LOST IN THE U.S.A.

Map

No vacation is truly an adventure, until something goes wrong.

Based on that statement, our recent excursion into the Excited States was actually a roaring success.  It all started just after we crossed the Niagara River, and pulled up to the American Customs booth.

I had packed our Koolatron, a mini, portable refrigerator, the night before we left, with all kinds of drinks, Pepsi, iced tea, bottled water, orange juice….  As I was packing the car, the wife added some snacks to keep a diabetic’s blood sugar up – snap peas, baby carrots and cherries.

The border guard asked if we had any fruits or vegetables.  I said ‘no,’ and the wife startled.  He wasn’t worried about the peas or carrots, but Canada has cherry mites.  Wifey says, ‘That’s okay.  They’re Washington State cherries.’  ‘Let’s see them.’  The bag she had just finished was Washington, but the replacements she brought along were from British Columbia.  ‘They have to be quarantined.’ he says, and into the garbage they went.

Still distracted and smarting from the loss of the cherries, I was one lane too far right, and ended up heading south towards Buffalo, instead of swinging east towards the New York Turnpike.  A situation usually easily rectified, at the next exit I pulled up, over, and back down.  I practiced a bit of Zen driving, by following a Greyhound bus that looked like it knew where I was going.  I was right.  He led me well into Pennsylvania.

Our Canadian cell phone plan won’t talk to American cell towers.  Several miles down the Turnpike, the wife’s phone rang.  Is the car haunted??   It was our Canadian Virgin Mobile plan.  “For a mere $7/day, we’ll contract AT&T to provide you full phone service.  We realized that you were outside Canada by GPS tracking your cell phone.”  Great idea! and I didn’t hardly feel stalked at all.  We got Google GPS on the wife’s phone.  I wanted to call the new voice Navigator Nancy, but that name was already taken.  She became just Google Girl, and I now have three female voices in the car, telling me where to go.

The second episode of Lost, was filmed in Wilkes-Barre, PA, where we stopped for the night.  Frenchmen and ballerinas call it wilks – bar, but the locals insist that it’s wilks-berry. The address of our motel was right on a main access road, but we couldn’t find it.  By finally asking a convenience-store clerk, we discovered that it was actually up a hill, behind a U-Haul storage facility, and accessed from a small side-road, by going through a TGI Friday’s parking lot.

We didn’t learn that until we’d been past it 4 times.  I pulled into a small side-road to turn around, only to discover that it was the entry ramp for the Interstate.  We went nine miles back North.  I tried my patented up-over-and down maneuver©, only to find that the down ramp took me to a narrow, twisty State highway which only eventually got me back to what passes for civilization.

I must have earned some positive Karma points.  The next day’s highway mishap actually brought me out ahead – still behind, but not as far.  We wanted to go from an Interstate, to a State Highway, in Harrisburg, PA, to save about 60 miles.  All three female voices told me to take exit 5B.  I thought that 5B would be on the far side of the overpass, but like the one I missed in Buffalo a few years ago, both were on the near side.

Just as I realized this, and tried to reach the off-ramp, a local air-conditioning repair truck swooped out of the outside lane and cut me off.  Oh well, we’ll go down to exit 4.  No ‘up-over-and-down’ in the middle of a city, Ethel’s directions took me ‘down here,’ and then ‘across there.’  The wife complained that, if I must get lost, I should at least do it in an area with stately, historical homes, not the grubby factory and warehouse route we took.

When I reached the highway up-ramp, I manage to insert my vehicle into a ‘volume of traffic’ jam.  When I looked in my mirror, I found the air-conditioning van 3 or 4 spaces behind me.  After inching along for 3 miles, because of two more feeder ramps, we finally got back to ‘highway speed.’

In a previous blogging challenge, I’ve said that Life makes me happy.  Just before we leaked out of Pennsylvania into the Maryland panhandle, we curled around the base of a small mountain, just in time to see 10 colorful hot-air balloons rising up its sides.  The long, smooth, descending curve allowed us to observe them from a variety of angles and elevations.  Perhaps not as large or exciting as the Taos, NM hot air balloon festival, I still took it as a sign of apology and reward for the travails of the previous day.

There’s more to come, so I’d like you to come back.  😀

Taos Balloons

Old Coots’ Horseless Carriages

The government allows the daughter 6 pain-med infusion treatments a year, so they are 8 or 9 weeks apart. Any further than that and the treatment wears off, and her pain levels mount quickly.  My hour drives up the highway with her are always on Tuesdays, because that’s when the doctor schedules the clinic in the hospital.

