For the past two weeks, I’ve been thrown out of my normal routine of work, yoga and blogging. For the past week, I took a vacation with my wife going to Canada and visiting my old home town in Niagara Falls, New York. In Ontario, we were staying at a resort that was 90 minutes north of Toronto, in the north woods, so there were no studios nearby. We had only limited access to Internet, just enough to check the e-mail and our bank balance. There was a fitness center, swimming pools, jacuzzi and sauna so we did take advantage of the facilities. Even though it was supposed to be the peak season for the foliage, the extended dry summer weather meant that few trees had changed colors. That was a disappointment. While we were there, the weather broke a record for warmest day by over 10 degrees. We made a quick, two-day excursion to Quebec, which required too much time behind the wheel driving, but allowed us to see the picturesque wonders of Ville de Quebec and Montreal. If I were to recommend one place to see in Canada, it would be Quebec. Canada has become a lot more expensive than it used to be because of the falling value of the US dollar.
I had not been back to Niagara Falls in 43 years so practically no one that I knew from those days is still around. I wouldn’t even know how to contact them. The city has fallen onto hard times, with its old industrial base (chemicals) gone obsolete, the Air Force base closed and nothing has moved in to provide a solid economic foundation for the area. There’s a lot of urban rot in the city, despite the need to keep the area neat and clean to attract tourists. I visited my old home and was struck by how small it all seemed. I remember my yard being huge; in my childhood, I organized infantry charges across its expanse. My elementary school had been demolished so that piece of my memory is gone. My junior high (Gaskill) is now a private prep school; it still looks the same. The church where my dad pastored is now home to another denomination. I was expecting to have a bout of nostalgia, but it all seems so remote because I left the town when I was 14 years old.
Teresa and I spent a full day taking in the sights on the American side of the Falls. We went on the Maid of the Mist boat outing below the falls where you really feel the force of nature all around you. We visited the museums and historical displays because I wanted Teresa to understand the cultural context in which I grew up; I loved to study the history of the region. Even though it was a weekend, we did not have to fight crowds. I know that I never spent that much time sightseeing when I lived there in the 1950s and 60s. We hit the Canadian side of the falls, which has a much better view of the Falls than the American side, when we came back from Ontario on the following Saturday.
The week before, I had a flare-up of my sinus infection that left me voiceless and groggy. It felt as if needles and pins were piercing my throat any time I tried to swallow. I got to see my doctor quickly and was prescribed another two-week round of antibiotics. Within three days, I was feeling a lot better, but by then I was packing bags for Canada. I have a sneaking suspicion that the repeat was due to my sinus not being completely cleared up the first time, that having my sinus infected so long made it especially hard to clean out all the infection.