Tag Archives: New York State

18 Jul

Over the River Again

Observations and pictures from my 44th two-wheeled trip to the Great State of New York:

1. Award-winning management “consultanting” …

2. At One Niagara Center was a massive air conditioning unit right next to a wide-open door. As my father would say, were they trying to air condition all of Western New York?

3. Last I checked, Ferry was a one-way street, but that didn’t seem to matter to two cyclists who were going in the opposite direction against traffic.

4. At 19th Street was a fatso who wasn’t wearing underwear and whose blubber was oozing out well beyond the short skirt she had on. There are times I wish I wasn’t so observant and that was one of them. As my father would say, she needs to start shopping for clothing at New York Tent and Awning.

5. Scenes in Hyde Park:

6. Pickleball. It’s not just a St. Catharines thing.

7. Spotted off Military Road was an older guy with a “MAGA” hat. Part of me wanted to get off my bike and shake his hand.

8. I was proud to ring up a $17.10 bill at southern Ontario’s favorite Walmart just to spite Justin.

9. Dear Walmart: Please consider adding an express lane or two. You know, the way most large department stores do.

10. On Buffalo Avenue, someone driving by in a pickup truck pointed at me and yelled, “There he is!” Whatever.

11. Also on Buffalo Avenue, another cyclist passed me going the wrong way, though at least, unlike what would have happened in the Old Country, he did get out of my way and didn’t curse at me.

11a. Did I mention recently that I don’t miss the Old Country?

12. A bench on the Shoreline Trail in need of some maintenance:

13. A piano for the LGBT community?

14. If you’ve always wanted to take a tour of a helicopter …

15. While crossing the Rainbow Bridge, a guy in an SUV from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania asked me if they charged me a toll and was astonished when I told him I had to pay a whole buck. For the record, I don’t mind fair and reasonable user fees. Just as long as it’s going toward bridge maintenance and not lining government coffers.

16. Waiting at Canadian customs, a guy from New Jersey was cursing up a storm, angry that the officer was asking too many questions of the person in front of him. Dude, that’s not the attitude you bring to an international border crossing. Especially when you’re a foreign national.

17. There are teenagers in Bombay working in call centers who have a better grasp of the English language than the CBSA officer who served me.

21 Apr

Across the River Again

Pictures and observations from my 42nd two-wheeled visit to the Great State of New York:

1. As I was heading south along the canal trail this morning, the bridges at Carlton, Queenston and Glendale were all up, with the Homer Bridge at Queenston up long before the approaching ship even came into view. I respect the Seaway and what it means to our region, but they need to be ordered to be a better neighbor. Seconds count in an emergency situation and one of these days, it’s going to cost someone their life, if such a tragedy hasn’t happened already.

2. Going up the escarpment at Taylor Road, I thought I heard an ice cream truck behind me, only to find out it was a car with its muffler pipe dragging on the ground.

3. Turning off Mountain Road to the trail that connects to Stanley Avenue, I spotted this backpack next to the garbage can with a number of its owner’s possessions inside.

3a. The fact that it was still there on my return trip with those same possessions visible from the outside is further proof as to how far away I am from the SPRM.

4. What’s the big deal about having certified vehicles? Even I, as a non-driver, can certify that you have a vehicle.

5. At U.S. Customs, I was served by the same officer I had in December who was so taken aback that I had a NEXUS card.

5a. Given the number of times I’ve gone over the river on two wheels, I’m surprised it’s the first time I’ve recognized an officer from a past crossing.

6. The new Hyatt Place on Rainbow Boulevard. It wasn’t that long ago that they were driving piles and now it looks nearly ready to open. Once again, on both sides of the river in this part of the world, when shovels hit the ground, work gets done quickly, unlike the case in the SPRM.

7. The former Days Inn on 1st Street is now the Wyndham Garden Hotel. I’ve never been inside the Days Inn, but from the outside, it seemed like a bit of a dive, so for their sake, I hope they did more than change the name.

7a. If you haven’t been over the river recently, there are a couple of new hotels not far from the falls. They’ve still got a long way to go to catch up with their Canadian neighbors, but they seem to be figuring out that there are benefits to keeping American tourists on the U.S. side.

8. For the benefit of anyone looking to take the #40 bus to Buffalo, a shot of the Portage Road Transportation Center, the route’s northern terminus, one block north of the Tops. Or “Tahps,” as many on that side of the river say.

9. Parking fail:

9a. If you’re asking yourself what the problem is, that’s a Metro bus stop.

10. Off Porter Road is this graveyard for end-of-life Niagara Falls Police Department vehicles:

10a. I wonder if they were certified vehicles?

