A To Z Challenge – R

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U R here.  U R lost, but U R here.  U R outstanding in your field, and that’s where you should be – out standing in a field.  In case you hadn’t guessed, in this post, I’m gonna talk about Pirates – aRRRgh….no I’m not, just about the letter

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REMEMBRANCE, REFLECTION, REMINISCING

During my work career, there were several times when I was not employed. Because of my learning disabilities and restricted education, when I was employed, it often could not be charitably described as ‘gainfully.’

With careful financial planning and saving however, we have been able to see and do some interesting and enjoyable things. Did you know that you can spend an entire week at a Red Roof Inn, or Microtel mini-suite for the cost of one day at a posh hotel, if you don’t need to be fawned over?

We can’t afford to fly, and rent a car when we arrive. All trips have been by car, including three Le Mans trips to Florida with my brother.  2400 kilometers (1500 miles) in 24 hours.  I have swum in, and enjoyed the magnificence of the Atlantic Ocean, and the beauty of the beaches, at Clearwater Florida, just after a storm, down at the tip, at Key West, on a warm, sunny day, Daytona Beach, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach, S.C., where I found some singing sand.

When the wife and I were stronger and more mobile, we walked much of historically preserved Old Charleston, and visited Fort Sumter, seeing frolicking dolphins and fishing pelicans. We have driven the Great Smoky Mountains, the Appalachians, and the Shenandoahs, where we took a hundred-mile trip along the Top Of The World on the Skyline Drive, seeing Stony Man Mountain.

We’ve gone down into the Skyline Caverns, and later, the Luray Caverns.  We stopped to tour the awesome Lewis Ginter Gardens.  We even trekked into the Middle Of Nowhere, Ohio, to find the only slightly lost John Erickson, and we did it all on a shoestring budget.

Of course we took photos, at first, the old, printed type. Later we used a digital camera, and ignored the pix on the computer.  Lately, as both the bodies and the wallet grow weaker, we have the memories of better days to keep us warm and happy, with our REMEMBRANCE, REFLECTION, REMINISCING.   😀

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Invasion USA

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Recently Chuck Norris the wife and I executed a quick little raid into American territory for cultural observation and retail therapy.

We were barely outside the city limits, when trouble first arose.  It wasn’t long before there was a knock-down, drag-out, cursing and swearing, screaming and yelling, hair pullin’, eye-gougin’ match going on over in the passenger seat, between the wife, and Ethel, the snotty GPS.

The last little village we went through before getting on the Superhighway, was Roseville, ON. Our destination, north of Detroit, was Roseville, MI.  When the wife tried to enter that, Ethel insisted, “You’re already there.” The wife finally punched Ethel in the button that read ‘Change State or Province.’  Suddenly, Ethel knew all about Roseville….California.  No! No!  No!  I finally suggested adding the Michigan ZIP-code, and the fight ended with no serious injuries.

The Windsor/Detroit crossing is the most heavily-used border point between Canada and the US, and the one we’ve been using for years. Security is strict.  Since we were going well north of Detroit, we chose to cross from Sarnia, to Port Huron, MI, and work our way south.  Between a less-busy crossing, and the passage of 15 years since 9/11, it was quick, easy and almost informal.

Our border guard was a young, white male, who wasn’t suffering from testosterone poisoning from listening to Donald Trump speeches. When the wife volunteered that we were staying three days, he replied, “I don’t care how long you stay, as long as it’s not more than six months.”  When he found that we were going to strew cash into the economy, we got waved through before The Donald could collect enough Mexican pesetas to erect his wall.

Hotels/motels and restaurants cluster around Interstate exits. The better ones are usually right up front, while the Eats Diners huddle a little further back.  Right across from my Red Roof Inn, was a Days Inn, while the Victorian Inn was half a block south.

