Our Trip To Niagara Falls and

the Baseball Hall of Fame

         Last week Lila, Kevin and I headed north through New York State to visit Niagara Falls and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.   It was a lot of driving for a week but we wanted to visit both places as we thought that Kevin would enjoy seeing the Falls and also the history of baseball.   I was going to drive directly north out of Washington using the smaller local roads, believing that this would be the most direct route, if not a little longer in time.  But before leaving, cooler heads prevailed and I opted for the interstate highways.   It is always better to take the interstate highways, or at least that is what every one else seems to be doing. 

These roads are busy and the state police, wanting to help all travelers, are always there if we should need them.  In fact, I cannot tell you how many people we saw them helping during our many hours on the road.  The State Troopers are so great, that they were just pulling cars over the side of the road so they could ask them if there is anything that they could do to help.   Unfortunately, I was not one of the people they selected to help, but maybe I will be more luckier next time. 

 I was planning to take my Ford Explorer on the trip, but just before leaving the issue with the Firestone tires started brewing.   I kept checking with those in charge (wherever they are) and I was told that I had to get my tires inspected.  So Lila and I pulled into our local Firestone dealer who looked at our tires, only after dealing with the ten or so other Explorer SUVs in front of us.  I am a pretty patient guy and really did not mind waiting the forty-five minutes, and was certainly very pleased when he told me that I had the “bad” tires.   So calmly I said go ahead and replace the tires as I was going to leave on a long road trip that weekend and was not really satisfied with driving on the tires that have been defined as unsafe.   Had I left on the trip the week before these tires would have been just fine…. but now the government said they were bad, and they must know.   In the end, the Firestone dealer said he could replace the tires in about ten days…well that made my day.

So after some fast thinking, I decided to rent a car from Hertz…I even asked the rental agency if the tires were good.  The sixteen-year-old agent that assisted me assured that the tires were fine.   Well, that was as good as the government’s assurance, so off we rode into the sunset.  Heading north and west we drove to Erie, Pennsylvania for our first night stay.  Erie is a quiet city, which has a sizeable amusement park that was just the right size for Kevin.  Trying the rides and the arcade made him a happy man and us a little bit poorer and a bit tired. 

The next day we headed into New York State on through Buffalo to Niagara Falls, which took us about two hours…a short hop.  Heading across the border into Canada was easy and without delay.  The one question that seemed to be raised at the border crossing was whether we were bringing any guns into country…. which of course we were not, since we had previously arranged to ship them there directly…just kidding.   We checked into our hotel, which was advertised to be only one block from the Falls, but we soon learned that they had moved the falls about four blocks further away, since we had made our reservation.   After looking at the Falls, we realized how big a project that must have been…you know to move Niagara Falls.  We then decided to check into a hotel right at the Falls, so we would not have to walk the five blocks and pass the game arcade each time.  While this hotel was more expensive, we realized that we would not have to amortize the cost of the arcade with each trip. 

 So there we were with a view of the falls and we devoted the next three days to seeing Niagara Falls from every angle, as well as the IMAX Theater, which was appropriately showing the movie, Niagara.  We rode the Maid of the Mist, walked into the edge of the falls through the Cave Of The Winds trip and walked across the Rainbow Bridge.   Kevin and I stood with a foot in each country, while on the bridge, jumping back and forth so we could enjoy the changing weather conditions in Canada versus the Untied States.  It was great fun, but so very tiring.  Niagara Falls, Ontario is very “honky tonk”, but it attracts so many people, especially those from foreign countries like the United States, …really all the other countries of the world. 

After we exhausted all the special events, and ourselves as well, we decided to head for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown.  We crossed the state using the New York Thruway, where we had to pay a toll for the joy of driving on it.  But that was not enough; many times we would get caught up in traffic delays, brought on by road construction projects.  Seems that every other mile of the interstate system is being repaired and here on the Thruway the signs advertised “Your toll dollars at work for you”.  Well isn’t that nice, we not only had to pay for this great pleasure, but suffer the indignity of waiting in lines of traffic for them to get finished.

 The area around Cooperstown is certainly very beautiful and Kevin and I had the good fortune to go boating on Otsego Lake.  We had a great time with Kevin rowing a boat for the very first time, while I enjoyed the scenery and the time with my grandson.  By the way, he was an excellent traveler, not complaining about the time on the road (as long as we would get him to an arcade at some point).  While we were in Cooperstown the Dream Team (a junior baseball) competition was in its final stages and the closing ceremonies were being conducted.  They have an extensive facility and ball fields just outside of Cooperstown, where they hold their annual competition.  This is a very serious competition for the twelve and thirteen year olds that participate (in fact, some of these kids looked like they were sixteen or seventeen years old).  

 The next day we arrived in Cooperstown at 8:30am (we were staying in a motel about six miles north of town) as we were advised to get there early and secure a top priority-parking place.   Parking places get impossible to find by about 9:30am and then one must go to the parking places just outside of town, with buses bringing you back into town.  I am sure that if it were not for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown would be a dull place to visit.  Right now it is an array of little shops selling every conceivable baseball related type of artifact at not so cheap prices (they have only about four months of prime time).

The Hall of Fame on the other hand is quite professionally done and well set up for visitors.  Admission prices are reasonable at only about $8.00 per person and while it was very crowded; it was not too uncomfortable getting to view each of the exhibits.  Depending on your passion for baseball it could take any where from about four hours to at least two days to go through each display and read the descriptions and then think back about some of the memories associated with many of the names that make up our past.  Certainly the older we get, the more of what we see at the Hall of Fame brings back recollections of events we may have experienced directly or read about at some time past.

Kevin was not as excited as I thought he would be (not enough memories I suppose) and I was much more excited than I thought I would be (must be my age).   We spent about four hours in the Hall of Fame and then walked up and down the street visiting some of the local establishments.   There were so many things that Kevin wanted and did not get, but that’s life.   We also visited the Doubleday stadium; a replica of stadiums that existed in many towns in the early part of last century and named after Abner Doubleday, the father of modern baseball.

We departed Cooperstown at about 2:30pm and deadheaded all the way back home that evening.   It was a fun trip and having our grandson with us made it just perfect.