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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Dagwood And…. Whatzername

Blondie

Two blondes are in Heaven….
One blonde says to the other, “How did you die?”  ”I froze to death.” says the second.  ”That’s awful” says the first blonde. “How does it feel to freeze to death?” ”It’s very uncomfortable at first,” says the second blonde. “You get the shakes, and you get pains in all your fingers and toes. But eventually, it’s a very calm way to go. You get numb and you kind of drift off, as if you’re sleeping.”  ”How about you, how did you die?” asked the second blonde.

”I had a heart attack,” says the first blonde. “You see, I knew my husband was cheating on me, so one day I showed up at home unexpectedly. I ran up to the bedroom, and found him alone watching TV. I ran to the basement, but no one was hiding there. I ran to the second floor, but no one was hiding there either. I ran as fast as I could to the attic, and just as I got there, I had a massive heart attack and died.
The second blonde shakes her head. “What a pity … if only you had looked in the freezer, we’d both still be alive.”

***

Two blondes are filling up at a gas station and the first blonde says to the second, “I bet these awful fuel prices are going to go even higher.”

The second blonde replies, “Won’t affect me, I always put in just $10 worth.”
***

The executive was interviewing a young blonde for a position in his company. He wanted to find out something about her personality so he asked, “If you could have a conversation with any person, living or dead, who would that be?”

The blonde quickly responded, “The living one.”

***

There was a competition between a team of blondes and a team of brunettes to see who could catch the most fish ice fishing.

Once the contest started, it was clear that the brunettes were going to win — they kept pulling out fish after fish.

Soon, the blondes got worried and sent over one of their team to see what the brunettes were doing differently.

A few minutes later, the blonde comes running back.

“A hole! You need to put a hole in the ice!”

***

A blonde was at her divorce lawyer’s.  Almost screaming, she was insisting, “He’s not going to get that!  I’m keeping this!  He’s going to have to pay for that!  He’ll have to support me for this!”

Taken aback, the lawyer asks if she has a grudge for her husband.

She responds, “We don’t even have a car-port.”

😯

Flash Fiction #118

trading-post

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

FADED GLORY

Two hunnerd years ago, there’d be 20,000 buffalo out there. It’d take ‘em all day to amble past.

150 years ago, it’d be 10,000 head of cattle bunchin’ up, to be driven to Chicago.

Almost a hunnerd years ago, they built this here ROOT 66, ta get from Chi-town, out to Californie.  Any given day, there’d be 5,000 cars passin’, lots faster than buffalo or cattle.  Enough of them stopped here, to make this place a gold mine. “Last chance for gas for 100 miles.”

Them glory days is done. Nowadays, it’s tough to get a tumbleweed to stop here.

***

Got to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

 

Fellowship Of The Blog – Epilogue

 

Collecting My Thoughts

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We had barely stepped from the car in Buffalo, when the wife found a bright, shiny, good-luck penny.  This pattern continued – five days, five pennies. We took it as a continuing omen.  Despite our Exhaustive and GPS adventures, all finally worked out well.  We brought the pennies home as a memorial of a fun trip, and used them to start an optimistic new collection for next year.

I gave the previous year’s coin collection to the wife before we started.  Women seem to be able to get rid of coins quicker and easier than guys.  She doled out a handful, including several pennies, to the young cashier at Cracker Barrel.  We explained that Canada had discontinued minting pennies.  She seemed to have a problem grasping the idea of round up/round down.

We told her that Canada had also changed its dollar, and two-dollar bills, to coins, and showed her one of each.  She cooed that she collected American coins, but had never seen these, so we gave them to her.

I was talking to a room clerk, and said that she must encounter lots of loud-mouthed assholes.  She told me of an afternoon when a man came in, with a cell phone jammed in his ear.  She already had several customers, and this guy was loud and obnoxious.  Apparently talking to someone about a girlfriend, every second word started with F…

When he stepped up to the counter, he was still ranting, and demanded a F…ing room.  She told him that she would deal with him when he was finished on his phone.  “I can F…ing handle booking a room.”  “Well, I can’t sir.  I’ll deal with you whenever you’re finished on the phone.”  Still bitching and F…ing, he stepped outside.  While he was still turning the air blue, another man stepped in, and asked to book a room.  “There you are sir!  Congratulations, you just got our last room.”  I can feel the Karma from here.

We took the wife’s laptop with us, because free Wi-Fi hotspots are now everywhere.  We could access the internet from our rooms, everywhere except in Buffalo, where we had to go to the office to connect, and sent emails back to the son and daughter.  We didn’t use the laptop, or request that Red Roof book us a room in Taylor (Detroit), and we were the ones who got the last room, and only because some guy phoned in and cancelled while I was standing at the desk, whining and crying.

After driving across the meadow in Ohio, when we were seriously lost, (it can be seen in a bird’s eye view on the map program, complete with cow shit) we suddenly came upon a hard right, 90° turn, which led us to Horst’s farmyard, house on the left of the road, barn and sheds on the right, and two teen boys playing in the road.

