It was a fantastic Thunderstorm that launched me out of Attica toward Rochester for
another venture. I always feel melancholy when I arrive in the Park Ave. District of Rochester.
My first apartment away from home at 17 years of age was at 45 Vick Park B and Helen lives
at 45 Vick Park A. My memories of coming of age took place there. I lived all over that
beautiful neighborhood then and after my return from Vietnam and my first divorce. I had a
lot of friends both from work and social friends that I will never forget.
I arrived at Helen’s house at at 3:30. We were to go to a Lake Ontario Seafood Restaurant
for dinner but it was still raining so we flipped a coin and ended up eating a wonderful dish of
homemade Musaka. That was appropriate considering the Eggplant came from her Son’s
garden in Webster,N.Y. Did I tell you that she is also a great cook? We shared a bottle of wine.
We finished our reminiscing then left to have another drink at the local Park Avenue Grill up
Things have changed since my last visit with Helen in 2007. Jine’s -a neighborhood
breakfast lunch and dinner institution had expanded and now served food on a street patio.
Magpie, another Guinness bar, opened across the street and next to it the Deli had converted
to a Juice and Coffee bar. We started by going in the other direction to Magnolia’s , a wine and
light lunch place with an outdoor patio also. It was good but loud inside and the rain didn’t
leave us any choice. When we departed the rain had cleared and it was a nice warm evening
on Park Avenue. On the way to the Park Avenue Grill we passed a small park and noticed a
Tent was up and a lot of people were just pulling up there folding chairs and leaving. It had
been a free Chamber Quartet concert. This was not unusual in a city that is home to the
Eastman School of Music…just down the street.
We decided to sit outside in a cafe next to Jine’s restaurant and have a drink. I ordered
wine but Helen wanted a Scotch. They didn’t serve liquor but the Park Avenue Grill next door
did. The waitress said she would go next door, buy the Scotch and add it to our bill then pay
them out of her pocket. We were impressed with her desire to serve us. She returned to
inform us that according to the law, we would have to slide our table down in front of their bar
in order to receive the drink from them. Never mind that we were violating the law by getting
a drink from Charlie’s Frog Bar and then moving away. She was trying to make us happy and
as an ex restaurant and bar owner I was extremely impressed with her service. Helen decided
to have a wine along with me then after we settled our bill….with a BIG tip for such a pleasant
waitress we crossed over to check out the new Magpie Guinness Bar. We sat outside but I had
to go in to get the attention of the waitress. She first told me that I had to see the bartender
before hearing that I just wanted some service outside. Helen ordered a Drambuie and Brandy
and I a glass of wine. She got a shot glass with half and half. She sent it back and asked if they
could possibly put it in a Brandy Glass. Our waitress was totally opposite of the one we just
left. She did return with what looked like an almost empty glass for Helen. I broke down and
tried it one more time and the bartender finally gave her a real drink. We both had a great
evening. I passed right out and woke to Cashew, her Cocker Spaniel , barking.
He wanted to play and started by humping one leg then the other. I might have taken that as
a compliment but I believe she was a he. I finally gave him his stuffed bunny to hump and he
was in heaven.
Helen had baked a nice Blueberry Tart with Coffee for Breakfast. I departed in a rain storm
for Sodus Point
Sodus Point Light House and on to Alexandria Bay
along Lake Ontario in the Thousand Islands on the St Lawrence Seaway. Listening to the
radio, I ran across and incredible station called Different Radio. It was 88.5 FM from
Rochester N.Y. and played some of the best mix of music I had heard since I discovered Lake
Radio from Buffalo at 107.7 FM. I listen to Lake on my computer in Phoenix and made a note
to do the same with Different. Meanwhile the signal was fading and I felt like stopping just to
listen to the radio longer.
I had lunch at Alex. Bay and it was still raining when I returned to my car. I had hoped to
book a room in Ottawa Youth Hostel that was a old Victorian Jail but it was booked. I drove to
Clayton and booked a room at P.J.’s River Rat Motel for $36. It was great. I met the
owner/couple that ran the place. They had a great restaurant, so I had some food and , of
course , some wine but retired early. As I approached the room, I noticed my neighbor was
outside smoking a cigarrette so I bummed one and talked to her. She grew up in the
Adirondacks and ran a road construction crew that was staying at P.J’s in the adjacent rooms.
