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Niagara Falls?  What Falls?

(Reprint from News: August 10, 2001)

August 9, 2001


Sometimes the powers-that-be are set against us.  During my travels, I occasionally run into frustrating situations when it seems that an invisible hand prevents me from seeing or doing something.  Without getting too religious, I think someone watches over each of us and sends us subtle messages, and it's up to us to interpret those messages.  Over the years, I've learned to watch for these signals and respect them, instead of butting my head against the wall and trying to do something that, apparently, I'm just not supposed to do.  Apparently, I'm not supposed to see Niagara Falls.  


I've been to the falls twice in the last three years -- but I still haven't seen them.  Back in 1998, I was driving east across Ontario and was planning to see the falls for the first time before continuing on to Don and Debbie's house in Syracuse.  As I got off the freeway and started heading into town, though, my truck started lurching, so I got back on the freeway.  The lurching problem disappeared and I never had that problem again.  Of course, I didn't see the falls, either, though.


I thought about that 1998 episode during my recent visit to Niagara Falls, this time heading in the other direction.  As I approached the city of Niagara Falls, New York, I was absolutely determined to see the falls and had my AAA maps spread out on the front seat beside me.  


It looked very simple:  just stay on the Parkway until I got close to the falls, find a parking spot, then walk to the falls.  However, the next 60 minutes were a real nightmare.  First, on the American side, I wasn't sure that I was on the right road because there weren't any directional signs for several miles.  Suddenly I came to a traffic light and saw 30 signs pointing in all different directions.  Then I couldn't find a place to park.  After that, I got caught on a 10-mile long roadway with all exits (and turnarounds) coned off due to road construction, all the while driving 50 miles-an-hour away from the falls.  


Giving up on the American side, I decided to try the Canadian side.  I got turned around and found a bridge to the Canadian side, but the bridge was only for those people with frequent-crossing cards or something.  I finally found another bridge and crossed over into Canada but spent the next 30 minutes driving around the very congested city of Niagara Falls, Ontario unable to park anywhere.  After an hour, I stopped butting my head and decided that I'm just not meant to see the falls.  If someone has a picture of Niagara Falls, please send it to me.



Above left:  After leaving Palmyra, I spent over an hour driving around the cities of Niagara Falls, New York and Niagara Falls, Ontario, looking for those stupid falls.  I never did see them.  As I drove out of town, of course, I felt like a total idiot.

Above center:  As I headed across Canada to Michigan that evening, I stopped in the small village of Putnam, Ontario.  If you've been following my website, you know that Israel Putnam (a general during the Revolutionary War) was supposedly one of my ancestors.  I stopped at the store here to find out what I could about the town name, Putnam. 

Above right:  With help from several friendly folks including the town librarian, shown here, I learned that I'm probably related to the Putnams of this town.  Actually, it was fortunate that I didn't spend any more time at Niagara Falls because I would've gotten to Putnam after the library closed.



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