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After much tossing, turning and fretting, I followed my gut this morning and, as they say, got the hell out of Dodge.  I went to the Grand Geneva Resort (which I just found out was originally a Playboy hangout built by the Hef himself – thanks Janet!) to retrieve all my exhibitor stuff and as soon as I loaded it all into the car, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.  Then, as I told JD, there was nothing left to do but put it in drive and head east.  Just in time, too – there were huge snowflakes falling from huge dark clouds and accumulating on the roadways and shoulders.  The more distance I put between myself and Lake Geneva, the brighter the sun became, the larger the breaks in the clouds, and the farther away those dark storm clouds seemed to appear in my rear view mirror.  A very fitting image I must say!  But as if my trip couldn’t get any more interesting, in my haste to put the Midwest as far behind me as possible, I now am indebted to the state of Ohio for $135 via the Ohio State Police, who were kind enough to remind me of the speed limit in a construction zone.  *sigh*  Can I please put a limit on how many life lessons I learn in one weekend?!

So, after several hundred miles in the car, today’s trip ended up here, in Niagara Falls, New York, where I am now settled for the night after a great Indian meal in town and a quick trip up to see the Falls.  I was hoping to see the pretty colored lights that illumine the Falls on weekend nights til midnight, but no dice.  The most immediate impression was from the sound of all those tens of thousands of gallons of water moving at once, like the rumbling of an aircraft or an airplane.  It was just a taste – and I’m excited to get back over there in the morning to see it in the daylight.

I have to admit that I’m here somewhat by design.  I’ve always wanted to see the Falls, yes, but I’m here thinking about my mother.  When she was married to her first husband, the two of them took a lot of vacations and my mother got to see a lot of beautiful things in this country – Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain National Park, Mount Rushmore, The Badlands, The Everglades, just to name a few.  While she didn’t look back fondly on the marriage, she did often reflect on the many sights she’d seen.  One of the locales on that bucket list that she never got to see was Niagara Falls, and she would often mention how she had always wanted to see it.  The closest she got to seeing it was when my parents and I moved to Maine from Kansas when I was five.  It hadn’t worked out because of bad weather.  To be honest, I don’t subscribe much to the idea of an afterlife, but in some way by visiting the Falls this weekend, I’m trying to honor her in some way, to help feel a little closer to her and to help bridge that awful gap that existed between us in life and persists now in the years since her untimely death.

After all the emotional turmoil over the last couple of days, I am ready to sleep like the dead.  The next time I post here will likely be from the comforts of home in New Hampshire.  As much as I love to travel and visit new places, I am really ready to be home this time.