The Garden City Refugee

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Over the River LXXV

April 7, 2024

Highlights and lowlights from my 75th two-wheeled trek to the Great State of New York:

1. En route, I was passed by a fellow cyclist on Taylor Road who decided to eschew the wide bike lane and instead decided to put himself in mortal peril by riding on the left of the white line, sometimes wandering into the middle of the car lane. When I spotted him again later in the Falls, I was relieved to see that he had survived.

2. Spotted a car in the Falls with a bumper sticker that read, “People Ruin Everything.”

3. Since I had last been to the Falls, they had resurfaced Victoria Avenue, further proof that this is not the Old Country, where such a project would have taken at least one summer, potentially two.

4. Serving me at U.S. Customs was a CBP officer who spoke with a thick Eastern European accent. For a moment there, I wondered if I was in the United States of America or the United States of Bulgaria.

5. Video of the ride from the bridge to Military Road, following US 62 (Ferry Avenue/Niagara Falls Boulevard). Since the war, Ferry Avenue had been completely redone to add the dedicated bike lane at the expense of the second car lane.

6. I spotted very few dipshits on the day, though there was one DWAM™ carrying a white cane hanging around a liquor store and babbling incoherently.

7. Brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department . . .

8. Park your eclipse here . . .

9. Upon walking into Amy & Co., I immediately found myself in the middle of a passionate discussion about potholes. Being originally from the Pothole Capital of North America, I added that the potholes in the O.C. are so bad that, during my time there, I had cracked several fenders on my bike. For the record, I have not had one single fender problem in the 20,700-plus miles I’ve put on since my defection from the SPRM nearly 10 years ago.

10. Once I had taken a seat, that passionate and loud discussion quickly resumed with talk of a state-mandated inspection one of the women had with her car. She took it to a mechanic who fixed something, but he told her to drive it around for a few days to see if the problem returned. She drove to Lewiston and back, but the sensor light came back on when she was at Home Depot. She shut the car off, went inside for a while, only to have to have it come back on again when she returned and started it up again. A friend offered her the use of his car, but he had been pulled over on the Thruway recently because his inspection had expired. “At least I had a 10-day waiver,” she said.

The conversation turned to the eclipse. One of them asked if I was coming to this side of the river to see it, but I said I was just going to be staying home. Another of them bemoaned how the hotels were gouging customers. The Comfort Inn in Buffalo, for example, was charging $800 a night. She went on to say that the City of Niagara Falls was going to be cleaning up downtown for the event, but she was dismayed when she drove by on her way back from Lewiston. “Who are they kidding?” she said. “It’s filthy.”

One of the guys then started talking about his time as a volunteer member of the City’s electrical board. “Thank you for your service, but we are considering other applications,” he said of the letter he got informing him that he had been dismissed, apparently unaware of the fact that he needed to reapply every year. One of the women said they shouldn’t have to reapply. She went on to talk about other City positions, like lifeguards, where “they have to fingerprint you and all that.” She said they should keep the fingerprints on file rather than making them go through all that again if they come back. “Fingerprints don’t change,” she said. “They have all those IT people, they’re so brilliant, all they have to do is put it on a flash drive. Or put it up in the cloud.”

11. Video of the ride along the Shoreline Trail between LaSalle Waterfront Park and Niagara Falls State Park:

12. Another of the Crisis Services stations set up in the state park. There is hope, there is help, it says by the phone. So I would expect that when visiting Canadians call and explain their crisis of not wanting to return to their own country, they would be given a referral to a good immigration lawyer.

13. Walking into the welcome center in the state park was a young woman toting a bag with the message, “Untitled Collection of Objects.”

14. Video walkthrough of the new welcome center:

15. Had I wanted to purchase anything, I wouldn’t have been able to use the self-checkout since I’m not legally authorized to work in the United States.

16. When using the all-gender washroom, it marked the first time I had accompanied a woman into a washroom since following my mother into the washroom at Eaton’s downtown when I was a young child. This is not progress.

17. While washing my hands, a guy next to me asked, “Did you ride your bike here?” Duh. Guess the helmet on my head wasn’t enough of a giveaway.

18. Video walkthrough of the “eclipse weekend” festivities on Old Falls Street:

19. One of the vendors was selling eclipse glasses for $3, yet they were available for free inside the welcome center in the state park.

20. Selfie magnet on Old Falls Street . . .

21. I thought it was a state park, not a reservation. Downtown Winnipeg, now that’s a reservation.

22. Rest assured, I didn’t fall or slip on the ice . . .

23. The mother of a family with three kids waiting for the Megabus at the Niagara Falls (Canada) Bus Terminal asked at the desk if they needed to check in first.

24. After doing my business at the urinal in the washroom, I turned around to find a woman looking in the mirror. No, I wasn’t in WNY (Woke New York) where men and women have to use the same washroom. “This is the mens’ washroom?” she asked before apologizing and promptly leaving. There is a sign with a picture on the door and even if she couldn’t read, the urinals she passed by ought to have given it away.

25. After the GO driver returned from helping a couple use the fare machine at the Stanley & 420 stop, she said, “I need to do a head count,” and proceeded to do just that on both the lower and upper levels.

26. Before departing from Niagara College, the driver got out from behind the wheel and asked a black guy seated at the back to turn off the speaker on his cell phone. Which he did. Once again, this is not the Old Country.

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