Late in July, the doctor wanted to take some vacation time, and set up a clinic on a Friday, so that people like the daughter wouldn’t have to go a couple of extra painful weeks. This was the Friday of the ‘Cruisin’ On King Street’ annual old-car show.

After the hour drive home, I dropped her off at her place, and walked a block into the big park where they were marshalling the cars. I took along my camera, and took photos of some of the older vehicles that caught my attention.

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1931 Ford ‘Vickie’ Crown Victoria

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Late ’60s Corvette, blah in straight white, side scoop should be contrasting color.

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1932 ‘Deuce’ coupe cabriolet, (convertible/soft-top) an “any color, as long as it’s black” that Ford never provided.

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It was reported that a 1939 Ford truck was the oldest vehicle in the show….and yet, here’s a 1923 ‘Bucket T’ model Ford, but it’s a kit car, with Fiberglas body and all-new frame and running gear.  While the ‘model’ is ’23, the hot rod is 2007.

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Another Coupe, this one with hard-top and rumble seat, and hot-rod wheels.

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A 1939 red Dodge Saloon, looking very much like my ’39 Pontiac, but with custom wheels.

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Now, that shade of green, or the blue above, would complement that ‘Vette.

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A 1961 VW Bug, not even ‘hopped up’, just prettified.

Back in the 60s, car companies and individuals had ideas about ‘Cars Of The Future.’ A few of them worked out – most didn’t.  We actually went back to ‘cars of the past’ for a few.  The PT Cruiser was mainly successful, while the Chevy SSR car, and the HHR van/truck didn’t fare as well.

Here are four 1960s artistic concept cars.

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A bit too Avant Garde, but this concept became the Chevy ‘El Camino’ and the Ford ‘Ranchero.’

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The Corvette’s grandfather.  Look at the models in these photos, and the clothes, shoes and hairdos.  They certainly weren’t advertising to the oil-soaked wrench jockeys.

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Somebody wanted to go back and recreate a 1923 T-Bucket Hot Rod with new engine and running gear. It was very much a niche market, and the private builders were more than enough to supply the market.

I titled my post a couple of  years ago, “Wasted Days.”  This day was definitely not a waste.  😎

Homeward! Bound?

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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?
Kitchener.
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.

The Fellowship Of The Blog – Episode Nine

 

  Day 5 – Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy-Jig

After meeting with, not one, but two fellow bloggers, blowing the exhaust system off the car, getting seriously GPS lost –twice – and attending a disappointing knife show, it might seem that the adventure was pretty much over.  We just intended to head for Detroit, and do a bit of shopping before slipping back over the line, to quiet Canuckville.

Prison

 

 

 

Fortunately for my publishing stats, fate still had a couple of (hopefully) interesting things in the wings. As we motored north on I-77, we suddenly passed a State Prison.  We came up over a rise, and there it was, right beside the road on our left.  I assume that the place with the concrete buildings, double twelve-foot high chain-link fences with razor wire on top and a ten-foot kill zone between them, was a prison, not a chicken hatchery.

We drove near one years ago, near Lapeer, MI.  For miles there were signs beside the highway, warning, “Caution Prison!  Do not pick up hitchhikers!”  This place – not so much.  While not near any urban area, I was surprised that it was so near a major highway.  Don’t they put prisons in places like Alcatraz, miles from anywhere?  I guess guards don’t like living in the middle of nowhere, delivery trucks don’t like driving there, and prisoners have the right to quick medical transportation.

As we came north, we reached a secondary road branching off the Interstate, which would angle northwest to Toledo, saving us several miles of driving, and a couple of dollars of road toll.  Northwest Ohio should be flatter and straighter than the Southeast corner, but my ass was still sore from being bitten by ‘Ohio 23’, so we drove on up north, to the Lake Erie shore, passing close to Kent State University, where CSNY sang of Four Dead In Ohio.

Cleveland Rocks!  Cleveland Rocks!  Even if we didn’t see Drew Carey, or the Rock and Roll Museum.  We did see the section of Ohio that Chrissie Hynde lamented had been paved over, by a government that had no pride – from Seneca to Cuyahoga Falls.

