again that everything was packed. I then loaded up the motorcycle and headed off, after giving Shelley a call to let her know that I loved her and would miss her. I did make a stop on campus along the way to print off confirmation of my Boston Pops tickets (they hadn't arrived in the mail). I also mailed a couple of rebate forms from the camera I bought Shelley. The camera that, if I had enough money, I would have brought on my trip ;-). Nevertheless, mine works just fine.


Once I was done running errands I was off. I took 421 North up to I-94, and that part of the trip was very familiar. It's the way that I take home to Grand Haven just about every single time I go. After that though things changed. I went up by Lansing, though didn't go through town, and then headed east to Canada. I-69 eastbound apparently doesn't exist for about 10 miles (but as compensation people wanting to go eastbound can have one of the three west bound lanes), so that went slow too, but it wasn't too bad. Getting into Canada was relatively easy - the toll guy simply asked what I was doing and how long I would be staying. I indicated that I would be visiting Niagara Falls and staying for one day after which he sent me on my way.


Canada is interesting. Their speed limits are in kilometers per hour instead of miles, something which while annoying at first reminded me that Americans are at times idiots. We really need to switch to the metric system instead of staying with the archaic, arbitrarily defined system that we use now. I made my way along Canada's highway system until I reached a point where it became obvious that my directions were wrong (or I had somehow missed a turn). So, I pulled into a gas station, pulled out the laptop, and re-plotted my course. It didn't take too much time and in the end things worked out fine.


Eventually I made it to Niagara around 8pm. It was a lot of driving - my rear end hurts. I ended up taking an exit that led to Lundy's Ln, where I found a KOA campground. They wanted an obscene amount of money to pitch a tent, so I went down the road and found a place that was slightly cheaper, though still ridiculously overpriced. I pitched my tent, meanwhile noticing that I was directly across the street from two giant strip clubs (no, I didn't visit either "establishment"). Once that was taken care of I took off to downtown Niagara to see The Falls before it got dark.


The Falls are amazing. The first time I drove by it was difficult to restrain myself from staring at the breathtaking view. It's almost indescribable. I've never seen a "waterfall" on such a scale before. Only the meeting of two huge lakes could make something so grand and beautiful. I found parking - which was free because it was so late (around 8pm) and proceeded to wander around The Falls for a bit. One cool, and admittedly kind of annoying, thing about Niagara Falls is that there's an almost constant saturated mist hanging over them, making it difficult to see the entire area. Hopefully tomorrow it won't be as bad.

Once it started hitting twilight I headed off to find dinner. I stopped at a bar and restaurant and had a nice meal. It was Italian - spaghetti and a veal cutlet. I then proceeded to overpay the waitress as a result of my own stupid assumption that since it was a tourist area the amounts must be American! Once done I returned to my tent for the evening and went to sleep. Tomorrow should hopefully be a bit easier in terms of driving, since I have no intention of making it all the way to Acadia National Park.

May 31, 2006


This morning I woke up before my alarm went off and took a shower and stuff. I then packed up everything and headed back to The Falls. I found a parking lot a bit farther away this time that was cheaper than all the others ($5.50 American - this is where I realized the mistake I made the night prior). I parked and walked along the entire area by The Falls. The sight was basically indescribable - similar to Mount Rushmore in scale but by far more impressive simply because of its natural beauty. I wandered some more, thinking that it would be fun to take a boat ride up to the base of The Falls or to take the "Journey Behind the Falls." I was also thinking that both of these things cost money and that I should try to avoid spending money. Ultimately I did decide to ride the "Maid of the Mist" though. It was worth it. The view is even more spectacular from down below - it really gives you a good sense of scale. Once that was done I walked back to my bike and took off for Acadia National Park, knowing full well that I wouldn't make it there that day.


The drive to Acadia wasn't bad for the most part. The scenery through New York was amazing once I made it a little ways east. I didn't bother to take any pictures because that would either have involved pulling over and stopping or acting like a moron and using my camera while driving the motorcycle one-handed (which, incidentally, I've done before). Once the sun began to dim a little I stopped at a gas station in a little town on the outskirts of Schenectady, NY and asked if they knew anywhere to camp. The general consensus was "no." However, they pointed out a few potential areas on a map and I selected an area off of a road called "Lock 7." Little did I know that the road actually led to Lock 7 of the Erie Canal. Once I got there, though, I was very happy to see what it was. I've always been fascinated by lock systems along canals. When I was younger (I think in sixth grade) I got to see the Sioux Locks (I think those were the ones I saw) in action. Anyway, it was at that point that I met an older gentleman (I think his name was Larry) and his wife in an RV. He was a retired firefighter from NY and had traveled the US extensively. I asked him if he knew anywhere to camp, and his wife suggested I ask the man running the Lock if I could camp there. I did that, and he suggested an area down below the Lock. I then returned to the couple and spent about an hour listening to suggestions of what to do along my trip and stories about what they had seen. It was, by and large, a fun conversation.


Unfortunately it ended up being interrupted by thunder. Once I heard thunder I told them that I had to setup my tent. And so I spent the next few minutes very quickly running around setting up my campsite. Being the intelligent person that I am I took the bungie cords off of my bike before driving it down to the site. I was thinking that I'd leave my bike up in the parking lot, but I then realized that it would be better just to bring it down by the tent. So I drove it down, leaving some of my stuff in the parking lot. Then I ran back and forth a few times and finally setup the tent and threw everything in it. Just in time too, as the rain was just starting as I got the last of my stuff in the tent. At that point I became concerned about the ground getting wet and the motorcycle stand sinking, causing the bike to fall over. So, I found a water bottle on the ground, smashed it, and put it under the kickstand. Finally I climbed into my tent and sat there watching it begin to poor.

After a little while of getting situated I called up Shelley to see how she was doing. I miss her. She reminded me that I had cookies, so I ate one. After I talked to her for a while I said good bye and proceeded to call my Dad, Grandma, and Mom. Dad wasn't home, but I got to talk to my Grandma and Mom which was nice. I miss all of them very much too, though it isn't the same as Shelley since I no longer see them nearly as often as I used to a few years ago. It's saddening sometimes that I'm not able to see them more often. Once I finished talking to everyone I went to bed.