Day 6: Niagara Falls, New York (93.03 miles, 483.03 total miles)
I got a really good night’s sleep last night—the hotel bed was particularly comfortable and after a shorter than usual day, I was able to get more than the usual amount of sleep I’ve had on this trip. I ate well at breakfast and was ready to go before nine.
As I headed out into the city, I was struck by how quiet it was. It was almost as if the entire city were sleeping in: the roads were relatively empty. Last night the city was teeming with people and this morning was almost post-apocalyptic by comparison.
I made my way downtown and picked up the bike trail that ran along the river. Today’s ride was once again on the Waterfront Trail, a combination of traditional bike trails (usually through parks) and stretches of city streets. All in all the ride was really enjoyable with some very nice trails to ride and some really nice streets as well (though there were the occasional stretches with those damned seams in them again. The trail hugged the lakeshore for most of the ride and gave me some spectacular views, some of which are here below:
After biking 25-30 miles, I stopped at a picnic area with a picnic table under a shady tree for a rest and snack break. I refueled and just sat and rested for a bit. The rest area was notable, too, for the very clean and modern rest facility nearby, the best feature of which was a bottle refilling fountain (pictured right), which I availed myself of.
I got underway and continued along the trail, alternating between lakeside trails and Lakeshore Road, both of which were easy going. Today was hotter than yesterday and so in spite of the level terrain, the heat was becoming a factor.
I was excited to reach Hamilton, Ontario. This represented the literal turning point of the trip: I had been heading southwest for the last three and half days and now I would turn and head east. That could only mean that the winds would be at my back. As I passed through Hamilton, I was able to use some really wonderful trails: wide, well paved, and scenic. Would that the entire trip were on trails this great.
But I began to notice something was amiss. All the flags were blowing in the wrong direction: east to west. I couldn’t believe it. This was finally the turning point and the wind is blowing from the m———ing east? Can’t catch a break.
It did make the going a bit more difficult and combined with the heat was sapping my strength. And so, around the 50 mile mark I stopped, finally, at a Tim Horton’s for lunch. I took the opportunity to rest and refuel and avail myself of the free wifi. And it was there that I learned (though, I feel not for the first time) that Canada has abolished the penny. After lunch, I decided to try a couple of their donuts. The total came to $2.08 and I produced two loonies and a dime and the clerk said, “Oh, perfect!” and took the money without handing me any change. For a moment I assumed she was just taking the two cents for the “need a penny” jar, but then I remembered having heard something about getting rid of the penny, nor had anyone given me one in my change all week. And so I asked the clerk and she confirmed that while they will accept pennies, they no longer give them out and everything is just rounded to the nearest 5 cents. This insight is not nearly as deep as some of the others that might have occurred to me over the last few days, but it’s what I learned today.
I got back on the road and before too long got off the road and started wending my way to Niagara Falls. I finally got to the falls and was able to take a few pictures before heading off to immigration:
Video of the falls:
The hardest part about reentering the country was finding the entrance to the bridge, but once I had, and after dealing with a surly customs agent, I was back in New York and heading down a wonderfully paved street.
A little after 7 pm I met my cousin Renee and my sister who had come from Renee’s place in Buffalo to pick me up. Had I biked down there myself it would have taken me far afield of my route and tacked on perhaps another hour or more onto my trip—10 hours was long enough for one day. Once we got back to Renee’s house we had a wonderful cookout dinner with her husband Rob, my Uncle Bill and Aunt Judy, and great aunt Josephine and cousin Anita. It was a really nice conclusion to a long day.