Trekking through Niagara Falls

GOVERNING's design director David Kidd and c orrespondent Rob Gurwitt traveled to the Niagara Falls region for a September story comparing the economic conditions ...
by | August 25, 2009

GOVERNING's design director David Kidd and c orrespondent Rob Gurwitt traveled to the Niagara Falls region for a September story comparing the economic conditions of the two Niagara Falls: the one in the U.S. and the one in Canada.

We asked David and Rob to share a couple of anecdotes and pics of the elements they had to endure to get the story.The new issue of GOVERNING with this story will be online September 1.

Shoes Made for Walking (and Reporting)

Rob-at-niagra-falls

Correspondent Rob Gurwitt wears a pair of sandals as he hikes near the American Falls. David and Rob soon learn that these sandals have more utility beyond hiking the falls.

Rob Gurwitt and I needed to get a feel for the people and places of Niagara Falls New York and Canada, and the best way to do that was on foot. It seemed at times as though we were on a walking tour that wouldn't end. We walked our way back and forth across the border and up and down every side street on both sides of the Gorge. Rob had obviously spent a lot of time setting up interviews with all kinds of people and I enjoyed meeting each one of them and listening in as he asked his questions and scribbled his notes. But sometimes, I think, you often find the most interesting stories by chance, and not in an office.

As part of our tour of the falls, we joined a whole bunch of tourists for a walk (of course) along the base of the American falls. Before we could start, we first had to don a thin yellow raincoat and trade our shoes for a a pair of plastic sandals. We were about to get wet.

After an elevator ride down, we headed for a wooden walkway that we were told was constructed anew every spring. If they left it in place over the winter it would be destroyed by the massive ice that forms below the falls. The wooden path lead us as close to the rushing water as you'd want to be. Many of our fellow foot travelers stopped worrying about it and gave in to the urge to get soaked. I was carrying a camera, so I wasn't quite so willing to make the plunge.

When we went back to collect our shoes we struck up a conversation with a park employee who told us something interesting about the sandals we were about to toss into a big plastic hamper.

Instead of throwing them away, a local woman has taken it upon herself to organize the collection of all these slightly used waterproof shoes and have them sterilized, packed loose in shipping containers, put on boats and sent all over the world. There are regularly reported sightings of people in remote, often arid locations, shod with Cave of the Wind sandals. I wondered who would be wearing my size 12s next.

Rob's take on his reporting trip will be posted on Wednesday. Story Behind the Story appears on the 13th Floor each Tuesday.

Tina Trenkner
Tina Trenkner  |  Deputy Editor, GOVERNING.com
ttrenkner@governing.com  |  @tinatrenkner

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