Red Roof

While searching for a Taco Bell, on the next main road over, and a block north, we drove past the Alibi Inn….because apparently the name Divorce Depot was already taken.  They oughta warn a fellow about things like that.  Trying to drive a car while giggling hysterically, looks a lot like DUI.

We went to a Wal-Mart to get some work jeans for Shimoniac, in his ‘big and tall’ size that Ontario Wal-Marts no longer carry. The first one we tried was down towards Eminem’s Eight Mile, surrounded by ‘houses made of ticky-tack, and they all look just the same,’ occupied mostly by melanin-rich folks.

It wasn’t dirty, but had the feel of dowdy, and unkempt.  In the Men’s Wear section, there were shelves and shelves of jeans.  Regular fit, Boot cut, Relaxed fit, Carpenter style and Flex-waist were all inter-mixed in the same piles, as well as waist sizes from 28 to 48, and inseams from 30 to 48.  After 20 minutes of frustrated searching, we managed to find one pair.

We then drove north and west to another Wal-Mart. Soon the homes were $500,000+, with gated drives and manicured lawns.  The area mall shone like Xanadu.  I’m surprised that we were allowed in, and disappointed that they didn’t have valet parking and shuttles to the shops.

This store gleamed. In the Men’s Wear section, all the styles were carefully kept separate, and sizes ran from smallest at the top, to largest on the bottom.  They have a much-different clientele.  It took only 30 seconds to find another pair of jeans, leaving the wife time to peruse the ladies’ sweaters.

You know you’re having an interesting vacation when you look out your motel window in the morning to see a State Trooper putting his steel battering-ram door opener back into the Police sport-ute.  He didn’t have to use it.  A local woman rented a room for a couple of visitors.  They partied too rowdy.  Instead of calling the front desk, who would have had to call the Police anyway, the outraged neighbors called the cops themselves.

While I was gabbing with a room-clerk, a young man came in to get another keycard. “I didn’t mean to pull the door all the way closed.”  Fortunately, he didn’t do it while dressed only in his Calvin Kleins, ‘cause she wanted ID.

The motel leaves a printed sheet, reminding guests to flip the ‘privacy’ switch on the inside of the door, so that no-one can enter, even with a keycard. While doing my usual wandering around, I found a keycard which someone had dropped just outside their door while entering.  I turned it in at the office.

At the wife’s suggestion, we ate supper the first night at Taco Bell. Michigan stores offer nachos Bel Grande that Ontario outlets don’t have.  We followed that with Cracker Barrel, and then The Outback, finishing off the last morning with brunch at Denny’s.

The Cracker Barrel wasn’t really busy, but in our section, the Negro waitress stood around talking to a Negro friend, while the white waitress took orders, delivered food, and cleaned tables. When she finally rushed over to serve us, she apologised for taking so much time.

The wife assured her that we were in no hurry, “You’re busy.”  We had till closing time, and told her to take her time.  You could just see the stress flow away.  “Not a lot of people are like that.”  We each got two corn-meal biscuits.  I, of course, ate both of mine.  The wife ate one.  When the bill arrived, I asked for a bag to take the biscuit home in.  When she returned, the bag held three more fresh biscuits, “So that you’ll both have two for breakfast, and there’ll be no fight.”  Quid Pro Quo!

Finally, well-fed and happy, we headed our mule-train loaded with beet sugar and new clothes back towards the land of maple syrup, socialized medicine and good manners. I’m sorry if that offends any Americans.  Please accept my apology….and come back soon.   😉

 

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.

Invasion Force

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Look out USA, you’re under assault. The Meet-The-Blogger Tour went very well last year, beginning with Cordelia’s Mom, in Buffalo. She even invited us back. This year, the son booked a week of holidays early in October, and we’re going to spend a couple of days getting to know Buffalo, and CM, better.

We’ll tell the border guards that we’re jelly-bean salesmen, on our way to a sales conference. One look at our waistlines, and they’ll probably tell us to stop sampling the merchandise.

