Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Falls - Day 2 of the Canada Trip I'm a bit behind on blogging my Canada trip. I'm home now...actually I'm at work right now. But I wanted to share highlights of the trip.

As you recall my last post consisted of our first day in Canada, which was Tuesday the 17th. We flew in from Dearborn Michigan, drove into Ontario and stayed at the Armory Suites. (I'll find a link to it, just won't be in this post)

The second day, Wednesday, March 18th, we headed off to Niagra Falls. I heard that the Canadaian side of Niagra Falls was prettier than the New York side soI was picturing a tasteful Information/Nature Center overlooking the Falls. Imagine my surprise when we drove into the equivalent of Wisconsin Dells. A big Casino building greets you right as you drive in and for several blocks there are tacky building fronts sporting haunted houses, mazes, hot dog stands, pizza joints, games and souvenir shops. Oh.My.Gawd. There were also advertisements offering tourist sightseeing packages and right there on the Waterfront is the "Maid of the Mist" boat tours. Sigh.

But the Falls were amazing. Two huge waterfalls roaring over large rocks covered with ice. One of the waterfalls billowed with mist, obscuring the falling water. The roar of the water was almost deafening. It was worth the trip.

We had lunch in a little restaurant next to the Falls and afterwards we went to a Butterfly Conservatory just down the road. The Conservatory was wonderful, but there were a few things about it that I did not like. (Being that I work in an insectatarium which supports a Butterfly conservatory, I'm a bit of a snob on these things) To begin with, too many of the butterflies came in close contact with the public. For example, not all butterflies eat nectar from flowers but rather they obtain their food from rotting fruit. There were several fruit trays scattered across the conservatory within arms reach. I can understand the Conservatory wanting to give the public the opportunity to see butterflies up close, but as you well know, people do not respect rules or boundaries. There were at least 3 people with butterflies on their hands, not to mention the countless morons I saw trying to "catch" the butterflies. It took everything in me not to point out to these inconsiderate people that not only were they disturbing these insects from eating, but they were risking injury to the butterflies in trying to "catch" them. LEAVE THEM ALONE. The emergence case (place where the butterflies are still in their chrysalids and emerge from them) had large holes in the glass, which I assume was to allow the butterflys to fly out of, but it also allowed people to poke their fingers into. On the upside though, the Conservatory was beautiful, the butterflies plentiful and their hands-on exhibits were awesome. The exhibits focused on native butterflies, anatomy of butterflies, butterfly gardening and there was even an exhibit with live caterpillars.

After the Falls we drove into Toronto and checked into another ritzy hotel that overlooked the lake. After all the walking and driving we were wiped so we didn't do much Tuesday night.

I'll post another entry about Toronto later!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Detroit Jerkwad and Canadian Yellow trees - Day One of our trip to Canada

I'm sitting at a computer in a fancy hotel so I've got to try and make this brief, but I've got to blog about our first day here in Canada.

We flew in to Dearborn, a Detroit suburb this morning and quickly became acquainted with the residents of the city. We had "Dennis" the menace from Hertz driving the bus to take us to the rental car office. He started off nice enough, picking up our bags and what not, but like a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde persona, he switched personalities as soon as he started driving. He developed a surly attitude and talked outloud to no one in particular. It began as soon as he started rolling.

A National Rental bus pulled in front of him and Dennis said rather caustically, "Yeah that's right National. Don't use your side mirror." and then pointed at the driver who must have finally looked in his side mirror once he was in front of us.

Dennis the Menace then proceeded to stop on top of everyone's bumper and then once we were on home base, he yelled "Come on Anthony!" at a fellow Hertz employee crossing the pedestrain crosswalk.

I think the bus may have still been rolling when I jumped off.

Detroit and surrounding suburbia consisted of endless walls of graffitti, trash on the side of the roads and in the trees, battered houses with broken windows, , run down factories and junkyards piled with cars and scrap. It was dirty and depressing.

As soon as we hit the Michigan/Canada border we started using our "Canadian Accents", which meant we ended every sentence with the word "eh". (ie. Look at Lake Huron. It's beautiful eh?")
When we hit the traffic jam that lead to customs, Dan commented "We better not make fun of the Canadians and say 'oot', 'eh' or sing the South Park Blame Canada song, eh?"

We inched up the long line of cars with passports in hand, anxiously waiting our turn and reading the signs that sternly told us to stay in our lane and not to throw objects off the bridge. When it was finally our turn, we pulled up to a somber young man wearing a bullet proof vest. He asked our citzenship, destination, whether or not we owned the vehicle, had guns, firearms, mace or over 10k in cash.

"You're free to go." He said.

"Wait. You dont' want to see our passports?" Dan asked, sounding faintly disappointed.

The man did not crack a smile and in a serious tone of voice, replied, "No. I believe you."

We pulled away and Dan remarked "After all the trouble for these passports."

"I wanted a stamp." I pouted.

"We're not going to get a stamp for Canada." He said with an air of superiority. "You need to go someplace like Africa to get a stamp."

"How do you know?"

"I just know these things."

"Well," I said, feeling somehow that he was outdoing me and not wanting to be outdone, "I know TWO people who went to Africa and I'm going to ask them."

I know. This was a dumb conversation, but there it is.

Enroute to the hotel I pointed out all the "canadian" birds - Hawk, Crow, Cardinal, Pigeon, Starling. And commented on the trees with yellow branches and the other trees that contained branches and twigs that were thickly packed together. What were these trees and what did they look like in bloom?

The road signs also seemed polite. "Please refrain from using air brakes." and "Maximum speed 100km"

That is all I have for now. I feel guilty taking as much time as I have typing all of this up on a public computer.

And I have a husband who has suddenly reverted to a 15 year old, standing behind me, wiggling my chair and poking my back.

Tomorrow we're off to Niagra Falls.