Buffalo. I have had an adventure this year!

Like this guy, whom I visited at the Buffalo Zoo, I now live in Buffalo, NY.

Buffalo Zoo Buffalo

There are worse places to live. And I was living in one. What surprises most people is that where I had been living for the last couple of decades is widely regarded as extremely nice. There are definitely some nice things about San Diego, California — some people even think it is America’s Finest City. Yet for me, Buffalo is better.

Before global warming San Diego may have been a perfect temperature, but now it is always perfectly a bit too hot. It is too crowded — with more people flooding in every day. Since I’m not a millionaire or a gambler, I’ve felt it prudent to rent an apartment rather than "own" a house/jumbo loan. I had a great job in San Diego, as good as it gets for someone like me. But for someone like me, the whole city is a professional dead end. I’m certain that when my (SF-born) grandfather moved there in 1953 it was very, very nice. But today, I feel like that delicate oasis in the Sonoran Desert has become as inhospitable as its surrounding geography.

When people find out that I moved to Buffalo from San Diego, they are usually dumbstruck. How could someone do that? I ask them what they think is so great about some place like Southern California and they almost always lamely say, "the beaches". When I lived in San Diego, I never used to go hang out on the beach — exactly like 99% of all San Diegans. I also find this quite ironic because the Great Lakes have miles and miles (and kilometers and kilometers) of extremely nice beaches. If for some weird reason, you like getting sand in your shoes, we totally can do that here.


This particular one is near Hamilton, Ontario in Canada and it is lined with a beautiful bike/hiking path.

Beaches are an obvious similarity once I point it out. But there are some weirder things these areas have in common. For example, here is an upside down house.


The inset image is the weird house on the top of the engineering building at UCSD which I used to be able to see from my office. Technically, the upside down house is in Canada, but it is still almost as close to me as my mother’s house in Ocean Beach is to UCSD.

When I first arrived, I stayed in an old house in the middle of town. It seemed like kind of a hipster place (and locals have affirmed that impression). It actually reminded me exactly of North Park in San Diego. And what is it called in Buffalo? North Park.


Here I am in their classic era cinema which is truly magnificent. Really one of the best. The image playing on the screen is a shot of the exterior and the inset image is North Park in San Diego.

One thing I liked about my job at UCSD is that because of the atrocious parking situation, I was compelled to either ride my bike to work or do about 20 minutes of walking each way to my car. I enjoyed walking through the (relatively car-free=safe) university campus. Here in Buffalo, it turns out that my office is located at the western periphery of the University At Buffalo.


Here is a photo of UB’s non sequitur faux antiquity-inspired columns. It reminds me a lot of UCSD’s non sequitur faux Stone-Henge-inspired columns (shown in the inset). It turns out that I walk or bike through this campus very often since my parking spot is at the northern periphery of the campus. The reason that parking spot is a big improvement over my UCSD one is that it is in my driveway.

That photo of Lake LaSalle on the UB campus hints at the real attraction here: water. This area is not a desert! If anything, it is a swamp. A swamp with enough of a cool breeze to keep mosquitoes and alligators under control. It’s incredibly nice in fact. If you’ve been living in a desert for a long time seeing some water can be really pleasant.

One thing I’ve always said about England is that if you want to see the nice parts, tour the canals. They were frozen in time in about the late 18th century. It turns out that the same is roughly true here. When you think of canals in North America the main one that people have heard of is the Erie Canal. I had heard of it but actually had no idea where it went or why it was built. Now I have considerably more knowledge about it.

Although it is very strangely not labeled on Google Maps, the Erie Canal does exist and here is where the modern format of it exits into the Niagara River.


It is called Tonawanda Creek here — does that look like a mere "creek" to you? Not if you’re from California it doesn’t!

As you can see, it is quite a pleasant place with a pleasant climate. Here it is farther up stream at one of the most opulent dog parks I’ve ever seen (the bridge connects to the Bark Park Island).


In old times the canal was carved right through what is now the city (that route has been filled in) and it emerged into Lake Erie downtown in a place they call Canalside. They’re doing a lot of urban renewal in this area and it’s quite pleasant.


Even more pleasant in my opinion is Delaware Park.


This was taken just before we ate at the Terrace Restaurant shown on the right side of the photo. Often restaurants with amazing views don’t live up to expectations with the food, but this one sure did.

The zoo is located here as are several museums. The whole place is incredibly beautiful.


