Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Buffalo

For the third time this year, I traveled north for a massive electrolysis session...

I got back from my trip to the Inner Banks visiting my friend Lisa on Saturday, October 12th and Mitchell came to visit me for the rest of the weekend.  The following Tuesday I took my Dad to Raleigh for his semi annual cardiologist appointment.  This was the second time this doctor met me as myself and he remembered my name.  I am so much more comfortable now dealing with these doctors (and everyone I encounter really) and it is nice to hear myself referred to as Tammy by these professionals.  Daddy got a good report from the doctor and we drove home to Rocky Mount for a family dinner.  The next day I left for Buffalo, New York for electrolysis with James Walker of Executive Clearance.

As you may recall from my earlier blogs, Two Weekends and Up for Electrolysis, this would be my third complete facial clearing and the first time I had to go all the way to Buffalo to have it done.  The first two times I met James at another client's home in York, Pennsylvania, about halfway to Buffalo from here, where he sets up temporary shop from time to time.  This was going to be a long drive (644 miles each way) and I dedicated 2 days for travel, 2 days for electrolysis and 2 more days to travel home. 

I left on Thursday around lunch time and made it to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania as darkness fell and just in time for dinner.  As I have mentioned, these trips for electrolysis are a little shaky for me because the treatment requires going without shaving for a few days prior to the appointment.  On the first trip to York I had to go even longer without shaving (because it was an initial clearing), did not use any concealer or makeup and actually had a lot more hair problem to deal with than I do after the first two treatments.  This time I wore my normal makeup and used concealer on the areas I usually have to shave.  I think it would have taken a fairly close examination to notice anything, especially on this first day of the trip. 

I brought my food with me for the drive up, as usual, but that night I did go to a Diner for supper after checking into the hotel.  My confidence was less than 100% but I was still called ma'am everywhere I went so, at the end of the day, it went ok.  I forgot to bring my favorite hoodie so I even went to Target after dinner to buy a new one and I also know that Target stores have Starbuck's.  It's recommended that you not consume caffeine for at least 2 days prior to electrolysis but at the time of this trip I was still addicted to Starbuck's coffee, so I could not resist.   Since I have been home I have weaned myself off coffee so maybe next time I will be caffeine free.  James' equipment and technique cause as little pain as possible, so even after drinking coffee it's usually not too bad. 

The next morning I was tempted to go to JC Penny's in the shopping center across the street from the hotel, and right next to Target, so I went there for awhile before hitting the road.  They had a really good sale going on and I got a great deal on some Lee jeans and a nice top.  I will have to admit it was a little bit weird shopping after going yet another day without shaving, but I took some extra time to cover everything and I don't think anyone noticed.  It will be So Wonderful not to have to shave at all anymore and that is my goal with electrolysis.  One day, if I keep making these trips north, I will get there.

The drive from Harrisburg to Buffalo took me through the Allegheny Mountains of central Pa. and through some bucolic areas of western New York state.  Those mountains don't have the elevation of ours in North Carolina but its pretty country nonetheless, especially this time of year when the leaves are changing color.  After coming out of the mountains and foothills, I noticed that the landscape in that part of western New York near Buffalo was flat and not that different from my home county in eastern North Carolina.


Route 15 through the Allegheny mountains of central Pa.
Wind Power: Part of a series of windmills that stretched for a few miles along a Pennsylvania ridge...
Mitchell had made a reservation at a nice hotel suite for me in Buffalo.  It was raining and getting dark as I pulled into the hotel and checked in.  I was looking a little ragged after a long drive and another day without shaving but I needed to get some dinner, so I went out to look for a drive through.  A little Japanese place advertising sushi caught my eye, but they didn't have a drive through so I stopped and considered going inside. I know I did not look my best but I decided to go in anyway, as the place looked relatively dimly lit.


Tuna Lover's Special, very good sushi.
A very nice, older oriental man waited on me at the sushi place and I am sure he clocked me but he was still polite and went out of his way to give me good service.  That is probably how they treat everyone there but it is nice to at least get treated like anyone else.  I should have felt good about myself for not allowing my temporary handicap (having some facial hair prior to my electrolysis appointment) hold me back, but I certainly didn't feel good about seen in public so closely on this day.  I had felt better that morning but perhaps because I didn't touch up my makeup after this long day, I just had the feeling that he clocked me.  Oh well, I got good food and good service and since I had to be like that anyway, there was no sense acting like a hermit.  Maybe I can look at it like a growth experience, sort of like when I was going out androgynously when I first started HRT.