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Last year, CM sent us home with some ‘Buffalo’ merchandise, so I asked her if there were any Kitchener-area items that we could bring with us. I was thinking of Oktoberfest sausage, sauerkraut and sweet German mustard, but none of those agree with her digestion.

Football

There is a penalty to be paid for not having any interest in sports. We had planned this trip for the weekend of Oct. 3rd and 4th. I even told CM that we would be staying at a Red Roof Inn a bit closer than the one we used last year. Two weeks before launch date, I called to confirm a room, and found that high school/college/NFL football is in full swing.

I dialled 1-800-rent-me-a-room RedRoof, and the booking clerk told me that all three of the Buffalo area inns were fully booked. She managed to find me a room out in Batavia. I thought it was a further 30/35 mile drive, but on checking, I realize it’s almost 50. The clerk, who claims to live just over in Dayton, Ohio, pronounced it batt-uh-VEE-uh. There’s no sense trying Super 8, or Scottish Inns. If Red Roof is full, they’re all full.

I should have remembered. Years ago, on our way home from Charleston, SC, in October, I missed a turnoff and a Red Roof tucked away off the Interstate, just west of Pittsburgh. “Oh well, we’ll just go up to the next exit and pay a bit more.” We drove another 7 hours, through Pennsylvania and into New York. I must have stopped at 40 hotels/motels, before we got one of the last two rooms in a motel just west of Buffalo that wasn’t even officially open, at 1:30 in the morning.

I jokingly asked if CM had any suggestions for two unchaperoned males. She apparently has no knowledge of strip clubs or bars, but sent me links to Niagara Falls, the Buffalo zoo, and the Art Museum. Larry Lowbrow and his kid, Bart, were looking for something more like large bookstores, both new and used. We could get lost for a day at a decent mall, but none of us could find a Buffalo equivalent to Detroit’s Gibraltar Trade Center.

I had hoped to meet Cordelia, the inspiration who got CM into the blogosphere, but she’s transitioning from self-employed to a cube-drone, and won’t be available, dashing my hope for a father/son/mother/daughter blogger lunch. CM has threatened promised to try to bring along one of her other gorgeous, intelligent daughters. All I have to offer is a lumpen and surly son. She thought about asking her husband to join us, but apparently he’s the reason she doesn’t find me all that much of a Grumpy Old Dude.

CM has located a great restaurant for our lunch meeting, this year Italian, instead of last year’s Greek. If the border guards possess a bit of humor and pity, food and drink will be consumed, pictures will be taken for later online display, much conversation, socialization and frivolity will ensue, and themes for future blogs, both CM’s and mine, will occur.

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Last year, the wife and I took along a stuffed lamb, for identification. CM should recognize me, if not son Shimoniac. Since he is big enough to be known as The Bear, I felt we could take along the wife’s McDonalds Coca-Cola Bear, who is so cool that he has his own stuffed teddy bear. 😎

If this blogsite is quiet for a couple of days, you’ll know we’re in jail Buffalo….BattuhVEEuh??!

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.   😀

 

Fellowship Of The Blog – Episode Five

 

Day 2/Part 2 – Wheeling To Wheeling

When we last left our hero and heroine, they were dashing west, across the New York Turnpike, towards Erie, PA. Safely reaching there, they quickly turned south, for another 3 ½ hour drive, just past Wheeling, WV.  Being at the top of the rapidly narrowing panhandle, Wheeling is a place where you can be in three states in under a half-hour.  We did the same kind of thing a few years ago, on our way to Front Royal, VA, coming out of PA, across 18 miles of Maryland panhandle, and into Virginia.

Traffic was light, so I was running on autopilot. Soon though, we came up behind a minivan moving erratically – slow down, speed up, trouble staying between the lines.  I thought maybe someone was drunk or stoned, but it had a fish-shaped plastic sticker on the back, indicating that it was owned/operated by a “Good Christian.”  Drugs apparently are a big problem.  Signs all along the highway urge anyone with concerns, or information, to call #799.