After rolling through the concrete jungle of Cuyahoga Falls, and Cleveland, we climbed on I-80, the Ohio Turnpike.  We grabbed a ticket, and headed for the toll booths at Toledo.  For the entire length that we drove, the east- and west-bound traffic were separated by concrete, K-rail, Jersey Barriers.  Not all of Ontario’s high-speed highways are completely supplied, to prevent crossover accidents.  Our local ring-road bypass, The Conestoga Expressway, still has open areas, despite 6 deaths in the last five years.

Every mile, the ends of two K-rails were offset, to allow police and emergency vehicles to U-turn, and for cops to hide, while watching for speeders. The right lane was crowded with trucks, including a number of triple-trailer transport-trains.  I was keeping up with traffic at the legal 65 MPH limit, in the middle lane.  A half-mile ahead, I saw the nose of a cruiser sticking out from one of the gaps.  In my mirror, I also saw a couple of bumble-bee cars, zipping in and out of the left lane, and rapidly overtaking me.

Just like the old cliché, they passed me like I was standing still.  Then, the guy in the lead spotted the cop, and piled on the binders.  The guy racing him didn’t see anything, and almost piled into the back of him.  Suddenly driving very slowly, they cut in front of me, and all the way over to the right lane, ending up ahead of, and behind, an overloaded half-ton, but I saw the cop pull out.

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I told the wife that he was chasing the speeders.  “Who?  Where?”  “Those guys.” – pointing.  “But he’s waving at you??”  “Me?  What did I do?”  I looked out my window, and sure enough, he indicated for me to fall back.  He could hit the lights and siren, and force his way in, but it might set off a dangerous chase, and one or both could get away.  I eased back.  He eased in, right beside them, and turned on the lights.  They both looked chagrined and resigned as they pulled over.

I had hoped to gas up once we reached Detroit, but pulled off I-75 at Gibraltar, 25 miles short.  Just as I reached the bottom of the ramp, a dash chime sounded, and the ‘Fill Me’ light came on.  Already overfed, and eating less because of old age, we skipped the steak and baked potato at The Outback, and supper was a ‘Blooming Onion’ and a small loaf of pumpernickel bread from their takeout, taken back to the motel.

The next morning, we purchased another 25 pounds of Michigan beet sugar, the wife could not find any suitable tops which fit her, we topped up the gas tank again at the Meijer’s store, and had brunch once again at a Denny’s, before heading for the Ambassador Bridge.

Ambassador Bridge 2

 

 

 

 

Ambassador Bridge

 

 

 

Construction on the second bridge has not yet begun, and won’t be complete before we hope to travel here again, but is sorely needed.  Two-lane, bumper-to-bumper backup from the Customs booths started at the middle of the bridge.  When I finally reached the bottom, I was facing South, (check your maps) into the bright sunshine.

I thought, “When I get to pull into the shadow at the booth, I need to remember to take off my sunglasses.” – and then that thought flew south with the Canada geese.  I handed out our Passports, and the female officer, who was wearing purple rubber gloves, imperiously reminded me.

The new Windsor bypass is almost complete, and quickly whisked us five miles out, to the end of Highway 401….where we encountered a roundabout??!  Way to go, Ontario!  Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of vehicles a day, at least half of them trucks, headed for the US, across the most heavily-traveled US/Canada border crossing….  and it all comes down to a roundabout??

I need to rest my brain.  We’ll be home soon.  😀

 

Winter Vacation – Finale

When we checked into the motel on the Friday, one of the first things the son did, was try to open the top dresser drawer.  Perhaps he had a sudden urge to read the Gideons’ Bible.  The front of the drawer just came right off in his hand.

With sleep schedules now totally confounded, the son was asleep shortly after 11 PM Saturday night, while I was still lurking around outside, reading newspapers and doing crossword puzzles in the vending room, and gabbing with the security guard.

Son was up at 7:30, and went over to the office to get yet another tea, while I “slept in” till 8 AM.  Just as he quietly eased the door open at 7:45, the maintenance man fired up the snow blower, right outside the unit.

The son’s OCD shows differently from mine.  Now that we were both awake (Speak for yourself, son and heir.), things should “be done”, we should pack immediately and vacate the premises.  I made toast juice and pills, washing dishes and final packing, last till almost 9.  We visited the office, finalized all paperwork, and offered many thanks to Connie, to be spread among all the nice desk clerks.