She was friendly and we shared some stories before I finally entered the room to record this
and eat my fried Mushroom take out. I hope to do a cruise on the St Lawrence tomorrow.
I checked out and drove to the docks, bought my ticket, grabbed a breakfast sandwich
and was aboard
for a scenic two and a half hour cruise on both the American and Canadian side of the Seaway.
The Thousand Islands are actually 1874 islands. Some are man made and most are occupied
by some of the richest families in the U.S. and Canada.
All seem to have a story about them.
One such story was about the owner of the Waldorf Astoria. When he married he bought
Hart Island. Then he had the island sculpted into the shape of a heart and renamed it Heart
He then proceeded in building a beautiful Castle on the Island for his wife. While it was being
constructed, he would bring his wife up in the summers and they would stay in what was to be
the children’s play house. Three years and 90% complete…she passed away. A victim of the
flu pandemic. He ordered all work to stop and everyone off the Island. No one was allowed
back on the Island if his Queen couldn’t live in her castle. It was sold to the State of N.Y. for
one dollar when he passed away and even after millions to renovate and restore the castle, it
was not allowed to be completed nor could anyone live in it. The money charged to visit only
goes for the upkeep and no profit is allowed to be made from it.
Another interesting story was about a recently married man who took his wife to the Island
s and asked her to pick out any Island for sale and he would build her a mansion there. When
she didn’t like any of the Islands she saw, he built an Island and a house but it was to be a
surprise. The surprise was his when he presented her with the Island and the mansion she
didn’t like either and decided she didn’t like him and got divorced.
One last story was of a rich millionaire whose daughter was to be married. He bought her
a beautiful mansion including the Island for her wedding gift. The groom backed out of the
wedding but she still took the Island and the house.
When the boat docked I returned to my car and headed for Saranac Lake. The
Adirondacks Park is one of the largest in the United States.
It was a sunshiny day and people were swimming and boating on the Lake.
The community has a lot of history and is quaint.
I preferred to spend my time at Lake Placid down the road.
Here they held two Olympic Winter Games. One in the thirties and the other in 1980.
My mother was a waitress at the resort here in 1945 when she met my father who was on
R & R from the Army. He just returned from 6 years in Panama and 4 years in New Guinea.
He proposed within the week and she accepted! I asked her why she accepted without really
knowing him? She replied, that he bought her a diamond ring. So there you go guys!
Most of where she worked had been destroyed in a fire and I didn’t recognize anything
from the pictures I saw from 1945. I walked around a very lovely town
then headed out to visit my cousin Ron and his lady Diane.
They bought a home in Redford, N.Y. on the Northwest corner of the Park. The address I
had was wrong and I stopped by the only store there to inquire about them but nobody knew
them. The phone number was on my computer and I had no access to the internet so ended up
in Plattsburg, N.Y. at a ridiculously priced Day’s Inn. After calling them to get the correct
address (which was across the street from the store I inquired at) and make arrangements to
stay over the next day, I retired.
I did sleep in, missed my breakfast, and took off for Burlington , Vt on the other side of Lake
Home of the U.S.NAVY
I drove North to the Canadian border then traversed a series of bridges on Islands in Lake
Champlain that took me to the state of Vermont and Burlington. The town is the home of the
University of Vermont and was celebrating Festival of Fools.
There were streets closed to traffic and all the restaurants had outdoor patio tables set up.
The weather was nice and the place was packed with people having a good time. I treated
myself to a Homemade Root Beer then after going through the Farmer’s Market with the
organic Blueberries, and all the great selections of a summer harvest, I bought some Amish
made Vermont Cheddar for Ron and Diane.
It was such a nice day, I decided to drive down to the Wharf and walk along the Lake area.
I stopped in a Fish Market and Restaurant that my Restaurant Manager of 3 years used to
work. I hired Roxanne when she arrived in Phoenix from Burlington back in the late ’80. The
Chowda was good. I took some photos of the area
Barber Shop Singers under a Tree.
