The US and us: A Photo Blog

Back from our trip to the States.  Great time but as we traveled, I was continually reminded of a quote which I believe is from Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip:

“One on one, Americans are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet.  But as a group, they scare the hell out of me.” 

And then there's that whole issue of even calling them “Americans” which technically should be a term that applies to everyone who lives in the Americas, right?  One (slightly self-loathing) US exchange student I knew in England suggested “US'ers” (ie. “users”) as an appropriate term for his countrymen. 

So with those various thoughts in mind (and acknowledging that making fun of Americans is Canada's true national sport!) I present the following photo blog of our trip.  (If you want the more conventional version, feel free to visit Shea's Flickr account.)

This is literally the first thing we saw when we crossed the border into Detroit

Another quote from my time in England that's stuck with me during this trip was from a guy at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park:
“If money is your God then America is your Heaven.”

Again with England memories.  Seeing one of these on the horizon in England freaked me out and seeing it again outside Toledo was no better.  (And this isn't just a jab at those countries as I know Canada has a few reactors as well.)

At least freedom of speech is alive and well in middle America

This was posted at the side door.  In our family-orientated hotel.  In Sandusky Ohio.  Population: 27, 844.

A couple pirate flags…

A few other thoughts…
– This is a gross generalization (pun intended!) and I'm one to talk as I'm not exactly floating through life on a cushion of air these days but man, are the majority of Americans fat (at least the ones who frequent amusement parks in middle America.)  I love how Cedar Point gingerly describes them as “guests of exceptional size” yet their family-orientated hotel has Krispy Kreme doughnuts as the main offering in their Continental breakfast, there's not a healthy meal to be found in the park (although that's pretty typical for any amusement park anywhere) and they offer motor-scooters for rent inside the front gate for anyone who can't handle walking the 364 acre site.

– A big highlight was meeting Shea's family friends.  They're a group of hunters who have been coming to Creelman, Saskatchewan from Ohio for the past twenty-five years.  It was really interesting to hear their take on American politics and American life from a very middle American perspective and as residents of the state that decided the last US election.  Ironically, both are named Jim.  Big Jim is a very pro-gun Republican, Tall Jim is a Democrat who was a former union steward at the General Mills factory where they both worked until their retirement.  Yet, contrary to what you'd expect from the red v. blue extremism that's presented in the media (the US is actually purple based on the last election results), they're great friends who can josh each other but see each other's points and get along really well considering their differences of opinion.

– one slightly strange incident was our pizza delivery guy not being allowed to deliver directly to our room when we were staying at the Cedar Point hotel.  We were told this was for security reasons and my initial reaction was “this terrorism paranoia has gone too far!”  But then I realised that maybe this was more of a concern about children's safety if they let non-guests have access in a  family-orientated hotel.  This makes a bit more sense than worrying about uranium-enriched pepperoni but still was something I'd never seen before.

I don't want to do a full hour-by-hour write-up of the trip and trying to pick out highlights like I'm doing above isn't feeling right either.  So let me end with a  good old-fashioned list:

Five Highlights of Our Trip
1. Cedar Point was a blast.  Even though it was wet and rainy both days, that was actually for the best as most of the rides still ran and we could walk directly onto them or have a short wait at best.  This isn't Regina's Buffalo Days – there are numerous 40 story roller coasters that go 60 mph, a giant swing that lifts you 12 stories in the air and many many more crazy rides. 

2. Seeing the illuminated Niagara Falls at night was cool as was our ride the next day on the Maid of the Mist which takes you right up to the falls.

3. All of the Beatles and John Lennon memorabilia at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was worth the price of admission by itself. 

4. The massive fish fry at Big Jim's house which backs onto Lake Erie then a ride in his fishing boat the next day. 

5. Successfully crossing the border back into Canada (awww…)

Oh, and I should mention that neither Shea nor I have any pictures from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland since, in what seems like a very un-rock & roll move, they don't allow any photography.  So instead, I'll link to the Sex Pistols' response to being nominated. 

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