11. There was a serious traffic jam at the Tim Hortons on Military Road complete with horns honking as cars were trying to get into the drive-thru from two different directions.

12. While inside said Tim Hortons, a supervisor who looked like he had celebrated his 18th birthday only a few months ago was on his break. Most of the clerks behind the counter, however, looked like they had celebrated their 18th birthday only a few weeks ago. Which probably explains the reason for his “promotion.”

13. The Big K, formerly K-Mart, on Military Road. Last of a dying breed.

14. A communist casino?

15. Here, I suspect students, among other things, learn how to sell their product or service to prospective customers in order to earn money. If this was the SPRM, students would learn techniques for bleeding money out of the government.

16. Apple juice?

17. Scenes along the newly refurbished Shoreline Trail connecting LaSalle Waterfront Park to Niagara Falls State Park:

18. Shots from Niagara Falls State Park, including some from the observation deck, which was free today. Normally, there’s a $1 charge. That’s a U.S. dollar, not a Canadian dollarette.

19. Once again, before heading back to Canada, I paid my bridge toll with nickels and dimes, more of the latter on account of the massive increase from 50 cents to a whole buck. No doubt, they start playing a certain Nana Mouskouri tune when they see me coming:

20. Someone still needs to explain to me why I, as a Canadian citizen who has lived his entire life in Canada, have to wait 45 minutes in line at customs, while these so-called “refugees” get to walk across the border and have the RCMP act as bellboys.

21. There’s never a good time to have car trouble, but a pair of travelerettes from New York got an especially big dose of misfortune when smoke started pouring out of their engine while in line at Canadian customs.

03 Dec

A December Cross-Border Cycling Adventure

Pictures and observations from my 40th two-wheeled trip to the Great State of New York:

1. Holiday gifts “avaible” now:

1a. The same error was made on the other side as well. As they say, two wrongs don’t make a right.

2. Flashing on the overhead signs at the US Customs inspection plaza at the Rainbow Bridge were new reminders to take off hats and sunglasses, turn off cell phones and to have your documents ready. It all seems like common sense, but these days, common sense isn’t all that common.

3. The CBP officer who served me seemed a little taken aback when I presented my NEXUS card as opposed to a passport. I suppose I couldn’t blame him, since being a NEXUS cardholder on two wheels who doesn’t drive undoubtedly puts me among a very distinct minority.

4. Spotted at One Niagara Center was a souvenir Niagara Falls license plate with the name “Gavin” on it. I know at least one reader will appreciate that reference.

5. There was warmer air outside than what was coming out of the hand dryer in the washroom at One Niagara Center.

6. Progress on the new Hyatt going up near the bridge:

7. A sign spotted outside a Unitarian church on Main Street giving some sage advice for parents who spend more time on their phones than with their children:

8. A New York State legislator is referred to as an “assemblyman” and not an “assemblyperson”? Heavens to Murgatroyd, what is this world coming to?

9. Nothing quite screams “Niagara Falls, New York” like this scene:

10. An exciting opportunity awaits an enterprising entrepreneur who is looking to invest in the limitless potential of one of North America’s great tourist destinations:

11. Street art. Right across from the courthouse.

12. Seeing street signs like this that don’t give the indicator as to whether it is a street or an avenue reminds me of Transcona, now a suburb of Winnipeg but formerly a separate city, which for years, was littered with such signs. Perhaps only I care enough to remember that.

12a. In the background are more of those exciting opportunities for enterprising entrepreneurs.

13. The new Amtrak station in Niagara Falls:

14. One of many homeowners on Lewiston Road who dumped all his leaves and assorted yard waste into the middle of the street:

15. Scenes along Center Street in Lewiston:

16. Scenes in the Lewiston honorary international peace garden:

17. None of the three employees working at the Orange Cat had a nose ring. Don’t tell me they’re going all normal now.

18. I’m sure the Orange Cat’s muffins are fabulous, but the overweight woman who hobbled in and put an undue amount of stress on the rustic old chair she was sitting in really didn’t need any of them. But from how loudly she smacked her lips, even the people waiting in line out the door could attest to how thoroughly she enjoyed hers.

19. Seated across from the Muffin Lady was someone who began doing some odd neck contortions as she was working on her laptop. It reminded me of a former colleague who would inexplicably stand up during meetings and start making all sorts of weird gyrations. He was only part of our group for a short time, but he made a lasting impression.

19a. Among the certifications this former colleague made a point of bragging about holding was the MCSE designation. Though it officially stands for Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, another former colleague termed it Must Call Someone with Experience.

