Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Cat came back

To Rochester, New York on the newly-reinstated ferry in the smart car, Ermintrude, in the company of Chaplain Clive. The ferry is now called The Cat, not The Breeze as in its previous incarnation, but is still also called The Spirit of Ontario. Confused? I notice the vessel still has Nassau written on the lifebelts although I believe it is no longer foreign registered and a flotilla of customs men no longer greet the vessel offshore at Rochester.
On arrival at the Cherry Street dock in Toronto the man in the booth, sees the smart, and says "Ten out of ten - I'll put you at the front of the queue!" The ferry check-in is still a farce with no coffee in sight - "We are hoping to rectify that." Which year would that be?
Toronto's "large imperfect" Mayor, David Miller, is always bleating on about Toronto being a world class city - the present arrangements are more like Checkpoint Charlie. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley remarked rather undiplomatically on a recent visit that Toronto is seventy or eighty years behind Chicago in developing the waterfront. When I visited Chicago recently his remarks proved to be absolutely correct.
Fifty-four cars disembarked in Toronto before we got aboard and the ship is pleasantly uncrowded for the 11:30 sailing Friday - we actually leave seven minutes early, a fuel-saving measure I am told. I chastise a woman on the car-deck who persists in banging her car door against the smart.
Copious coffee required en route and we dock about a quarter of an hour late around 14:15. The weather is lousy with low visibility and rain. We manage to get through customs with the minimum of hassle and set off along the Parkway west with Lake Ontario on our right. We are in search of lunch and for no particular reason we head inland. Just when we are getting fed up a Tim Horton's hoves into view in Albion, New York. The girl at the cash asks why we are in New York State and I can think of nothing better than to say we like Tim Horton's - which being of Canadian origin is rather lame. However why do you go for a trip other than for the hell of it?
The smart attracts the usual attention in the parking lot from young and old alike. We take gas at K&K Food Mart across the street, $2.999 per US gallon for diesel and I manage to squeeze $9.01 worth into the car to the amusement of onlookers.
We are back at the border in no time at Queenston and turn sharp right for Niagara-on-the-Lake. A quick pitstop at the Angel Inn and we take the scenic route to the Queen Elizabeth Way [QEW]. Signs say the "Queenie" is jammed east of Burlington, so we divert onto the lakeshore. We have got a bee in our bonnet about fish and chips and after one false alarm, the place was closing, we stop at Oakville Fish and Chips where we are served by a pleasant Chinese girl. We decide Clive must be a Russian spy as he orders red wine with his fish. Back in Hogtown at 21:45, an enjoyable day with little or no point at all.

No comments: