Chicago, Niagara Falls, Earwax and Dead Animals

Nick and I left for Chicago on Friday, June 12th. This was to be my first time in Chicago (for more than a layover) and I was pretty excited. We rolled into Chicago traffic around 5:30 or so, making it to the Double Door on time for load-in. Rather than try to make a story about every little thing and bore you with the details, here's a quick summary of what I remember about my trip to Chicago:

  • Sleeping in the car in an alley while the L rolled overhead, the sound of the rain on the moonroof
  • the Earwax Cafe (and wishing we could have gone)
  • A not-so-great Chicago Dog from the Underdog across from the venue
  • Melanie treating us to a midnight snack: The Best Burrito, consumed at 3am in a parking lot, huge enough to share with Daryl and us both to be full
  • mmmmm deep-dish pizza from Pizzeria Uno
  • The basement green-room of the Double Door and the hallway that smelled like a mixture of water, urine and fruit spray
  • Super awesome breakfast and family time with John, Jocelyn and the kids
  • "Washing" and changing in the Village Starbucks bathroom
  • The copy center in the Village -and a picture of the owners with President Obama
  • A ginormous lake of some sort
  • Guitar stores actually worthy of visiting
  • Dropping my cell phone on a busy Chicago street, in a puddle, and my cell phone no longer functioning
  • Driving and scrambling from Tmobile to Tmobile in an attempt to get a loaner phone for the rest of my trip
  • Traffic to rival Los Angeles (but not quite)
  • Public Transportation and People On Bikes (yes, these still excite me.)
  • and of course - two awesome nights of two awesome shows.

In a nutshell: Chicago was awesome and I hope to go back - with more time to spend doing some of the arty business I so enjoy. (And also - to consume foody goodness at the Earwax Cafe.)

We left Chicago late Saturday night. Nick decided to accompany me on my mini-adventure to Niagara Falls, as he had never been there either. We rolled into the Niagara Falls area Sunday evening... the weather was perfect, the area was not-too-crowded, and we were both ready to Not Be Driving.

Niagara Falls is definitely one a tourist attraction WORTHY of being a tourist attraction. (No offense, Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota.) Niagara Falls, Canada is a beautiful town. As we drove through on our way to the falls, we passed through storybook neighborhoods and (I kid you not) we saw ladies tending to gardens and men mowing lawns with cute little lawn-mowers. It was kind of surreal - I half expected Steve Martin to step out and say "What a day for a mow eh?"

We did all the touristy Niagara Falls things we rightly should have done. (See obligatory by-the-falls picture below.) We also did the Behind-The-Falls tour, which I really recommend for anybody that goes. Why bother going if you can't witness the immense, crushing, pulverizing power of the falls from every angle? (I'm not being sarcastic. It is pretty incredible and makes one feel quite tiny and squishable.)

Insert "awww" here.

The falls were beautiful, I heart rainbows, yadda yadda. ;)

I have a soft spot in my heart for buildings covered in moss that look line ruins. I heart them even more than rainbows.

We left the falls and the pleasant cityscape in the early evening, both of us in good spirits. As we drove from the Canadian side of the falls to the American side, the picture quickly changed. The first 7 buildings we saw were boarded up. The streets were strewn with litter and walls were plagued with graffiti, some covered, some not-so-covered. (And no, not mural art - this was graffiti-graffiti.) Later I learned that Niagara, NY has been not-so-affectionately (but somewhat appropriately) nicknamed "Little Detroit." I hope this struggling city can make its way out of this and recover some of what it has lost. Maybe if jerks like me stop recommending the Canadian side of the falls a little bit of tourist dough can make the way to the Niagara Falls, NY economy.

We drove through the night, and into the rain. We couldn't believe the amount of deer we saw on the first part of the drive - we stopped counting at 20. (Both dead and alive, unfortunately.) As we headed towards Massachusetts we hit turnpike after dark and forest-y turnpike. The rain was relentless and so were the long stretches with no services. After what seemed like forever and a day, the rain finally tapered off to a drizzle and we exited to the first Motel we could.

Canaan, NY.

In the middle of the night we navigated up a tiny road through the forest towards a creepy and eerily welcoming glowing red sign... "MOTEL... vacancy."