For our entire stay in Buffalo, the weather has been wet in varying degrees. So, we decided to defect to Canada.
As if the sirens were wooing us, the closer we got to Canada, the better the weather became. We took it as a sure sign we were doing the right thing. Once Ann and I located a parking spot (free even!) we abandoned our car and our American lives to embark on a future as Canadians. It turns out it’s easy to leave the US on foot. We just passed through a simple turnstile and we were home free! Like a couple of refugees, we packed light, carrying only the bare essentials (cameras and cash) on our forced march across Rainbow Bridge (we couldn’t bring the jeep across — it was too new and the bank that holds the loan wouldn’t give us permission).
By the time we were halfway across the bridge, the sun was shining bright. The mist from the falls saluted our decision, welcoming us in a very friendly manner into the Canadian fold. “OH CANADA” we bellowed as we approached the passport office. Behind the desk at the office was a pretty blond who welcomed us (Canada was looking pretty good by that point!) — No wonder Canadian Dave loves his country so much!
After sizing up Canada’s newest citizens, the immigration official let us in. We couldn’t wait to breathe the Canadian air, eat the best of Canadian food, and see the world through their eyes.
Our first stop was an overlook to view the falls. I can say with certainty that Canada has the best view of the falls. Clearer those Canadian’s are more clever then they look (no offense Dave), because they got the better of the American’s when they won the north-side of the falls. Once we saw that the views in Canada were better than the views in the US, we knew we’d made the right choice.
But then, we began noticing something odd. When we exchanged our greenbacks for colorful Canadian play money, we received less than we gave (gave $100 and received approx $96). Wait, what gives! The last time I was in Canada (oh, I had to think about that for a while) was 1998 and I received more Canadian dollars for every dollar I gave them. It seems these clever Canadian’s had outwitted us by making their dollar stronger. It means we entered Canada even poorer than we thought we were.
To make it matters worse, things were expensive. A bottle of water was nearly $3.00! Gone were the inexpensive prices from my days visiting Vancouver and Victoria. What gives, I wondered.
We spent an hour ambling down the northern side of the falls, before we turned around to search for food. That’s when things got weirder. The only ‘Canadian food’ we could find were suspiciously American chains: Tim Hortons, Hard Rock Cafe, Burger King, Wendys, Planet Hollywood, Subway, and many more. In addition, we encountered a Tijuana-like atmosphere with Canadian Hucksters (meaning they were huckstering very politely) all kinds of shows and items for sale. There was Ripleys Believe it or Not, and Guiness Book of World Records, and all manner of things earily American. In fact, the closest Canadian food we could find was an Indian Restaurant called Guru’s (which was delicious).
Once we guzzled down some water and filled our bellies, Ann and I began to have a serious talk. We concluded that our attempt to defect had been defeated. The Americans had already reached Canada and taken it over. Even worse, they were charging the Canadians higher prices than we were paying in America. We were better off at home. Firm in our conclusion that we’d made a mistake, we turned tail and walked as fast as Ann’s knee could tolerate back to American soil.
Yet, before we could leave the Canadian side of the falls, we had one last reminder of America’s takeover. A turnstile required a fee of fifty cents to leave Canada. It could be paid in either American or Canadian quarters. The other folks leaving Canada were as amused and shocked by the required payment as we were.
So, for a total of a dollar, we were allowed back into the country. We crossed back over the Rainbow Bridge, loaded down with Canadian Maple Syrup, Butter Cookies, and Mackintosh Toffee. Though the US Border Patrol eyed us suspiciously, they still allowed to re-enter. They could read in our faces we were sorry for our attempted defection.
Naturally, it clouded over as soon as we returned to our hotel outside Buffalo.
Monday night we plan to be in Butler, PA, for a preview look at the upcoming festival. We also plan to drop by a store shaped like a stealth bomber. Since Ann helped steward the project while in the Air Force, I thought she’d enjoy the visit.
Tuesday night we’ll be in Morgantown (maybe). Wednesday and Thursday night we’ll be in Canton.