Friday, July 05, 2024

Tourist Town

As promised - or threatened, depending on your point of view - I can tell you about 'vacation' now. 

On a whim, 710 suggested we take a few days and go somewhere with the dog. Alrighty. Fine with me. But most state parks and cabins were already booked, so we looked at similar things in Michigan (ugh!) : ) Pennsylvania and New York. All easily drive-able. 

We ended at previously frequented place - Niagara Falls. 

710 and I have been there a few times on our own. And once with my mother. We have done both sides - American and Canadian. This time we stuck with just the American side - mostly because we needed like notarized vet paperwork for Shep and we only had electronic stuff.  Plus, they can take him to exam him at the crossing and well.........that wasn't going to happen. 

As it turns out, he's not a crowd dog - and the Canadian side is more congested and in a smaller space. It would have been a recipe for disaster.  So US of A bound we were.

If you have not been to the US side, or haven't been for a long time, it's very different than it was 20 years ago. Maybe even 15. 

Personally, we like it better, and loved it when it was truly more nature oriented. The park itself has been done very nicely. The space directly around the Falls is non-commercial. Yeah, right outside the park is, but the falls area themselves is very peaceful.  You know, except for the falls and the Niagara River. 

The river itself, close to and right after, the Falls is violent. It's just as entertaining to watch as the falls themselves. But there are also paved trails and such that wind thought nicely tended areas. Good enough to run a few miles per day. 

If you're up "early" (say 09:00), there is almost no one at the Falls. At 07:00, I was the only one there. I think by the time I ran to Horseshoe Falls, there might have been 6-7 folks there. 

710 got a hotel room literally 200 yards from the park. Maybe less. Pet friendly. 710 schmoozed the gay check in guy and we got their $15/person breakfast fee waived. Ditto with the parking garage free. Loe that man. 

Shep was freaked out by elevators and barked a bit at noises in the hall, but overall did ok. I think it stressed him out a bit. And we overdid it with the walking, as he is almost 9 years old. But there were a LOT of squirrels, so he was very entertained. 

Shep also got to swim in lakes Erie and Ontario. We ended up at a park where you could see the skyline of Toronto.

I think it's important to say this, but please do not read too too much into it: 

20+ years ago on This American Life, they did a wonderful broadcast on Niagara Falls. There are a few very interesting stories in that program - so listen if you have time. They mentioned how some people are mesmerized by the water, the flow and the falls and so they jump. An average of one person every two weeks. That was back in 1998. I don't know the numbers today. 

As it turns out, having depression and being at Niagara are not great things that should go together. It did not really occur to 710 or myself when we decided to go. Obviously, I did nothing, but the sense of ease of how it could occur there was just overwhelming to a person with an operations background. 

I could see dozens of ways to protect people from the area that clearly wasn't done for aesthetic sake. 

Fences are low, sometimes non-existent. Times of day, there is no one around.  Signs of 'no water access' pepper the paved trails on which I ran, though clearly there were well worn dirt paths from the paved area to the river just above the falls. Trails that line the river close to the falls themselves with no barriers what so ever. 

I saw only two crisis phones somewhat near-ish the falls. 

Even just thinking how "it" could be done was exhausting - not that I was ever planning or wanting to do anything. Still, it became mind-consuming. More often than not, I was happy to go back through the touristy part and back to our room. 

Me running alone along the river and falls could have been a bad thing, but in actuality it was cathartic and was mind-strengthening for me. 

Other days, we hiked along the river below the falls - and it was great. Beautiful, nice trails. Calming. 

And due to my morbid curiosity of most things, we made the 13 mile drive to Love Canal, which exists, yet doesn't. There is a fence. There are no trespassing signs. There are zero signs indicating Love Canal is / was there. It's on a map, but no street markings. There are no toxic symbols anywhere, yet houses built right up to its edge with the sprinklers going - so I'm sure that is safe!

It was a needed get away, but not the one I thought we were taking. It was somewhat of an unexpected litmus test for me, as it turns out, one I'll be discussing with my team of professionals. I don't see any real reason for alarm, but I'm also smart enough to discuss with the powers that be. They know better than I....hopefully. 

This was not written to bring anyone down or a 'woe is me' moment. I said a month ago, I would try to de-stigmatize mental health issues, and I'm committed to that through transparency. I can only write about my experiences. 

I'm stronger than I think, and smart enough to know how / when to seek assistance. 

Song by: Marti Jones


James Dwight Williamson said...

Glad you got away . Sounds wet.

GregM said...

I'm glad you told us to not read too much into it, because that's EXACTLY WHAT I DID. It was a nice read, though. With all that is going on in this country, I find myself saying more and more lately, "I'm glad I'm old (-er, I'm 63) and didn't have any children." I used to say it jokingly. Not so much anymore.

Take more time for yourself. Nature, especially, can be very healing. Thanks for keeping up with the writing. It's a daily go-to for me.


Travel said...

We went to the falls about 20 years ago, it is pretty. Another place to avoid at the moment is the Grand Canyon.