When I finally felt it was safe to pass, I found it driven by a big-haired blonde, with a cell phone jammed in her ear. Way to go, bitch!  Obey church rules, but ignore State legislation against distracted driving.  It would have produced a very non-porn meaning to the phrase, “Oh God, I’m coming.”  I just didn’t want to be around for either version.

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St. Clairsville, OH, where our Red Roof Inn was located, is at the western edge of the Appalachian Mountains, and the motel is perched almost at the top of a steep little hill. I missed the easily accessible, but unmarked side driveway, and had to drive down the hill, and turn and climb back up to the aerie.  At the bottom of the hill, I gunned the engine – and blew the entire back end off the exhaust system.

The wife was mortified by the roar, but the locals, in their Ford F250s and Dodge Rams never even noticed. They probably thought I was there to compete in the tractor pull.  You know you’re staying in YeeHawville, when the young man, carrying a baby, in front of you in line at the WalMart, adds a six-pack tube of Copenhagen snuff to his order, and the most often-shown ad on TV is for an on-line dating service – FarmersOnly.Com.

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We checked in, and the room clerk told me that there was a Meineke Muffler shop somewhere in the plaza across the street. I said I’d walk over to check out opening times, after supper.  “Oh, it’s too far to walk!”  I could have seen it, if I knew where to look.

With roads hanging off the sides of hills, I walked a block down the hill, to the main road, and a block back up a hill, to the plaza entrance, then a block back down, into the actual parking area. I could have hit it with a thrown stone from the motel, but it was the best part of a mile to actually get there.

A clerk at the Kroger didn’t know of any Meineke shop, but one at the WalMart told me that it was really a Monroe Muffler shop, located in the farthest corner. The sign in the window said they opened at 7:30 AM, and I was there as the mechanic arrived.  Sadly, there were cars left for service, overnight, and people with appointments.  They would get to mine as soon as possible, perhaps by noon, perhaps by closing.

I barely had time to walk back to the motel, when the phone rang. The guy with the 7:30 appointment hadn’t stopped in.  They had looked at my car, and he rattled off a list of items which needed replacing.  For the mere sum of $358.79US ($400 Can), I could have the car back in time to attend the knife show.  Did I wish to proceed? Did I have any choice??!

But, these are tales of tomorrow, to be told in the next episode, when the car moves much faster, not having to drag all that heavy cash around. Y’all come back now!   🙂

Winter Vacation – Part II

We each got a couple of hours nap Friday afternoon, but both our sleep schedules were F..ouled up.  Son wants to hit the hay at 11 PM – I still want to read a newspaper and do a crossword.  Can’t do that in the room, so I take my stuff and go over to sit in the lobby, only to find it locked.  I eventually located a second vending machine room with only an ice machine…and a nice little bench, ta-da!

Afternoon clerk Stephanie was white. Now I get to meet and speak with Miss Annie, an impressive, older Negro lady.  Even older than me, she’s 72.  The clerk at the Taylor motel has been there 27 years.  Miss Annie has been here over 30, and finally plans to retire near the end of this year.  Nice lady, but she don’t take no shit.  I also met and talked with Mark, the armed Negro security guard.  Tough neighborhood, remember?

While we were conversating, a young man walked in, and said, “I want a room for the night.”  I’m sorry sir, we’re all full.  But I have a reservation.  What’s your name sir?  Xxx Yyy!  I’m sorry sir; I can’t find a reservation in that name.  He pulled out a tiny scrap of paper, and said, “Here’s my confirmation number.”  Well, ya coulda led off with that, and your name, instead of just asking for a room.

I print the entire page and present it to the clerks, because it gives every last iota of needed information.  I’m sorry sir; I can’t find a reservation here under that number; are you sure it’s correct?  I’m very sure; check again.  She tapped away for a few seconds, and finally told him, Yes sir, you do have a reservation – at the Plymouth Red Roof, 25 miles from here.  And he was sober – maybe just a brain freeze.

