Interesting Night and Day
Trip Start Apr 02, 2011
46Trip End Sep 29, 2011
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I approached the US - Canadian border and the traffic slowed down and shifted into 8 lanes. I chose #2. No problem. Just about 20 minutes to cycle through the line. The border guard starts asking me questions (not difficult ones, but questions, nonetheless)...Where are you from sir? Bloomington Illinois. Why are you entering Canada? To see the Toronto Blue Jays game. Who are they playing tomorrow? (I can't remember for a moment, but finally say the Tampa Bay Rays.) The I told him I was on an epic quest to visit all the Major League ballparks. Told him I saw the Tigers beat the White Sox 9-3 today. I won him over at that point. Then we got into a good conversation. How many have you been to? Four. Which has been your favorite so far? Cincinnati and Cleveland, but I liked Detroit too. You'll love Pittsburgh, he said. Then he said something very "Canadian." Enjoy your trip, eh? I smiled to myself and said, "Thank you," and was on my way. Which reminded me of the old joke, "How did Canada get it's name?" Well, they threw all the letters of the alphabet into a bag and picked them out... one at at time...C...eh...N...eh...D...ea! (He'll be here all week folks!)
As they say at the start of many a good mystery novel, "it was a dark and stormy night." It had been misting on me all the way up to Port Huron, but then it started raining. It was intermittent mist and rail all the way to Toronto. That wouldn't usually present a problem, but Canada doesn't have as much ambient light as we have in the US, so it was dark. I'm not just talking sort of dark, it was DARK. I understand why they can see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) in Canada...because it's dark as H-E (double hockey sticks as Radar would say). Between the rain and dark, it took a great deal of concentration to drive the 4+ hours to Toronto. I left about 10:00 pm and between the border stop, gas and McDonalds, it was 2:15 am before I got to my hotel.
I did find it interesting that in Canada, several things are highlighted on the highway signs. They seem to prefer vineyards and golf courses...and they were both on the actual state highway signs...never knew Canada had so many golf courses. Be that as it may, I was not interested in golf courses tonight.
As I said, I finally made it to the hotel about 2:15. The night auditor (that's what they call the hotel attendant who works the graveyard shift") was running a report, so he didn't have my reservation right away. Eventually he did. Gave me a room in the back. Now, I've been in the hotel industry for more than 20 years, so I could tell straight away what this hotel was. It was originally a Holiday Inn which probably moved to another brand and eventually became a Days Inn. It was careworn to say the least. Original carpeting. Original bathroom with those tiny little tile (except for a new tub and shower). And bedspreads desperately in need of replacement. I've inspected hundreds of them. I immediately walked into the room and it was cold. I read the thermostat and it was 55...probably only because that's as low as it would go. I mean you could hang meat in this room. I tried the thermostat...cranking it up to 90. Nope. I tried the window panel, turning all the knobs. Nope. Then I went back to the night auditor and asked for another room as this room had no heat. Then he informed me of how the heat worked. You have to have the thermostat in the on position, the regulator on heat and then the unit under the window had to be opened and the knob on the right turned to the right (not the left). Then the heater would turn on in 5-10 minutes!!! Are you kidding me? The only thing I could think of was, "Do I have to rub my belly, and pat my head three times, spin around and then kick the machine on the right side to make it work?"
But I resisted! Besides, it was Easter weekend and maybe I could get a miracle too! (See, honey, the shock treatments are working!) I went back to my room, tried it, but not trusting it, slept in my PJs and a hooded sweatshirt! Sure enough, it kicked on in about 10 minutes. You'll be happy to know it was almost 72 degrees in my room by 9:30 am when I got up.
Up and at 'em. Good shower, despite the mold on the ceiling. Then I was out of there.
Headed to downtown Toronto, with Jill taking me an interesting route. I saw Chinatown, Hispanictown, Armeniantown (yep, even saw a sign saying, "Welcome to Armenian Heritage Weekend." Who knew???) and African-American town.