20. Seemingly half of Western New York was on hand as Santa was airlifted in by helicopter in the middle of Academy Park.

21. Is there a part of Lewiston that is non-historic?

22. On my way back up the escarpment on Route 18, I spotted a New York license plate with the first three letters “DJT.” Make America Great Again!

23. While at the Duty Free store at the Lewiston Bridge, I got a couple of strange looks from Canada-bound motorists. Perhaps they were unaware that cyclists are indeed allowed on that bridge.

24. While crossing said bridge, the driver of a U.S.-bound Jeep with SPRM plates was madly waving at me as if he knew me. As I’ve said before, that place does keep following me around.

24a. I spotted a Bison Transport truck on the 405 and another on the Garden City Skyway on my return trip. Again, the SPRM keeps following me around.

24b. You do realize that it’s been more than 40 months since I defected from that place.

25. After breezing through the dedicated NEXUS lane (yes, cyclists can use it), I pulled up behind a car from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at the toll gate ready to donate another 50 cents to the coffers of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission. The attendant, however, stuck his head out of the booth, waved me through and declined the toll. Maybe it was part of a new promotion where every 40th trip is free. Shrug.

27 Oct

Nuggets from the Road in the Great State of New York

Observations from my 39th two-wheeled trip to the Great State of New York:

1. I remain surprised at the appalling lack of regard some people have for their own safety. Such as the kid who blindly strolled across a busy St. Paul Avenue and the scruffy hobo carrying the Union Jack over his shoulder who decided that walking on Portage Road near Five Corners was a better idea than using the sidewalk.

2. If you lost some jewellery in Niagara Falls, check the left-hand turning lane on Portage Road at Five Corners.

3. Dear crossing guard on Victoria Avenue: It’s all right for you to go back to the curb as soon as the person you stopped traffic for gets to the other side of the street. You don’t have to stand in the middle of traffic and wave at us.

4. While stopping to take a picture of this sign welcoming me to the Great State of New York, blasting out of the loudspeakers at One Niagara Center was a song called “Shattered Dreams,” the title of my fifth book.

5. More sign overkill brought to you by the NYSDOT:

6. Do they make ceramics there or is their factory housed in a ceramic building?

7. I’m sorry for the poor soul who dropped a $5 bill on Buffalo Avenue, but rest assured it was and will be put to good use. Same goes for the poor soul who lost a quarter a half mile to the east.

8. Someone parked at a lot on Buffalo Avenue had a bumper sticker which read, “Locally Hated.” Is this something one should be proud of?

9. Near the North Grand Island Bridge, I spotted someone wearing a big, heavy fur-lined parka. As a long-lost friend once said to me, the farther south you go, the wimpier they get about cold.

10. Even though it was her first day on the job, the clerk who served me at the Tim Hortons on Niagara Falls Boulevard was far more courteous than many others whom I’ve had recently.

11. The obese man who took a seat in front of me should have had a “WIDE LOAD” sign strapped across his back. One thing’s for sure, he certainly didn’t need the pastry that he polished off in a flash.

12. While I was there, it was snowing in the Old Country, snow that would later result in many crashes on bridges in and around Winnipeg. The last time I was at that Tim Hortons, Southern Manitoba was under a blizzard warning. Coincidence? You be the judge.

13. Someone driving a pickup truck from Hayes Door sure seemed to be in one powerful hurry as he peeled into the lot headed for the drive-thru.

14. How exactly do you melt pepperoni?

15. A shot of the Wegmans, where an Ontario truck driver hauling refrigerated hydrogen clipped the pole in the foreground earlier this week, causing nearby businesses to close for most of the day as Hazmat crews responded to the scene.

15a. Unlike what would have happened in the Old Country, police in the Town of Niagara deemed it a reportable offense and issued the driver a citation.

16. The Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls, USA. Which isn’t actually in Niagara Falls. Details, details.

17. This Kansas plate reminded me of the Jesse Ventura line in Predator, “This place makes Cambodia look like Kansas.”

18. A Tops store, one of the most telling indicators that you’re in WNY:

19. An American would define this as “worldwide coverage”:

20. It beats Democrat services:

21. Something about the American flag at a memorial for a rabid fan of an NFL team doesn’t seem quite right anymore:

22. If you’re the guest of honor, you’re gone. You don’t need to ask.

23. Snacks may be welcome, but what about customers?

24. Make America Great Again:

24a. How can any patriotic American, particularly a Trump supporter, still be displaying NFL paraphernalia?