This track has run for 10 or 12 miles.  It can’t just be a farm lane! They looked at us like we were space aliens.  We had not seen another vehicle.  I don’t know what we would have done if we had.  This was the first spot big enough for two cars to pass, much less turn around to go back.  Peering past the boys, and a small knoll, we realized that the road took yet another hard left 90° turn.

Flying Saucer

 

 

 

 

 

I eased forward, and rolled down the window, and they approached the car.  “Excuse me; we seem to be really lost!  I’m looking for ‘Dog’s Body, Ohio.’  “Vell, vee arrr nut vrum arount ear.”  Of course you’re not!  I should have noticed the crop-circle landing spot in the pasture, for the UFO that I can zee see in the barn.  You’re the space aliens.  😯

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Every Red Roof uses a decorative border of stones.  At each one, we picked up a small, interesting one as a memento.  Ohio’s geological range of rocks possibly exceeds Southern Ontario’s.  They all went into our decorative terrarium, sitting on the ‘singing sand’ we brought back from Myrtle Beach.

With the current collapse of oil prices, the cost of gasoline in the US ranged from a high of $3.89/gal = $1.13/liter, down to $2.81/gal =     Ȼ 81.7/liter.  When we returned to Canada, prices had dropped – all the way from $1.18, to $1.16/liter.

I forgot to check beginning/end odometer readings for the trip, but gasoline receipts indicate that we traveled about 1200 miles.  This is about the same as BrainRants’ recent ‘Big Move’, but where he did it all in one nail-biting, nerve-jangling 17 hour dash, we took five days, although there were some nail-biting, nerve-jangling moments.  We completely circumnavigated Lake Erie, something we’ve never done before.

I am pleased with those who have accompanied us on our virtual voyage.  I am happy for those who have visited, and read, and liked and commented.  I am most happy with those who have shown polite restraint, and not lobbed over-ripe fruit and vegetables.  I hope that Jim Wheeler has seen some, or all, of these accounts, because he is intrigued with the social aspects of travel, but is a bit restricted.  Thanx to all!  New subject coming up.   😀

 

Apocalyptica Now!

Apocoliptica 08-2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Friday, about 5 PM, I got a hurried phone request from my daughter. She and the grandson, and his fiancée, had been out, doing family stuff.  While on their way home on a bus, the fiancée had received a phone call from her mother.  A rock (?) group they all like, was making a live appearance nearby, and tickets were still available.  Would I drive them 15 miles, and return later to pick them up? Sure!

In case you haven’t guessed from the title, the group they wanted to see was Apocalyptica. For the sake of other fogeys like me, this is a quartet from Finland who render a lot of other groups’ work, including thrash and trash, death metal bands, into a more classical, three cellos and drums.  Since the fiancée is studying cello, they all were interested.

Ah, if only I was smart enough to run a smart phone. Others stood in line for hours to get tickets.  The grandson whipped out the Apple of his eye, and had tickets waiting at the box office when they arrived 15 minutes before the doors opened.

With her crutch, the daughter was allowed to sit right in front of the stage, while the youngsters weren’t that far back. The venue is an ex-movie house, holding perhaps 300 people.  The grandson wore one of the Jethro Tull concert shirts I gave him, but they both later changed for Apocalyptica tees – only $30/ea.  The wily fiancée scored not only a program signed by all four performers, but got a hug from her favorite Finnish cellist, and a photo of it.

More used to the industrial/commercial areas around the outside of the town, I haven’t been downtown for years. Smart grandson and his Smartphone come complete with maps and GPS, although, one, just-after-the nick-of time instruction, from the back seat had me going past and coming back at the venue from the other side.

Since they didn’t know how long the concert would last, I drove back home for my usual late supper. The grandson had given me $30 for my time, and gasoline.  It was well he had.  The son, who usually gasses the car up, was just finishing three weeks of vacation, and no-one had been watching the tank level.  Just as I let them out, a chime sounded, and the Fill-Me light on the dash lit up.

Canada produces more petroleum than the US. One might think that domestic gas prices would be low.  Stations in Kitchener were hovering around $1.34/liter ($5.55/US gal), as we left.  I found a Shell station at the edge of Guelph, selling for $1.22/liter ($5.07/US gal).  Still outrageous, but a $3 saving on the $30.

The opening act, which they thought was almost as good as the stars, played for an hour and a half, half an hour to dismantle the stage and reassemble it for Apocalyptica, and they played for over an hour and a half.  Throw in some schmoozing time, and the daughter called me at 12:18 AM, to be picked up.  She told me that they had hobbled up the main street, and were resting in peace, in front of a funeral home, at the intersection of XXXX Street.

