Everything Ended Perfectly

Aghast

For any of my readers who might be in the Southern Ontario region – I suggest you take a few steps back for a couple of weeks. If the Karma Balancing Equation is correct, my house should get struck by a medium-sized meteor soon.

All 3 puppies

Daughter LadyRyl recently got to go for her first plane trip. The crazy cat lady also breeds Chihuahuas.   The daughter has been fostering a female for her, and recently oversaw the delivery of four cute little puppies.

She has had a long-distance friend for almost 18 years – almost since before there was an Internet. She Facebooked photos, and Skyped with the friend, showing off the wee dogs.  They’ve often spoken about getting together, but they’re 500 miles apart.

Alug & Tara

Alug (a look), with Tara, new, much older sister

The friend was entranced by one little male, and decided to add him to her menagerie – then her 7 kids would have 7 pets. Ryl decided that the time had come, and offered to deliver him by hand.  The friend lives a 2-hour drive east of Thunder Bay, ON, and offered to pick her up there and house her for five days.

She has blogged about the flight up, and plans to detail her stay. If you haven’t already, you might link over and have a look.  She had a wonderful visit, although, halfway through, the new main bridge on the Trans-Canada Highway,  between her and the airport, popped a rivet and got a bit bent out of shape.  Crews had it at least usable by the time she left.

Nipigon Bridge

She paid for her own flight. Cat-lady offered to drive her to and from the Toronto airport.  It’s the least she could do.  She’d have had to drive down once, and pay to have the dog shipped, whereas, the daughter took the puppy as carry-on luggage.

It’s a two hour flight home, and it’s a two hour drive from the cat-lady’s home. Just as daughter was getting ready to board her plane, cat-lady texted her.  The storm that was blowing down from the north had reached her.  She got to the highway, and visibility was ZERO.

We got a desperate text. Was our weather still clear??  Could we pick her up at the airport??  Of course!  Where and when?

I’ve been past the Toronto Airport, but never actually entered.  We got some things ready and took off.  Obscured lane markings and a bit of blowing snow made the trip a little longer than the usual one hour.  So did the fact that I left the highway one ramp too soon, driving up the airport’s ass-end, across the top, and back down, coming at the entrance from the wrong direction.

Pulling in off the street, I was suddenly on a Disneyworld ride – roads and ramps and bumper cars, oh my. In the dark!  In a snowstorm!  Where’s the signs?  Where’s the parking.  If I’m not careful, I’ll drive to Disneyworld, rather than fly there!

I followed a previous suggestion, made by the son. He describes it as Zen driving.  Find a car that looks like it knows where you’re going, and follow it.  Those two that just cut me off – they look like they’re going to pick someone up.  Sure enough, they both pull up a poorly marked ramp, and lead me into a parking garage.

Soon, I’m in a handicap spot, ten feet from an entrance. This opens to an overhead concourse, where we can look down on (in both senses) the chaos at the main entrance.  The daughter texted that she was landing, and that her plane would be a D-Gate #111.  Her one checked bag would unload at baggage carousel #9.

As we enter, signs say that Gates A – C are waayyy down there.  Gate D is right around this corner, an easy hobble for the wife and her two crutches.  However, carousel 9 is two football fields away.  With no seating on the upper level, we go down the escalator and take seats beside carousel 1.

Another text tells us that daughter’s plane was 10 minutes early, and the plane at ramp #111 is 10 minutes late leaving. They will unload onto the tarmac, and send luggage to carousel 1, since it’s the closest.

Soon, an airport employee delivers daughter and her carry-ons, in a wheelchair. We grab her checked bag and head for the car.  All done in just under an hour, we pay the outrageous $10 parking fee, and quickly hit Highway 401.

A bit more snow on the way home, a bit less wind drifting.  Traffic moves smoothly.  We’re home safely in an hour.  Where’s the snotty GPS?  Where’s the bumper-to-bumper traffic?  Where’s the getting lost and having to stop and ask some rag-head for directions?  Where’s something to rant about?  Karma’s up to something!  I’ll probably get lost going to the supermarket, but, Everything Ended Perfectly!  😀

 

 

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Big Adventures In A Small Town

Red Roof  Standard Red Roof

We can always see the ‘same-old’ at home. When most of us go on a trip, we hope to see and experience something new.  The city of Batavia, NY did not disappoint! CHINESE KARAOKE!  Did that catch your attention?  It caught mine.  I’ll explain below.

First of all, there are two Batavias.  The City of Batavia is completely encircled by the Town of Batavia.   On the western edge sits Batavia Downs, a well-known, completely-enclosed, indoor harness racing venue.  Three hotels sit nearby, just past the tollbooths off I-90.

Rich Red Roof  My Red Roof

Justifying my claim that hotels are forever changing names, my Red Roof Inn has had five names. Until two years ago, it was a Travelodge.  Unlike most ‘standard’ Red Roofs, its room doors didn’t empty out into the parking lot and the weather.  Instead, it had a central hall, interior doors, and quieter rooms.  It also had a small bar, and a dining room that was used as a karaoke club.

About five years ago, a developer bought up and paved over acres and acres of property surrounding the race track. Soon, businesses like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Applebee’s, Tops and Target popped up, giving the race fans (or their wives) someplace else leave their money.  Three new hotels went up just north of the Interstate.

Many of the people who work at these new businesses came from somewhere else. Five years ago, the City of Batavia had about 9000 residents.  Nowadays the population is pushing 16,000.  The night clerk, a 22-year resident, is outraged.  There are now two McDonalds, and two Tim Horton’s in her town.

