The story of our epic vagabond nude voyage across America continues in New York State.
We have been facing the past during this trip. Both in places of our youth and this country’s historic story…
…Buffalo is one place where America began in earnest. It has a rich history and roots of Americanism. Once the second largest city in North America, it fed the west through the great Lakes via the Erie Canal. There is a much remembered sense of the energy of settlers and immigrants, industry, the “progress of man.” It was where the ingenuity of metal, stone and classic woods meet iron machinery.
These days, most of the artifacts only draw tourists, or they have been repurposed.
We visit the craftsmanship of a lost era at the a carousel factory and take a ride.
The Pierce Arrow museum is filled with cars that qualify as art, along with early bicycles of wood and brass.
It also houses an entire Frank Lloyd Wright “modern” gas station and the original “Playboy” auto that the magazine empire was named after.
We travel the streets finding many tall buildings from an industrial revolution, decor in Victorian and Art Deco design and monuments to past wealth. One neighborhood invites us to walk intimately in yet another of Frank Lloyd Wright’s visions.
On the other hand, there are many square miles of little boxy homes laid out after World War II and the new beginnings stimulated by the GI Bill.
There is little untouched by man these days in the Buffalo region. Since the British came here, the policy has been to use up the bounty. Originally, they claimed royal dominion over this place of Iroquois and Mohawk. The large Dog Island was once an incredible old growth forest, which by edict was leveled and hauled away in mass to make sailing ships for the empire.
To the natives, this sacrilege and slaughter was shocking. How could anyone not imagine their stunned anger and outrage at the cavalier destruction wrought by these pompous newcomers? This piece of history leads us down 400 steps to Niagara Gorge where Pontiac’s Rebellion took place.
Arriving at the bottom, We hear the churn of a grand river. Recently its waters cascaded over the Niagara Falls. The Great Lakes are draining out through this corridor. Across the way, small figures of Canadians can be seen walking. The border is closed, from the fears of Covid.
The trees are tall. There is an effort to reestablish the original ecosystem. Many invasive trees are being cut down and dumped along the trail near the flow of the water. It also keeps people from getting too close. There is a strong current here. A slip, or a stupid dip, can likely carry anyone off helplessly to a death. Early in the last century, a small rail line took people on excursions down here. Today, we walk on its bed. There is a cable car on the Canadian side that stretches across a deadly whirlpool of immense size.
There is little chance for comfortable nudity, or naturism here. Within minutes, we come across three men trimming away at the wild vegetation along the trail, keeping it wide and park-like. Another obstacle is that DF’s brother, our guide, doesn’t understand free range naturism. I may plant some seeds, later. The currents are magnificent here. Swells are reaching 15 to 20 feet, cresting in tall swirls of white water, which mist as the wind blows upstream against them.
There is a sound like thunder coming up the corridor. A tourist boat, large and powered by jets, is taking on the currents. It bounces and dips into swells drenching the tourists, who are strapped in with matching white helmets.
Nobody is getting off of that barge unsoaked. Of course, I’m thinking how much more efficient and fun nude would be…oh well.
Things turn into a pleasant forest along the trail. A blue jay sings and I spot it. It is like seeing an old friend, another memory from my youth. This common bird is uncommon out west, where I live.
The sun shines on this eastern shore. I feel it to be a bit hot. It would be a perfect day without clothing. My mind trails off to the injustice, the ignorance and some of the frustration that comes with living in this modern society.
DF’s brother is happy to lead the way. He is doing a great job of acting as a tour guide filled with anecdotes, but I fall behind. I have to explain that I just want space. Much of the best is not shown to a person, but it is found by a person. Alone, I will feel this place, listen to it, focus on this, blended with the realization of smell and truly know where I am. To experience a place as it is, essence isn’t known by a cerebral orientation. It is found by being. Of course, I know that this experience and knowledge is stifled by having my senses cut off by clothing…there I go again. I’ll digress.
We stop and climb down to a flat rock field for lunch. A few stunted trees have managed to survive. Today, a few bodies are parked here where the massive white-water rushes through seemingly as fast as a freeway. Just a few feet away, the white water seems to tower higher than our perch.
We are told how there were once some rusty old cars here. They had been cut up and hauled off. Pointing up at the high cliff, it is explained to us that this had been a popular place to commit to suicide. People would drive their tin lizzies at top speed up above and sail out into the air to land on this rock surface. Maybe they tried for the water in a fast Pierce Arrow.
Eventually, we meet up with a sign claiming “End of Trail, Soon!” The maintenance ends, we have to get over a couple of fallen logs. Most people don’t come back here. The next sign reads, “End of trail”. A few feet past this, around a large boulder that has fallen from the cliffs, we find a flat rock next to the water. It is calmer here and nobody is likely to pass by. If they are, they are not supposed to. Like honor among criminals, lite.
I ponder out loud, “On another day, we could liberate this spot and then walk back with shirts off, under New York’s topfree laws.“ We notice DF’s brother is preoccupied with something down the trail. DF instructs, “Quick, get your clothes off.”
I have a two minute romp and photo op.
That afternoon, we of course did the famous Niagara Falls amongst a veritable international tourist Tower of Babble.
A Walk in the Park:
One afternoon, our most excellent guide, took us down to the shore of Lake Erie. There is an asphalt trail there, that goes for miles.
The urban park is lined with grass and shady trees. I pull off my shoes to try walking barefoot in the grass, something that I just can’t do in Tucson.
It is wonderful, lush, thick, supportive, cooling, all of the things that I begin to remember from my high school days in Michigan. Back then, I spent all summer barefoot, as was a fashion and even a creed in the late 1960’s. It is delightful. I end up walking well over a mile and then back, each step a treat. Over grass, clover and not too hot, smooth asphalt, taking in each step with relish. Since covid lockdowns, DF and I have had little opportunity to dance. An electric blues band is playing across the street at a pizza bar on an outside patio area.
Speakers are hung from fat trunked trees as we dance together, barefoot in another patch of grass. There is a sense that things are getting better. There is a different feel here. The economy seems to be flourishing and adjusting. Things are new, or being repaired and repurposed. It feels like a long winter is ending.
I feel the need for some downtime. While DF and her brother take an excursion to another impressive gorge, I hang back. I take great pleasure dropping my coverings as I hear the car roll down the driveway. I stretch up high and take a deep breath. My hands lead my arms out to my side, as far as they will go. I feel air all over like stepping into a bath. This must be what Ben Franklin knew.
I get the laptop out and begin chronicling our adventures cross legged, on a towel on the couch, smiling, as I eat last night’s New York pizza.
We’re going to the hot springs for a few days. I’ll publish our trip to New York’s wonderful Skinny Dip Falls, as soon as we get back, Tuesday…you’ll see my seeds take root.
Please, feel free to visit FreeRangeNaturism.com/forum. I’ll be there most days and ready to discuss the issues. There is a wealth of free range information there. It is safe and easy to join.
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