The next morning I found out that I had a couple of hours to kill before my electrolysis appointment, so I decided to explore a bit of Buffalo.  One of the things I really wanted to see while in town was Lake Erie.  I also wanted to check out the downtown area.  While riding around downtown, I stumbled onto Erie Basin Marina, which is also home to a large park.  It was late October and a cold wind was blowing off the lake so I was a little chilly in my hoodie and I could tell that soon the weather would be turning bitterly cold in this part of the country. 


View from the observation tower at Erie Basin Marina...
Lighthouse at the edge of Lake Erie in Buffalo, NY...Video below is from a little beach on the lake shore...

There were some Naval ships docked there and I found out they were part of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park.  I walked around the area but didn't pay the admission to get into the museum or on board the ships, as I knew I wouldn't have much time to explore them.  There was also a really cool observation tower at the marina that made for a few good pictures, but I didn't linger there too long because of the biting wind.  A couple of men were fishing from the bank on one of the canals leading to the lake and I stopped to ask if they were catching anything.  Seems that they had a few Yellow Perch already in the bucket.  This is a species that is also found here in North Carolina but seems to be very prominent in the Great Lakes.  He also told me that in winter they had good luck ice fishing.  That is something I have always wanted to do and one day I want to try my hand at ice fishing.  After getting some pictures and talking to the fishermen I ate a little picnic lunch in the van and then it was time to head to the office for some much needed electrolysis.


Yellow Perch caught on live minnows from the bank..
USS Croaker (submarine) and USS Little Rock (cruiser) moored at the Buffalo Erie County Naval and Military Park
Day one of electrolysis began in the early afternoon and went until supper time.  The most sensitive areas of my face were cleared (upper and lower lip) as well as a good portion of the right side of my cheek and neck.  After this I really didn't feel like actually going into a restaurant and eating dinner, but James and his friend invited me to a place close by that was famous for its Beef on Wek sandwiches.  I had never heard of beef on wek before but I had seen signs advertising them ever since I arrived in Buffalo.  Apparently they are a local delicacy and are essentially a thin sliced roast beef sandwich, served with au jus.  James assured me that he had taken many clients to this establishment who were still in the middle of treatment like me, and that the atmosphere was sort of dark so I shouldn't worry.  They talked me into it and I ended up enjoying a good meal that I wouldn't have if I just went back to room or got takeout.


Beef on Wek sandwich, a western New york specialty..
One thing that I am learning on these trips is that in order to experience life you have to go out and live it.  We can't let the fact that our appearance is not perfect hold us back from enjoying life to its fullest.  Maybe I had a little swelling and redness from electrolysis and some residual facial hair, maybe someone else will have a burn on their face or a bad scar, maybe someone is not confident in their daily appearance or presentation anyway for whatever reason, but please don't let the fact that things are not perfect keep you from doing the things that you want to do and especially don't let it keep you from living your life as yourself.  I also learned this lesson earlier this year after my skin cancer surgery when I had a bandage, then residual scab on my face.

Day two of electrolysis was also going to have a late start.  It was Saturday and James had a funeral he wanted to attend so I agreed to meet him in the afternoon and used the free time to drive up to Niagara Falls, another attraction I really wanted to see on this trip.  First I drove all the way up to the Canadian border, about thirty miles, and turned around.  I really wanted to enter Canada because it would cool to go into another country and because the view of the falls may be better from that side, but I had to turn around because I don't have the passport required to re enter the United States. 

I drove back to Niagara Falls and had to pay to park but I didn't pay for any of the attractions or drive to any other spots for different views of the Falls.  I had been to Niagara Falls as a child with my parents
US-Canadian border just ahead... 
 
Niagara Falls, USA side






Me at Niagara Falls..video below..

After a short time viewing the Falls it was time to head back to Buffalo for my electrolysis.  As I have mentioned before, and many of you know, electrolysis involves inserting a needle into each individual hair follicle where electricity and heat are applied that eventually kill the follicle.  It takes many treatments of each follicle to permanently render it dead, so that no more hair will grow from it, hence the need for repeated treatments like I am receiving.  In 2012, I had a total of 32 hours of electrolysis on my cheeks, chin and upper lip but they were done randomly, one hour at the time.  Now I am getting the entire face treated during an extended session and coming back after 6 to 8 weeks, when the next hair growth cycle kicks in.  This method seems to be much more efficient and gets results faster.  Also, the equipment and technique that James Walker uses causes less pain than any other I am aware of, and does not damage the skin.

