Not much White, Plenty of Blues

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At the recent Rock and Roll fundraiser night, and in a rather hazy state of mild inebriation, I somehow managed to place a bid in a silent auction on an item which I subsequently won... it was a weekend stay in a nice hotel in Ellicottville, New York. (I'll point out that Ellicottville is in upstate New York just south of Buffalo, not New York City as most Australians would think when you say the words New York.)

The sleepy little town of Ellicottville is in fact a ski town, and is nestled at the base of the ski areas of Holiday Valley and Holimont. When I bid on the accommodation voucher, I was assured that it was a great place to go skiing with plenty of that famous Lake Erie lake effect dumping tons of snow over the mountains for some great skiing. I'd put off booking a weekend there because the snow just hadn't arrived and it seemed like if I just waited a bit longer... well maybe the snow would arrive...

Eventually I couldn't wait any longer, so I booked the place for last weekend and headed down across the border, hoping that some snow would arrive. Of course, my visa had expired so I had to be screened as a possible terrorist... Jeez, I can't get over how paranoid the US border people are. After an hour long wait at the border I was eventually admitted access to the U S of A.

Ellicottville is a pleasant hour or so south of Buffalo, and is a quaint little town made up of beautiful American architecture, wide streets and a village atmosphere. There were pubs and restaurants all through the main street and it was obvious that things were pretty quiet considering it was the middle of the ski season. There was hardly any snow, although the snow making on the hill had been going flat-out and in reality, even though there was no snow outside the main trails, the fact that there were only about four people on the mountain would have probably compensated for the lack of snow. At least you couldn't complain about crowds!

In the absence of the white stuff however, I discovered there was plenty of blue stuff in town. Ellicottville just happened to be celebrating its annual Blues Festival this weekend, so every pub and nightspot in town was humming to the sounds of blues guitar and those unmistakable I-IV-V chord progressions that make up the heart and soul of Jazz and Blues. I do love listening to music, so I took great delight in soaking up as much of the ambience as possible that evening.

After a lazy start the next morning, the GPS led me through a few hilly back country roads, and through some very nice scenery in the mountains of upstate New York, eventually finding my back to the edge of Lake Erie and back into Buffalo. I have to say that I was a bit shocked at some of the "trailerpark" living I saw in the mountains... houses that were clearly still inhabited but looked like they should have been demolished, trashed ve-hi-cles laying around the yards, guys out wandering along the road hunting for deer in full camo gear and rifles at the ready. The living conditions of some of the places I saw in the hills was truly astounding. America certainly is a land of contrasts, and after seeing the sorts of rednecks living in the hills of NY state, I can't believe they are so fussy about letting people across the border and into the US!

Stopping in at Niagara Falls on the way home, I was impressed with the view from the American side of the river. Most tourists only see the falls from the Canadian side, which are clearly more spectacular, but I must say that being on the American side of the falls and taking them in from there was quite a memorable experience. The sheer power of watching all that water pouring over the falls is an amazing sight from any angle.

Finally, I dropped into Niagara-on-the-Lake on the way home just for one more look around, and then headed home after a really great weekend.

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