Customs Agents Make Me Nervous - America's Most Naive Bike Tourist Rides From MN to MA - CycleBlaze

June 27, 2014

Customs Agents Make Me Nervous

Lockport, New York

I was right about Canadians.  They're fun!  Their version of Wal-Mart is called Canadian Tire.  I went to one of their stores to pick up another canister of iso-butane fuel and I liked it much better than a Wal-Mart.  Canadian Tire has everything--including tires.

I was wrong about Canadians too.  They're just like us.  There is no such language as Canadian and their culture is indistinguishable from ours.  That may not be true in the Northwest Territories, but it's true in Ontario.

The Wal-Mart of Canada--but cooler.
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The Niagara River is shrouded in steam rising off the water this morning.  I think that means the water is warmer than the air, or something like that.  Whatever the cause, it would put a serious dent in my Quest for Fun if that condition affects my view of the falls in any way.

After removing a layer of clothing at a rest area, I noticed a trail.  I decided to follow it.  My new route took me over the river via the top of a dam and I came to a big park.  I didn't know where I was, but it must be in the U.S. since I crossed the river.  Well, I was wrong.  I don't know how it happened but I rejoined the Niagara Parkway and I was still in Canada.

"Don't run away, I am your friend!"
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I never thought it could be possible, but the city of Niagara Falls, Ontario totally destroyed its American counterpart--Niagara Falls, New York--in the category of "gaudy displays of touristy bullshit."  It even outdoes Branson, Missouri and almost gives Las Vegas a run for its money.  OK, it isn't THAT weird.

The falls themselves, despite the heavy tourist factor, were certainly amazing.  The best word I can think of for them is "powerful."  The volume of water is powerful.  The natural beauty is powerful.  The SOUND is powerful.  The blast of rainy mist that rises from the bottom of the falls to rim of the canyon is powerful.  I spent more time there than I ever thought I would.

I think the real message is: Jump in here and you are going to go over the Niagara Falls.
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The boat is full of rain-jacketed tourists.
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Still in Canada and wondering what I'm doing here.
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I went off-route again.  I thought it might be interesting to cross back into the U.S. from one City of Niagara Falls to the other.  It wasn't until I was on the "Rainbow Bridge" that I considered the consequences of crossing at a site other than the one I told Canadian Customs I was going to use.  What if the Canadians communicate with the Americans to report liars?  By then it was too late to turn around.  I could do nothing else but get in line with all the cars to face my doom.

    "Do you have anything to declare?" asked the U.S. Customs guy.

    "Uh, like, what do you mean?"  (Strip search is already going through my mind.)

    "Like, did you buy anything in Canada?"

    "Only a canister of highly flammable iso-butane gas."  Actually, I didn't say that exactly.  I toned it down to "only fuel for my camp stove."

He didn't seem interested in that, but he WAS interested in whether this journey was a bucket list thing for me (No) and why I do it (It's a fun way to see the country.)  And the camping aspect of the trip totally baffled him.  He let me through.

On the American side, I rode on something called The R. Moses Parkway.  It was the first time I have ever seen a bike trail that was wider than both lanes of the highway that ran alongside of it.  TRUE!  Then I moved onto Highway 31 (New York Bicycle Route 5) and rode that to Lockport where I got a motel room.  I am excited to start riding the Erie Canal Trail tomorrow.

Looking back at the Canadian equivalent of Las Vegas from the safety of the R. Moses Parkway.
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Today's ride: 32 miles (51 km)
Total: 1,211 miles (1,949 km)

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