The car is loaded; we’re ready to go, and it’s just 9:10.  Finally, the son asks the question he should have thought about before.  What time is this County-Line Trade Center open?  I had hoped that it was at 9 AM, like the Gibraltar Trade Center.  The reason we stayed up here, was to try something new.  I had used the Google Maps overhead view to find that it was an ell-shaped building, about half as big as Gibraltar.

We drove a mile in five minutes and pulled into the parking lot.  There was one snowed-in car, and a half-ton with a plow blade clearing the lot. One wing of the ell is a furniture resale store and a dental office.  The Trade Center is only half as big as I’d hoped and imagined.  The sign on the door says opening is at 10.  We drove back down to last night’s McDonalds, and parked at the back, trying not to get plowed in by the guy clearing their lot.

Finally we drove back up, and the plow jockey unlocked the door, and let a couple of vendors enter.  With no booths open, I got into a conversation with one, about socialized medicine, Obamacare, and a second international bridge, while the son prowled this tiny little microcosm.  One unopen booth shows Saturday hours of noon to 5, and Sunday from 1 till five.  On a Superbowl Sunday, after a significant snowfall, this is not going to get much better.

The Gibraltar center is full of kitsch, “As seen on TV.”  This County-Line place also has lots of stuff seen on TV – if you used to watch Sanford and Son.  The food service area looks like where Sly Stallone got rat burgers in Demolition Man.  There are signs on the doors which say, “All hoods must be removed before entering.” and, “We will provide security escort to your vehicle, but we will not carry merchandise.”

Eleven o’clock – we can’t go home yet.  What do we do??  The son’s paying for the gas; let’s drive 25 miles and go to Gibraltar.  We stopped at a nearby Meijer’s gas bar to fill up.  “Let’s go into the store.”  The son found and bought two big bags of Chili-Cheese potato chips the Meijer’s on the other side of town didn’t carry, and I located and bought two large bottles of McIllhenny’s Chipotle Tabasco Sauce the other store also didn’t have, for the daughter.

Right across the street was a small health food store.  Between it and its larger parent two miles down the road, I found most of the items the big GNC stores didn’t carry, for the niece.  Touchdown, Yay!

The kid and I spent several hours touring Gibraltar, its yummy food court and the gun and knife show they had on the display side.  While I got to caress a Beretta 92 pistol, similar to Rants’ military version, the son found that he likes shotguns.

I got rid of another small pocketful of change to an old veteran, collecting to support other vets, down on their luck.  I saw at least two “girly” guns, one a little .22 caliber varmint plinker for a 12 to 18 year old, the other, a more serious, semi-military style .308, shoot-a-moose, or a trespasser, rifle.  Both were done in camouflage finish – if you were hiding behind Sailor Moon, the darlingest pink and black daubs and lines.

About 3, we decided to head home.  Plows and volume of traffic finally had the roads down to bare and damp.  Since we’d driven south, we decided to cross back, over the bridge.  The same factors which kept people out of the Trade Center, kept them off the bridge.  I again was able to get into a Customs line with only one car ahead of me.

When I was allowed to roll forward, the window of the booth slid open, and I was greeted by a female customs officer.  Not unheard of, but not common on the Canadian side of the Windsor/Detroit crossings.  She smiled at me and said, “Hello/Bonjour.”  “Bonjour,” I replied, “now I know I’m truly back in Canada.”

“Pardon me; could you please pass me a serviette?  I appear to have spilled my poutine.”  Every Canadian knows exactly what that sentence means, but I may have to translate it for my American readers.

A couple of questions for me, and a couple for the son, and we were soon on our way home.  I coulda brought that beautiful Beretta back, and no-one but me would have been any the wiser.  The son called the wife, now that Canadian cell phone towers would carry my Canadian cell phone plan.  We told her we were on our way, and three hours later, we were ordering pizza, after covering 870 Km./555 Mi. over a very enjoyable three-day weekend.  Thanx for reading along with us.    😀

Strangers In A Strange Land

With all due apologies to Robert Heinlein.

While none of us actively seek to do so, each member of our family often manages to be the odd man out.  The last place the son worked, he said he was the weirdest guy in the room.  He’s actually happy at the new plant, where, he says, he’s just the opening act.  There’s nothing that will hold a mirror up to your normalcy, or lack of it, like a road-trip, to see how others do it.  Jeff Foxworthy says it’s like goin’ to the local fair.  “Why, we’s dang near royalty!”  With that in mind, the son and I spent a weekend in the Detroit area.

