Monday, January 28, 2008

A Run To The Border

With one final and probably too-quick shot for the road (here's the river towards Ontario, complete with tired-eye double-vision), I finally stopped and headed back, through the dark dark park, back up the hill to the bridge, and over the rapids to the Niagara park I started in. I spent a little time looking around in the gift shop, then walked around the buildings and back through the carnival section to the bus stop. The bus was not there, and I hoped I hadn't missed it and was in the right spot. Seemed to be, other people were slowly starting to congregate in the general area, too. With little else to do in the dark, I got the camera back out, since the view across the street was weird enough to be photo-worthy. This giant looming mushroom was staring back at me from over the Indian take-out place.
I turned around to see what on earth this thing was... a hot-air balloon. I guess you could have balloon rides for yet another view of the falls. During the day. It appeared pretty lonely and spooky at this point.
Eventually my ride did come and dropped a few of us off to skitter to our motels. I went to my room and took a shower, as best I could, recharged the camera battery, and got in bed and died.
I don't think I had much trouble sleeping, considering, although one of the neighboring rooms was rather noisy. The continental breakfast turned out to be a cup of coffee and some toast crumbs. I was there early but I guess restocking was against policy...I was glad that I'd done the Niagara thing last night, for it was raining this morning, and visibility was pretty lousy. I got myself together and left the plush Knights Inn to head for the border. Due to the weather, I missed the turn the first time and had to double-back, then stopped at the duty-free shop. I admired the goodies and debated whether to pick up some vodka for JF, but since he was with two other guys and had travelled this way the other day, I figured he could have gotten all he wanted if he wanted any. I was tempted by some stuffed animals, but I couldn't really decide on any one, and didn't know what I'd do with them after the trip (I can barely fit on my bed as it is). What I wanted to check out was exchanging money....I usually fail to do that, thinking I'll just charge anything I need. But it's hard to charge little things and I'd made that boo-boo last trip. I didn't think the exchange was open yet, but someone came to help me, and I traded in $40. For that I got a whopping $40.80 Canadian. Wow, those exchange rates had certainly changed over the past few years!
Then I went next door to the Tim Horton's coffee shop, telling myself I was on vacation now and could really indulge. I stood there reading all the menu offerings, being unfamiliar with the place...thought I'd use Canadian money but it seemed wiser to use American here, price-wise. So I finally made up my mind and asked for some large coffee-something in hazelnut. There were 5 flavors on the sign, so I'd been debating a bit, no doubt annoying the bored clerk. Then he replied, giving me a look like 'what an idiot,' that it only came in vanilla. I blinked and looked at the board, where it plainly said five flavors, and thought he meant they were just out, and asked about something else. He repeated, just vanilla. Well, I didn't want to pay all that for vanilla (not that I had anything against it) so I just said I'd take a medium mocha and let it go at that. I down-graded the size since I was at least as annoyed with him as he was with me, LOL. But I went out with my sweet caffeine and Canadian mula and crossed the bridge. I answered all the quiz questions and the Canadian border guard decided I probably wasn't too deadly and let me in. And having seen plenty of falls the night before, plus being ucky weather, I just went onto the QEW into Ontario proper. Or whatever road was under my wheels. I went north toward Hamilton.
I spied Lake Ontario on my right and managed to pull over into a little, muddy parking lot and got out to inspect. It was awfully cold....I know it was Canada, but it was mid-August, too. Sheesh. I was glad I had my jacket. I took a couple of pix here, though it was not a good place to get near the water. Some of the plants here were kinda interesting, though.
In fact there was one weed that particularly caught my eye. I looked it up online, it's called the Common Teasel. Common for this neck of the woods, anyway. New to a US southwesterner like me. Like alien burrs.
Always something new. And finally, a shot of Lake Ontario with teasel and goldenrod, complete with a side order of tree.
I ran back to the car to warm up and continue up the highway.

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