Feeling better and finally blogging, again. Wow — the cold/flu/whatever kicked my behind! On our recent trip to Syracuse with Mr. & Mrs. Jonathan McNair and Mr. Sheldon Monson, I came down with a serious case of the horribles just about one week ago. I haven’t been sick in a while, but it still kicked me around mercilessly. My Beautiful Wife was spared, which was an answer to prayer as far as I am concerned, because it ran through every single one of the rest of us Smiths.
And the timing was a real bummer, too, because I missed a couple of sessions at the camping conference that I would have loved to see in person, although my wife brought back some very good materials. Thankfully, I was well enough to speak in Rochester, New York (great folks, there–loved the visit! Thank you!) during the church-wide fast, though the next few days I still felt as though I had been dragged around by a truck “Indiana Jones” style. Today is probably the first day I can say that I feel more than 90% normal (well, 90% normal for me). And the kids are recovering well, also. And Beautiful Wife? Continuing just fine, cold/flu/whatever-free!
Another “bummer” element was the fact that we had planned to stop by Niagara Falls on the way back, as it was simply too incredibly close to ignore. And while it was amazingly beautiful, even in the winter, it would have been wonderful to visit at a time when I don’t feel like a dog’s leftovers. The pictures I am adding to this post are from that visit.
As yucky as some of the kids and I felt, though, it was very worth stopping for. The Falls are absolutely gorgeous, and the raw power of the place is exhilarating to experience. Being without passports, we were limited to seeing the American Falls up close, as opposed to the Canadian “Horseshoe” Falls, which are, perhaps, more iconic, and I thought this might be disappointing. However, it was not disappointing in the least — really, absolutely amazing.
It was a motivation to get our passports, I must say, knowing that we were just yards away from entering the exciting and exotic land of Canada! What odd and unusual crafts and artifacts they would have had there! I can scarcely imagine the strange language and dialects we would have heard and experienced, or the unusual rituals and foreign customs of that mysterious land! What would we use to barter? How would we communicate?
OK, I’m kidding. But to be so close to the land of so many of our northern friends and to realize that we couldn’t step foot across that border because we are passport-less Americans was enough of a prod, I think, to finally push us into getting them. We’ve wanted to for some time, but, like many things that we’ve wanted to do for some time, it just hasn’t risen too high on the “Must do now!” list.
On the “different” side of things, the visit reminded me much of Jupiter’s moon, Europa. Many scientists believe that Europa’s icy shell actually surrounds an ocean of liquid water which, predictably, has many excited about the possibility of life there.
The view that brought Europa to mind was this one, at right. There was a lot of ice on the river below, and you could tell that at its fringes near the bottom of the American Falls more was forming as the water calmed. But the activity under the ice and the constant pressing formed numerous cracks and crevices, and looking at it I thought of the icy Jovian moon. Not exactly the same, I know (check out the real thing here on Wikipedia), but enough to get me on a “Hey, kids, let’s talk about Europa” kick for a good five minutes or so.
And the final treat I have for you (if you don’t think of them as treats, please don’t tell me; I’m still weak and recovering <cough, cough>), is an image of this guy at left: one of the legendary Chubby Squirrels of Niagara. These guys were enormous (the guy pictured here was not the biggest, methinks), and completely lacking in fear of us puny humans. And no wonder: they likely equate us with giant pockets of free food. As I stood there in my coat, gloves, and hat, shivering a bit in my post-sickness enhanced chill, Jabba the squirrel, here, looked as warm as could be. The first one I noticed was actually just a few inches above my head on a tree limb. I thought to myself, “You are the chubbiest squirrel I have ever seen in my life–how in the world did you get up in that tree?” Of course, looking at me, he could have been thinking analogous thoughts (ahem), but both of us were courteous enough not to say anything. And, again, he did look warm. I suppose if it serves a purpose, who can complain?
Yes, it was horrible feeling horrible, but it was an opportunity we just couldn’t pass up, and we loved it. I would definitely like to visit again sometime when it is warmer and we all feel better. Really, an absolutely stunning sight.