Saturday afternoon we were able to clear the rest of my face, to my great relief.  I no longer had any facial hair to worry about, but I did have slightly swollen cheeks and areas of redness to contend with.  I am not getting any scarring from James' treatments, like I did at the place I went to in Raleigh, but there is some temporary swelling and redness on my sensitive skin. The plan was to go out and sample some of Buffalo's most famous food, so I put on some concealer for the red areas and and a little makeup before dinner.


Buffalo Wings are famous all over the country these days but they originated, of course, in the city of Buffalo.  So, this being my first trip to Buffalo we went to the Anchor Bar, which was the first restaurant to ever serve the now famous wings.  There is an interesting story about how Buffalo Wings came about, and it can be found here on the Anchor Bar website.
Famous Buffalo Wings from the original home of the Buffalo Wing, the Anchor Bar
We sampled three different varieties of Buffalo Wings, as seen above, but I have to admit I enjoyed the original recipe the best.  James says that on the first trip to town he takes clients to the Anchor Bar for the original wings and on the next trip we will go to the second most famous spot.  Having tried the original Buffalo Wings I am now considered to be a wing snob, and everything thing else pales in comparison.  I have been sampling wings at various places here in the South recently and I have to admit, they do have better wings in Buffalo. 

After two days of electrolysis I was beat but James and his friend wanted to go to a local karaoke bar to sing a couple songs before heading in.  Again I was worried about how I would look after the extensive treatments on my face, but James told me to look around.  No one was noticing me and everything was alright.  I just looked like I had gained a couple of pounds from eating all the wings so I tagged along to the bar, had a couple of beers, and watched them sing a couple of songs.  When I finally got back to my room I just wanted to relax, so I got in the jacuzzi for the second night in a row, and took a long, hot bath.  This was a great amenity here in this hotel suite and I really appreciate Mitchell getting this nice room for me for my three nights in town.


Relaxing in the hot tub back at the hotel, after a long day of tourism and electrolysis...
Sunday morning arrived and it was time to go home, but there was there was a little bit more electrolysis to do as I also wanted to get my chest area cleared.  After checking out of the hotel at 11, I went over to Executive Clearance to get that done and it took an hour and half.  So I ended up hitting the road about 1:30 PM with only 644 miles to go.  Darkness had set in when I got to Harrisburg and checked into the same hotel I stayed in on the way up.  I still had a little bit of redness that was easily covered by concealer, but my confidence in my appearance was soaring compared to what it was on the way up.  I felt like myself again and felt good about being hair free for awhile and one step closer to my ultimate goal. 

After checking out of the hotel the next morning and hitting the road, I got off on the wrong exit and ended up in the parking lot of a Bass Pro Shops.  This is just my luck!  I've always wanted to go into one of those stores, so I decided to take a quick detour from  my trip and check it out.  It turns out that this Bass Pro Shops in Harrisburg is also part of a nice shopping mall, so I got the added bonus of taking a walk around and getting some exercise. 

It was around mid day when I finally got on the road for the 7-8 hours drive home.  I was supposed to stop in Baltimore at some point on this trip and visit a friend I met on Facebook, Rachael Kruse, but since I had stayed in Buffalo a third night and she had to go out town for a doctor's appointment, I missed seeing her by a couple of hours.  We decided that I would come up for a visit in a couple of weeks, which will be the subject a soon to come blog post.

I got home safe and sound that evening and I was really glad that Mama picked up the dogs for me before the kennel closed.  Everyone was happy to see me and I was happy to be home, but I do love traveling and have really enjoyed all the trips I've made this year.  My next electrolysis appointment January.  There is a possibility I can go to York for the treatment, but if I have to go to buffalo in mid winter I will fly up.  There is no way this Carolina girl is going to drive through the Pennsylvania mountains and into snowy Upstate New York in the dead of winter. 


It might sound funny, but I do look forward to my next electrolysis session.  They are really making a difference and of course I also enjoy the chance to travel and get out of town.  As of right now I have not had too much hair come back and I can go a day without shaving with no problems.  These full facial treatments get real results really quickly, but over the next few weeks more might come back.  One thing for certain is that after each treatment there is less of the problem hair to deal with.


If I go to Buffalo in winter I will have to fly in.  I wish I could do it this way...