Like a lot of American locations, everyone thinks they know the place (if only from Lois Lane throwing herself over the edge in the Superman movie) but it is really quite impressive. Somehow, I thought the falls were higher. I guess Hollywood cameramen like to use dramatic angles. But the noise and the sheer force of the water was a sight to behold - as was the enthusiasm of the mainly Asian visitors.
If you doubt that Asia is the economic future, you should join me on this trip. The people spending money on tourism in America seem to be mainly from China and India. They seem to be enjoying it as much as me, so good for them.
The trip on the Maid of the Mist is a terrible cliché I know. We were packed tightly in our bright blue plastic ponchos and it was amusing to watch people try to look cool in them as they posed for family photographs. Even youth and beauty couldn't pull that one off! When I realised just how wet we were going to get I had to use mine to save my camera, rather than my clothes.
Despite the wet, the crowds and my English diffidence about forcing my way to the best position, I got my photos.
I dried out driving over 200 miles along the shores of Lake Erie with the roof down on the Interstate I-90. The baseball-branded sunscreen I bought in Cooperstown came in handy. The weather was beautiful all the way. I passed quickly through Pennsylvania on my way to Ohio, but will return there for a more leisurely visit in the second month of my tour. I am aquiring a habit of stopping off at the "welcome centres" each state seems to provide. They are clean and (naturally) welcoming. You can pick up a free road map, get a cup of coffee and - importantly for me - use the free wifi.
The city of Cleveland OH has a terrible reputation. Its economy is a mess, it has a high crime rate and its inhabitants call it "the mistake on the lake". My approach to such cities is going to be to spend more on my hotel and (as preferred by my motor insurers) to select one with valet parking.
The valet in question today approached me anxiously on my arrival to ask if Speranza had a stick shift. His momentary relief when I said "no" dissipated rapidly when he spotted the Formula One paddle change. He had never seen one before, apparently. One wonders what the rock stars who come to be inducted in the nearby Rock and Roll Hall of Fame rock up in. I am going to take a positive mental attitude and believe that his worries will make him extra-specially careful in parking her.
This evening I am off to explore downtown and find something suitable to eat. From the parts I saw on my way in, Cleveland looks much nicer than its reputation. Let's hope so. Tomorrow, of course, I shall go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cleveland, about as plausibly as Cooperstown claims for baseball, reckons it all began here. I shall report back when I have reviewed the evidence!