Day 42: 75 miles from Brantford, ON → Niagara Falls, NY

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In the photo, left to right, are Amanda, Ian, Reilly (in back), Grace, Betty, and Sarah on the Maid of the Mist.

This was an amazing, moving day for me. It started with another really nice, easy ride in perfect weather, mostly with Scott, Matt, and Kees. We formed a pace line to get through a few periods of mild to moderate headwinds, but mostly we just spun along. So enjoyable.

Then just after we crossed the Rainbow Bridge from Ontario into NY, passed through customs, and went to join the busy traffic, I heard my name called out and met eyes with Sarah Greer, Josh’s sister! Next to Sarah under the Welcome to NY sign were my good friend Betty Wesner (Josh’s and Sarah’s mother) and Sarah’s four beautiful, high-spirited children Riley, Grace, Amanda, and Ian. Was this really happening?? I choked back some tears, gave them all sweaty hugs, and posed for a group photo at the Welcome to NY sign. After we sketched our plans to get together later, I gave Betty and Sarah another grateful hug or two, apologizing for the sweat this time. Then Matt, who had taken our group photo, posed for his own photo at the sign, and the two of us joined a few other riders for ice cream at the famous Twist O’ The Mist stand before heading for the hotel.

After showering, I joined Scott and a few other riders for a beer at the hotel’s bar. As we finished, Betty texted me to see if I wanted to join them for a ride on the Maid of the Mist, which of course I did. The walk to the boat with the family and the boat ride itself were so much fun, the children bursting with life and energy of all kinds. It reminded me a lot of my own childhood with the four Towne kids—Sally (as we called her then), Bonny, me, and Jeff. Counting me, Sarah, Betty and the four kids, there had to be about 25 conversations going on at once, most of them among the kids. And since there’s a little of Josh obvious in each of the kids, the exuberance and joy of these moments seemed perfect. There is no way I’ll ever forget this.

The Wesner group had eaten a late lunch, but I was famished, so I returned to the hotel to have something to eat. Scott, Matt, Jim, and Bud had just finished eating, but they kindly sat with me, had a beer, and helped me eat a pizza. Just as we finished, Betty texted to say that they were coming to the bar/restaurant themselves to have some dinner, so I joined them. Dinner was a continuation of the joyful chaos we had on the boat ride, and I got to know the kids better. I just love them.

After dinner, we said our good-byes, as the Wesner/Greer group had to leave for home the next morning—about 6½ hours by car—so that Sarah could make it to work the following day. One of the other riders (I forget who) suggested to me that maybe this was the best day of the whole cross-country trip for me. I replied “No, it was one of the best days of my life.”

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Left, just after Betty, Sarah, and the Greer children met me at the entrance to Niagra Falls, NY. Below are photos of the falls and the Rainbow Bridge that we crossed from Ontario.