After Michigan, the next group of friends and family on our list were in the western parts of New York. We wanted to go through Canada to Buffalo, NY but had to go the south route around Lake Erie and through Cleveland because I am an incurable procrastinator and didn’t get a passport in time. Regardless, after an uneventful extra night of travel, we parked in Buffalo and reunited with some of my favorite people, Nevada power-couple Janet and Eric. Additionally, I finally got to meet their adorably frustrating two-year-old, Jack. Introductions were made between Brooke and the three of them and she, as always, fit right in.
Buffalo, New York
It was later into the evening on a Friday when we arrived in Buffalo so we spent the rest of it catching up on everything that had happened since we last saw each other. Here’s a quick summary: They produced a human baby and I moved into a car. Very moving stuff. Several hours of conversation and laughter later, we submitted to our biological urge to sleep. Eric had to work most of the time we were there but Janet agreed to take us to Niagara Falls and a few of the hiking trails nearby that weekend.
Niagara Falls was an incredible sight to behold. The noise was thunderous and the closer we got to the falls, the more difficult it became to keep a conversation without shouting. Niagara isn’t the biggest waterfall in the world, but it’s definitely the biggest tall waterfall in the world that still exists. We walked all over around the top of the falls (again, on the American side because of me) before deciding to take the Cave of the Winds tour. We unapologetically passed on the Maid of the Mist boat tour because we saw the boat down below and it appeared to be uncomfortably packed. A decent wait in line and a 175ft elevator put us face-to-face with Hurricane Deck and the bottom of Bridal Veil Falls. Hurricane Deck is a seasonal terrace that’s installed at the bottom of the falls when it’s not cold enough to freeze. It was still much colder at the bottom and the spray from the water hitting the rocks at the bottom was constant. At some points, the water flowed over the top of the deck instead of underneath it, soaking our feet. We were suddenly very grateful for the provided non-slip sandals and plastic ponchos. It was a very different experience seeing it from the bottom than the top but both views were exceptional. We took the elevator back up, dried our feet, and then headed into the city for dinner and chocolate from a new, local place. Both of those were great as well.
While enumerating the interesting things to see in the area, Janet mentioned the Eternal Flame Falls. She explained that there is a natural gas source in a trail near Buffalo that leaks out into the air and has been lit to produce a fire that never goes out. A name like “The Eternal Flame” demanded attention on its own but the description had us sold. On Sunday, we set out to see this eternal flame. We parked at the trailhead and made the short, steep hike down into the gorge. The dirt on the ground gradually became more scattered until it revealed massive flat sheets of shale underneath. We got deeper into the gorge and different layers of shale, each thinner than an inch, started to pile up around us until we were at the bottom and they rose up all around us. Water moved across the lowest panels and it was at that point that Janet realized she forgot to mention that the eternal flame was tucked under a small waterfall. We were even more excited about that so we hurried to the end of the trail and finally saw it.
After spending a few minutes taking in the unique spot, we drove back towards the Niagara River to see the Niagara Whirlpool, another point of interest that Janet had told us about. We wound up walking about a mile down the river, half of which was stairs, before seeing the whirlpool from a distance and deciding it was “not as cool as the flame” and turned back.
We spent the remainder of our weekend visiting, trying out food in Buffalo, and taking it easy in the evenings after the miles of walking. It was nice to see Janet and Eric again but duty called on Monday. We all had work to do so we provided a parting gift, a tidy living room, and said our goodbyes.
We moved from Buffalo to Appleton to visit with Brooke’s Uncle Gary for the second time this trip. The first time we visited with Gary was in Montana. That wasn’t exactly the most comfortable set of circumstances for anybody and we’re very happy to say that he has since been able to improve his conditions dramatically. This time we met with Gary on a gorgeous farm he’s started working at. The farm has orchards of pears, apples, cherries, and more as well ~70,000 bulbs and 60 different varieties of garlic. What excited us just as much was that this farm was actually a farm that had electricity, plumbing, and room for visitors. Gary showed us all around the farm in a mule and we saw one of the most gorgeous sunsets imaginable.
The whole entire facility was amazing. We saw the garlic storehouse where all the different bulbs are labelled and dated and left to cool or heat depending on the type. We socialized with the two Maine Coon barn cats and sampled some of the farm’s produce. The owners also told us about how they host events and provide food for anybody who shows up. If you’re interested in any of their products like the specialty Tart Cherry Juice, garlic bulbs, or other products, you can check out the Singer Farms website here and visit their online store. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
We stayed with Gary on the farm overnight and said our goodbyes after work the following day. In the days after that, we made a sprint across greater New York State. Brooke was getting anxious to get back to her roots and family in Connecticut and we figured we could use that as a base to see NYC and/or Boston from. We cleared Syracuse and Cortland within a day or two and then skirted north of the city to get into the western part of Connecticut.
We’re a little sick of driving but still as excited as ever to get to our next destination. We’ll have another update for you soon and, for now, everything is fine.