The name of my old Restaurant!
then headed back to Ron’s house arriving around 6 pm after driving through a BLINDING
We chatted until 10:30 on his back porch overlooking the Saranac River. It was nice to see
him and spend some time with him catching up on old news.
Today I drove to Quebec. Driving through the N.Y. countryside I noticed some signs set out
like the old Burma Shave commercials. WMD? Wake Up America Impeach
Bush & Cheney. It won’t be long now. My cousin said he didn’t think America was ready for a
nigga president. I know he isn’t.
It was a good 4 hour drive. I passed through Mexico.
I stopped at the tourist bureau by the border to pickup a map and some brochures on what to
see in Quebec. While I was there I asked them to check the computers for a room in Montreal.
Voila! A room in the Old City for $80. Thirty more than I like to pay but only $4 more than
what I’m already paying for a “cheap” room at the Motel Spring 20 miles outside of Quebec
City! I checked in around 3 pm and there were no cars or people around.
Route 138 is like Motel Row with lots of touristy joints. The Desk Clerk sold me a tour of the
City for tomorrow and recommended I drive into the local town and beyond to see the Falls,
architecture, Church of St Anne (to whom this highway is named after) etc. The only thing I
wanted to see was some food. I was starved.
I found a “French Gourmet” type restaurant that looked cheap and inviting. It was neither.
More like a gourmet Denny’s. Parle vous Anglis? Yes a little. I would like the Lasagna Special
I saw on the board at the entrance. Sorry we have the Lasagna but it is not on a Special, but
only a recommended dish of the day. OK I ordered a Monti Cristo sandwich with a Caesar
Salad which she brought right out. Never saw her again. No water, napkin, coffee refill, etc.
I finally went looking for her to pay the bill and left.
Perhaps if I had spoke French…but I don’t and need not apologize for it since Barack already
apologized to the world for us. Of course it is only natural that a family , taking it’s first
vacation in 10 years should learn French, Spanish, Italian and German so they can speak it on
their 3 week trip to Europe.
I saw a huge church in the village and pulled in to see why the crowds?
It appears that thousands of pilgrims come here to pay homage to St Anne in hopes they will
cure their arthritis , impotence, ED, pay their mortgage and fill up their gas tank.
When I returned to the Motel Spring, the parking lot was filling up with these pilgrims as
was the Motel. I started doing some research in preparation for my tour the next day. Quebec
is celebrating their 400 year Anniversary…lucky me. Seriously, they have lots of festivals and
events going on throughout the province.
I anxiously awoke the next morning to start my day. It was overcast , cold and threatening
rain. My free breakfast was two eggs, toast, coffee, and bacon accompanied by a screaming
little girl that had a high pitch and unlimited determination. Determined to drive everyone in
the dining room out the door. I couldn’t concentrate on my guide book and returned to the
room with a headache.
The tour “Van” picked me up and was about half full with American tourist from Arkansas,
Jersey, North Carolina, and Arizona. They were all dressed in shorts, baseball caps,
overweight, and balding. Not too much different than me…except the baseball cap. I was
tempted to get into the conversation about their two weeks in Europe last year and the
difference between France and Italy but declined.
The tour was done by our driver Mario. He did the Old Town
only and in two hours we pretty much covered the sites. He even let us out twice for the
changing of the guard at the Citadel and the view of the seaway from the highest point in
I was taking a photo of one of the guards dressed like they do in England at the Queen’s
Quebec’s language is French and 90% spoken by everyone but it is still a Commonwealth of
the UK. The guards hat was made up of Beaver pelts and weighed 70 pounds. Yes, I had to ask
if I heard that right. I don’t think the guard weighed 70 pounds! I have never seen a beaver
that weighed that much and if I did I would run the other direction. Anyway, I’m taking a
photo of the guard just before the new guard takes his place. I swear he was wavering and
looked like he either had to pee bad or he was going to faint. I would drop over after 10
minutes not moving and wearing a 70 pound beaver hat on my head.