He hasn’t been able to make the trip for almost ten years.  He had seen the photos of the big wind-turbines we passed last October, but nothing gives the scale like driving right under them.  I’ll include pictures, and maybe a video, in a later post.  He was impressed by their size, and proximity to the highway.  He was less impressed by the two fields of solar panels, which we didn’t get a picture of.  They just looked like someone had pulled a black shroud over a couple of acres of dead farmland, which, in effect, they had.

I think we passed the home of the lady who objected when the turbines were going up.  She complained that they already had enough wind in the area.  They didn’t need these big fans making more.  She could have been Liz’s sister.  D’oh!!

We crossed the Ambassador Bridge and stopped at a Security booth manned by a 30-ish male.  As I’ve said, we never mention knife shows.  As I do when the wife and I go down, I told him we were going to do some shopping.  I should have told him that the wife had sent along a list of stuff we can’t get in Canada.  We got Searched!  He looked in the car and saw two males claiming to be going shopping, and said, “Pop the trunk.  I want to take a look.”

I wasn’t worried.  He saw a shopping basket with five bottles of Pepsi, a large orange juice bottle, filled with iced tea, a smaller bottle with two days worth of orange juice, two newspapers and two crossword puzzles.  I’m surprised he wasn’t so bored he dozed off and fell into the trunk, but, back he came.  “Thanks guys.  Have a nice time.”  Them boys is too bland to be smugglers or terrorists.

We were supposed to have phoned the wife, our designated worrier, when we crossed the border in each direction, but we got distracted by all the big-city lights, and forgot till we were on the wrong side of the river.  The son tried to place a billed-to-the-room call when we got to the motel, but the phone system malfunctioned.  Finally on Saturday he placed a collect call.  She said that no police officer had showed up by 11 PM to report an accident, so she assumed we were safe.

After we booked in, we both lay down for a nap.  Mine was only an hour and a half.  Since the son had been up since 7 PM the previous day, I let him sleep four hours.  While he was still out, I took a walk, circling the Big Boy restaurant in front of the motel.  In the James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever, Bond apologizes to a rat for having a gay assassin’s cheap cologne spilled on him.  He says, “One of us smells like a tart’s handkerchief.  Sorry old man, I think it’s me.”  Around on the unused side of the restaurant, two guys were doing something near two vehicles.  I assume they were the gay assassins, because, from 10 feet away, I could hardly breathe from the tart’s handkerchief smell.  I left quickly, lest I be invited to join the party.

We went out to check a couple of possible places to get good fish and chips.  I passed a place I had found on-line, on the way to another spot.  We decided to go back to it, because it looked more reputable than the one recommended by the on-call ambulance team I had met.  We walked in just ahead of two young men, just before 7 PM.  A sign out front threatened “Live Entertainment”, and they were it.

The fish was good.  The chips were the milk-powder coated variety for crispness, the kind the lactose-intolerant wife can’t eat.  Without the spoilsport chaperone wife along, I had a cup of decent bean soup, a bowl of crisp, well-dressed coleslaw, and  a 20 ounce glass of well-chilled, Australian-type, 8.5 percent, craft-brewed ale from Wisconsin.

The two musicians (?) played a keyboard and a guitar, and one of them sang – I think, although the noun caterwauling came to mind.  Without any help from the studio audience, I managed to identify every song they played, even if they couldn’t.  Is it cynical to note that those few of the audience who clapped, did so when these guys stopped playing?

We stopped at my favorite Meijer store on the way back to the motel, and got everything on the wife’s list except flavored coffee creamers.  Oh, the excitement, it was like electricity in the air.  We were asleep again by midnight.  Tomorrow we attend the knife show.  Stop in to the site, I hope to post pictures.

The Best Laid Plans

So. the WordPress scheduled posting didn’t work as I expected.  In fact it didn’t work at all!  Back to the drawing board.  I hoped that the wife would post the following, manually for me, if the timer failed.  She assumed it worked correctly, and didn’t check.  She had four cats and a dog to feed and water and clean up after, and me gone.  I asked the daughter to check the post early Saturday morning, and remind the wife if there was a problem.  She was busy using her power wheelchair as a pack mule to get half her usual load to Barterworks, because I wasn’t available to drive her.

So, I’ve blamed WordPress, check!

I’ve blamed the wife, check!

I’ve blamed the daughter, check!