Being in a different county, the City of Guelph is not laid out as strangely as Kitchener/Waterloo, still….. The referred “intersection” would seem to indicate two streets, meeting at 90 degrees.  The highway, which becomes the main street, runs due north and south.  Two blocks from city center, the four-lane street continues in a straight line – but takes a new name.  The old-named street veers off to the left at a 45 degree angle.

Since I’d missed a turn coming in, I’d also missed this peculiarity. I thought I’d reached the right spot, but, even with my driving glasses on, I didn’t spot my passengers in the dark, so I jagged to the left.  A block down, I had spotted a big old brick century-house with a large sign out front, which I thought might be the funeral home. When I pulled in, the sign told me that the place was an artisan restaurant and craft brewery.

I pulled back out, and continued down to the street behind the theater. I went into a parking lot, and turned around to go back, when I discovered two things.  First, I was now going the wrong way on a one-way street, (Who cares?  I’m the only car in sight.), secondly, the grandson, gasping for breath, and tapping on the roof of the car.

The ladies were indeed, waiting patiently(?), back at the funny intersection. The two handicapped women were a bit achy, and everyone was tired.  The grandson is used to rising at 4:45 AM, for his welding apprenticeship.  This was a BIG day for him, but a good time had been had by all.

I have published some tales of remembrance of the things I’ve been able to do over the years.  I am so happy to have been able to provide the kids the chance to make some of their own memories.    😆

Strange To Be Headed Home

No-one can sleep late in a motel.  All the early risers wake those who wish to sleep-in a bit.  On the morning of our third and last day in Detroit, the son and I had juice and pills, packed our stuff, double-checked the room, loaded the car and checked out by 11 AM.

Normally, we would have returned the plastic pass-keys.  The electronic code on the door is changed, so you can’t use them to get back in later, and they cost the motel less than a dollar to replace.  This time however, instead of two white cards, with “Red Roof Inn” imprinted on them, we got one advertising Hungry Howie’s restaurant chain, with the telephone number of the new one up the street near the Tim Hortons.  I’ve seen them in Florida, but I guess they’re moving north.

Corporate America never misses a chance to promote itself.  Recently someone commented that, soon, they’ll have advertising in washrooms.  Sorry old fellow.  Even out here in the boonies, I’ve seen ads above urinals for twenty years.  Some of the newer places have even installed flat-screen monitors above, beside, or even in, washroom mirrors.

After we ate our bacon breakfasts, and watched the floor show at Denny’s, we drove a couple of miles up the side road to gas the car up, ready for the trip home.  Here in Canada, it’s unusual to see even two-tenths of a cent/liter difference in price between nearby stations.  In Detroit, we saved 9 cents/Am. gal. by driving two miles off the interstate.

The Gibraltar Trade Center sits right beside I-75.  We returned and went in.  The son hasn’t been there for ten years, so he was more interested than I was.  He found, and I purchased, the last pancake batter pitcher they had, that the wife told us to keep an eye out for.

I’ve been through the place maybe twenty times.  I’m getting bored with it.  I saw a TV ad for another Trade Center, further north, that we may try next time the wife and I go down.  It also has a Red Roof nearby, I-94 access, and less driving south, then north, to get to the knife show.

We wandered the main floor for a couple of hours, then had some late lunch.  Sadly, my lack of physical labor in retirement has cut down the amount I can eat.  All I had room for was a plate of chilli-cheese nachos.  All that great food available, and nowhere to put it.  The bridge said “Thanks!”

We paid our way into the gun and knife show in the show area and looked at some interesting firearms.  We each were allowed to handle a “Dirty Harry” .44 Magnum pistol, and a huge .50 caliber handgun.  Special note to RCMP officer’s wives who might read this; none of them managed to follow us home, and we left all anti-social tendencies at the border, for the Americans.

At both shows, all entrants were given a half-sheet printed notice which read; ATTENTION CUSTOMERS: When bringing firearms into a Gun and Knife Show, please follow these simple steps:  Bring firearm in with no ammo in firearm (no exceptions). Have firearm inspected and safety-strapped by security at entrance.  We will not allow firearms to be unloaded at door.  They must be unloaded prior to entering the facility.  There simply is no room for error in a show of this size.  This policy is for the safety of all.

Finally, about 4 o’clock, we climbed into the car, got our snacks and drinks for the drive arranged, dug out American money for bridge-fare, and our passports, and headed back to the sane side of the river.  Late Sunday afternoon, the bridge didn’t seem busy, but when we exited to the customs plaza, all 18 lanes were backed up.  Still, the lines moved well.  We didn’t creep forward for more than ten minutes.

We each delivered our well-rehearsed lines about how long we’d been gone, and how much we were bringing back, to a happy, overly-polite Canadian Customs official, and were soon on the highway heading home.

If all goes well, with the wife’s assistance, I’m including some photos, and possibly a video of the big wind-turbines we took last October, as well as a shot of what Heaven looks like from the Canadian side.

Wind Turbine

 

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