The tour ended in the main part of Old Town where we were given 2 hours of free time to
shop for souvenirs. Quebec City is a world Heritage site because it has the only walled fortress
left standing in North America except for one in Mexico. It is also given that status because
they preserve the French language and culture. Now because it is a fortress, it is on top of a
mountain and everywhere you go involves climbing. This is no easy task for a man with one
lung and a beach ball for a stomach. I was going downhill to restaurant row, knowing I would
have to climb back to catch the shuttle home on a full stomach.
I saw a sandwich sign advertising one of those three course special meals for $12. That was
about $12 cheaper than most and sounded enticing until I looked to see where it was pointing.
The restaurant was located up this very , very steep side street that resembled Mt Everest.
I had came down this far and would eventually have to return so I braved the climb and arrived
at a beautiful indoor patio with friendly service and a tantalizing menu selection. I eventually
opted for the Lamb with Mestizo Sausage on Couscous with fresh Vegetables and Chick Peas.
I ordered my Espresso first…a real no no in France. I was tired and needed a jolt. It was the
best, as was the Vegetable soup and the Lamb Plate. I washed it down with a glass of wine then
bolted to return before the threatening downpour. One hundred yards out and it started. I
hopped between doorways until I reached an outdoor covered cafe near the pick up point. I’m
sorry sir, if your not going to eat you can’t sit there!
I finally found another where the waiter was not only obliging, he went out of his way to be
friendly and nice. I decided I still had room for a Quebec dessert….Maple Pie. Quebec makes
80% of all the Maple syrup in the world. I happen to be a lover of Maple syrup. I had never
heard of Maple Pie and imagined it to be like a Pecan Pie with Walnuts and some Maple
concoction to replace the corn syrup. It turned out to be like a thin cheesecake without the
cheese on a short bread crust. The waiter stopped back and said something to me in what I
thought was French that I assumed was…is every OK. I nodded and smiled as if I understood
even though he could have been saying “It’s really crap isn’t it”. Very good Cafe Au’Lait to wash
it down and a nice French Syrah to top off the end of a nice day.
I was to pick up the shuttle at the Square near by at 3 pm. 28 Buses and vans arrived with
no signs to tell where they were going so I hopped on a bus after showing my pass to the driver.
A few minutes later he boarded the bus and announced, “Would the man that is going to the
Motel Six please identify himself.”. Everyone remained silent and I kept wondering why the
person didn’t hear him or stand up. Then he announced it again twice and I realized he was
saying the Motel Spring…ME! I was about to take off on another tour! He finally showed me
my shuttle and everyone was there patiently awaiting my arrival.
I’m now relaxing and preparing for my next excursion to Montreal in the morning and
washing out my underwear and socks. That morning I came out to give my key to the office,
not realizing I just came out of the shower and looked like Einstein. Everyone was looking at
me strange…I wondered why.
I set my GPS and left around 10:30 am. I stopped along the way to fill up on Petrol.
44.5 Liters for $60. That was my first fill up in Canada and hopefully my last. Listening to the
radio along the way, I picked up a few interesting facts:
Montreal is named after the island and Mountain it is located on…Mount Royal.
It is the second largest French speaking city in the world with a population of about 3.8 million.
87 ethnic cultures thrive in Montreal.
60% of the population is Roman Catholic with over 300 churches within the city of Montreal.
Some have been sold and converted to condos. There are some still for sale?
There are more churches than in the city of Rome.
Canadians call there Native Americans, First Nation people.
Canadians like to drive fast and tail gate.
They also ride a lot of bicycles as if there is a Tour de Quebec coming up.
Last but not least…gas is expensive.
My GPS directed me to the front door of the Hotel Champ-De-Mars
and I found a parking space close by. I checked in, then moved my car to a parking garage to
secured it for two days. I was exiting the lot when I noticed a machine to pay for your parking.
It was all in French which poses a daunting task of paying for 2 days . I asked a passer by but
they weren’t sure so after returned down two flights of stairs to retrieve my ticket, I inserted it
in the slot and was prompted to pay $3.75. I couldn’t find anywhere to request payment for
two days. Then another passer-by approached to assist me. She said I could press the
intercom and speak to the attendant. She instructed me to cancel the transaction and simply
put it in when I pick up the car.
