Instead of leaving right away in the morning as has been my pattern thus far, Danya convinced me to stick around and see Wooster. The night before, I had showed up at her place in the dimming light, seeing none of the surrounding area. Since I had a local guide, I figured it couldn’t hurt. We spent an hour working on our respective projects, her’s was baking her kugel, mine was blogging, and then headed into town for breakfast. Imagine my surprise when I realized that it was far less rural than I had been led to believe. The night before I had driven out of fields full of corn and soy beans and arrived at her house. Now, I was being shown the college campus, the downtown square, and numerous other attractions that painted a much clearer picture of Wooster for me.
Danya and I both have an affinity for eating sustainable and healthy food. Our tour, as a result, focused on Wooster’s local and organic downtown businesses. From the local co-op, to Spoon (the local butcher that also had vegan options…), and Local Roots, it felt like a pretty comprehensive tour. Wooster is roughly the same size as New Bern, so I was mildly shocked that it had so many amazing opportunities for people who wanted to eat sustainably within their local market. Super cool.
After our gastronomic experience came to an end, I headed back towards Lake Erie, following its shores north towards Erie, Pennsylvania before crossing into New York. There, the sandy beaches transitioned into steeper embankments and the fields were no longer filled with corn and soybeans. Instead, vineyards dotted the hillsides and dense forests filled in the space between them. All of it made for a wonderful change of scenery.
My goal, however, was majestic beauty on an entirely different level: Niagara Falls. Having visisted the falls as a child, I had some vague memory of the cascades of water that had no doubt been augmented and distorted by the magnificent photography that has been done at Niagara over the ages. Seeing them again was a new experience entirely. As I drove through Buffalo, the vast expanses of water on my left were placid, filled with the pontoon boats and high-masted ships. Regardless, I knew something big was coming… Before I could enjoy the falls, I had to find parking, which was an ordeal in and of itself. But, with Sam safely tucked away, I started following the crowds towards what appeared to be an overlook. Although I shouldn’t have been surprised, I couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that I didn’t hear any English among the groups that were walking near me. Their conversations echoed in what sounded like Mandarin, Hindi, Japanese, Spanish, and plenty of other languages, but no English. I began to wonder, but my attention was soon focused on something far more breathtaking.
As I had moved closer to the Niagara River, the calm waters that I saw from Buffalo had disappeared and the speed of the river had drastically increased. Now, I beheld a torrent rushing towards a grand precipice. Despite the sheer power of the rushing water, the scene remained oddly peaceful and silent. The water was simply gliding, rushing over rock and tree alike, until it finally fell. The sheer quantity of water made it an absolutely surreal scene. After remembering to use my camera, I started walking closer to the drop off. The transitioning water appeared to balloon upwards and forwards, searching for a surface to spread upon, yet finding nothing but air. What had been such a cohesive, flowing mass instantly transformed into disparate water molecules floating hundreds of feet down at their own pace. Some shot upwards, some flew outwards, others dropped straight down, bouncing skyward as they struck the rocks below. Every second a spent staring at Niagara, 75,000 gallons plummeted over the falls, a dazzling notion to wrap your head around.
For the next two hours, I wandered to Luna Island and back, listening, photographing, and feeling the immense power of this awesome water feature. .Surrounded by casinos and souvenir shops, I can see how some might find it difficult to describe Niagara Falls. Yet, there is absolutely nothing tamed about Niagara. Humans may have harnessed some of its energy, but it is a living reminder of the power of nature, something I wish we were reminded of more often…
As the sun was setting and the crowds began to thin, I sat on a tall rock, just watching the water. I have never followed any guided meditation practices, but I can imagine that this felt somewhat similar. Yet I couldn’t “zen out” at Niagara forever. I still had to find a spot to sleep for the night! From my car, I perused my maps for a local park or National Forest, but they were all too far away. I ended up settling on a Walmart Supercenter just 14 minutes away. As I write this, I am sitting in Sam with blackout panels and curtains deployed, ready for a restful night of sleep in a Walmart parking lot. There is first time for everything I guess…
Also, I feel I should take this time to give a big shout out to my Mom. Today is her birthday and I cannot imagine what I would’ve done without her careful attention to detail and creativity during the two weeks preceding my departure. She may be getting gray, but she is still sharp as a tack! Keep it up Mom!
And now, for your daily map.