RA78: Niagara Falls!

Fort Erie Ontario to Niagara Falls NY – 33.0 miles

Slowly I turned.
Step by step.
Inch by inch.

Breakfast at a place called the M&J Drive In featuring broasted chicken.  Doesn’t sound that great but in my mind it beats McDonalds or even Tim Horton’s hands down.  And yes we had eggs and pancakes for breakfast, not broasted chicken.

M&J in Fort Erie Ontario

Jack, Jesse, and I started up the Niagara Recreational Trail together, but quickly separated due to different speeds and desires to stop.  The trail took us along the edge of the Niagara River heading north, with Buffalo and the edge of New York staring at us from the opposite bank.  On the Canadian bank side, we passed hundreds of elegant and mansion-like homes.  It had me wondering what the grand appeal of this location is, to be sporting so many multi-million dollar homes.

Along the Niagara Recreational Trail
An example mansion along the Niagara River

We approached Niagara Falls from the upriver side, and it was really cool to see the river disappear into a wall of mist with the town rising up behind it.  We stopped at several generating stations and structures.  Jack and I kidded around that the water molecules in the river were like passengers lined up for an amusement ride.  They were all waiting here in line for the big event, getting more excited and agitated as they got closer.  We decided that the ones who raised their hands up as they went over  and down were the ones that became mist.  Some of them even blew back up river because they wanted to go again.  Yeah, well, you try riding so many miles every day and staying completely sane.

Generating stations upriver from the Falls
"Small" falls upriver of the real show

We pondered another question as well:  If you were destined, as some have done, to ride over Niagara Falls in a barrel, would you want to have a window in it?

For the next two or three hours, we inched our way downriver, examining many varied viewpoints of Horseshoe Falls.   I really had no idea the walkway was so spectacularly close to the falls, providing great views and plenty of misty rain.  There were lots of visitors, but still plenty of open viewing space.

Horseshoe Falls
Horseshoe Falls, with Maid of the Mist below. Look how tiny the people are top left.

We soon ran into Gary and Frank!   They were camping across the river but had come over for a view.  Bill did not have his passport and so stayed on the American side.  We learned that Roger has continued eastward but will likely relink up with us tomorrow or the next day.  Amazing.

Team RA subset at the falls

Lunch at a touristy place right at the falls.  Some of the photos below give you an idea of the view from the tables.  Although my ‘elistist’ foody expectations were low, I was very pleasantly surprised.  Jack and I enjoyed a bottle (yes, a bottle – it is our rest day) of Open Riesling Gerwurtztraminer that was really good, along with very good lunch entrees and a killer chocolate dessert.  Our most expensive meal of the entire trip, but really tasty and in a special place.

Lunch at the falls
Let me give you directions
Another falls photo
Premium views
Mutual photography

Frank, Gary, and Jesse rolled off to camp, but I still had $6 Canadian to spend and figured a beer would be the perfect way.  We rolled up a real touristy avenue of town and found an outdoor bar at Ruby Tuesdays.  It was fun sitting there watching the two female bartenders battle with a half dozen yellow jackets buzzing around the many open bar bottles.

Pushing our bikes through the tourists

Soon we pedalled eastward over the bridge to the United States, waiting in a short line of traffic with the other cars.  Wow, finally in New York!  Since I will consider Ontario a state of Canada, this is our 12th state!

Just across the Rainbow Bridge

Rolling south down NY384 aiming for the campground, and eventually figuring we were lost, we called Gary twice for corrections.   The route took us some 10 miles south, crossing over an old bridge onto Grand Island.  Signs required that bicyclists walk the mile across the bridge, ostensibly because the pedestrian pathway was both narrow and decaying, with rusted rebar and periodic upheavals of concrete.  The jaunt took about 50 minutes, and when we realized that we’d done all this only to have to retrace our steps tomorrow, it all seemed like quite a bit of wasted effort, all to save only a few dollars (compared to a motel).

Walking a mile over the I190 bridge

So here we are at the Niagara KOA.  It is crowded and expensive and right next to the loud I190 freeway.  Now I know why Roger always picks his own campsites.  I’m not complaining mind you, except here in this blog.  On the bright side, I’m getting a chance to dry out my tent.  When I pulled it from my pannier tonight, about ½ gallon of rain ran out of it (from 2½ days ago at Port Burwell).

My soggy tent

An extraordinary day.  Seeing the falls from one end to the other at a pace afforded by bicycle is a fantastic thing.   Tomorrow we will return with more focus to the pleasurable task of crossing this continent.  It seems lately Jack and I are seeing so many great places to stop for a while, but we realize that to stop at them all would mean adding weeks or months onto this trek.  I’ve really enjoyed Ontario tremendously and will hope to return someday with Linda, but must leave it at that for now.