Be that as it may, I finally made it to downtown Toronto and the St. Lawrence Market. Found parking a couple blocks away and headed for it. It was Saturday morning, so the market was crazy busy with people. It's a two story barn-like building a city block long and half a city block wide. And they sell everything there. Fish, whole hogs, beef, produce, souvenirs, and what I was after...baked goods. I was there to find the Carousel Bakery. Hunted for about 10-15 minutes, and finally, gave up and asked someone. "Do you know where the Carousel Bakery is?" "No, I don't," he replied. "Thanks anyways, sir." I literally took two steps, looked up, and there it was, right in front of me. I turned back to the man I had asked, and said, "I think I've found it." He laughed and said, "Happy Easter!"
I had a "peameal bacon" sandwich. Pemeal bacon is what we would call "Canadian bacon" back home. It's not really bacon, it's ham in our minds. It's served on a Kaiser role. Got that and a Diet Coke and sat outside and ate it. It was delicious! Forced some nice lady to take my picture with it. Excellent. I may hire her to take all my pics. Made me look good. Reminds me of the guy who said, "That picture doesn't do me justice." To which his friend replied, "You don't need justice. You need mercy!"
That being done, it was back to my car and to the Rogers Center to get a ticket and watch the Blue Jays play.
It was only about a five minute ride. I parked underneath the Rogers Center for $20. When I gave $20 US to the attendant, he said, "It's $22 US due to the exchange rate." Whatever! I parked real close to that entrance. I walked down an incline and up some stairs to the Rogers Center Plaza. I made my way to the ticket sales area and asked for a ticket. Nice young man asked me where or how much I wanted to spend. After spending $53 last night in Detroit for an OK seat, I decided to treat myself to a $70 near home place seat today. Ended up to be a great seat. I have noticed if I tell the ticket sellers about my quest, they seem to take more interest, and are willing to find me a better seat. This guy, like most was interested in where I had been and which I had found most appealing.
Then I was off to Gate 5. As I entered, I noticed immediately, this was a "stadium" not a "ballpark." Big difference. While it had all the modern conveniences, large walkways between vendor areas and seating, huge jumbo-torn scoreboard, seat-backs for almost everyone, there was something sterile and impersonal about this stadium I had not experienced in the other ballparks. Not one of my favorites.
I sat in my seat, (15 rows and 10 feet to the right of home place...behind the screen) and chatted up the nice young lady usher. I told her my mission, and she said, "Well, that's interesting, because the people sitting across the aisle from you today are doing the same thing. I know because they were here last night." Just as she said that, two nice folks came up from behind and the usher said, "Well. here they are now." And we started talking. Peggy and Ken are from New Jersey. They are doing their quest on weekends because Peggy still works as a school teacher (4th grade). Nice people. I'll post a picture of them when I get home.
Nice guy came down the aisle with a 4-5 year old kid and remarked positively about my Cubs wind shirt and hat. We had a good conversation. (Remember that.)
The game. Well, I guess it took me leaving the States to get my first loss for the home team. The Tampa Bay Rays (no longer The Devil Rays!) got off to a 2-0 lead in the first. They fell further behind on local Central Illinois product Ben Zobrist's (Eureka HS) 3-run homer in the 5th. If there was any saving grace, he hit it right over the State Farm billboard in right field! It was 6-1 in the 9th before the Jays made a comeback, actually leaving the tying run on base in the 9th before eventually losing 6-4. Bummer...I'm now only 4-1 for the home team.
I left in the middle innings in search of a golf ball (nope), a program (of course) and a Blue Jays baseball (for some kid). Remember the nice guy and his kid who remarked about my Cubs jacket? Well, his son walked by me on their way out in the 8th inning and I asked him, did you catch one of those foul balls today? He said no. I grabbed the Blue Jays ball out of my bag and threw it to him and said, "Well, catch this." He did. Dad smiled thanked me. It reminded me...baseball is a kids game!
Despite the loss, it was a good day and I prepared for a long drive (7-8 hours) to NYC. But it took me 45 minutes to find my car. Seems they have two parking garages under the Rogers Center and I was in the wrong one. Ever go wandering through a parking lot hitting the lock button on your car to blow the horn to see if you can find your own car? Felt like a Seinfeld episode. Finally found it and was on my way.
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