Homeward! Bound?

zoes tale

What books I can’t get for free from the Library, I pay half-price for at the book-exchange stall at the St. Jacob’s Farmers’ Market, or reluctantly buy at full retail from the Chapters Bookstore nearby. Also, a few trickle down from the son, Shimoniac.  One of the ways I enticed him to accompany me on the recent Buffalo/Batavia trip, was to guarantee him a visit to both a large bookstore and/or second-hand book exchange.

Everything is relative. Cordelia’s Mom informed me that the large second-hand bookstore I found online in Buffalo, was just outside the University, and dealt with buying and reselling text-books. The Galleria Mall she led us to, listed ‘Bookstores – 3’ online, if you consider Hallmark Cards a bookstore.

A second was a Christian bookstore, more interested in selling Bibles, rosaries and Holy Water pendants than Sci-Fi or Romance. The last was a New Age-y thing with books on Yoga, weight loss, DIY, and Chicken Soup for the Confused Psyche.  We spent a couple of hours people-watching, and then headed to Batavia, where I assured him there was a Barnes and Noble store.

After our Sunday photographic downtown tour, we allowed Ethel, the GPS, to lead us three miles out of town to 1 College Road. This turned out to be the main administration building of the Genesee State College.  The store might have been run by Barnes and Noble, but it was identified simply as ‘Campus Bookstore’, slightly bigger than a Volkswagen van, full of more textbooks, and closed on Sunday.

“Never fear!” I said.  “I know where there’s a giant Barnes and Noble in Buffalo, as big as the huge Chapters we recently visited in Toronto’s Eaton’s Center.”  (Grump, grump, grump muttered the son.  I’ll bet.)

The next day, after checking out, we headed back to Buffalo. Since ‘I knew where I was going,’ the son hadn’t turned Ethel back on.  There was a post with two curved arrows to the right as we approached Niagara Falls Boulevard.  I drove over it, expecting to take the far ramp down, to go south.  There is no far ramp.

The following is for CM, and any others familiar with Buffalo, to tell her how lost I was, and where.  The rest of you can skip it and just read “Lost, lost, lost, blah, blah, blah.”

A mile and a quarter down I-90, to Colvin – north a mile and a quarter till I encountered a main cross-street, Ellicott Creek Rd. – a mile and a quarter back to Niagara Falls Blvd. and there was The Grapevine, our restaurant of two days ago – south a mile and a quarter, till I was back where I should have been. Moses wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.  I only went 5 useless miles out of my way.

I found the Barnes and Noble, and parked in a handicap spot right in front, because my arthritic hip was bothering me – and then hobbled a 100 yards around the corner to where they put the entrance. The son spent a glorious hour and a half, picking up almost as much ink as if he’d got a tattoo, while I lazed in an easy chair in front of their indoor gas campfire.  Finally sated, but without actually purchasing one book, we headed home.

Back up the Boulevard we went, toward I-90. Again, there were two arrows, one curved, and one L-shaped.  I didn’t want to get caught as I had coming in.  The son was desperately trying to find the GPS.  Just as I decided to merge right, the son yelled, “Take the ramp!”  I did – and off we went in the wrong direction – again.  More ‘Lost, lost, blah, blah.’

The last exit back dumped right into the University of Buffalo. After navigating parking lots and ring road, we finally won free to a surface street.  The son said, “We’re on Maple Road.”  Well, Maple Rd. Is where the Red Roof is that we should have stayed at. “I know where we are.  We’re lost, but we’re making good time.”

Continuing onward, the son said, “We must be getting near civilization. There’s a Taco Bell.  At least we won’t starve to death.”  (As if!)  Ethel the GPS had finally recovered her satellites, and her voice, but I beat her to it.  “Turn right on Sheridan Drive.” I know! I followed the turbo-charged soccer-momobile here last year.  This takes us back to CM’s place.

Soon, we’re back to the Boulevard, and heading for I-90. Another wasted 5 miles.  Moses’ ass, and mine, are getting tired.  Finally facing toward Canada, we head home.  Near Grand Island, the highway runs across the top of a dam.  Suddenly, the light goes on.  This is the entrance to the fabled Erie Canal.

I paid a dollar toll to get onto the island, and another to take the bridge over the gorge. I pulled up to the Canadian Customs booth – and that’s when the trouble started.

I misjudged my approach, and when I went to hand out our passports, I couldn’t reach by two feet. The young Border Guard could have stepped out of his booth, but instead insisted, “Get out of the car!”, which I was happy to do, because I needed to ease my right hip again.  Immediately, I was ordered to, “Get back in your car!”  “Okay, as soon as I can move.”

What the son saw, but I didn’t, was the Free Safety behind the adjacent booth suddenly head toward us with his hand on his Glock. Once the car door was closed, things calmed down – a bit.  Now the Inquisition started.