I booked a tour for 8:30 am and returned to my room to freshen up before venturing out
to explore the neighborhood. I walked down to the Pier
and along the St. Lawrence River
to the Ferry station then up a wide boulevard lined with crowds of people , restaurants, street
entertainers, cafes, fountains, and historic points of interest. This was Old Montreal.
I returned later that evening and had dinner at the St Paul Pub overlooking the harbor. I
stopped to get a Baguette and juice to snack on before returning and retiring. I’ve traveled a lot
and stayed in many a hotel. Some nights the street life keeps me up or the bells from the
church wake me, once Pigeons on my window sill kept me up with their cooing…this is the
first hotel that the flags outside my window kept me up. The wind was blowing so hard the
flutter of the flags made such a noise I had a hard time sleeping.
and the decor was cheap owner painted flowers with some real foliage “stapled” to the wall as an accent!
I had a nice breakfast before the tour bus picked me up. I noticed an article in the
Montreal newspaper about a lady that moved to the U.S. to live but after two years, she missed
her national health care in Canada so returned to Montreal. She has been back for two years
now and can not find a Doctor that is accepting new patients! Her only access to “health care”
is at a Clinic. The Clinic is only open on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings and she
must arrive an hour before opening to register before being allowed to use the Clinic.
Tuesday’s she works in the evening and can’t get off unless she can schedule the time and on
Saturdays she had to open the store she works at 9am. I used to think we should have this
service available until I heard this and other horror stories from Canada as well as the UK.
The tour lasted three hours and covered the whole city of Montreal.
Miniture Empire State Bldg Designed by the same Architect.
We stopped at Notre Dame Cathedral
and St Joseph’s Shrine as well as other sites.
St Joseph’s Shrine is one of the world’s most visited. It is second in size only to St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. They have 99 “Special” steps leading up to the entrance.
These steps are for pilgrims that climb up on their knees while stopping at each step to pray.
It must take hours to get to the top. I did it in 10 minutes because the bus was leaving.
I returned to nap at the Champ-de-Mar in preparation for my last evening out on the town.
I picked a restaurant highly recommended by chowhound.com . It is a web site composed of
“foodies” that love to eat out and covers the world. You can find a good inexpensive or
expensive restaurant. This was to be my last night in a city noted for its great food so I choose
the later. The restaurant didn’t open until 6 pm and was called the Garde Manager.
When there were Grand Hotels and dining a the Waldorf was the norm, an apprenticeship
at a large Hotel or 4 star restaurant would easily take 7 years just to be the Salad Chef or in
those days, the Vegetable Chef, Sous Chef, Pastry Chef or even a Garde Manger. He was like
the butcher. He took in all the fresh Meats and Seafood and prepared them for the Chef’s
menu. This was an art. All the meat and seafood arrived fresh and had to be filleted or
butchered and sometimes treated in a special way. Fat was inserted into certain cuts of meat
to give it flavor depending on the dish. The Garde Manger was in charge of all of this.
I left the hotel at a little after 6pm and was almost at the restaurant when I noticed a clock
say it was 5:20. Then I noticed the parking signs that stated NO Parking after 6 pm and the
cars were all lined up in those spaces. Wow, my alarm clock must be off or I forgot to move it
back an hour? Well I thought I would spend an hour browsing the shops but first wanted to
locate the restaurant to see if I could get in without reservations. I walked up and down the
whole length of the street but didn’t see it. Finally I stopped in a local Circle K type of place
and inquired. She pointed to a building just down the street that I had passed three times! No
sign she said.
Turned out it was after 6pm when I arrived and sat at the bar without a reservation. There is
no printed menu either. The appetizers and entrees are listed on a blackboard on the wall. I
ordered the Seafood Combination Appetizer and got a huge bucket of ice with seaweed and 6
beautiful Oysters, 5 Jumbo fresh shrimp, 2 Raw Scallops in the shells, a large cluster of Crab
Legs, two Lemon halves and two Souffle cups with different Cocktail sauces in each.
It was all very good except wrestling with the Crab Cluster. One Cocktail Sauce was topped
with freshly grated Horseradish and the other was like a Salsa with fruit in it. I washed this
down with a nice Merlot. Then I ordered the Braised Pork with Panccini and Arugula and
another Merlot. Now the Seafood appetizer at my restaurant would have cost around $30.
