Canadian Thoughts On An American Trip

Canamerican Flag

I’ve said that I treated the invitation to visit our D.C. hosts as a Royal Summons, but it was us who got treated like Royalty when we got there.  Here’s a shot of us arriving.

Harry and Meghan

More through coincidence than any planning,, we had three successive, different ethnic-food lunches.  One day it was Greek food at a strip-mall restaurant.  The next day, our kind hosts took us to an upscale Afghan establishment.  On the third day, while trying to find decent coffee, (we never did) we stopped into a Thai restaurant beside a Drunkin DoNuts.

Canada is getting screwed for gasoline, even though we pump more oil than the United States.

After calculating for US gallon/Canadian liters, and US dollar value vs. Canadian dollar….
Exiting Southern Ontario, gas was selling for about $1.30/L.  I bought gas 3 times in the US – 83.8cents/L, 76.7/L and 72.7/L – 1/2 to 2/3 the cost in Ontario.

Usually, the closer to the highway, the higher the price.  Pleasantly, surprisingly, this was not the case on the Pennsylvania and Ohio turnpikes.  All the rest centers sold regular for $2.749 (73.8/L).  When I got off in Toledo, the city stations wanted $2.849.

Gas Cost

When I crossed the bridge back to Windsor, the in-town stations wanted $1.269/L.  Twenty miles down the superhighway, where they’ve got you by the short and curlies, where it’s ‘pay or walk,’ the price was $1.369/L!  And there’s 4 liters per US gallon, so that’s another 40 cents/gal rip-off.

Something else I found, that pissed me off….  We wanted to keep all purchases on this trip on a credit card, so that we could keep track of them.  When I went to buy gas with the credit card, the screen on the pump said, “Enter 5-digit ZIP code.”  I’m from Canada.  I don’t have a ZIP code.  I tried entering our host’s ZIP.    The screen now said, “Does not match billing address.  Please prepay at office.”

Now I have to walk a pilgrimage to Coventry….and back.  Not too bad in the city, but I felt sorry for the guy waiting behind me at the Ohio rest area.  This is like gassing up at the Costco, only there, the prepayment authorization is for $150.  Some pimple-faced kid asks, “How much do you want?”  Enough to fill it up.  “Well, I have to put something in the machine.”  $50! Put in $50!  It only took $38.50 to fill it, instead of $75Cd.

Like the jaunt to find John Erickson a few years ago, we again circumnavigated Lake Erie.  Only, this time the trip wasn’t so much a circle, as a deeper oval.  The total trip, from door, back to door, amounted to 2243 kilometers, or 1402 American miles.

There are 12 houses in BrainRants’ little cul-de-sac.  Four of them, including him, fly American flags.  Only yesterday, a letter to the editor urged Canadians to show patriotism by flying Canadian flags.  No need – we know who we are.

On our hosts’ kitchen wall hangs a repro of an old station clock, with the hands at 8:45.  I assumed that it was just a rustic piece of art…. until one morning I was having orange juice and my morning pills all alone, and – tick, tick, tick.  So it works, it’s just jammed and not going anywhere.  I was reminded of The Mamas And Papas’ song, 12:30, or The Guess Who’s, No Time.

I estimate that Rants’ subdivision was hacked out of the woods about 40 years ago.  The developers left lots of trees, in some cases, too damned many.  Our stay was almost like camping in the piney woods, although most of the trees were cut-leaf Maple, and Oak.  It allowed me to commune with nature.

There were many birds, some of whom, by their calls, aren’t present in Southern Ontario.  Rants isn’t much of a bird person.  When asked about them, he identified them all as grey-breasted, Northern Virginia Shit-birds, so-called because of their ability to put white polka-dots on parked cars, so aggressive that they eat holes in the paint-job.

I love birds.  In my de-forested area, both the bright Blue-Jays and Cardinals are skittish creatures, hiding high in trees, sometimes heard, but seldom seen.  As I watched Rants at his forge in the garage, a Blue-Jay landed on a branch in the Maple in front of the house, barely above the garage door, and sat in plain view for several minutes, while we were disgusted by discussed Trump.

As I went to get a beer, through the back door of the garage, I saw what I first took to be a dried Oak leaf, fluttering in the breeze.  It turned into a bright-red hummingbird, which eventually brightly flitted into the neighbor’s yard, and molested some flowers.  The daughter gets the occasional green hummingbird at a feeder behind her house, but red ones are uncommon here.

Baby Cardinal

Later, as I went for another beer, I thought I saw the hummingbird again, but it magically transformed into a bright red Cardinal, apparently unafraid of humans.  It lingered for a few moments, then it too casually flitted to the neighbor’s yard.  Wow!, three usually unseen birds in the course of an hour – Mother Nature must really like me.

I took a walk, early one morning, while waiting for the wife to arise.  Ambling through the nearby woods, I met a lady walking her dog.  She told me that his name was Giggs, a Welsh name, after a well-known (to her) Welsh football (soccer) player.  Strangely enough, she had met another woman with a dog, also named Giggs, after the same soccer player.  There’s an Ontario transport company named Gigg Express.  Now I don’t have to research that name.

White Lady In The Hood, if you’re still out there and reading this, I still haven’t met a stranger.

