Once you start traveling it lasts some time before you start to see patterns. Fortunately roadsigns are quite selfexplaining, no problem with that. They are numbered and their general direction is indicated: e.g. "East", when you look the other way it says "West". "North" and "South" equally well, but we never saw "E of NE"
. Along the road you find reststops, normally clusters of the larger fat and sugar chains. Going south from New York these were in between the lanes going north and south. To reach them you have to exit the road to the left. Very unusual for us, of european descent. Later we never saw this again. Americans drive as if they are on betablockers all the time. A sedate pace, without changing lanes very often. So once you are in an even slower lane, you are stuck. Trucks are longer than in Europe, and so are the RV's (Recreational Vehicle). That brings the subject to the next level: Evolutionary patterns. The first Americans, you must admit were the people from the different Indian tribes. They used horses and tents to go camping. Then came the trappers: quite often over water and in canoes, also taking the bare essentials and some furs. The first settlers went one up: horsedrawn carriages. They could carry more, mostly family members, some household goods and firearms. But for the period they set out for, it was relatively little they carried. Some World Wars later camping started in earnest, people had more time and were in great need of essentials that they could carry with them. Caravans to be pulled by an ordinary gasguzzler. More dedicated were cars you could comfortably live in: Enter the "Van", hippie style to have a surface to paint "Peace" on. Next development was the pickup, on which you can put a fibreglass box. Take it off and go lumberjacking again. Or: install an attachment that can hook up an even bigger caravan, double axle
. For many years that seemed the dead branch on the evolutionary tree of comfortable camping. But it blossomed again and a new branch developed. They found out that length had reached its maximum. For years no one came up with the next dimension: "Width". Nowadays the caravans become wider once they are installed on site. Whole walls move out, creating more interior space, more roof to install antennas on and more floor acreage to have sewer drains sprout from. We do now predict that within the next ten years caravans will be sold with a warning: "Do not erect more than five floors high within a three mile radius from an airport, FAA regulation 12ad/45". Some people still use caravans with an engine in it, RV's
Now imagine you have bought the latest model, several meters longer than that of any of your fellow campers. You then do not want to be seen going for dinner in a pickup. Losing interior space to accomodate a garage in your caravan, or RV, is unthinkable. So that gets hooked at the back, a double bar construction enables the towed car to steer around corners, all four wheels are on the road. So now that you arrive at the campsite, you unhook your sedan, level your RV, push out the walls, hook up on the mains, attach the watersupply and....but now the kids are yelling, they are bored, nothing to do. From the bike carrier at the back of the recently liberated sedan you get their bikes, they are happy. You switch on the telly, and the weatherman tells you that the tropical storm heads your way. On the other lot of the campsite you see us taking down the tent and leaving the campsite in just seven minutes. Progress has its price.
Niagara Falls is America's oldest State Park (1885), we decided to have a look at them from the US and the Canadian side. Yes, it is a very touristic place but still worthwhile and it is just fun to walk across the border into Canada! Which we did. That way we could see where most of the water falls over the edge: The Horseshoe Fall. From the American, near, side you can see something that the seafarers of yesteryear feared, the edge of the ocean and deluges falling over it. The rainbows in the spray, the ferries sailing into the cauldron below. There are indeed no ferries on the higher side of the falls, some engine mishaps scuttled earlier attempts. Whahoo.