Driving through the northeast corner of Ohio, Lake Erie began to come into view. Soon I was in Pennsylvania, enjoying the green fields, clusters of trees and open vistas. It took about an hour to cross this part of Pennsylvania. My phone spoke the words, “WELCOME TO NEW YORK!” (it always startles me when I cross state lines), and I became acquainted with the New York State Thruway Authority
Traffic slowed to go through the toll station. An employee handed me a ticket. I thought to myself: Toll booth people do this all day, day after day, in all sorts of weather? This could easily be mechanized.
As I drove through New York, I passed turnoffs for cities with names like Ripley, Silver Creek, Lake Erie Beach, and Lackawanna. After about 80 miles, I left the thruway and paid $11.80 for my car and trailer to a toll collector in a booth. (Again, this could easily be mechanized.) I wondered how much I would be spending to cross the rest of the state!
I put that thought on the back burner and paid attention to getting through Buffalo, NY safely with my trailer. There were narrow streets because of construction barriers, narrow lanes on very high bridges, and just plain terrible (rough pavement) roads. But I made it to my campground: Four Mile Creek State Park on the shore of Lake Ontario.
The next day, I unhitched from the trailer and drove my car into Canada. It makes me a bit edgy going into another country. The border agent took my passport, noticed my tinted windows and said, “Roll down your back window please. Why are you coming to Canada?” “I’m visiting my cousin in Niagara-on-the-Lake.” “How long will you be staying?” he asked. “Just today,” I replied. He handed back my passport. “Welcome to Canada.” Whew.
I was coming to Niagara-on-the-Lake to meet my double third cousin, Suzanne. We are double cousins because our great grandparents were two Leake brothers who married two Scott sisters, so we share DNA from both sides. Suzanne and I met at Corks, a charming restaurant on Queen Street across from the old 1847 courthouse. We saw a horse and carriage from our window seat.
Even though Suzanne and I had never met or even knew about each other until a few weeks ago, we both have the same family stories and some of the same old family photographs. People say we look alike. We are just 2 weeks apart in age. I loved meeting and getting to know another cousin!
I had some Canadian money left from my Alberta province visit earlier in the summer, so I used it to buy gas. Crossing back into the US, the border agent looked at my passport and asked, “Why were you in Canada?” I told him I had been there to visit my cousin. Then he asked, “Did you buy anything?” I told him I bought lunch and gas. He handed the passport to me and waved me through. (These border crossings have been way more stressful for me than learning to tow or hitch up the trailer!)
On the way back to my campground, Google told me to turn left, but I actually needed to turn right. I had taken the same wrong turn the day before, so I knew I would need to go about 3 miles before I could turn around. I was grumbling at Google as I approached the place where I turned around before. Then I noticed signs for Niagara Falls. Oh, OK. The actual Falls. I’m this close, so I may as well see it. I’m so glad I did!
The next day was cold and rainy. I decided to try out the trailer oven and bake pumpkin bread. Cousin Millie and Rob had sent a home-grown pumpkin with me when I was at their house on the California desert in July. It traveled well in perfect condition until I used it in September! I’m glad you have a green (orange) thumb, Rob!