The ancient Bob’s Big Boy restaurant that has been in front of our Taylor, MI, Red Roof motel for years, since April of this year, has been turned into a Wahlburgers.  Marky Mark and his two brothers should stick to acting.  I was not impressed – with the concept – or the service.  On a four-item order, one was missing (which I didn’t pay for, but should have noticed its absence), and one was wrong.

To the rest of you who are out there reading this – Thank You!  Let’s do it again, soon.  😀

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It’s Only Fair

First, I attended the Multicultural Festival.  All I had to do was eat and ogle, for both of which I am eminently over-qualified.  Then I had to expend a little more energy to transport the daughter and her stuff, and set her and her friend up for the Cherry Park Festival.

Friday night, the city held its annual cruise night.  They block off six blocks of the main street, centered on the city hall, assemble three hundred antique cars at the big park, and have them do a drive-past to their assigned spots.  Antique to them is anything over twenty-five years old.  Antique to me is anything older than I am.  I don’t want to see a Bondo-filled example of some rusted-out piece of crap I had to junk.

Sadly, there were only two Corvettes, neither of them the scoop-side model that I adore, but the newer StingRay.  There were some older vehicles. The oldest was a 1902 something whose name I don’t remember.  Back then, there were lots of tiny little companies which made a few cars a year.  Ford was the first to install the assembly line.  It’s like the local Bob’s Motors, a real name to conjure with.  Would you buy a car from a place called Bob’s?  Some people do.  I see the occasional licence-plate ring.  Or the German-named Wunder Car Sales.  I think his motto is, “If you get a good car, it’s a Wunder!”

Sunday, the daughter and I went to another Free-Thinkers’ meeting, more on that in a later post.  The first time we went, the city was having a Car-Free Sunday, and the entire main street was closed to traffic.  The handicapped lady had to hobble two blocks to the venue.  This  Sunday they merely closed off three blocks and lined up tables in an attempt to set a Guinness record for the longest/largest picnic.

Saturday I transported the daughter, her friend and all their stuff to the big park and helped (?) set them up for the Anti-Violence Festival.  It’s held on a wooded island.  The daughter’s gazebo tent and a couple of other, unprotected displays were the only ones to be in the sun most of the day.  The Liberal Party suddenly packed up and left about 2 PM.  Maybe they got too hot.  Maybe they had to rush off to buy another vote.  Attendance was poor, perhaps because of the heat.  Once you got there, under the trees, it was nice, but the getting there was hot, hot, hot!

Again, commerce was the unifying factor, but both the sales and community-service displays were a little more towards the “hippy, tree-hugger” end of the social spectrum.  Booths included Bahai, Sexual Assault Support, the YM and YWCAs, Healing Gemstones, Hatha Yoga, the Liberal political party, who bailed early, Transition K-W, which is a bit like the Unlearn group, teaching new ways to conserve and preserve water, air and land.

There was the Qigong Oasis teaching oriental ways and thought processes, a Ride-For-Cancer sign-up booth, some mostly organic-type, snacks and drinks, and a booth teaching meditation.  The local Aids Awareness group was there trying cut down on bullying and harassment of gays.  The Barterworks group was there, and a group called Time Banks.  They trade services.  I fix your toilet, you repair his car, he shampoos someone else’s carpet, and so on, and so on.  The Conservative party was not represented, but the NDP was, as well as the save-the-environment Green Party.

The Human Rights people were there, as was the Right To Vote group.  That surprised me.  I thought that everyone, of-age, in Canada had the right to vote.  There was a booth promoting the upcoming Link Festival, which is like the Multicultural Festival, just without all the food.  I saw Dollars and Sense, a monetary reform advocate group, World Without Wars, Earth-Friendly Living and Hope Stream.

I picked up a lapel button which reads Imaginez La Paix, which means Imagine the Peace, in French.  The French are serious about peace.  The only country which has surrendered more, and faster, is Egypt, during the Six-Day Israeli War.  Put down the guns, put up the hands.

There was a group called Fair Vote, which is a proponent of proportional representation.  They don’t think it’s right that any political party which garners only a few more votes than its opponents, gets a majority government, while, for example, the Green Party gets a million votes, but only one seat in government.  They had a huge bowl of wrapped caramel candies that they urged people to take.  Once you’d peeled the wrapper off, you were supposed to vote for one of the three main parties by dropping the wrapper through one of three labeled holes in a sheet of Plexiglas.  When you did that, you saw that every wrapper wound up in the same shiny galvanized garbage pail with a sign that said, “That’s where all your votes go.”

On Saturday, as we were doing Anti-Violence, our twin city up the road was holding an AfroFest.  Next week, in our big park, there will be a Craft Beer and Ribsfest.  On the 28th, in a smaller park, nearer to us, is a Croatian FoodFest.  There’s food and foreign culture from all over the world in this city.

The Link Festival is in early August, and, in early September, there will be a Word On The Street Festival, with book sales, free books, learn-to-read groups, and lots of other Printed S**t.  There is a small WordsWorth bookstore downtown, and three book exchanges/second-hand.  The entire family are friends with two of the proprietors, with me going back 45 years, five locations and three owners, at one.  I imagine we’ll all turn out for that one.  Among the three of us, we have almost as many books in this house as the smallest of the three stores.