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24th Sept 09 – On the road to Niagara and back

October 15, 2009

It had been so easy to hitch to Ohio that my confidence and adventurous spirit were high. After working out what time I had and the relative locations of the places I wanted to visit on this trip to the US, I decided that now was the time to see if I could hitch to the Niagara Falls. From Cleveland it is only around a 4 hour drive there, which is not far compared to driving for half a day or several days as many do here. I’d already contacted a Couchsurfer about staying with her in Buffalo, the nearest big city to the falls, so it was just a matter of seeing if she could accommodate me a little sooner than the originally requested date. What a fun trip! After being dropped by my Akron host in Cleveland, I wrote my sign for Buffalo and waited for a kind and fearless person to stop. It was rush-hour out of Cleveland and after waiting for about an hour and I was thinking these city-types were unfriendly when I was tapped on the shoulder by a guy on his way to a conference there who’d been driving for two days from Arizona and could drop me where I needed to be. He’d pulled in and I’d not spotted him. Great!

My ride had a very interesting family history. His Father had come to the US with little money and made a way for himself by working hard but was thrown into a concentration camp by the KGB as a suspected spy when he tried to return to the Ukraine (during the time of Soviet occupation) to see family. His Father had met his Mother there and once released had returned to the US. He also told me about how he’d been followed by the KGB on his own visits to and how different the Ukraine was after the occupation was over.

The following day, I continued in my quest for Niagara and was picked up by the local on-call car mechanic on his way to the supermarket who decided upon seeing my sign for the falls, that it was more fun to hang out with me, take me to Niagara Falls and then to some other beautiful places he knew of (Devils Hole and Lake Ontario) before buying my lunch and dropping me at a service station so that I could make my way back to Indiana.

This time I was picked up by a young Canadian couple who were 8 hours into a 14 hour drive from Toronto to somewhere in Kentucky. I was their first ever hitch-hiker and they’d just earlier been discussing whether they’d ever pick up a hitch-hiker and concluded they might pick up a lone female so long as she didn’t look too “sketchy” by which I think meant they “odd”. So fortunately for me they deemed me suitable! It was good that both parties were new to the game and that I could share my first experience of picking up hitch-hikers in England. They provided bags of chips (crisps) and gummy bears, yum. I was dropped in Cleveland about dusk and I decided that from that point I’d be traditional and catch a train the remainder of the way to Indiana. This wasn’t exactly as easy as in the UK as you really have to book in advance for the Amtrak. Still, I found a coffee shop with a wifi internet connection and used my trusty phone to book my ticket online. I was able to relax in the coffee shop until it closed around 11 before wandering to the Amtrak station to doze and people watch for another 4 hours until my train arrived around 3am! Another successful end to an eventful hitch-hiking adventure!

Lovely Niagara Falls pictures here

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