Tim Horton's  Tim Horton’s c/w drive-through

I don’t think she quite believed me when I told her that in Southern Ontario, I could pass two Tim Horton’s on the way to pick up my mail. The son uses a four-lane regional road to drive 9 Kilometers (5+ miles) across town to go to work, and passes 4 Timmies along the way. There are probably another dozen scattered around town.

Back to the Karaoke…. Through the summer and fall, groups of Chinese couples arrive in the USA, possibly landing in LA, or San Francisco.  They are flown to Las Vegas for a couple of days, then flown on up to a regional airport just north of Batavia.  A Chinese driver picks them up with a Mercedes Sprinter van, and installs them at the Red Roof.  The next day they are driven 60 miles to Niagara Falls.

There are always two groups, one a day ahead of the other, filling 10 to 15 rooms. A local DJ offers Chinese Karaoke on Saturday night, in the dining room.  First they belt out the lyrics to Chinese songs, but quickly change over to modern North American pop songs, which they attempt to sing phonetically.  It’s amusing.  Most of them can’t speak a word of English.

On Sunday morning, the drunk who couldn’t speak English, is hung-over, but loudly spewing O Solé Mio phonetically in Italian into the parking lot at 6 AM. I knew that Japanese are renowned for taking lots of pictures.  These people took photos and videos of everything, including two crab-apple trees, and the crab-apples on the ground by the entrance.

Because regional airports are favored by folks like smugglers and terrorists, there was a significant Homeland Security building right across the street, and the county sheriff’s office was just beyond the neighboring hotel. Unlike our trip two years ago, to the ‘hood’ in Detroit, this time there was no need for armed security patrols.

The telephone booking clerk told me that I was getting ‘just a plain room’, so we took along the Koolatron – only to find a refrigerator in the room. We took food for breakfasts – to be told that the hotel provided a hot breakfast – eggs, sausage, cereal, bagels, bread, juice and fruit.

One of the non-Chinese diners stopped the night-clerk and asked her if she remembered a Sorel Boot plant out where new plaza now sits. I cut parts for Sorel Boots for the hometown Kaufman Footwear, until they went bankrupt, and I had to find a new job in ’85.  I didn’t know they had a plant in Batavia.  I guess it got torn down and paved over.

The City of Batavia has some old and interesting buildings, which I took photos of. (So there, you Chinese tourists!)  If you’d like to come back in about a week, I’m going to post a mostly photo-blog.

This trip was enjoyable, entertaining and educational for me. I hope you got a little from it also.

Storm-Stayed

airport blower

 

 

 

 

 

On my Digging In – Digging Out post about heavy snowfalls, I got a comment from a fellow writer who used to truck produce from the ferry dock, to the other side of Newfoundland, a large island-province off Canada’s east coast.  It is affectionately known to its residents as ‘The Rock.’

He told of a time when he and several other truckers were stranded for three days at a truck stop, when 125 inches (That’s 10+ feet!) of snow fell, accompanied by high winds.  I admitted that Ontario’s weather problems were often puny, compared to Newfoundland’s.

My familiarity with all things “Newfie” has been gained both online, and by association with many ex-pats, now working up here, but he apparently felt it was from personal experience.  The following is an explanatory email.

If, by your comment, “Ha, you’ve been, I see.” you mean to The Rock, the answer is no.  My financial, and the wife’s medical, restrictions make that nearly impossible.  However, there are almost as many Newfies up here, as there are left down there.  I worked for four years in the Hespeler section of Cambridge, ON, where the population is about half Portuguese, and half Newfie.  Drive down the street and yell, “Hey Joe (Joao), and all construction stops. Every second Newfie is named Sean or Shawn, and that includes the women.

At my auto-parts plant, there were 2 dozen Newfies for 200 employees, including four from Bell Island.  Add my online friends…. and I’d like to add you as one.  Would you wish to admit where you’re currently parked, so that I can overwork my map program?

At the risk of clogging your email, I have a snowing/driving story I wish to share.  In my Location, Location, Location post, I wrote of Kitchener being just far enough from three Great Lakes to miss ‘a lot’ of snow.  Also, it’s mildly hilly, cutting the wind and preventing a lot of drifting.  Just to our west, it soon becomes flatter, and drifting can be serious.  If the Ontario Provincial Police shut down Southern Ontario’s main artery, Highway 401, it’s almost always just past Kitchener.

A brother-in-law drove for years for Koch Transport.  His run was from Kitchener, 70 Km to St Mary’s, and back each day.  He (and wife) were taking two weeks holidays, and going to Hawaii, flying out on a Saturday morning.  On the Friday, he made his run, and got back to Stratford, where he found police blocking the road to Kitchener.  They waved him into a strip mall with two other big-rigs, and a half-dozen cars.

He left it running, and climbed down to talk to the others.  One of the car drivers asked what he was going to do.  He replied, “I’m going to wait until there’s an accident, and the cops leave, and then I’m going to move that barricade and make a run for it.  I’ve got to get home.  I have a flight out tomorrow.”  The guy replied, “I’m going on a trip tomorrow too.  Can we follow you guys?”

And so, they convoyed out, with the semis breaking trail, and the cars following.  With the trucks leading, the driving really wasn’t all that bad, and they all soon got back home safely.  The next morning, as he was boarding the plane to Hawaii, he ran into Mr. Sedan-Driver again, on the same flight.

 

Archon