Six hundred miles down to Memphis and another 600 miles back to Chicago. After my jaunt to Memphis I stayed another two nights in Chicago. However, despite my best efforts, I wasn’t able to organise my itinerary for another free keg night at my favourite hostel in the entire United States of America.
Instead on the Thursday I bought a 30 day Eastern America rail pass and boarded a night train to Niagara Falls. The train ride was a slow, laborious journey with sleep minimal due to faulty air-conditioning and near freezing conditions. I think I would have been happier consuming a few free jugs of cold beer back in good old Chicago.
But that was in the past and I had to now remember the reason why I was travelling the United States in he first place: to discover how money made the world go round.
However, when transport and accommodation were sufficiently cheap and convenient, there was no reason why I could not visit one of the natural wonders of the world along the way. I had already visited the Grand Canyon with its associated accommodation problems. I was hoping Niagara Falls would prove to be a more user friendly environment for the disorganised.
I arrived on the USA side of Niagara Falls, in a small town called Niagara, in the early afternoon. I then walked to the hostel from the train station, still weary of safety issues even though the surrounding population had dramatically reduced in size.
That night I had a quick look at the nearby Niagara Falls with a British guy who was staying at the hostel. He had some personal issues to deal with before he headed back home. The issues revolved around what he was going to do with the rest of his life. I told him to become a billionaire like I was going to be. I told him there is meaning in money. I can even invent an acronym for it.
MONEY = More Of Nothing Equals Yesterday. So the meaning is a bit obscure. But give me some space; it is my first attempt at these kinds of things.
The next day I walked the short distance from the hostel to Niagara Falls by myself. I wasn’t in the mood for philosophising or listening to other people’s problems. I wandered to some of the viewing vantage points I hadn’t had time to explore the night before.
I sat close to the edge of the Niagara Falls’ fatal drop into oblivion. Here, you could observe the river slowly flowing towards the edge of the abyss. A torrent of spray reached for the clear blue sky as the river fell to its destiny surrendering to its inevitable madness. The strength and power of the water as it fell over the edge of its reasoning contrasted starkly with the serenity of the gently flowing river above.
Do you believe in destiny? I …
But wait! The river has survived, it still lives on to reshape itself and float onward towards the sea (or wherever). I am sure it will survive as long as humans protect and enhance the environment.
What will become of us all if we do not protect that which provides us with life?
I crossed the border to Canada for another insight. The procedure for crossing the border was no more complex that ordering a fast food combo with extra large fries.
The Canadian side of Niagara Falls was a different world. The air felt cleaner and the streets felt safer. I watched the tourists, with their blue or yellow disposable coats, catch a ferry on its short journey beneath the spray of the Niagara Falls. I was above all that tourist gauche as I was a purist with purely no spare cash to spend.
Talking of tourist gauche it was the Canadian side that had all the gaudy tourist traps. The wax museums were located a street away from the natural splendour of the Niagara Falls. As part of my tourist experience I walked up and down the street and then returned to the Niagara Falls amazed at man’s ability to make a dollar from anything that could possibly reflect the greedy glint in his eye.
Looking back over the Niagara Falls it now appeared nothing more than another tourist attraction. I am sure at night after the last visitor has left someone in a small quiet room casually flicks the off switch. I bet the water freezes in motion, not to move once more until the new day dawns and with it the arrival of a new tourist dollar.