For various reasons (have you met my new stove and seen the tour schedule?) we found ourselves too short of time and money to do a whole lot, vacation- wise this summer. We decided to do a quickie when we heard about the bike train. We have cycled to Niagara before, we did it as a family when the girls were 8, 10 and 13… it’s not at all hard and is only 200km away, but that’s a three day ride each way… and that was too long for us. (Not distance wise, we’ve done 400km on family trips before, it was too long a time to take off work.) We could do what we have done in the past, box up the bikes and ship them on the train, but to be entirely frank, it’s a huge pain in the arse. You have to take of the pedals and turn your handlebars and tape the boxes and pay the money for the shipping and wait for them to be loaded and unloaded as oversize baggage, and if you’re travelling with a whole family, the time that takes really sucks…but we’ve done it.
The bike train solves all this. You ride over to Union Station, hand them the bike right there, they put it in a bike rack on the baggage car and hand it right back to you at the end of the ride. It’s spectacular. Ken and I knit the whole way.
Joe did whatever it is that non-knitters do with a train ride.
Once there, we got our bikes back and took off on a ride. We decided to go from the Niagara train station to Niagara On The Lake, then cycle back and check into our hotel. The next day we would cycle south toward Fort Erie, then whip back before getting on the train to go home to Toronto. Only Sam was with us this year, since her older sisters have jobs that mean they can’t take weekends off, so Sam was queen for the trip and set much of the agenda. The coolest thing on her list was the Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum. (Naturally, and I’m sure all the Canadians will be having flashbacks to 7th grade history class, this is located in the historic home of William Lyon Mackenzie, rebel publisher and instigator of the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837.)
They had all sorts of printing presses, including one that is the eighth oldest printing press in the world, and with the exception of that very old one, the rest are hands on. We all got to take turns pulling handles and levers and printing our own bookmarks, and Sam set her name in type (“Samantha” instead of “Sam”. More fun that way). Very, very good fun.
(Bloggers should be interested to know that this, these letters that one moves around to set the type for printing is an invention called “Movable type” Sound familiar?)
They had a linotype press too…it was absolutely fascinating, and considering how time consuming it is, it’s pretty fantastical to know that there are still plenty of newspapers all over the place who still use the technology, and that a realistic alternative only came along in the 70’s. The New York Times used Linotype until 1975.
We Cycled along the Niagara River for the rest of our day.
We saw orchards with almost ready peaches, and acres and acres of vineyards as we cycled along the “wine route”.
At the printing press we met a man named Roy Charles Asplin, who is a very charming old man and a neat guy, and he told us that he had made a statue of Lord Simcoe the stood in Simcoe Park in Niagara On The Lake.
We found it…and with little thought, the next picture was obvious.
The sock went to the Butterfly Conservatory,
which is really a fantastic and magical place.
Butterflies everywhere, even one to match my knitting.
This whole day took about 60km of cycling, and took us back to downtown Niagara Falls, where we started looking for the hotel. We cycled around Clifton Hill (an insult of incline after 60 k of cycling) we looked up and down the street, but try as we might, we couldn’t find our hotel. Ken finally asked me for the confirmation email so he could take it into another hotel and ask where it was, and I handed it to him…telling him the address, and he started to walk away.
Then he stopped dead, turned slowly and said “We have a big problem.” He pointed at the address. I looked where he was pointing. 433 Main Street, Niagara Falls. “What problem?” I said.
“Keep reading Steph.” I looked at the paper. 433 Main Street, Niagara Falls, USA.
Damn. Double Damn. There it was, across the river with that big huge BORDER in between us and it. Might have well been on Mars for how attainable it was. We hadn’t planned on a jaunt to another freaking country, so while we all had passports, we certainly didn’t have them with us, and nobody was carrying any proof of citizenship. (Except Sam. That kid was prepared for anything.) We did some fancy dancing, made a bunch of phone calls and found what we were told was the last available hotel room on our side of the border. Stupid, stupid, stupid. (I am back to self blame for the bonehead move on that one, although when we couldn’t find a hotel room I did have a rather good head of steam worked up about the stupidity of having two cities with the same name right next to each other.)
The next day we visited the falls,
contemplated a daring photo, but realized the risk to the sock was too great,
cycled south from the falls,
had a nice lunch, rode and rode and rode, and then turned up at the train station, boarded our bikes and headed for home.
It was a really good time, although if your view for a whole weekend is like this,
Then this is all the knitting you get done.
We’d do the bike train again in a heartbeat, even though today, I am- despite owning a great seat for my bike….acutely aware of my own seat.