Date: June 4th, 2019
Miles Traveled: 25
Weather: Overcast with occasional sun in the morning.
Physical Status: Legs feel better, but put me in a bed and I guarantee I’ll pass out in 5 minutes.
TL;DR: Made it across the USA-Canada border, witnessed a choir from South Korea sing at the Floral Clock, took way too many pictures of Niagara Falls, and stayed with an incredibly artistic and crafty French-Canadian family.
After having some breakfast courteousy of my hosts, Mary and Tom, I left Lewiston, New York, got on highway 104 and eventually made my way to the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, the northernmost bridge across the Niagara River.
After riding across the bridge, I saw the most beautiful sign.
“Welcome to Canada”.
Country #2 out of 2. WOOO!
After being questioned by the Canadian Border Patrol on why the hell I crossed the bridge on a bike with basically everything but the kitchen sink, I rode along a bike path beside the Niagara Parkway to the famous “Floral Clock”:
As I rolled up, there was what seemed like a well-renowned choir from South Korea singing in front of the clock and I couldn’t help but smile.
Here I was in spandex and a neon green jacket pushing my big-ass bike towards the clock as a large group of very well-dressed women sang a beautiful, cheery tune in beautiful harmony. The contrast was priceless.
From there, I continued along the bike path, took quick look at the hydroelectric plant across the gorge, and stopped at the Butterfly Conservatory.
The conservatory contains over 40 species of butterfly and they. were. EVERYWHERE.
Soon after, I briefly stopped at the Niagara Glen Nature Center and snapped some pictures of the Niagara Gorge:
After biking along the parkway for a couple miles, I happened upon this random (Buddhist?) temple:
And then my stomach got the rumblies…
So what do you do when you’re in Canada and you want authentic Canadian cuisine?
Go to Tim Horton’s, of course!
So I walked into Tim Horton’s like a proud ‘Murican citizen and proceeded to absolutely fail at ordering a sandwich, hash brown, smoothie, and… you guessed it, a Tim Horton’s coffee.
I mean, how the fuck am I supposed to know what “double double” means anyway?
For the record, ordering a “double double” coffee is the Canadian way of saying “I’d like a coffee with double cream and double sugar”.
I will note that I also don’t drink coffee. I don’t even like coffee. But, guess what? Fuck it, I’m in Canada.
…I still don’t like coffee.
And then I reached the land of the tourists (myself included): downtown Niagara Falls. I strolled into the Hershey store and marveled at the 1lb and 5lb Hershey chocolate bars on display:
Did I buy it?
Awww hell na!
That shit’s $1.92 per 100 calories!
I also briefly checked out the Coca-Cola Store right next door:
After lugging my seemingly 1000lb (453.59kg) bike down a series of steps, I finally got a view of the one and only Niagara Falls:
…and then proceeded to take way too many pictures of said falls.
I was excited, okay? Let me live.
Maybe 60 pictures later, I happened upon a statue of one of my heroes, Nikola Tesla, the father of alternating current (AC current):
“Hey! It’s me, Nikola Tesla. Just chillin’ here with my bud, drawing the conceptual foundation for every AC motor and generator ever.”
By this time, I had spent way too much time in Niagara Falls and proceeded to book it to Welland, Ontario to meet my hosts for the night, Melissa and her parents.
After about 15 miles of furious pedalling against a solid headwind, I made it there just before 7:00pm.
“Phew,” I thought. “So much for a rest day…”
As soon as I rolled into the back driveway of their home, I was intrigued. An inviting grass and slate patio with two “couches” made of vintage bathtubs could be seen in the center of the yard. Three black lamp posts that looked as if they came from a 1920s streetway towered over the yard. Various artistic pieces could be spotted: a painted metal duck with a body made out of an old tea kettle, a face with an old car grill cover along the fence, and a beautiful art piece featuring a sun made of copper with leaf-shaped sheets of metal radiating out.
Melissa and her parents greeted me in the backyard. As soon as I stepped in to their house, I could see a whole wall of magnificent watercolor and acrylic paintings right next to their small kitchen. Their living room was tastefully furnished and decorated in a style that I can only describe as Victorian. Art was everywhere.
You know how people put portraits of their family members in a hallway or stairwell? Melissa’s mother drew each of those portraits of her five kids and put them on display.
There was an entire room dedicated to sewing and jewelry making. The garage contained various tools for welding and machining.
Over dinner, after asking Melissa’s dad about what kind of hobbies he had, he modestly replied “oh ya, I like working with my hands. Ya know, keeps me busy.”
The man refurbished the family’s garage, built their shed, and made almost all the intricately welded things in the family’s entire front and back yards.
It was almost as if everytime I mentioned something in the yard, his reply was something along the lines of “oh ya, I made that way back when. I used etc. etc. etc.”
It was fascinating.
Oh, and Melissa? She’s a well-traveled tattoo artist who taught English in Taiwan for a number of years and did a long-term bicycle tour under the name “TheTravelingTattooArtist”. She’d travel all over, give people tattoos, hear their stories, and write about them.
Like, how cool is that?
We ended up having a wonderful salmon dinner together, where I learned that salmon and mayonnaise pair amazingly well, and talked some more over bedtime tea (a daily family tradition).
The artistic talent shared by members of the family was simply astounding and having the opportunity to gain a sense of their passion for creating and creation, was a wonderful experience.
Tomorrow, I’ll be traveling 60 miles to Port Ryerse, Ontario, where I’ll be staying with another Warmshowers host by the name of Jamie.
Until next time!