We had a great trip to Canada over the weekend. Only just into Canada admittedly but Canada nonetheless to visit Niagara Falls. We had dinner out with some of my Raven’s family a few weeks back and they recommended it to us. Neither Raven nor I have seen the falls or Canada and after researching our visit beforehand it seems that the falls are a far more enticing proposition from the Canadian side and so that is where we headed for two nights of fun and enlightenment at the Radisson Hotel there.
It’s about a 350 mile 6 hour drive from Columbus, Ohio and so we set off early. The sun shone from a blue sky. It was a beautiful warm Thursday. Raven drove while I navigated and rode shotgun. A part of our route was along the I-271 east of Cleveland and it was spectacular. Mile after mile of forested hills interlaced with beautiful rocky boulder strewn rivers. Prime deer country too judging by the amount of their carcasses laying by the roadside. A man could make a good living here by setting up an eatery selling barbecued road-kill ribs. Some guy probably has.
We did stop for breakfast. In Amish country. The restaurant was great. It was enormous and I tried a full breakfast including a first for me … ‘grits‘. Now I have heard of grits and wondered what to expect. I must admit that I expected something … well … gritty? My full breakfast was served up by an enthusiastic Amish lady who smiled and commented on my empty coffee mug which I had emptied in about 10 seconds. “You sure was thirsty boy, she laughed, you sucked that one dry.” But with my coffee top up came the grits. Served in a separate bowl they looked suspiciously like Ready Brek, Or porridge. I was about to pour them on my breakfast bacon but decided against it. Instead I studied them as I shoveled down mouthfuls of bacon, eggs and hash browns. Finally it was grits time and on Ravens advice I poured maple syrup on them first. And tried them … yep they were just like Ready Brek or porridge and not gritty at all and so I sent them to follow my bacon in bellysville. Mission accomplished and we were back on the road.
Our drive was fairly uneventful. We travelled up the southern shore of Lake Erie on the I-90 but never really close enough to enjoy it. We stopped occasionally for coffee and for me to take the air … well ‘navigating’ is thirsty work after all. My lovely Raven developed a sixth sense for when I was running on caffeine empty or maybe it was just the enthusiastic slurping noises I made. Who knows? Ha. But the miles rolled down as we travelled out of Ohio through Pennsylvania and New York State.
New York State seemed to be full of vineyards. Mile after mile of them but soon we were stopping for a last coffee before our destination. Most of the last part of our journey was on the New York through-way which is a toll road. One oddity was the information officer at the services. We were a mere few miles from the toll booths but the guy behind the counter didn’t have a clue whether we had to pay the toll by card or cash. He actually told us to ask the girl in the sweet shop. Amazing.
$3.15 lighter and we approached Buffalo. I had imagined Buffalo as a quaint small picturesque one horse town but hey what do I know. It is enormous. Skyscrapers factories, the full Monty. But we passed by and before long we approached the border on the Peace Bridge. Large signs proclaimed ‘WELCOME TO CANADA’.
People that remember my piece on here about arriving in the States will recall my joyful encounter with the US Border Patrol. I know not to wisecrack unless I want to enjoy assuming the position as I watch the rubber gloves coming out and so we were all sweetness and light with the Canadian border guard. I must admit I did have to bite my lip when we were asked for our reason for visiting Canada but I managed not to tell her. “Moose hunting Ma’am. I hear they taste good. Where perchance may I purchase a very large gun.?” … “To see the falls.” we meekly replied and my passport was duly stamped. Raven’s wasn’t but I presume that was because she is a US citizen. And we were in Canada and Niagara Falls bound before long.
My poor Raven was a little confused at first as the speed limits are posted in kilometres per hour but we guessed and got by fine. No mounties pulled us over for speeding even though I did look out for their horses and bright red jackets. I was actually disappointed when we saw a police cruiser. No horses. Where are the horses? I wanted mounted men in red but obviously that wasn’t to be. I sighed and we drove into the town of Niagara Falls.
We found our hotel easily enough and onto my next fear. Now anyone that knows me will recall my fear of heights and I must admit that my butt cheeks were clenching at the thought of our room maybe being on say the 99th floor and getting to it would involve a glass fronted lift … eek. Would I be OK or would a change of underpants be imminent? But I was OK. We were on the fifth floor. That’s the fourth floor in England. North Americans seem to have lost their first floors for some strange reason. The second floor is above the ground floor. Strange but true. I have pictures. Ha.
Now this is Mothers Day weekend in the US and Canada. Another oddity. It is back in March in the UK but that’s by the by. So it is a busy weekend here for tourists and when Raven booked the hotel we couldn’t get a room with either a falls view or a jacuzzi. We booked a city view room with just a bath/shower. So imagine our pleasure at finding our room did have a falls view AND a whirlpool bath. Brilliant. And so here we were. Unpacking. An amazing view of the falls from our window and a jacuzzi to look forward to later. But it was still mid afternoon and time to unleash ourselves on the unsuspecting Canadians. What would they make of a mad English guy dressed in cowboy gear with his beautiful lady. Would I be mistaken for an Australian yet again?
…. to be continued …
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