Journey to Ukazoo
Slide 28: “But the Map Says….”
From Ohio, I stopped at a Bed &Breakfast in North Tonawanda, NY, 13 miles south of Niagara Falls.
By weeks end, on Friday, I was sitting on the front porch of the inn when a passenger van, with secured rowboat atop, approached the B&B. Instead of stopping it moseyed pass and parked several houses down. With six gentlemen exiting the van, I could just make out their animated discussion involving which house was the B&B. The driver, quiet, seemed to wait patiently for a resolution, while four of remaining five insisted they were at the B&B. The last of the six, holding the Inn’s emailed directions, was pointing back towards the Inn. The four wouldn’t listen and made their way to the front door and were consequently directed, by the owner, to the same place their colleague had pointed.
As they checked into the B&B, I learned that they were six buddies on a trip without the wives, intent on a rip-roaring guys-only good time. I sensed an interesting weekend ahead.
For dinner, they decided on one of the Inn’s recommended restaurants and the same four were adamant that clearly by the restaurant’s name, Antero’s, Italian food was offered. The driver, Marco, offered no opinion and the sixth, Enzo, noticing no Italian dishes listed on the Inn’s sample menu, mentioned “but the Menu reads….” to no avail. They left. Thirty minutes later they returned to the inn, rechecked the Inn’s sample menu’s and found a restaurant that served Italian. Antero’s was Finnish.
The next morning, sitting on the porch, the topic of heading to Grand Island developed into similar discussions I had witnessed yesterday. The same four, spearheaded by Theo, insisted the island was East, Marco, again silent of any input, and Enzo, with a tourist brochure in hand tried to persuade his friends to head West. Overruled, they piled into the van and headed East. Within 15 minutes, I noticed the van retracing its route, now heading West.
That evening was the planned boat ride under the stars. They asked if I would be the designated driver, taking them to launch the boat and drive down river to retrieve them.
Dropping them off, the same argument transpired with Enzo, map in hand, trying to tell them they were too far up river. They claimed, again with no feedback from Marco, they were down river from the falls and eased the boat into the water.
Not twenty minutes into driving, I noticed a series of smaller waterfalls and rapids to my left and further downstream, the American side of Niagara Falls. I pulled over and could just see their boat, making it’s way to the edge of the first line of waterfalls. Too far away to verbally warn them, I quickly called 911, then I got out my camera and attached my long lens to keep them in sight. As I took this picture, I could make out the same scenario taking place. Theo and the other three insisting by their calculations that the emanating sounds of the ‘falls’ were behind them and therefore maintain course. Marco rowing, nervously mute, going with the flow. In the back of the boat was Enzo, map spread out, dimly illuminated by a flashlight, still asserting “But the Map says…”.
Sirens sounded of approaching rescue vehicles and the whirl of rotors overhead signaled a helicopter was zeroing in. The first set of falls, a preamble of the rapids and looming larger falls, offered a seven foot downward plunge. They went over. Capsized, Enzo and the others managed to swim to a protruding isolated rock while a now empty boat floated to an unfortunate end. After their rescue, still wet, embarrassed, and minus a boat, I drove them back to the inn.
The next morning while they were preparing to leave, Theo and the others mentioned they wanted to at least stop at the Finger Lakes region before heading home and all, in unison, turned towards Enzo and asked with humbled voices “Which way should we go?”.
All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt
Postings of “Journey to Ukazoo” Slides are every Monday Evening.
New arrivals to the “Journey” please see Slide One for a brief synopsis.