But there are not just canals and lake-sized lakes in parks. This area has ocean-sized lakes!


Here I am at work out on Lake Erie doing my job. Yes, I am a professional recreational boater. Seriously. Career opportunities here have been optimal! This shot was actually taken from the Canadian side of the lake with the Buffalo skyline ashore in the background.

Some people may quibble about the water quality of the Great Lakes. Poor Cleveland had their river catch fire a few times and now the whole region has a bad reputation. But thanks to Big Government, things have taken a serious change for the better with respect to Great Lake water quality. I’ve been quite impressed with how clean Lake Erie and Lake Ontario seem. I would much rather swim in any water course in this area than in Mission Bay near my former apartment in San Diego.

Here is a photo of one of the world’s most incredible places, the Niagara Gorge. A few hours previous to this photo, all of that water pictured was in Lake Erie, and soon after it will all be in Lake Ontario.


Besides the conspicuous raw power of Niagara Falls dropping one giant lake into another, I was impressed with how clean these rapids looked. To me they didn’t look far off of the Aare River which flows through Bern Switzerland, the ne plus ultra of beautiful river water. Good thing because my drinking water now comes from the Niagara River!

A lot of people fuss about water, especially when it falls out of the sky. I, however, love the wet climate. What the treeless part of California has taught me is that I respect and appreciate trees. Because it rains sometimes, Buffalo has some serious trees! The forests here are absolutely gorgeous.

Here I am near the previous photo climbing out of the gorge.


This shot is a bit of an anomaly because it is one of the very few places where it is not completely flat. The main thing I miss about San Diego is being able to ride my bike up Mt. Soledad every week.

Although it is very flat here, somewhat south of Buffalo there are some pretty decent sized (skiing happens) hills. Hills covered in forest! With actual trees! Live trees that haven’t burned yet!


This forest was on Grand Island which is a freakishly nice place. At least the parts we explored.

I’d say the biggest buzzkill for the whole area is Borellia. Borellia is a kind of bacterium that causes Lyme Disease. If you think it’s a pain for humans, these poor arachnids are now even more reviled than they used to be.


Although this sign is in Canada, the area hardest hit by this problem seems to be Pennsylvania — check out how the CDC's 2016 Reported Cases Of Lyme Disease plot shows that the Lake Erie shoreline is especially severe there.


And although the sign in the photo exonerates American dog ticks for Lyme disease, that species does spread Tularemia, a tick disease named for a county in central California. Ticks are a problem everywhere but it does seem like San Diego’s rattlesnake problem (I’ve personally found them at least a dozen times while hiking) is preferable to the ticks.

Speaking of Canada, the closest large city to where I live is actually not Erie, PA or Rochester, NY — it is Toronto, Canada. It is actually possible to see Toronto from across Lake Ontario in certain places. The way you know you’re looking at Toronto is the CN Tower.


We visited it and are glad we did, but we don’t ever need to do that again. You know you’re in Toronto the same way you know you’re in Los Angeles — you’re sitting in traffic. Seriously, check out the freeway in that photo.

When it comes to understanding a region I have a superpower which gives me enormous insight — my cycling. When I first arrived in Buffalo, I rode as much as I could and I quickly came to understand the place. There are some not so nice places, sure, like anywhere. There are some nice places. And there are some absolutely stunningly nice places! When I’m thinking to myself, "Wow, this is just like Holland!" that is a serious compliment and not one I often have occasion to give in North America. But the bike paths along the river and canals, and through the forests are amazing.


I fell in love with this area right away!

You may notice that the leaves are tinged with color in that photo. You may wonder why I’m posting this about summer when it is December. With the months of homelessness and instability involved with moving, I have been incredibly busy and I am indeed a season behind in posting this.

Here’s a photo of me that I include to show that I’m riding without a shirt. I think that’s necessary because some people imagine Buffalo as some permanently frozen Lake Effect place like Antarctica.


In fact, my biggest annoyance upon arrival here was that it was too hot. No hotter than San Diego, but still… Too damn hot! That’s summer. There’s a lot of potential here in the summer and I’m looking forward to next summer. The lake breeze is always nice!

However when I would tell people that it seemed too hot to me, they’d always say, "Just wait until winter." My biggest complaint about San Diego is exactly that waiting for winter no longer cures the "too hot" problem. Well, reporting to you a season late I can give you a solid prediction of how I’m going to feel about Buffalo’s heavy duty winter. Let’s just say that winter is way more afraid of me than I am of it! I love it here!