Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Day 19

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls from the Canadian side

Day 19 of my motorcycle road trip, and it was another scorcher. I got off to an early start hoping to minimize riding in the mid-day heat. I decided to take the direct route to Niagara Falls through southern Ontario, rather than riding south of Lake Erie to Niagara Falls, NY. Lots of thunderstorms to the south and east. A short hop on Highway 90 to Flint, Michigan, then east along Highway 69 into Canada at Sarnia, Ontario.

Riding through southern Ontario was probably the worst ride on my trip, so far. Very stressful. I was on large freeways with 6 to 8 lanes — taking Highway 402 to 401, then to 403. Although riding 6 and 8 lane highways are common in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I’d spent considerable time yesterday on Interstate 75 in Michigan, there was one major difference. The cars here were constantly weaving across the lanes through traffic. I started in the fast lane, but constantly had cars on my tail. I decided to ride in the middle lane, but that meant cars were weaving around me from all directions. Not that I was traveling slow. These cars were flying. Large signs posted along the highway said that if you were caught traveling over 50% above the speed limit you would immediately lose your license, your car would be impounded, and you would get a $10,000 fine. That didn’t seem to deter many drivers. The scary thing was how many cars were driving significantly over the speed limit, how they weaved across all of the lanes to pass other cars, and how they seemed to miss me by only inches as they swerved across 2 or 3 lanes. As you can tell by the fact that I’m writing this post, I made it to Niagara Falls unharmed.

 


 

Having lived in Canada for 30 years, and the Toronto area for 8 years, I’d been to Niagara Falls many times. However, it is always amazing to see these huge falls. Maybe even more awe inspiring is to hear the roar of the falls. The deafening sound of the water conveys the power and force of the water crashing over the falls. You also get a sense of the immense size of the falls, particularly seeing the Lady of the Mist tourist boat dwarfed at the base of the falls.

It was another day hovering around the 100 degree temperature mark. After a couple of hours walking around in my motorcycle outfit, I’d had enough. I considered wandering around downtown Niagara Falls. However, the area was packed with tourists. About 3:00 pm, I decided to make my way across the Canada/USA border into New York State. Crawling along the bridge for 1/2 hour to go a few hundred yards, and baking in the sun, was not very fun. Even my BMW R1200RT, being air-cooled, started to overheat. Finally, I was across the bridge and on my way, sort-of.

I had planned to take Highway 104 east, and spend the night in Rochester. Unfortunately, Highway 104 was closed and I was detoured onto some small surface streets. After stopping at several stop signs, and seeing no end to the detour, I decided to find another highway. I probably should have planned out my new route. Instead, I just headed south assuming I’d reach Highway 90 east. After about an hour, and stopping to ask several people for directions, none of whom seemed to know for sure, I finally reached Highway 90. I probably would have been to Rochester, at this point, if I’d kept following the detour.

After another hour or so riding along Highway 90, I reached Highway 490 to Rochester. Once again, it would have helped if I had looked at a map. Highway 490 doesn’t actually take you into downtown Rochester, as I had expected. As I rode 490 skirting south of Rochester, I decided to look for a hotel. It was already approaching 6:00 pm, and I was getting tired. Not only didn’t I see a hotel on Highway 490, I didn’t realize that Highway 490 loops north toward Rochester, and then back south to Highway 90. As I approached the Highway 31 exit, I noticed that the next exit said Highway 90. Being tired, and now confused about how I was again approaching Highway 90, I decided to get off at the Highway 31 exit. At about 6:30 pm, and still no hotel, I pulled into a MacDonald’s restaurant for a quick dinner and ask where to find the nearest hotel. Strangely, no one seemed to know. They suggested continuing along Highway 31 to Palmyra. Approaching 7:30 pm, and totally exhausted, I pulled into a Budget Inn. Not exactly a great motel, but it had a bed. That was good enough for me.

Road Trip – Previous and Next Day Posts

Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Day 18

Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Day 20

Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Day 1

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