Monday, October 14, 2013

The true north strong and free

We got incredibly lucky with the weather over the past weekend and had an amazing road trip to Western New York with a trip to Toronto as part of the itinerary.

Everyone had their passports this time as we made the border crossing. Last time we went to Buffalo one of our party had to have his passport sent to the U.S. Embassy to get a visa for a trip to Africa. This time, there was a misplaced passport of another member of the party that was found with little stress and no tears.

My friend said that there would be a longish line at the border because of the holiday (Thanksgiving) weekend in Canada but when we crossed the Peace Bridge, there were no cars in the booth, just a border guard who examined our passports and let us in with no problems.

I keep forgetting that there are a few other large cities in Canada. I knew Hamilton was big with over half a million people, but Mississagua with over 700k, that shocked me. I was reminded that 40% of the country's population lives along the southern part of Ontario.

Our first destination was the Hockey Hall of Fame. Just outside the entrance is a display of goalie masks over the years. Here's Jacques Plante's. He was one of the first goaltenders to regularly wear a mask.

I believe that was a type of fiberglass. The HOF has a number of cool interactive exhibits as well, and some nice displays of the great players in the game.

There's a very cool exhibit where you can call a play and have it played back. I did it to one of Rick Nash's great goals when he was with the Blue Jackets. A lot of fun.

Hockey has the best hardware in any sport. All of the trophies (or their replicas, shh!) are kept in a hall that was once a bank.

It's an impressive display of the history of the game, and I'm glad we finally got to go there.

It had been well over twenty years since I've been to Toronto. There's a lot of construction going on, big buildings!

We took the subway, then a streetcar to the whiskey bar I found online. The Caledonian is a great place. It's run by a lovely Scottish woman who uses the words "Sweetie" or "My Love" in every sentence. She and my wife started talking, turns out she's from the same small town where my wife's Grandparents are from. Small world! The food was authentic Scottish.

Yes, they had haggis, and steak pie, a signed picture of Andy Murray on the wall and a very good whiskey selection. In selling the deep fried Mars Bar dessert, the owner said it's, "The best thing out of Scotland." Here, I had to correct her, because that would be my wife.

There's a billboard you can't see in America.

After a rare brief visit to IKEA we headed back to Buffalo.

We arrived the Canadian/U.S. border reentry point. There's not a long line. Guy in the car in front of us is getting questioned a very long time. After a couple of minutes I see the siren light over the booth go off, then the gate go down behind his car. My friend has been over the border hundreds of times and has never seen this happen. Border guy gets out of the booth, is on his radio, points to where he wants the driver to go. Driver goes to an unknown fate.

We pull up, tell him one place we went to was IKEA. Guard asks us if we spent $2,000 there. Four of us in a KIA Soul. These are strange times we live in.

We had a great time. Went to my alma mater for a too brief homecoming visit on Saturday night and headed home on Sunday morning in a bit of rain, but it was not snow or ice. The Subaru was magnificent, averaging about 30mpg the entire trip.

Just do not mention what happened to the Buffalo Bills.


Anonymous said...

Glad you had a good time here.

- nammu

Someone Said said...

It was a hit and run visit. HoF, ride things, eat, ride more things, leave.