Wednesday, September 19, 2007





After leaving Michigan, the next stop was Erie, Pennsylvania where we stayed a couple of days. Believe it or not, but this area of Pennsylvania and Western New York is wine country. There are vineyards along the shores of Lake Erie growing all verities of grapes. The difference between the wineries here and the ones in California is they don’t charge you to taste their wine. We found several bottles of our liking and bought them.

We continued north to Niagara Falls where we stayed in another really nice state park. Our first day we spent looking at the falls and doing the tourist thing. We took the Maid of the Mist boat ride which turned out to be a big disappointment. Every one is given a plastic rain coat of sorts to ward off the “mist”. You can ride on the top deck or the bottom deck, each which is open to the elements. Now if you want to get wet, then this is the boat trip for you. The boat takes you past the American Falls where you don’t get very wet and get a pretty good view of the falls. Next you go up river to the bottom of Horseshoe Falls. The mist is so thick, you can’t even see the falls, as you can tell by the photo. It’s not really a mist, but more like a pouring rain. Those on the top of the boat get soaked and those on the bottom get wet. The entire trip lasts around 15 to 20 minutes, which wouldn’t be enough time if you could actually see the falls, but was plenty of time for a cold shower.

After this experience we decided not to do the Cave of the Winds or the Bottom of the Falls because they appeared to be more of the same. We did manage to get some great views standing just feet from the top of the falls. We then walked across the bridge into Canada where we were afforded the best view of both the American Falls and Horseshoe Falls.

The next day we went to Lockport, New York to see the Erie Canal. Here there are locks on the canal, hence the name of the city. We stopped in at the visitor center for information then walked the block to the canal and the locks. Shortly after we arrived, we were greeted by and elderly gentleman who introduced himself to us as a volunteer at the visitor center. He apologized for not speaking to us at the center and proceeded to give us an interesting tour of the locks. He told us he has lived all of his 83 years in Lockport, still residing in the house he was born in. He said his father and mother emigrated from Italy and his father worked on the canal in the early 1900’s when it was being widened, earning 10 cents an hour. Today the canal is used only for pleasure craft as there is no longer any commercial traffic. Transit through the locks is free, supported by tolls on New York toll roads and bridges. Something he told us I never knew was each year in November, the canal is drained for maintenance and refilled in the spring.

Since arriving in New York State, we have managed to visit, Panama, Barcelona, Dunkirk, Angola, Greece, and Mexico, all towns in the western part of the state. Cathie says this mean we don’t have to fly to any of those places (she hates to fly) and we can do our overseas trips right here in the US.

The weather continues to be great with temperatures in the high 70’s. If this continues, the leaves will never change colors and we’ll just have to come back in the future.

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