Hit the road, Jack

Trip Start Aug 13, 2007
Trip End Nov 12, 2007

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Flag of United States  , New York
Sunday, August 19, 2007

Up at the crack of dawn and checked out of Hotel Penn. We took a taxi to the Budget car rental, where a silver Chevy Impala was waiting for us. We managed to get out of NYC without much trouble, under the Lincoln tunnel and then into a new state - New Jersey. We stopped in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania for brunch at a restaurant called 'Friendlys'. Fred & I had eggs, bacon and French toast for $2.99, Kate had eggs & bacon, and Josh had an M&M pancake! The waitress provided crayons & an activity booklet for the kids, which was nice.

After brunch, we went across to Walmart to get a pillow for the kids to sit on to make their car seats a bit more comfortable. We spent ages wandering around the store trying to find a knee tray/tv tray for Kate to put over her legs in the car so she could colour-in etc - staff at Walmart kept sending us on a wild goose chase, but in the end we found one.

The Interstate is pretty boring, but at least straight and not too mentally challenging for Fred. We stopped for lunch at McDonalds (to the kids delight, us not so much!) just outside Syracuse, New York and then headed towards Buffalo, New York - only to get caught up in a huge traffic jam! It must have gone on for at least 20 miles...

Arrived at Niagara Falls hotel (a Howard Johnson chain) at about 6pm. Funny in NZ terms we would have driven from Wellington to Auckland, but it didn't really seem like such a long way, as the roads are so long & straight, and pretty much 2-4 lanes wide - so no slowing down, waiting to overtake etc. We've seen heaps of 5th wheels and motorhomes on the way also.

After a brief rest at the hotel we headed down to the falls - and were mortified at having to pay $10 for parking - no choice, no free parking anywhere. We finally found the path down to the falls, and yes, they were very impressive, but the town of Niagara was touristy and tacky, and not at all my taste. I realise that Niagara is the ultimate tourist attraction, but it's hard to appreciate the beauty of the attraction when you're surrounded by other camera weilding, chattering, pushy tourists. Just my opinion though.
The kids tired at looking at the falls pretty quickly, and admitedly the 'American Falls' aren't the best ones to view, so tomorrow we'll go see the falls from the Canadian side. Off to find dinner at 8pm, we finally gave up walking around (everything touristy & very expensive) and went into the 'Welcome Center' food court (a building on the main street with flags/lights & expensive parking (I'm mentioning this in case you ever visit Niagara and want somewhere to eat - do NOT go here). The food in all of the stalls was massively overpriced and the staff surly when asked questions. Fred & the kids got their meals from a Italian/burger/hotdog place - Fred got meatballs $7.99, which was more limp white pasta than meatballs - only 3 meatballs! Josh got a cheeseburger $5.50, which was only the burger with nothing else - and the meat inside was well overcooked & burnt around the edges (and much smaller than a Mc'Ds hamburger, which would have tasted better & been better value, I'm sure), Kate had a hotdog which was the best out of the lot. I went to another stall and got a bagel & cream cheese (which was ok) and I also asked for a slice of Key Lime pie (one of the things I wanted to try in the U.S) but should have cancelled it when I saw her take a supermarket type box out of the freezer, cut a bit, & then microwave it! Anyway, we didn't start this blog to complain, but just a warning to the unwary.
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