The Garden City Refugee

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Over the River LXXVII

May 24, 2024

Highlights and lowlights from my 77th two-wheeled trek to the Great State of New York:

1. Words of wisdom at the downtown terminal in St. Catharines . . .


2. Someone got on the regional bus with a big lighted NIAGARA FALLS sign out front and asked the driver if he was going to the Pen Center. Again, stop me if you’ve seen this movie before.

3. For the first time ever in my travels, there was another cyclist in the lane next to me while waiting at U.S. Customs. I seem to have become a trendsetter in cross-border cycling.

4. Soon after boarding a #77 Buffalo-bound bus on Third Street, the driver stopped and waited for a passenger coming off the #50 who wanted to connect to the #77. Once again, this is not the Old Country, where far too many Winnipeg Transit drivers would have taken ghoulish pleasure in flooring it the second the passenger got to the front door. And yes, for the benefit of one loyal reader who I was talking to recently, it is that bad in Winnipeg.

5. A rather distasteful vanity plate . . .

6. Seated across the aisle on the #77 bus was a black guy who was took a call from “D-Man.” During this lengthy conversation, he said D-Man could give him a haircut and twice repeated that the Lord works in mysterious ways. He wound up the call by thanking D-Man for calling and saying, “Another dollar, another day. We’re in America where we pay taxes.”

7. This trip marked my second consecutive time on the #77 where there was a major backlog of traffic heading into Buffalo. It’s not Toronto, it’s Buffalo.

8. Spray-painted on a railway bridge near the Scajaquada was, “BURN YOUR BRIDGES DESTROY THE CITY BCUZ TWENTY TWELVE!!”

9. Upon arrival at the Metropolitan Transportation Center, I went to a machine, where I purchased and loaded funds onto a MetGo fare card. All with cash, of course. You can still pay with cash on the bus, but only a single-ride fare as you can no longer buy a day pass from the driver. Furthermore, a ticket or a MetGo card is required to enter or exit the underground Metro Rail stations. When paying with MetGo, you no longer need a special day pass as the system caps your daily fare at $5, the cost of a day pass. In addition to the MTC, MetGo cards can be purchased and reloaded at various 7-Eleven stores, most notably on Fourth Street in Niagara Falls, a block away from the closest bus stop from the Rainbow Bridge.

10. Poultry on Seneca Street . . .

11. Where neighbors care . . .

12. South Buffalo. A very special place . . .

13. Bumper stickers spotted along Seneca Street:

  • Hot girls hit curbs
  • Whoever said the diamonds are a girl’s best friend never had a dog

14. While stopped at the Dog Ears Bookstore and Cafe, an older woman who seems to run the place approached me. She said they had great food there, though the smells coming from the kitchen suggested that dog ears may very well have been on the menu. After telling me that it was a nonprofit bookstore where the employees are all volunteers, she asked if I was with a bike club.

“Just me,” I replied.

“Ah, me, myself and I,” she said.

Then she asked where I was from.

“St. Catharines,” I answered.

The look on her face suggested she was about to have a coronary.

“St. Catharines . . . that’s, like, uh, C-C-C-Canada.”

15. Sign above a doorway, “Unattended children will be given espresso and a free kitten.”

16. “Dranks” on the house . . .

17. Scenes inside and outside the bookstore/cafe:


18. These days, I’m not so sure . . .

19. While touring South Buffalo, I couldn’t help but notice a foul, industrial odor in the air.

20. I only know who the Bandits are because the brother-in-law of a guy down the street from me plays for them. Last year, they had a party on their front lawn to celebrate winning the championship and I suspect there will be another in short order as they won again this year.

21. Upon my return to the MTC, a black guy walked in wearing a T-shirt with the message, “No stranger to struggle.” Another walked by wearing a black hoodie with the message, “We’re not homies.”

22. Also at the MTC, someone was going around collecting signatures to get an independent party on the ballot. I had to decline when the guy approached me since I’m not an American.

23. Bumper stickers on a car the #40 bus was following on Niagara Street:

  • Say perhaps to drugs
  • I ♥ crack whores

24. A few paid with cash on the bus and some, like me, used MetGo, but most used their phones. It was only a few months ago when it was rare to see someone paying with something other than cash on a Metro bus.

25. While unloading a pile of nickels and dimes at the Rainbow Bridge toll booth before heading back to C-C-C-Canada, some dude walked out of the adjacent duty free store and across the car lanes. He was promptly approached by someone from the bridge commission who told him he’d have to report his purchase to customs. For those who aren’t aware, pedestrians are not allowed to visit the duty free store.

26. Words of wisdom at the Niagara Falls (C-C-C-Canada) Bus Terminal . . .

27. As I was loading my bike on the GO bus with a big lighted BURLINGTON CARPOOL sign out front and along the side, someone got on and asked the driver if he was going to Burlington. Once again, stop me if you’ve seen this movie before.

28. Before departing, an old guy got on and asked the driver if he was going to St. Catharines. Then he asked him where there CIBC branch at Fairview Mall was. While the driver tried to help by punching up the directions on his phone, this is hardly something one should be asking of a bus driver. They’re there to answer questions as to paying fare and where the route goes, not to help you plan your outing.

29. During the ride to St. Catharines, a fatso seated nearby said, “The only thing that stops me from, like, biting my nails is when I, like, file them to make, like, nice.”

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