Why’d you go to the States?
To visit some friends, and do a bit of shopping.
How long were you gone?
(He’s got it on the computer screen in front of him.)  Two days.
Where are you from?
How much are you bringing back?
For both of us, about $75 US, no alcohol, no tobacco.
Then what did you buy?
Some clothes, some food.
Where do your friends live?
In Tonawanda.
Where did you stay?
Out in Batavia.  It was the nearest place that wasn’t full of football fans.
Do you have a receipt?
Why yes officer, right here beside me.
So you two brothers just went over for a visit?
We are not brothers.  We are father and son.
Have you ever had any trouble getting into the States?
No, officer.
Are you known by any other names?
(Other than Stupid, or Asshole??)  No sir.

He looked across the car at the son and asked for a drivers’ licence, for proof of address, which we passed out, and he examined thoroughly. We just sat there, grinning like the rubes we are.  I asked, “Which name set you off?”  “I can’t tell you that.” But it was the son’s licence he asked for.  Like the TSA No-Fly list, it’s probable that someone with the same name is wanted for something.  We may have this problem in any future trips, but now we are warned.

Now he can step out of the booth, to return all the documents.  No “Thank you, have a nice day sir.” Just, “Okay, away you go.”  Surly enough to be an American.  Did Tim Horton’s refuse to serve you?  Well, we’re back in the Land of the Bland and the Home of the Subservient.

11 thoughts on “Homeward! Bound?

  1. BrainRants says:

    Surly enough indeed. Sure he was full-blooded Canadian?


  2. Jim Wheeler says:

    Well, Archon, if I was inclined to take a driving trip before reading your little memoir, I’m not now. Our GPS is at least 6 years out of date so I can only imagine that it would underperform Ethyl. As for books, after most of a lifetime getting everything from the library, the wife and I have now gotten hooked on e-books. (We’re spending our kids’ inheritance.)

    Interesting about the security thing. I wonder if it’s effective? Given the length of the border, I would tend to doubt it.


    • shimoniac says:

      I read e-books too, but I’m a tactile reader and prefer to have a paper book with pages to turn. Swiping a finger across a glass screen, or tapping said screen in a particular place, just doesn’t do it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jim Wheeler says:

        Yep, I get that. On the other page, however, I’ve become fond of light weight, even lighting in any setting, instant access to dictionary and wikipedia, large capacity, and, for some books, character-identification (called X-ray by Kindle). Not to mention not having to go to Buffalo to get the book. 🙄


    • Archon's Den says:

      We don’t have the Israeli wall, or the Mexican fence. There’s nothing to stop someone from going from a cornfield in North Dakota to a wheat field in Alberta, but all he could carry is a backpack. To smuggle more requires a road of some sort – hence Border Guards.
      Their technique is intimidation, and implied accusation. Only the truly innocent, or cold-blooded can sit there under that stare, without showing some discomfort.
      I don’t know if I could achieve that, if I truly had something to hide, but this time, as I said, we just sat there like unconcerned rubes.

      Being prepared is a large part of it. I once went to Toledo with a Quality Control rep, with the full intent of illegally performing rework in the US.

      When we reached the border, with a bag of tools in the back seat, he sat there and babbled at the guard until she looked across the car at me and asked what we planned to do. I replied that we would instruct the customer how to repair, or make the decision to have the parts returned to Canada. “Okay, have a nice day.”
      Of course, this was the same guy who wanted to cross from Sarnia to Port Huron, and drive an extra 65 miles, instead of angling to Windsor, and crossing to Detroit. This was before the new interchanges went in. I think he was afraid of getting lost, coming off the bridge. 😯

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, Archon, you should have called me when you got lost going to Barnes & Noble. You were only a couple of miles from my house, and I would have come and guided you to the bridge – probably via back roads, but I would have gotten you there.

    As for Customs, had that happened on the American side, I would have asked if the guy was a very short, bearded 20-something prancing around like a monkey, because that’s the side my loony neighbor works on. Unless, of course, he has friends on the Canadian side. Who knows? I’m just glad you made it back across without further grief.


    • Archon's Den says:

      I know you would have come, dear lady. I would have been tempted to call you, if only for a few more minutes of your bright, happy presence, but – if you can’t get guys to pull over to ask directions, how ya gonna get them to stop and call you, especially since my Canadian phone doesn’t speak American.
      “Excuse me Sir, could you give me directions to the nearest pay phone?”
      I have a pretty good idea of the basic layout of the city. We weren’t ‘lost‘, we were just in places we hadn’t planned to be.
      Actually, I’m doing well. It took 10 years of wrong turns in Detroit to start to really learn the details. These are two mistakes I’ll never make again. 😆


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