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.

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Leftovers

In my recent My First Time post, I showed pictures of a little three-finger skinner knife I won.  My chiropractor also has an interest in knives, especially the expensive Art Knives.  I let him read my Knives Illustrated magazines after I am finished with them.

He also regularly reads my posts, so I knew that he had seen the photos of the knife, but the next time we went to see him, I took along the knife and sheath for him to handle.  When I went to put it back in the night-table drawer it came out of, I took a close look, and realized how many odd knives I had tucked away over the years.

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This is a hunter/skinner made by Queen Cutlery of Titusville PA.  Knowing of my interest in knives, my Father picked this out at random at a flea market in Florida one winter.

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Walking through a small park one day, I came upon this cheap Pakistani dagger just lying on the ground with no-one anywhere near.  Ensuring that there was no blood on it, indicating that it wasn’t involved in a crime, I picked it up and brought it home.

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This is the little kitchen/paring knife that the wife purchased at the Fall Knife Show in Detroit about two years ago.  It came with the sheath, which hides in the drawer, but it resides in the knife block.  Its blade is made of 5100 tool steel – the alloy that many ball bearings are made from.  This one started as a 1 inch diameter ball.  The extra-thick handle which helps the wife’s weak grip is Rosewood, and the belly of the blade makes cutting easier.

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This knife is Japanese-made for the North American tourist trade.  The brass handle is molded to show Indians hunting wolves from a canoe with a bow and arrow on one side, and a white explorer shooting moose on the other.  Heavy as original sin, I wouldn’t want to carry it in a pocket, and it won’t take or hold an edge any better than the piece of Paki crap above.

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This was sold as an ‘Airport Knife’ after 9/11.  Made from rigid thermoplastic, it will not set off metal detectors.  It has a flat ‘grind’ on one side only.  One edge is plain, while the other has serrations.  The circle at the haft has thumb-ridges to prevent slipping and increase control.   While not razor-sharp, it will inflict a lot of damage.

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This is a bartender’s knife, with a bottle opener, a lid pryer, a corkscrew, and a small blade for opening boxes and cutting seals and corks.

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This is a small two-blade, advertising, pen knife.  While this type of knife holds no interest for me, I have seen people’s collections with hundreds of brands on these things.

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This is a trick knife.  You can’t open it unless you know the secret.  The blade has no thumb nick.  Where the blade joins the handle, there is a small indent and a ball bearing.  The blade closes as far as you see in the photo, then you invert it and squeeze it closed.  The ball bearing rolls into the slot and locks the blade closed.  Even if you can grasp it tightly enough, it will not release.  Turn it up the other way and squeeze again, and it pops open.

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This is a small box-cutter type knife.  I should have photographed it next to a ruler, to show size.  It’s about as big as your little finger.  It has a plastic snap at the end of its lanyard, indicating it may have come on a carry-bag or piece of luggage, but after 9/11 it can’t fly on airplanes, even though it’s dangerous only to creatures smaller than a bumblebee.  I think someone disconnected it and dropped it.  I found it on a floor.

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This is the smallest knife I own – even though it’s the wife’s.  She got it at a Detroit knife show about five years ago, the first time we took the grandson with us.  I was smart enough to photograph this one beside a ruler, and the Queen hunter, to show size, about an inch long, closed, with a chain and ring for wallet or key chain.   This one is factory made.  Some makers build miniatures, both straight knives and folders like this.  They can be made from scrap pieces, but the amount of labor is at least as much as with a full-sized knife.  They can cost as much as their big brothers, so there’s a small market for small knives.

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This is a railway spike knife, and a spike like the one it was made from.  They are sold as paperweights/letter openers, because the percentage of carbon in the steel is so low that, like the crap above, they won’t take or hold an edge.  These weren’t hidden in the drawer.  I keep them out on display.  I have several other knives on display but….perhaps another day.

#452

The Fellowship Of The Blog – Prologue

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This is where it all begins. No, no, not with the cat!  She’s the intelligent and sane one of this dingbat-ic duo.  This plot was hatched from the depths of Archon’s psychotic psyche.  Once upon a time, he heard that AFrankAngle had driven across a good chunk of Ohio, to visit commenter-supreme and newly-hatched blogger, John Erickson.

Disenchanted with the quality of the Detroit knife show, to use as an excuse to visit the United States, I noticed that there will be a show at the Pritchard-Laughlin Center, in Cambridge, Ohio, in mid-October. Cambridge is in Erickson’s back yard. The wife and I attended two years in a row, some years back, before we knew of the existence of the lost Illinois boy.  Would he accept a visit? Would he (and Mrs. E.) like to visit the three-ended bridge in nearby Zanesville?  Would they like to accompany us to the knife show?

Then came the discovery of Cordelia’s Mom, a new-ish blogger from the Buffalo area. She gave me a blog-award, and I wrote an acceptance post for it.  If I’m going to Ohio, I will want to cross the border at Buffalo.  When Mom heard of this, she was thrilled with the idea of us stopping in for a quick visit.

I titled my humorous (?) post, Sunshine and Lollipops. She commented that I had delivered the sunshine, but where were her lollipops?  I resolved to obtain some lollipops for her, and daughter and fellow blogger, Cordelia, who claims to have called it quits.

I had hoped to have the wife along on this trip, but medical restrictions forced her to direct me to take the son, Shimoniac, along. Just imagine, a father-son/mother-daughter, four-way blog fest.  I had considered continuing over to Cincinnati, with the thought of perhaps taking John E./Mrs. John E. back, for a visit to the Angular blogger if possible.  Aside from “Cincinnati Chili” for me, there is a paddle-wheel boat, Ohio River tour, including under a smaller, but older-brother version of the Brooklyn Bridge, which the wife would have loved.

I even wondered about trying to talk BrainRants into joining us in Cinci, but it was a ten-hour drive from KC, and I don’t think Rants could have got an excuse slip, even to visit the Illi-noisy one. But then came the “Great Move.”  Would it be possible for two or more of us to impinge on Washington, DC, without a Homeland Security raid??! Herding cats??!  This was beginning to look more like juggling cats!  I don’t know how Machiavelli did it.

AFrankAngle has shown some mild curiosity and interest in knife shows, so I have invited him to join us in Cambridge, if John’s medical condition allows visitors and voyages. I don’t know what the final results on any of these options will be as I format this draft.  I will probably have to edit before posting.  It may all fall through, and son and I will just wander a strange country for a few days – if we can even convince the border guards to let us enter on such a flimsy excuse.

This batty idea has been flapping around in my belfry for over a year. Over the past couple of years, we have replaced all the windows in the house, then had the roof re-shingled, and the garage and main entry doors replaced – all on a retiree’s income.  Now the paved driveway is disintegrating, and we have contracted to have it redone.  The wife worried that, as much as I want this trip, perhaps we can’t afford it.

Since I have everything I need or want, or that gift-givers can afford, for my last birthday the grandson, now receiving a decent wage at his welding apprenticeship placement, offered up to $500, toward any knife I wished to buy. What a darling boy!

At my age, it doesn’t make sense to acquire a knife just for display. I’d sooner be able to look at and appreciate many different knives, so we made a deal that he would partially fund this expedition, I would return with many photos and fanciful tales, and he would be given credit.  Ladies and gentlemen, let’s have a big hand for ThornSmith!  (No link because, while he has a handle, he has yet to set up his own blog site.)

Since the son gets to join in on the trip, he’s also offered to help pay for it. I’m pretty sure we can swing it without having to sell junk bonds.  It’ll be fun – even if only part of it works out.  Stop by later for Episode One, to see if Archon learns to control The Force.    😕