The Gremlin on My Shoulder

This morning I woke up sad. And scared.

I’m sad because my Amazing Adventure comes to an end this weekend.

I’m sad because I’m done driving to new and exciting places.  The beauty of this country and all its natural wonders is spectacular and breathtaking. There are so many places I still would love to see.

I’m sad because I have enjoyed the hours of solitude driving in the car with my thoughts to myself, with the miles of road ahead of me and the ever-changing landscape surrounding me.

I’m sad because I’ve loved writing about my adventures, incorporating the pictures of my experiences and sharing them with all of you.

I’m sad it’s over. I would like to continue on and on, because as long as I’m on the road, I don’t have to face the reality of my life.

Because I’m scared.

At first thought, I’m scared of deciding where I want to live. Then I’m scared of finding a place to live and finding a job.

But truly, I think most of all, I’m scared that, back in the reality of my everyday life, I will not be able to  sustain the changes I’ve made over this summer. I feel like a completely different person. I may look the same to you all when I return (although my hair is shaggy and I’ve put on some lbs), but inside I feel completely different. Which is a WONDERFUL thing – I have shed layers of unhappiness and old beliefs and habits and feel like the true Alise. But I’m scared of being completely different in the same environment once I return to Louisville. And I’m afraid to trust myself to maintain this new, authentic “me.”

Today I received an email from a friend I visited last week. She told me something that five other friends along the way this summer have also told me. She said “I’ve always looked up to you.” An incredible compliment – but one that I still, even after all my self realizations, have a hard time believing and accepting. Despite realizing all summer that I am all I need, that I am completely self sustaining and wonderful and fun to be around and happy and strong and worthy. But it’s been easy for me to do on this trip, when I”m traveling around with no responsibilities or decisions to make other than where I’m headed next. But, once I return to Louisville, in my old environment, and have to start to make some life choices, I’m afraid to trust in the new “me.”  Because I’ve spent my entire life telling myself that I can’t, that I’m not worthy, that I’m not enough, and boy those old habits and patterns are hard to break.  I said to a friend earlier today that I feel like I have this nasty little gremlin on my shoulder, who has re-appeared and is still whispering the same old shit into my ear, and I feel like I must find a way to throw it off my shoulder once and for all. And it’s so hard because it has always, always been there.

My dear friend Leah gave me a lovely book right before I left – I Can Do It, by Louise Hay. It’s a fantastic book of life changing affirmations, and I’ve been listening to the CD at various times along my trip. It occurs to me that I should listen to it some more on my way back to the ‘Ville. I’m determined to find the trust and confidence in myself – and believe it, and live it – for the first time in my life.

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Honeymoon Capital of the World

My Amazing Adventure was going to end after I finished my visit in Detroit. At least that was the plan. But….while I was at my mom’s, my big brother Kevin was there and asked “where are you going after you leave here?” I took out my huge map and said “Well, I’ll visit you and Karen in Grand Rapids, then go to Ann Arbor, and end in Detroit.” He looked at the map to the only big blank space on it and said “What the heck? How come you’re not going to anyplace in the Northeast????” I had no reply. At least no reply that was going to satisfy him!

Kevin proceeded to write down his suggestions for the continuation of my trip. I was actually excited about it, since I had been a bit sad that my adventure was about to come to an end. I was ahead of schedule anyway – now I had an excuse to keep going!

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So, on Sunday I left Detroit and headed east! It was a drizzly dreary day as I drove through Cleveland, Erie, and finally Buffalo, NY. And when in Buffalo, I guess one may as well try some buffalo wings, which I did at the restaurant that supposedly invented them.

IMG_4935A dear friend had suggested that I try a boat tour of Niagara Falls, so I took her advice and booked a tour for the following day. I spent the night in Buffalo and headed for Niagara Falls the next morning. I arrived in plenty of time (yes, I still have the early habit) so I stopped at a little place for breakfast. Ladies and Gentlemen, this was one of the best breakfasts I’ve had on my adventure. It was also the cheapest by FAR. I had two eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, toast and coffee for $3.75.  Holy Moly!

IMG_4939Fully fueled for the day, I drove to the tour pick-up spot. At 10:35, the bus pulled up and I, along with several other couples, loaded ourselves on. It was captained by a very unique guide, Chuck. Chuck was 61 years old, in incredible shape, with a LONG pony tail down his back. Chuck had clearly been doing this for many years. He let us know that he was going to give us the tour of our lives, and that he was watching out for us and was not ABOUT to let us get ripped off by all the tourist traps along the way. Our adventure began.

Chuck was like a Mother Hen, directing us here and there. Our first stop was the Cave of the Winds. Chuck took care of the paperwork, issued us our tickets, and ushered us into the room where we were given our designer sandals for the day. He even gave me the insider tip to twist the straps so the sandals would fit tight.

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From there, he sent us down the elevators, where we traveled 175 feet below and were given lovely yellow ponchos. We got into line for the incredibly awesome deluge at the base of the American Falls! WOW!

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Next, Chuck took us to Three Sisters Islands, where we got off the bus and took a little walk to all three for views of the rapids in the Niagara River right before Horseshoe Falls

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Next was a stop for lunch, and then, what we’d all been waiting for…MAID OF THE MIST BOAT TRIP!!!

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Chuck found a parking place where there was none to be found. This guy knew everything! He then quickly ushered us through the ticket booth to the distribution of the BLUE ponchos.Then, he left us in line for the boat with strict instructions to find a spot on the CANADIAN side of the boat on the upper deck when we boarded. He assured us this was the best spot of all. We all heeded his advice and upon boarding rushed to the spot. The boat departed and the voyage was spectacular! I was SOAKED!!!

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Chuck met us as we all got off the boat and took us to the top of the observation deck for some classic Falls pictures.

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Pretty flowers also along the way. Who doesn’t like pretty flowers???

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What a fantastic day, and I’m so grateful that I took the tour. I have found on my adventure this summer that tours are the BEST way to see the sights, and they are worth every penny. Plus, I got to meet some fantastic folks along the way. And the nicest part of the day didn’t have anything to do with the beauty of the Falls. One of the couples on the tour who sat right behind me on the bus were from Cincinnati of all places! At the end of the day, as we all departed, the man from Cincy turned to me and said “It was so nice to meet you. Every time I looked at you today you were smiling.”

Another reinforcement!

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