Day 17 – USA. Canada! USA. Canada!

Today we crossed the border three times — and managed to get flagged for secondary inspection only once.

We started out before 7 AM and were in Canada by 8:30 AM, crossing through Detroit without issue.  We were greeted by sprawling agriculture fields dotted with giant windmills.

1a - Canadian Countryside

Before long, we had made our way to the day’s highlight — Niagara Falls!

1b - Falls PANO

We had planned to check out the Falls from both the Canadian side and American side but, after seeing just how amazing they were from Canada, we figured there wasn’t anything new to see from the other side and so decided to stay longer in Canada.  We think it was the right decision given how you get such a panoramic view from the Canadian side that is simply just not possible from the American vantage points.

“Niagara Falls” is actually a name that refers collectively to three different water falls in the area.  From “left” to “right,” their actual names are American FallsBridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls.  American and Bridal Veil are both completely in the United States, with Bridal Veil being a small, single fall at the edge of American span.

1c - Niagara Falls
“American Falls” and “Bridal Veil Falls”

Horseshoe Falls is easily the most recognizable — and the destination for the famous “Maid of the Mist” boat ride.  This set of falls was simply incredible.  The amount of water gushing over was so impressive it’s hard to imagine how there’s any left to keep Lake Erie filled!

1d - Horseshoe Falls

During our time along the water, we saw boat after boat — each filled to the brim with passengers — cruise into the rapids created by the falls, turn around, and then leave.  To be honest, it seems like quite the business model.


In addition to the sound, the cloud of mist is also quite impressive.  It was actually visible to us as we drove in far sooner than the falls themselves.

1f - Horseshoe Falls

After we had our fill, we checked out the visitor’s center, got ourselves a new ornament, and headed back to the truck.  Couldn’t leave Canada without a picture with a Moose, though, so Ally made sure to capitalize on the last minute wildlife sightings.

3 - Ally w Moose

3b - Upside Down House
This is an upside down house we found right around the corner from the Falls.  We have no clue what it is, so you can make up your own story.  It’s probably better than the truth anyways.

Our night’s campground was going to be in Canada, but it would be about 7 hours away if we stayed in-country, so we decided to shave off 3 hours of driving by cutting through New York.  We crossed the border back into America, and made our way to Syracuse.  We didn’t have any time to stop and explore the city — including the campus of perennial UConn foe, Syracuse University — but we did stop for dinner in the Finger Lakes Region.

5 - Oneida Shores Sign

Specifically, we stopped at the western edge of Oneida Lake — home to Patrick’s Dad’s family’s long-time summer vacation spot.  While they typically spend time on the eastern edge of the 13-mile-long lake, there was a perfect campground / picnic area on the western side that was less than 2 miles off the highway.  Though not immediately obvious from these pictures, Oneida Lake is so long (though, not nearly as wide) that from certain vantage points it’s impossible to see the other side.

5a - Onedia Lake

We set up shop and threw together a snack of hot dogs, chips, and beer.  For that easy menu, Patrick was the cook.

5b - Oneida Lake

With full bellies, we set out to see the rest of the park, including the campground that had eluded our Google Map searching.  It was perfect, peaceful and secluded.

5d - Oneida Lake5e - Oneida MeAfter that, we were back in the car for the final two hours back to Canada.  Despite having driven nothing but north or east for nearly two weeks, we were a bit concerned when we saw signs for the wrong country — specifically, exits for Mexico!

Fortunately, this town of 5,000 was not a sign we had in fact been driving in the wrong direction.

Right before the border, and with the sun setting, we decided to stop for both gas and firewood.  In our haste to get back on the road, we tossed the wood in the backseat rather than its traditional home of in the truck’s bed — hidden by the tonneau cover.  Well, at the border, we were told it amounted to contraband and we’d need to “surrender it” or return back to the States.

We opted to leave it behind and were directed to “secondary inspection” — our first such encounter with any sort of border patrol or other inspection stops — and were immediately met with skeptical officers who had a hard time conceal their incredulity that these two harmless Americans, who were staying in Canada for only about 15 hours, were being flagged for firewood.  They explained the importance of preventing spread of the Ash Beetle, but then let us pass without taking the wood so long as we promised to not burn it in Canada.  Deal.  (Oh, they also wanted to see our bear spray and thought that was pretty entertaining, too.)

Once across, it was a 5 minute drive to tonight’s campsite — the 1,000 Islands KOA.  We made it just minutes before the 9 PM closing time and were greeted by a comprehensive host who easily took more time to explain the park’s map to us than it would take to just drive around the entire park and draw your own map.  Anyways, we eventually made our way to the site and set up Turtle.

7 - Campsite

Tomorrow is looking to be another long drive — approximately 10 hours to Maine!

Ann Arbor, MI to Mallorytown, ON (via Niagara Falls) – 560 miles (9 hours)

-Ally and Patrick

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