The Pork dish around $15 and the Merlot around $12. For a total of $52. My bill came to $81
which I didn’t really think was all that bad. The two Merlots were $20 the Seafood $35 and
the Pork $26. Now with the TAXES of $10.43 and the $15 tip it ended up to be $106.43.
Money well spent as I like to treat myself on occasion.
I did notice a I Love (Heart Sign) Barack Obama bumper sticker behind the bar but then
again there was an I Love Hooters sticker too. I did ask the bartenders about Obama and what
they thought. They all agreed he was the man to lead and change the USA for the better. They
had listened to the speech he gave in Berlin.
I was strolling, something everyone does in Montreal, home and I noted the clock still said
5:20 and the cars had special stickers that allowed them to park there. The streets are really
clean in Montreal except for the occasional horse dropping from all the Horse drawn Carriages.
Montreal residents pride themselves in the fact that the streets are cleaned twice a day! They
really are clean. They also have art around every corner.
When I arrived, I commented to the clerk that I was at fault when I arrived and inquired
about getting on the internet. She kept saying just pull it up but it wasn’t coming up because I
never tried to open my browser. When I mentioned this, it was the only time in two days I
ever saw her with a smile. Women like to be told they are right and you were wrong. I return
to Attica and leave Montreal, Quebec tomorrow. I really have been impressed with the
incredible friendliness of the people of Quebec. They went out of their way to assist you with
a genuine concern and interest. I will someday return but with a lady and plenty of money. I
spent an hour trying to set my GPS and riding around in circles before finding the road out of
Montreal. Then I spent an hour in line at the border. I arrived back in Attica around 10 pm
after a good 10 hours in the car. Till next time…David.
A little note from a Canadian:
I AM CANADIAN
I am in the minority in Calgary , Edmonton, Vancouver
Toronto and every casino in this country. I was born
in the sixties, yet I am somehow responsible for some
First Nations people being screwed out of their land in
the 1700’s! I pay import tax on cars made in Ontario.
I am allowed to skydive and smoke, but not allowed
to drive without a seat belt. All the money I make
until mid July must go to paying taxes. I live and work
among people who believe Americans are Ignorant….
These same people cannot name this country’s new
territory. On April 1st, 1999, the map of Canada
changed for the first time in 50 years with the creation
of Nunavut Territory . The Northwest Territories was
split and approximately 2 million square kilometers of
the central and eastern arctic became ‘ Nunavut ‘.
Although I am sometimes forced to live on
hamburgers and don’t have a pot to piss in, I sleep
well knowing that my taxes helped purchase a nice
six-figure home in Vancouver for some unskilled
refugee. Although they are unpatriotic and constantly
try to separate…Quebec still provides most of my
nation’s prime ministers. 95% of my nation’s
international conflicts are over fish. I’m supposed to
call black people African Canadians, although I’m
sure none of them have ever been to Africa for that
matter. I am being told that paying a 200% tax on
alcohol is fair. I am also being told that the same tax
on gasoline is also fair. Even if I have no idea what
happened to that old rifle my Grandfather gave me
when I was 14, I will be considered a criminal if I
don’t register it. I am being told that spending $15
billion to promote the French language in the rest of
Canada is fair when the province of Quebec doesn’t
support or recognize the English language. I am being
told that paying $1 million for 3 Stripes (‘The Voice of
Fire painting in Ottawa )by the National Art Gallery
was a good purchase, even though 99% of this
country didn’t want it or will ever see it.
When I look at my pension and realize that I take
home a third of what I actually make, I say ‘Oh well,
at least we have better health care than the Americans
.’ I must bail out big corporations who drive their
business into the ground and say yeah that’s OK when
they move all their manufacturing plants and jobs to
a third world country and say no problem.
My National Anthem has versions in both official
languages. Canada is the highest taxed nation in
North America, the biggest military buffer for
the United States, and the number one destination
for fleeing terrorists. I am not an angry white male.
I am an angry taxpayer who is broke.
I am Canadian !!!