It never fails. That feeling that sets in when you know you have to say goodbye for a while. My parents and I had breakfast together before we continued on our separate ways. They would head south back to Jersey and I’d officially start my road trip to Wyoming. After watching them drive off I realized, oh shit, it’s game time. Four days solo, on the road, with my thoughts and miles of landscape to keep me company.
The drive through the Mohawk Valley takes you past farmland and along the famed route of the Erie Canal. The Mohawk River breaks up the monotony of the flat corridor along with a gorgeous cliff band that juts out west of the city of Schenectady. Virgin territory for me. It felt like the Midwest. None of the topographic prominence of the Catskills or the Adirondacks but charming in its own way.
You can’t see the Finger Lakes from the interstate but they lie parallel to each other from east to west roughly, eleven lakes in total. This is when I started to think about my single status as I fantasized about touring a lovely vineyard, Shiraz in hand, with the fictional love of my life. It got pretty intense and at one point, the tears began to flow. Perhaps it was a combination of the setting and the on and off rain that started as I entered the region. I composed myself and decided I’d make a short detour south towards Seneca Lake. Seneca is the largest of the Finger Lakes and its depths reach a whopping 618 feet making it the deepest lake entirely within New York State. I reached its northern shore near the town of Geneva and sat on a rock wall above its gently lapping waves. That itch to cast a line hit me quite hard as did a sense of shock at how deep the lake is. From where I was perched, the water looked no more than a couple of feet deep.
I said my goodbyes and hit the road again. I wanted to make it to Ohio today and I still desired a visit to Niagara Falls, another natural landmark that had escaped me for years. As I reached the outskirts of Buffalo I felt my mood lift. Excitement kicked in as I crossed the Niagara River and watched its rapids quicken as It neared the massive cataracts. Part of the reason why I avoided this place for so long was suddenly imposing itself on me to my right, the city of Niagara Falls. Hard Rock Cafe, wax museum, restaurants, and tacky souvenir shops. All the kind of shit I don’t want to see while I’m looking at such a majestic natural wonder. Man, there must have been at least a million tourists standing at the edge of the falls! The sad thing is, I don’t know if any of them actually looked at them with their own eyes.
This place is a testament to the technological, smart device era we’re consumed by. Every tourist fighting for their own little spot from which to take an endless amount of selfies and videos bound for Instagram and Facebook. Where was the contemplation of nature? The pause for silent reverie? But, I was a part of the fiasco too. I refused to take a selfie though based on principle. The world doesn’t need another Niagara Falls selfie, trust me. I was impressed. Although urban and incredibly crowded, The Niagara Gorge is quite lovely. The falls are monstrous and the spray from their crashing waters can be seen from a distance. An awe inspiring volume of water indeed. I couldn’t help but to imagine what it all looked like before the place was turned into a commercial attraction, before the industrialization and settlement of the area.
I high tailed it to the car after a few more moments of reverence and headed back to the interstate. I almost forgot that I had driven from the eastern door of the Iroquois nation to the western door. From the land of the Mohawks to the Land of the Seneca. The people of the Long House, the Haudenosaunee. This was their home before the interstates, the canals, the Hard Rock Hotel, and the strip malls.
I made it to Ohio as planned. America’s Best Value Inn. My motel for the night. Ballen baby, ballen…. No bed bugs at least…..