Monday, July 25, 2011

7.18.11 Day 26 “Be water my friend.”

7.18.11 Day 26 “Be water my friend.”

Christina had class today so she got up early and left before I even got up. I have a press conference today at 10AM so I eventually got out of bed and showered and packed up to leave. It’s hot here in Buffalo. The house that my cousin lives in has no central air conditioning which is strange for me since I’ve lived in Atlanta for so long. You can’t survive in the southeast without air conditioning. It was difficult to sleep in the heat, it reminded me of my first night in Sebastian River Inlet.

Ready to go, I hit a gas station to fill up and get an energy drink. Last night was the first time Ive been in a bed for a while so it was hard to get up. The plan was to meet at the Coca Cola field in downtown Buffalo. I was to get a police escort into the Lake Erie Marina where the press conference would be held. The GPS did not like downtown Buffalo. It had no idea where to go so I followed the few signs that I saw for the ball field. Once near the field, I asked another commuter where it was, they had no idea. So after riding around a few more minutes, I finally see a large Coca Cola sign and assumed that must be it. Now, how do I get there? Few more turns and I see the front of the field and a Harley Police bike and a police SUV pulled up on the curb. This must be it. I ride up and introduce myself. I cant remember the two officers name now but they were pretty cool. While waiting for the phone call to ride into the marina, we chatted for a few minutes. I talked bikes with the moto officer and learned he was taking the police training course. Those guys can really move those big bikes around and its really cool to see.

Coca Cola field in downtown Buffalo

My escort

We get the call to leave and they explain how it would go. The bike would be in front with lights on and the SUV would follow and block the first traffic signal. Then we would have to wait for the Metro train if it comes by. It isn’t stopping for us, haha. With my personal escort, we arrive at the marina just 1 mile away and there are several cameras waiting. Here we go again. I like to think Im getting better at this but not really. I’m terrible at public speaking.

usually when the lights are on, they are behind me.

I meet Marry Murray, Chief Patronik and David Aston who were responsible for setting up the event. The reporters asked me a series of questions not unlike the other press conferences then Chief Patronik and David Aston said a few words about the Project Lifesaver program in Buffalo. The conference lasted about half an hour then we took a few pictures. One reporter asked for a private interview so we basically did the same deal over again. Then after it was over, a lady walks up to me with a piece of paper with her contact info on it and says that if I come through Mesa, Arizona, then I would have a place to stay. Random. She is a tourist and must have seen the interview process and I guess felt compelled to offer me a place. Very nice of her, but not sure if I’ll take her up on that. She was with her kids and seemed genuine but it was a little too random and I won’t even be in Arizona until October so I doubt she would even remember by then. But hey, you never know right? The officers gave me an escort out of the marina then I was on my own again back to my cousins place. By the time I get back to Christina’s place, Im already drenched with sweat. It feels like Georgia. I took another shower and then met Christina outside on her lunch break. We walk next door to what people claim is the best Mexican food in Buffalo. Yeah, not impressed. We both ordered the fajitas since that’s what was recommended. It was basically beef marinated in what seemed like salt water with onions and a huge heap of avocado. I like beef, I like onions and I like avocados but their mixture just didn’t work.

Lake Erie Marina

Love it.

Christina had to go back to school after lunch so I decided to get a haircut finally. Not wanting to put the hot jacket and helmet back on, I figured I would just take a stroll down the street to find the Supercuts that was supposed to be 1.5 miles away. After about a mile, I regretted walking. It’s too hot. I see a barbershop called Chick’s so I figured that was good enough. Its packed but I don’t feel like walking anymore so I just hang out. The guy getting his haircut finished up and got up to leave. Then I realized something wasn’t quite right, he had limited movement on one side of his body and the barber was helping him out of the chair. The barber helped him to the door so I got up to open the door for them. When they got outside, the barber went back inside to start on the next customer so I took his place on the guys right side, then another customer came out and helped me walk the guy to his car. We ask him how he got hurt and he tells us he fell off a bar stool 19 years ago. He was drinking with his brother and apparently was so inebriated he fell over. Then his brother picked him back up and carried him to the car thinking he was just too drunk to walk. It turns out he broke his back and severed parts of his spinal cord and his brother unknowingly made it worse by carrying him out. Scary to think that all it took was a short fall off a barstool.

