Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Day 43 - Niagara Falls Rest Day 7/30/07

Day – 43 – Day off in Niagara Falls July 30, 2007

I get a surprise call from my good friend Ray Sansouci.

Euphoria Meter (1-10): 9
This was a special day off. It started with Rich and I going to Starbucks at the terribly late hour of 7:30 am. Later I toured Niagara Falls with a small group of folks that I previously had not spent much time with. The experience and camaraderie was quite enjoyable. The day ended with a delightful dinner a “Top of the Falls” on Goat Island overlooking the falls and a wonderful sunset. During dinner I received a call from my long – time friend Ray Sansouci (see photo of me talking to Ray over the falls). It was great catching up.

Ride Stats: n/a
Riding Time:
Max Speed:
Average Speed:
Total Miles traveled:
Miles to go:

Weather: As nice as you could possibly imagine. I think the temperature peaked at 94 degrees.

Incidents and Rider Report – n/a

How I Feel (1-10):
I think I could have used a nap mid afternoon when I got a little sleepy, but otherwise I felt wonderful.

Stuff that happened:

The day really started with at Starbucks. Rich was in hog heaven because he finally had a good cup of coffee again. The conversation, music, nice furniture and ambiance of Starbucks was a welcome change to the buffet line and elbowing for food. No need to use my old basketball boxing out skills this morning. Rich, Alan and I had a pleasant morning conversation. Lois and Topper joined us, showing us their maps of lower Ontario, explaining the roads they intended to follow to bicycle backwards to Detroit together. So we said goodbye again to them.

After our beverages and muffins were gone, Rich and I returned to work a bit on our blogs. I had a date with a tour guide at 11:00 so I said goodbye to Rich and took off. He had made plans to have conference calls for a big chunk of the day for work.

The tour was more interesting that I thought. Jim Emshoff from North Carolina, Tuscon Jan, Mount Mitchell Mike from North Carolina and I were met by Marnie our guide. She takes us in her van to pick up Julius and his wife from San Francisco who turn out to be a bit older, not highly mobile, but very chatty. Their presence ends up turning out 4 hour tour into something closer to six hours. At the end of the tour, the four of us from the bike tour end up abandoning ship, hop out of the van and walk back. The tour guide had us wait for over an hour while Julius and his wife did some shopping and were missing in action…ie did not report back to the van at the appointed time. That wasn’t much fun, but what we saw was nice and the tour guide did a good job.

Jan, Jim and I in the Falls tunnels getting sprayed.

The highlight of the tour was the Maid of Mist highlight experience. Luck was on our side. The four of us ended up positioned in line so we had our pick of the positions on the boat. We ended up sharing the bow of the boat together. The view of the falls, the sensation of extreme turbulence that the water creates, combined with the horrendous spray/rain of water and the thunder that 20% of the worlds fresh water supply creates when it falls 185 feet straight down at 100 mph is incredible. I would do that ride again in a heart beat. I would do it even if I had to share the experience again with 582 strangers on the boat (not including the crew).

A view of the falls from the bow line hole in the bow of the Maid of the Mist.

After we made it back to the hotel we made dinner reservations at a restaurant called the “Top of the Falls”. It was well located on the U.S. side with a nice view of the falls and the mist. We started out just Jim Emshoff and I making the arrangements. Jana ends up joining in, then we call Rich and Bill on the cell phone. Along the way we pick up the “San Francisco Treats”…Donna, Penny and Jan. Once at the restaurant Marianne and her new boy friend Barry, who has chased her across the country, join us for pre dinner beverages. Barry and Marianne try to delicately opt out of dinning with us to enjoy a romantic dinner together. They were given an appropriate hard time by our group, but stuck to their guns.

Barry and Marianne during their brief visit at our table.
(I don't know why Barry even came near us personally)

The dinner conversation was really one of the highlights of the day. We end up having a round table discussion about the top 3 things that we’ve enjoyed about the trip. Everyone had different perspectives. Mine were 1) Getting to know the various interesting people who have come along on this experience, 2) The bicycle riding itself. I really have enjoyed getting my heart rate up, riding for all I can ride, trying to keep up with other good riders and seeing what I am capable of. 3) Doing something that very few people will ever do. This really is an experience that is hard to explain to others. When you mention it to people you see this look in their eyes of bewilderment and confusion. Getting your arms around it and trying to understand it is very difficult. I feel like I am just now starting to understand and still have more to learn.

Niagara Falls, much to my surprise, is really one place I would really like to come back to again. It was much more fun and interesting than I expected. I say that even though I’ve been here twice before. Once as a child and once with my children. I think it would be a nice, romantic place to have a two day or long weekend kind of experience. That is especially true if you could guarantee weather as nice as we have had. But, having said that, apparently the falls can be quite the sight and spectacle to see in the winter when the ice flows over the falls in large chunks after breaking off from Lake Erie.

Above, our dinner party at the Top of the Falls. From left to Right, Chapel Hill Bill, Jana, Jan, Penny, Angela (our server...boy I have really appreciated the few times we have been served) Steve Flowers (Yoga Steve) from Dallas, Donna my Italian buddy, Rich Simpson, Jim Emshoff and yours truly.

Out of the dinner conversation came a realization that this trip allows all of us to see ourselves, our relationships and lives just a little more clearly. It tests us in many many ways. It is in those tests…physical, mental, emotional, relationships, etc. that we learn more about ourselves, our capacities and our priorities. Although we near the end, we are hardly finished. Mike Munk has cautioned us that most of their trouble happens in the first and last weeks of the trip. I continue to keep my mantra in the front of my thoughts… “All my attention all the time”. (I am not just saying that mom, I really mean it).

No comments: