Day 6 of 6: Kalamazoo, MI to Hammondsport, NY

After our IHOP disaster, we chose to eat breakfast at the hotel. Instead of the buffet, we each ordered off the menu and that turned out to be another poor breakfast decision; service was slow and our start was delayed 30 minutes. I took the first turn at the wheel and Matthew kept me going with an awesome custom music playlist. We crossed into Canada at Port Huron/Sarnia. There wasn't much to see on the drive but it was fun to note the subtle differences in signage and we agreed that Canada seems very clean and tidy :). We pulled into a Tim Horton's for a late lunch. Yes, they are everywhere out here, but new to us! I was seriously tempted by the donut and baked goods display case. After polishing off sandwiches, we headed east once again. As the day wore on, the clouds burned off and the sky cleared; perfect weather for Niagara Falls!

In front of Horseshoe Falls

It was sunny and warm enough that we were glad for the cool mist that periodically blew off the falls. We parked in the visitor lot beyond Horseshoe Falls and walked the boardwalk to the American Falls and back. Good walking shoes are important as this is a 3/4-mile round trip on a concrete sidewalk.

The Canadian side of the falls is touristy and attracts an international crowd. Even though crowded and studded with people hawking their wares (get your automatic bubble blower here!) the walk was exhilirating.

American Falls

Once at the American Falls, we briefly debated driving to the U.S. side to catch the Maid of the Mist. Given our time constraints, we stayed and purchased tickets for the Hornblower Niagara Cruise.

Gateway to Hornblower Niagara Cruise

We had small periods of standing and waiting for tickets, the elevator, and the ship, but nothing longer than 10 minutes. The $19 basic boat cruise began with a quick pass by American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. Past Bridal Veil, the cacaphony of gulls was thankfully muted by crashing water. The highlight of the cruise came as we nudged into Horeshoe Falls. We were laughing out loud as mist and water lashed over at unpredictable intervals; thank goodness for the cheap ponchos included with the cruise ticket! We could have purhcased individual audio guides for the trip, but it was pleasant to chat and soak up the experience together.

Hornblower Niagara Cruise

Back on the boardwalk, Matthew nabbed an ice cream cone for the long stroll back. We took our time, enjoying the soft afternoon and carefully tended gardens. Although we were smack in the dinner hour, the area was vibrant and alive with dozens of families barbecuing and playing games in the park. Once we finally located our car (!), we drove over the Rainbow Bridge, re-entered the United States, and took a quick spin to explore the U.S. access to Niagara Falls. At first, it was depressing; it was just as touristy as the Canadian side but neglected and lacking Victorian flair. Once we entered Niagara Falls State Park, it was more pleasant; not as flashy at the Canadian side but still lovely as most U.S. Sate Parks are. When we come back I'd like explore this side of Niagara and do the Maid of the Mist; with a cruise ticket, patrons have access to a short walking trail near American Falls.

We needed fuel for our final leg of the drive. Chris thought he found us a nice pizza place for dinner, but Yelp led us astray and took us to a gas station pizza stand. While it may have had great pizza, that wasn't the ambiance we were looking for. We retraced our steps to the Brick Oven Pizzeria on Grand Island. The pizza was average but the beer selection was phenomenal. Thank goodness for Matthew - he was our designated after-dinner driver. Even though the final part of our drive was in full dark, our excitement mounted as we got closer and hit familiar landmarks. Crooked Lake Mercantile, Camp Good Days, Boyd Point, Lakeside, Gibson Landing,...IDLEOURS!

Keuka Lake

Oh my. I've never lived here year-round, but it always feels like coming home. As a friend once said, so many things change on the lake, but the Saxton place stays the same. We are spending the entire summer here, so future blog posts will summarize Keuka exploration. My overall feelings about the 6-day road trip to get here? I loved seeing the little slice of the United States we passed through, but I am mostly grateful for the uninterrupted time with Chris and Matthew. Especially Matthew. We are about to deliver him to West Point, and having this time has been a gift.

Miles traveled: 524

This post is part of the trip summary 6 Days Across the USA