After almost 1.5 hours, I finally get my hair cut and start walking back. It was miserable in the barber shop, the little AC unit couldn’t keep up and as soon as he threw the cover over me for the hair I was sweating bullets. I felt like a wrestler or boxer wearing a trash bag to lose the last few pounds of water weight to make a class. Christina is out of class now and she picks me up on my way back since I have her key and I’m dieing from the heat. Third shower of the day to wash off all the hair that stuck to me from the humidity. We decided to go see Niagara Falls since there really isn’t much else in Buffalo, haha. She has been a few times now and I went 5 years ago but only just for a few minutes. There are two main tourist attractions there, Cave of the Winds and Maid of the Mist. Cave of the winds is a walkway that leads right up to Bridal Veil and you experience the high winds created by the rushing water and get completely soaked. Maid of the mist is a boat ride that leads right up to the center of the US and Canadian Falls. We choose Maid of the mist since neither one of us wants to get soaked. We still get kinda wet on the boat even with the ponchos that are provided but it was cool getting to see both sides of the falls from the bottom. There was a small rainbow from the mist on the US side but I didn’t get a photo since my camera would have been soaked. After the short boat ride, I decide to take the short walkway up to the falls. It was like Cave of the Winds but you don’t get quite as close, but I feel like I got the best of both worlds for one price. So if any of you guys reading visit Niagara, do Maid of the Mist. Christina stayed behind because she is a wuss. Haha, just kidding, she already threw away her poncho and has done Cave of the Winds already so she was happy to just wait for me. After that, we walk up to the Observation Deck and take a few pictures there. I’m sure you may have noticed by now but there are a few things that I really like to see. Bridges, tunnels and waterfalls. There is a Bruce Lee quote that I think is absolutely great.

“Be formless, shapeless, like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow and can crash. Be water my friend.” - Bruce Lee

US side from Maid of the Mist

Christina and I

Somehow I missed out on the gene that makes the rest of my family look good.

Observation Deck

Those blue dots are people going up the walkway.

Not sure what this guy's job was, but he didn't seem to enjoy it.
For some reason, this guy and the plethora of other crappy jobs at Niagara amused me.

Lots o' water.
Imagine going over this in a barrel.

We wanted to get some dinner but everything in that area is touristy and expensive so we decide to drive back to her neighborhood where there is plenty of food. I choose a Greek restaurant and order the gyro platter. It’s massive. Tons of food. But the gyro meat is like a patty that’s sliced. No meat cone here. The last few “Greek” places Ive visited have been like this. Has the meat cone been banned? Christina didn’t get anything which kind of upset me, I thought she wanted to eat too which is why I thought we went out to eat. I would’ve been happy grabbing fast food or something if I had known she was just going to watch me stuff my face. At least she had some hummus with me. Then she paid for it which killed me even more! Well she had plenty of leftovers, ha.

Back at her place, we both relax and surf the web for a while. Then she asks me if I feel up for a challenge. Always! She has an air conditioning unit in the basement to install. Sounds easy enough. Hell, I build race cars for a living, I think I can handle an AC unit. I bring it upstairs and read the directions. We need a drill so she runs out and borrows one from friends leaving me to start the assembly and deciphering the terrible directions. She has storm windows which means we need to space up the front of the AC unit so the back slopes downward but we cant find any wood or anything else that works. Her roommate has the same unit and didn’t use anything so take a look at her unit. It doesn’t look like it should but apparently its been working fine for years now so I install it identical to hers and leave it at that. We turn it to full cool and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Christina slept in her roommate’s room since she was out of town so I could have her bed. Neither room had AC so it wasn’t a big deal the first night, but now that her room isn’t 90 degrees I feel bad for taking it. I offer to sleep on the couch so she could have her room back but she insists and I don’t complain. Air conditioning is a beautiful thing. We catch up for a while longer and the more we talk the more I start to realize that my little cousin is all grown up. She talks about her patients and uses all these big words I don’t understand I cant help but think about the times when we were kids. Her family has lived in Florida for a long time now and when my family would visit, we would always meet halfway in Lake City, FL at a Waffle House. I still think about her and Angela(I had lunch with Angela the first day of the trip) as my little cousins from that time period. Impressed by what she has done, I feel a little silly since I’m really still just a kid playing with race cars and wandering around on a motorcycle. Where did I go wrong? Haha. My cousin John is a doctor, my brother is a doctor and christina is on her way to becoming an orthodontist and I’m just a grease monkey. I’m pretty good with the grease and I can fix racing cars, but I can’t fix people.

It’s midnight now so Christina heads off to bed. I stay up for a while thinking about why I’m still playing around with racecars and not thinking about the future and having some stability. There was a time in my life where I thought I wanted to get married, have 2.5 kids, a dog and a house in the burbs with a white picket fence. Now, it doesn’t even cross my mind. I’ve said this a lot but I really think I’m destined to be alone. I really prefer the solitary freedom I get with my job and my motorcycles. For the longest time, I had the ability to pack everything I owned into my Honda Accord and just move from place to place whenever I decided I was bored with a place or situation. Now I have a nice memory foam mattress that cost me an arm and leg but saved my back and two motorcycles. When I moved back and forth from Raleigh, NC, I realized how much junk I own now and made an attempt to sell a lot of things before I left for the trip. When I get back, I want to just get rid of it all except for the bed and the bikes. Seriously, I don’t need anything else. All I need, is a bike to ride, the air I breathe and a place to rest my head.

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