OK, I’m in the clear.  All I have to do now is publish the following post, that should have been up three days ago.  So, without further ado, and only a modicum of adon’t, Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you;

We’re Off To See The Wizard

Don’t worry about being quiet while you read this blog; I’m not at home anyway.  Either through learning Brain Rants’ trick of timer-induced-publishing, or just by begging the wife to post it manually, by the time you read this post, I will be in a foreign country, rolling out of bed to go look at some weapons.

The son and I have fled the Great White North for the comfort and security of (Metro) Detroit.  As usual, the excuse is the Spring Knife Show, but the reality is that it’s just nice to get away from the usual, if even only for a couple of days.  I’m taking along about $3.75 of American change I’ve accumulated since last October, including 10 quarters.  I still need five “State” quarters to complete the set.

Whether or not it’s because I set a good example, the son has established a good work ethic.  His shop, like so many others, has a problem with absenteeism.  In an attempt to improve attendance, they offer one day off with pay, for every six months without a late or absence.  Last year he got two free days.  Their six month periods start April 1, and October 1.  If he misses a day, it’s because he called in dead.  The day I fell off my motorcycle and broke my shoulder, I showed up at 10 AM in a sling.  The supervisor said that when I didn’t show up on time, he knew something serious had happened.

Last November son got a bad cold and missed one day, so no day off.  Because the company relies on temp workers, they eddy in and out, bringing their infections, because they can’t afford to live solidly, or get medical services.  A couple of weeks ago, he brought home another bad cold/flu, and generously shared it with the wife and me.  Last week, he was so sick that he lost four consecutive days.  Since he didn’t get a free one, he booked Friday off.

We’ll have driven past that forest of wind-turbines and solar farms, and saluted RogueBlogger’s home town.  I found the file of photos we took in October, and plan to put up a post including them.  Two guys in a big city without female supervision, for a whole weekend, what could possibly go wrong?

Saturday, we’re driving up to Novi, MI. to attend the knife show.  It’s in the back of a gun show, mostly hunting rifles and shotguns, not much to interest either the kid or I.  After we get back, it’s shopping time.  The wife is sending a shopping list of stuff to get at the Meijer store, or at Wal-Mart.  Sunday we’ll be spending across the street, at the Gibraltar Trade Center, a giant indoor flea market.  In a fenced-off section, they are also holding a gun and knife show.  The knives will be mostly factory crap, but there will be more hand-guns to drool on and pick up.

It was bad enough before 9/11, but now you just don’t tell the border guards that you’re going to a gun/knife show.  I made that mistake the first time we came down.  I admitted to a black, female guard, just small enough for her and her .40 caliber Glock to fit into the booth, that we were going to a knife show.  “How many knives you bringing in?  How many knives you gonna take back?  You got an import/export licence??”  Now it’s just, “Tourism officer, just getting away from the grind for a weekend.  Gonna do some shopping.”  They like it if you plan to spend money, but they wanna know if you’ve got a motel room booked, and where.

Not only does the Gibraltar Trade Center have the biggest collection of STUFF under an acre of roof, they’ve also got the biggest collection of foodthat’sbadforyou, in two food-service areas.  Wet burritos, (I’ll raise one to BrainRants.) chilli-cheese nachos, Chinese food, pizza, pretzels and cheese-dip, fries and gravy, (They’ve even learned how to make poutine.) fried chicken, chilli dogs….the list goes on and on.  I plan to start early, and have one of everything.  Candied almonds, dill pickle on a stick….I hope the bridge holds on the way back.

I’ll try not to look like a rube by staring up at all them big tall, 3 and 4 storey buildings, but the first time I say please, and thank-you, they’ll spot me for a Canuck.  We’ll blow the budget on some half-decent restaurants, Denny’s, Outback, maybe some fish and chips.  Have I mentioned that I like food??!

The kid works Thursday night, and gets home early Friday.  He figures with the adrenalin, he’ll have a shower, change his clothes, and we’ll be on the road well before noon.  On re-reading this post, it seems about as exciting as a grocery list, but I hope to bring back some interesting memories that I can share with you.  Thanx for stopping in to read.  Come back Tuesday  Wednesday for a new post.  It won’t be about this trip yet, ‘cause I’m a slow typist, but I’ll pull something out of the recycle bin.  Stronger than a locomotive, faster than a speeding bullet, look, up there on the highway, it’s Tourist Geek!