The Garden City Refugee

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Over the River LXI

May 24, 2023

Highlights and lowlights from my 61st two-wheeled trek to the Great State of New York:

1. I never knew that dangerous viruses could be spread by dirty hockey equipment. You learn something new every day.

2. As I passed a bus stop on Victoria Avenue in Niagara Falls (Canada), some dude from Mississauga gawked at me as if he had never seen someone on a bike before.

3. The CBP officer at the Rainbow Bridge who served me asked, “Where are we going today?” I was planning on going alone, but if he wanted to come along, he was more than welcome.

4. Words of wisdom near the Tops on Portage Road . . .

5. Seated on a bench at the Portage Road Transportation Center was a black woman with long dreadlocks who spent about 10 minutes serenading the entire neighborhood with her (lack of) musical talent before moseying off back to the ’hood.

6. Most of the building at the Portage Road Transportation Center is now dedicated for employees only. All that’s left for the public is a small strip with two ticket machines, a change machine, a pay phone and a rack with schedules. The public washroom is also gone.

7. The stretch of Buffalo Avenue past John Daly Boulevard that was in worse shape than some streets in Winnipeg has, at long last, been redone, complete with a bike lane.

8. The restrictions on not picking up inbound passengers within Buffalo and not letting outbound passengers off within Buffalo on the #40 and #77 routes are apparently now a thing of the past. Previously, they had been dedicated Buffalo to out-of-Buffalo routes.

9. The platform at the Metropolitan Transportation Center for the 40, 60 and 77 routes:

10. Even at the Metropolitan Transportation Center, with all the homies and vagrants hanging out there, I still had to wait at the sink and hand dryer after doing my business in the washroom. Once again, this is not the Old Country, where practically no one washes their hands.

11. Hir we go, Stealers, hir we go . . .

11a. That’s Pittsburghese for the uninformed.

12. An automated snow melt system outside the downtown library . . .

13. The downtown library opens at 8 am, two hours earlier than the Winnipeg library. And unlike the case in Winnipeg, you can freely walk in without going through airport-level security.

14. Discover the unexpected . . .

15. The iconic sign in the theater district . . .

16. Just in case you forgot what city you’re in, there are plenty of reminders . . .


17. Why only black girls and boys?

18. Judging by the level of urban decay around town, they’re doing a good job of keeping it a secret . . .

19. The best street in Buffalo . . .

20. Since when does the state have its own military?

21. Street art . . .


22. The preserved façades of the former War Memorial Stadium . . .


23. The Cereal Spot in Elmwood Village. The place that makes its living selling bowls of breakfast cereal opens at 2 pm.

24. While stopped at Bean Bastard Coffee (yes, that’s their real name) for a break, I was seated near a threesome in a corner, the most vocal of which was a piece of trailer trash with pink hair, tattoos on both arms and showing way too much cleavage. Written on her T-shirt just below that cleavage was PAIN. Perhaps it was an indication that her double-implant procedure didn’t go as smoothly as she expected it to. As she munched on something that looked like an Egg McMuffin (maybe they call it a Bastard McMuffin?), she was going on about how she, like, needed proof having passed a drug test to get a job. From the looks of her, I couldn’t imagine how she could have passed it, nor why anyone would offer her a job. But good help is hard to find. In any event, she sent the results via email to her prospective employer, but HR, like, needed to see the physical copy. She went on to talk about how much she, like, really loves driving through the state of Ohio.

25. Seated across the aisle was a guy in his mid-20s with a book entitled Miners, Millhands and Mountaineers on the table in front of him who was writing on the back of some yellow papers with a Sharpie. And in the back was a loud group of young hotshots talking about how much profit they expected to make with their IT startup. As I was leaving, one of them went outside to make a call. “I’m in a meeting,” he said, really trying to sound important.

26. The Wi-Fi password there was Lemmyisgod666. Don’t ask me what the significance is.

27. Just as I did in my last visit, throughout the downtown, I often heard shouting in the distance. Buffalo people are loud.

28. Welcome to Allentown . . .


29. Tsk, tsk. The proper term is “hearing impaired.” These people have “challenges.” “Deaf” is stigmatizing.

30. What’s the difference if you sigh low or sigh high?

31. The place to take your gay dog in Buffalo . . .

32. Street poetry . . .

33. Can’t argue with this one . . .

34. At the corner of Allen and Main was a DWAM with the Superman logo on his mask. Saving the world from deadly viruses, one mask at a time.

35. These days, workers have more to fear from unions than from employers . . .

36. Upon my return to the MTC, there was a dude in the washroom shaving his scalp with a razor and shaving cream.

37. When attempting to board the #77 bus, the driver said she wasn’t leaving for 12 minutes and shooed me away. I wasn’t allowed to board until she was ready to leave. Excuuuse me for trying to board a running bus at a bus terminal with the door open. If you want a break, shut the bus off and close the door. Or better yet, park at the lot across North Division Street, which is dedicated for that purpose, rather than at the MTC.

38. Passing through Niagara Square, I spotted the aftermath of an accident as a black sports car ran headlong into a delivery truck. Guess which one won that battle.

39. Boarding at Carolina Street was an obese black woman oozing with rolls of blubber that even the best industrial strength fabric could not properly contain. As the driver took off, she paid for her day pass with dollar bills she pulled out of her bra while chatting on the phone. Perhaps not surprisingly, the machine had trouble with one of the bills she withdrew from the First National Titty Bank of Buffalo, leaving her to make up the difference with a handful of coins. With my retinas already badly seared, I didn’t pay attention to which orifice she pulled those coins out of.

40. It was nice to see the new two-way cycle track on Niagara Street just south of the Peace Bridge.

41. Right where westbound I-290 traffic merges into the northbound I-190 lanes, an SUV with a temporary tag pulled into the shoulder to pass a car not far ahead of us, then abruptly swung over two lanes to the left. It was only a miracle that there wasn’t some sort of collision.

42. While at the Niagara USA Visitor Center, someone asked at the desk if they have a wax museum on this side. You come to one of the world’s most iconic tourist destinations which features some fantastic natural wonders so you can visit some tacky wax museum? But they were in luck, as the woman behind the counter said they’ve got a makeshift one going up on Prospect Street.

43. Scenes at the Third Street Art Alley, not far from the bridge. The bum standing nearby liked the mural with the bubbles the best.



44. Crossing the Rainbow Bridge Checkpoint Charlie back to Canada Ostdeutschland, I spotted a cyclist who had just cleared U.S. customs and another U.S.-bound cyclist on the bridge. In all my crossings in the years before the war, I had only spotted two cyclists in total using the bridge.

45. The folks at the toll gate clearly do not like it when someone like me pays with nickels and dimes. Too bad.

46. Someone thinks birds are more important than humans . . .

47. At the Niagara Falls (Canada) Bus Terminal, there are three signs at the desk stating that they don’t sell GO Transit tickets, in addition to signs on both doors. But I’m sure I speak for the many tourists who still want to know why people have to schlep across the street to the train station to buy a ticket from the machine.

48. News Flash: Years after it broke, they finally fixed the water fountain at the Niagara Falls Bus Terminal.

49. Complimentary gum . . .

50. Someone at Niagara College asked the driver of the GO bus I took back to St. Catharines with a big, lighted BURLINGTON CARPOOL sign out front if he was going to Niagara Falls. Then another guy asked if the bus was going to Burlington. Putting up with those kinds of idiots must be the most difficult part of being a bus driver.

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