Tuesday May 15th, 7am:
I woke up at a rest stop in the van just 40 miles outside(south) of Buffalo to blistering rain and thunder. I immediately thought that the next 4 days was going to be on the fritz, or mildly wet at the least. I always feel like I’m my own weatherman when I’m traveling, especially by motorcycle. You have to make your own judgement calls and track the weather very frequently, but not without some uncertainty. Sometimes you win, most you don’t, but this time I was all in and made it out completely dry.
Following the loud thunder, I started being swarmed by even louder construction vehicles, as I was parked in an area they were apparently working on for the day. I got dressed as much as I needed to drive out of there unscathed. Once I got into buffalo, I scoped out the long-term parking lot I had booked for the van, and luckily there was a hotel with a big parking lot 2 doors down to unload my bike. I wasn’t totally sure that they would be ok with my travel plans seeing, I wasn’t flying out of the airport. After waiting out more rain every 30 minutes for the next 3 hours, I suited up in my rain gear, parked the van, and even got a ride back to the front of the lot by the shuttle driver after telling him my situation. It was then on to Niagara Falls, a sight I’ve been wanting to see for a long time, and it was definitely worth the wait. I felt obligated to take the boat tour while I was there to really get the full effect, and boy did I! Nothing says tourism like being on a crammed boat getting misted to death at the foot of two gigantic waterfalls.
I was unsure about getting across the border procedure was, and how much time it would take, so while buying a magnet at The falls, I asked the cashier. The only experience I have with crossing any border or going into another country was going into Mexico twice while living in Arizona, which is nothing to look forward to. Fortunately, once I crossed the bridge and picked a booth to go through, the one to the right of my opened up so I pushed my bike up to it instead of waiting behind the car ahead of me. Without thinking about it, i put my passport card, with sleeve, in my mouth so I can move over faster. First thing the guard said, in a displeasing and stern voice, “I don’t want that, that was in your mouth, just the card.”I take of my helmet and asked me to turn off my bike. He followed up with asking me the standard questions, “how long are you staying? Do you know anybody here? Any weapons? How much cash? What are your plans? What do you do for a living?”. He was very meticulous, and brief. I got a little nervous since I already got off on the wrong foot with him, plus, I get nervous in general around authority like this, no matter what situation. I couldn’t imagine getting denied entry. After all these thoughts and trying to stay very confident, I was asked to pull aside and park. Before I could park and go inside to get the paper he have to me to be stamped, another officer met me and gave me the same 3rd degree as the first. He was much more friendly and outgoing, even commented on my motorcycle and asked about it. 5 minutes later of standing around, which I’m assuming was a background check, I was free to roam!
The first campsite I stayed at was in Lincoln, Ontario, just a short 37km (23mi) from the falls, so it made for an easy back road trek. Fortunately my timing for visiting was good, I was only one of two tent campers there, out of about 12 sites in a big open field along the rive bank. I naturally picked the furthest site away in the field of choice, but right after I unpacked my bike, I noticed there wasn’t any trees for my hammock, so I quickly re-strapped my bags on to my bike and headed to the opposite end to catch some shaded lounging.
The next morning, I was off to Toronto and the hockey hall of fame, one of my most anticipated stops of the trip. The few Molson’s I had the night prior we’re succumbed by waking up in Canada for the first time to a dew covered tent and cool morning. This was something I wasn’t really sure if I would ever experience or not, but somehow the stars aligned. It was hard to get up and keep going, but I packed up, hit the showers, and was off to a hockey haven that is the hall of fame. Being tucked right in the middle(under a food court) of the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto, it took a few second guesses on where it actually was. I spent almost 3 hours full of nostalgia and anxious excitement wandering around, glaring at glass cases and rooms full of memorabilia. I could have spent the rest of the day just hanging out and reading every single piece of information, but my second campsite was calling my name. Only being 30 miles from Toronto, I did have a few spare minutes to grab some poutine(french fies & gravy) on the way out.
– Sean Reilly // @thirtyontwo