I spent a few dollars extra to get a room with a microwave and fridge.  After boring myself sleepy, I returned to the room – and bed, only to find that the fridge has a loud annoying buzz when it runs.  Woke us up two or three times during the night.  The second night I unplugged it, and we both slept much better.

Up at 8, we both had toast and juice, and I made myself a hot chocolate to take with me in a thermos, to the show.  I went over to the office to add some of their coffee, to make a mocha, and met Aletha, another young Negro gal.  Never met a stranger.  The only clerk we missed was Brian, because he doesn’t work weekends.

I-696 to the show venue ran right behind the motel.  Getting on was almost as easy as falling out of the parking lot.  I remembered to take the camera.  Signs on the front doors insisted, “No outside food or drink!”  I slipped the hot chocolate into my inside jacket pocket, and didn’t sip till I was way back at the back, where no officials could see.

I was irked by the fact that every second vendor had a Dunkin Donuts coffee, or Starbucks, or hotel coffee in a thermos.  I saw one guy making a roast beef and cheese sandwich, but I can’t bring in food or drink?  The WTF factor is going up.

Last year I could access my blog from computers in the entryway, but this year they were locked out, to access only the Center’s site.  After paying, and entering the display hall, I was faced with a sign that said, “No cameras allowed without the permission of the show manager.”  I left mine in my shirt pocket.

Halfway around, I met a woman waving her cell phone camera.  Some of the dealers threw a little impromptu birthday party for a compatriot, and everybody got a picture taken.  I just got the sign….and rising blood pressure again.

One of the knife dealers explained that the anti-gun nuts come to shows and take photos of the plethora of firearms and publish them as “proof” that we’re all going to die in a gigantic shoot-out.  If I had asked the show manager, I would probably have been allowed to take pics, although some gun vendors have table signs which insist, “No Photos!”

There were even fewer hand-made knives, and more “rusty jackknives.”  I took photos of all the interesting knife collections last year, so I didn’t use the camera.  I think we’ve had it with this show.  Unless we can find a show in Zanesville or Cincinnati, I think the wife and I will wait for good weather and just go to Detroit for shopping and a getaway.

It snowed on the way to the venue, and while we were there.  As we were leaving, it was changing to freezing rain.  I’m maybe a bit better at driving in that shit, but the 25 mile trip back was interesting.  One guy just fell off the road and tangled with an overpass support, ripping off his rear bumper, and throwing the back wheel across the freeway.

Since we didn’t want any of the over-priced, captive-audience, crap food at the venue, we stopped at a McDonald’s on the way home.  My bill ended in 43 cents – and I still had that 42 cents left from yesterday.  I picked a penny up off the counter that the previous customer didn’t take, and my pocket was now completely empty.

And then I leaned down and picked a penny off the floor – and went back to the motel and sat on the bed, and picked up a penny beside the other bed.  Later that night, when I went for another walk, I was telling Mark, in the vending room, about keeping my eyes open, and picked a dime off the floor.

The next day, at a Meijer’s store I found a quarter and a penny on a self-checkout bagging platform, and later used my knife to pry a nickel out of a 25 cent gumball machine.  The reason it was there may have been because it was Canadian, but the pocket’s getting heavy again.  Somewhere I picked up a brass game token.  I wonder if the son remembers where.  I don’t.

After another nap, we decided to go out for supper.  While we didn’t want to eat there, the wife had requested a blooming onion from Outback, so we started there.  I had researched online maps, and driving instructions, including Google Street-view.  Son fed the address into Miss GPS and got, “Accessing satellites….accessing satellites…. cannot access satellites.”  Oh, yeah.  Snow/rain storm.  We found it the old-fashioned way, by looking.

Tomorrow we’re going to, not one, but two, Trade Centers.  Anybody want to come along?  I’ll buy a hot pretzel, with mustard.