25. Um, whatever …

26. My face must now be so familiar that the people inside the Niagara USA Visitor Center didn’t even ask if I needed any help. Or maybe they just didn’t want me asking any questions they couldn’t answer, since I seem to be more knowledgeable on navigating WNY on two wheels than any of them are.

27. I’m still not sure how the mentally challenged man pedaling the wrong way on Thorold Stone Road who blindly pulled out into the middle of traffic managed to avoid being killed.

20 Sep

Back to Buffalo on Two Wheels

Observations and a few pictures from my third two-wheeled trip to Buffalo and my 38th such trip to the Great State of New York:

1. Before going across the Rainbow Bridge, I spotted some tourists waiting to cross a street having tremendous difficulty trying to figure out how to use the walk button. I hesitate to laugh, but it’s not exactly a complex piece of machinery that requires years of training to operate.

2. After clearing customs, I waited for the #40 bus on Third Street in front of the Sheraton where I noticed this ad on the bench. Would you expect them to put it on the ad if their food wasn’t delicious?

3. Metro is the only municipal transit system I’ve seen where the drivers use lap and shoulder belts.

4. There was no need for the driver to honk at the car from PA in front of her on the Niagara Scenic Parkway who wasn’t going fast enough for her liking. The state builds four-lane divided highways so that you can pass slower traffic. Besides, she was taking the left exit less than a mile away anyway.

5. There were automated stop announcements as well as an overhead display flashing the name of the upcoming stop, yet the driver also yelled out the name of the stop. Shrug.

5a. I nearly laughed out loud when we passed the Tops on Grand Island and she yelled “TAHPS” as if she was from Western PA.

6. I got off just past the Scajaquada Expressway and made my way down Potomac Aveue, then Delavan Avenue toward Delaware Park. En route, I passed by an abandoned gas station where this Trump sign was proudly on display in the window:

6a. I only wish Trump was our prime minister, especially after he kicked some serious butt at the UN the other day. Knowing of him from the USFL era, I was skeptical when he first took office, but he’s looking like the best president our southern neighbors have ever had.

7. At Main Street, I got a number of highway pictures like this one of the Scajaquada Expressway, which will be making their way to a website near you:

8. Scenes at Delaware Park:

9. It appeared that the trail encircling the park was one-way, like it is at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, yet the area was bereft of signage to that effect. Perhaps it was one of things you’re just supposed to know.

10. Oy. I’m surprised the intersection ahead wasn’t painted in rainbow colors.

11. While I was waiting to cross Delaware Avenue, someone rolled down his window and asked me if this was Delaware Avenue, apparently oblivious to the sign at the intersection and the much larger sign on the Scajaquada that brought him there. You have to wonder how some people pass the written portion of their driver’s test.

12. Proceeding north on Delaware Avenue, I couldn’t resist stopping for a shot of this sign. I don’t eat pork, but I still thought it was funny.

13. As I went through the Village of Kenmore, it marked the 15th different municipality that I’ve been in with my bike in the Great State of New York.

14. Further proof that New York has got to be the most over-signed state in the US:

15. It wasn’t too far from here in the City of Tonawanda where I saw a house that had been featured on an episode of House Hunters. I also spotted another such house earlier in the day closer to Delaware Park.

16. When ordering tea in a US restaurant, you need specify “hot tea” if that is indeed what you want. Not that I cared much since I just needed the liquid and a place to rest for a while.

17. Behind the counter at the McDonald’s in Tonawanda was someone with a nose ring who exclaimed, “I’m so freaking hot today I feel like I’m melting.”

18. I was at that McDonald’s close to noon and the place was deserted. The once-iconic symbol of the golden arches truly is a dying brand, at least in the US. But they got my business because they had a bike rack, unlike their competitor across the street.

19. Applause to the clerk who was so kind and courteous with the customer who dropped his half-eaten meal as he was going to toss it in the trash.

20. A shot from Tonawanda Island:

21. The dedicated trail along River Road in North Tonawanda was nice, as was the wide paved shoulder through the Town of Wheatfield, but Niagara Falls has some work to do on its stretch of that roadway leading to Cayuga Drive.

22. Before returning to Canada, I stopped for a break at the Niagara USA Visitor Center, where I saw a tourist dragging a suitcase. Then as the #40 bus she was apparently hoping to catch kept going through the roundabout without stopping for her, I watched as she hurriedly ran back in the opposite direction, where she was thankfully able to catch it a block to the east.

The bus stop sign was removed after the stop was relocated, but the bench is still there, and an unsuspecting tourist could be forgiven for not knowing better. It might not be a bad idea to put a sign at the bench indicating where to catch the bus.