For The Love of Celebrations - Driving to Minneapolis for Rye, pt.3
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Niagara Falls & Albany

Summer 2010.


As we returned to the northeast, time passed quickly because we both had plenty of stories to tell from our 2 days of adventure. Shahlene told of waking to 85 degree heat in her tent, going to Silver City just to have air conditioning & also of all the locales she visited, like Lighthouse Cove & the BR Pier.

Speaking of BR, we drove right past the 401 exit as it was midnight & I didn't think it was really that worthwhile to stop. I kicked myself when I realized it in Tilbury though, as I remembered that my moms said I could have this awesome duvet which would be entirely too heavy to ship.

I was sour, but I wasn't driving back from Tilbury when we had 26 hours of driving ahead of us.

We stopped briefly at Niagara Falls, since we crossed the international border in the town of the same name.

For two people crossing into New York State at 4 am with an elaborate story, the border crossing went very smooth.

Although we passed countless intriguing New York towns, we did have a ferry to catch & had to stick to our one planned stop of Albany.

The main reason we stopped in Albany was for the New York State Capitol, but with a surprisingly healthy core, we could only find parking a few blocks away, as there weren't surface lots and emptiness everywhere (like in Detroit).

I was glad we did though; the Center Square neighbourhood which we walked through was stunning, with amazing houses which jerked our necks at every intersection.

The odd neighbour church wasn't bad either.

Trinity Methodist.

We could first see the Alfred E. Smith building, then we noticed that the row houses were thinning out & we were coming to a government square.

The impressive state capitol made its presence known and we quietly approached the State St. entrance into the behemoth.

The New York State Capitol was built between 1867 and 1899 at a cost of $25 million (which would be about a 1/2 billion dollars today). Three different architects, or architect pairs, were in charge at various times. Thomas Fuller designed the first floor in the Classical style, but was afterward dismissed in favour of Leopold Eidlitz & H.H. Richardson. Eidlitz & Richardson designed the next two floors in Renaissance Classical style instead. As costs started to mount & Grover Cleveland came into rule, he dismissed Richardson & Eidlitz, so that he could hire Isaac G. Perry to finish off the 4th floor and the roof.

There are some heavy hitters on that list as Thomas Fuller designed the Canadian Parliament and the backside Library of Parliament; while H.H. Richardson is my favourite architect, a guy who built a grip of amazing structures in the Massachusetts area.

If you think it looks like an odd state capitol, it's probably because it is one of the 11 state capitols which doesn't support a dome. It was found that the weight of the building was causing stress fractures even before the addition of the central dome, so it was never added.

The weight was so monumental, that they discovered the building was actually sliding down State Street. The men in charge had to build a giant eastside staircase to stop the building's movement.

I was blown away when I saw a picture of the exterior of the NY State Capitol...and then when I saw pictures of the "Million Dollar Staircase", it sealed the deal that I needed to see this building.

Built at a cost of $1.5 million & overseen by my boy H.H. Richardson; the Great Western Staircase, as it is officially known, took 14 years to complete. It is 119 feet tall & contains 444 steps.

Walking up & down the staircase, it felt like I was in an Escher painting, with arches, ledges & stairs inviting me every which way.

Throughout your staircase hike, you also notice the plethora of historical figure stone busts.

You recognize some like George Washington & Benjamin Franklin, but there were plenty which I admired, shrugged, and moved along...

The remainder of the building is not to be overlooked either. Shahlene & I lost ourselves wandering the halls, popping into various rooms and trying to contain our amazement with each discovery.

This is one state capitol where I would sign up for the tour.

We spent more time in the State Capitol than I imagined, if only because it was even more impressive than I imagined.

I personally enjoy obscure things for my 'favourite' lists, but it would be hard to keep the NY State Capitol out of my top 5 buildings.

Anyway, we worked up quite the appetite and ate at some awesome basement hole-in-the-wall diner on the way back to the car. The register looked like it belonged in a western movie, the sink handles took me 3 minutes to figure out & the cook looked like he would have smacked me with a greasy spatula if I asked for a mocha frappucino.

How awesome would it be to live in a sizable city where there's random places like this to discover? As opposed to living in a place where you've tried every restaurant 15 times. Sigh.

It was time to leave Albany, but not before a stop at an amazing beer store.

With the uninspiring, tiresome variety of beer choices in Newfoundland, the two of us were very excited to stop somewhere in America for beer. This was because the Americans can buy whatever they want, instead of having a government corporation dictate only 30 permitted & available beers.

Anyway, the beer store was epic, with about 10 times the choices available back on my home island. Each of us spent about $25 dollars and left with giant smiles on our faces. I bought 2 Russian 50oz plastic bottles, a Finnish, a Maltese, a strange Belgian and a couple others which are escaping me at the moment. Shahlene bought 6 beers as well, the most exciting being a Guatemalan brew with a gamecock on the label.

Of course the border pulled us in because we had only been gone for 15 or 20 hours - they needed to get their tax money on our 12 bottles of beer.

After spending an hour in their facilities and getting to go into some inquisition back room; I realized that we would now be cutting it close in terms of time & needed to get moving.

We arrived at the ferry about 90 minutes before departure, which meant that we were on the boat in no time.

I was excited about the cabin we got for rest, but I was extra excited when I discovered the PTI & the shower!

(Too bad Lebatard was on PTI though...)

The crossing went smoothly and the captain woke us up with an announcement when we were an hour away from Newfoundland (which is customary & annoying).

We were one of the first people to leave the ferry & take on the 2 hour drive home.

A rare occurrence of lightning was happening over our island - Mother Newfoundland must have been angry that I left her & showed so much love for the Mainland.



1 - New York State Capitol - Wikipedia

2 - Northeast Architecture - The Great Western Staircase

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