Sunday, September 30, 2012

Scandal at the Presbyterian Church in Kitimat



During my Kitimat days my mom for a time went to the Presbyterian Church and would occasionally bring me along. I liked a bit of the Sunday School aspect but found the sermons quite boring.

The church was pretty aggressive for money, beyond other churches I’ve been to.  Members were even given a list of income ranges and how much should be donated at any given income level.  Once the reverend (whom I won’t name) made a particular strong push for money; I believe my mom finally left the church over this. Not long after the church had gotten the extra money the reverend took his family on a vacati0n to Hawaii.  The church did get wind of this and while he wasn’t dismissed he would relocated to a different municipality.This was the 1980s so it's likely an entirely different regime there now.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pacific Northwest Trip Summer 2011 Day 7 Sunday July 31



This is the seventh of a series of posts dealing my eighth trip to Seattle as an adult. I’ve made minor corrections to these reports. Also, I’ve added additional thoughts with the hindsight of two years later or to add further clarification.  

I took some daylight photos of the parade aftermath after chatting briefly with one of the owners.  Overall, the streets had been cleaned up better than after the parade last year, but there was lots of trash at one of the pay seating areas near Seattle Center.  I returned to the hostel for breakfast.  I was going to take the 17 bus to Belltown, waiting near the Popsicle art piece, but after 12 minutes after the time the buis was supposed to arrive, I gave up and headed for another location where I knew I'd find a bus.  I saw a 15 bus and waved.  The driver saw me and waiting at the nearest stop, but somehow I became invisible to her and she started to move on.  Luckily the lights and people waiting at the next stop ensured I got this bus after all.  I got off slightly early by mistake, but still made my connection to the Hiram M. Chitteneden Locks.
 
[NOW: All busses taken this day (or planned to take) were Metro Transit.]

I didn't bother spending much time watching the locks (enabling nautical travel between fresh and saltwater), preferring to spend my time at the fish ladder, watching the "champion" salmon attempt to return home.  One was particularly big.  I spent a fair bit of time watching the fish and then walked to Ballard's shopping area.  As it turns out, the Seafoodfest happened a month earlier this year, but I still visited Sonic Boom Records and Moviecycle (a store that actually only sells DVDs, not rents them, and sells nothing else; bought DVDs there), checked out Ballard's Sunday Market, then walked to the remaining Arcane Comics location (the West Seattle one being closed) and Ballard's Blockbuster. I grabbed a lunch to go at Ballard's Burger King and walked to a bus stop; it was raining a bit around this time.  I got bored waiting for the bus and walked to Fremont, arriving before the bus.
 
[NOW: Moviecycle and Ballard’s Blpckbuster are now gone.]

I saw the plant dinosaurs art piece, the Fremont Sunday Market, the Fremont Rocket art pieces,  The VI Lenin state in front of a couple of restaurants, Jive Time Records (bought a couple DVDs), Ophelia's Books (pet the two cats and got permission to take pics of them; the owner admitted they were popular), the Center of the Universe signpost (giving distances to places nearby, elsewhere on the planet, and if memory serves places off planet and imaginary places), Rapunzel on the Fremont Bridge (neon art), the Waiting for the Interurban statue (the people/dogs waiting were dressed up for a few different occasions at once it looked like), J.P. Patches and Gertrude: Late for the Interurban statue (a tribute to the former Seattle children's show host/clown), and the Fremont Troll (statue made from Volkswagen) only got a few pics because kids were playing with it).

[NOW: The J.P. Patches statue is now a bit of a memorial due to the recent death of Chris Wedes, who played J.P..]

I walked to Gas Works Park (industrial complex turned into family park), which thankfully had some sort of all ages play area which resembles machinery and allowed my camera a chance to stay dry.  I  was next going to go to Seward Park, but didn't want to in the rain (might have been bumped off anyway), so walked, bus a bus (wrong one it turned out, thus walked some more) to the University District, passing East-West Books and the new location of Satisfaction Records (closed due to Sunday) along the way.
 
[NOW: Gas Works Park is in the Wallingford District.]

At the U District visited Scarecrow Video (bought a couple DVDs), Cinema Books (closed due to Sunday), Half Price Books (bought comics and I think a DVD or two), the Wall of Death art piece, Magus Books, Bulldog News (overrated but still decent newsstand), University Book Store (bought Vanilla Coke from its cafe), Book Kennel (closed due to Sunday).  After passing a guy asking people to punch him in the face for $5 (he kept telling people "You know you want to"; uh, that would be a "No") I visited the U District's Zanadu Comics/Comic Stop (yes, it's now part of two franchises), Neptune Comics, Twice Sold Tales former location (now under construction for a bank), Al's Music, and the Dreaming.

[NOW: Book Kennel is now gone. This Comic Stop has severed its ties with Zanadu Comics.]

I did another bus mad dash and caught the 30 bus to Seattle Center, passing through Fremont again along the way.  I spent time at the International Fountain there, mid way grabbing an Orange Julius meal and eating it at the fountain.  When I left I passed a rendition of Macbeth and some presentation in Spanish that attracted huge crowds.  I returned to the hostel, dropped off stuff, charged batteries, and crossed a bridge on Bell to the waterfront. I finally realized at the end of this bridge there's an amazing lookout over the water, so you get great harbour shots of the city.  I went downstairs, walked along the waterfront to the downtown core, walked up the Harbour steps (a shopping area on a staircase), and walked to the Pioneer District.  There I passed the original location of Elliot Bay Book Company (still vacant) and Occidental Park (no greenery; some art pieces there but basically skid row), then returned downtown where I bought beer at Kress. I returned to the hostel, dropped off the beer, visited Belltown Video (actually sells books and pricey comics; didn't buy any though) and then, tired, returned to the hostel.

[NOW: Orange Julius has been evicted from Seattle Center Armory, or Center House as it was known as during this visit. Belltown Video is now closed.]

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pacific Northwest Trip Summer 2011 Day 6 Saturday July 30



This is the sixth of a series of posts dealing my eighth trip to Seattle as an adult. I’ve made minor corrections to these reports. Also, I’ve added additional thoughts with the hindsight of two years later or to add further clarification.  

I got up and took photos of the Torchlight Parade set-up.  The VIP stand on 4th and Pine was les set up at around 7:30 am than it usually is.  I then had breakfast and then... remember yesterday I mentioned that idiot at the water ride who told me the one ride was water safe when there's actually a place where it was guaranteed to be wet?  Well, after breakfast my camera wouldn't work anymore.  I took more shots of the parade set-up with my spare camera that isn't quite as good, stopping off at Walgreen’s for more batteries for it.  I then went to Office Depot and, sigh, bought one more version of the wrecked camera.  I would have liked to have gotten a different model at this stage, but with the amount of photos I take, getting a new camera which takes a different type of battery would have racked up my credit card bill before going through Customs even more than getting a new camera.  Had I been in Canada I might have opted for a new type of camera, and will once it happens again (note, not if).  More set-up photos, then a bit of time at the International Fountain. 

[NOW: This particular camera is now in use but it has a scratch and the zoom doesn’t work.  A subsequent camera of the same type quit on the first day of my next Seattle trip. This particular camera is no longer being sold anywhere.]

I then hiked up to Kerry Park Viewpoint to see if I could see parade set-up from there.  I couldn't, but that's okay. I was going to visit there anyway this trip.  I found a shortcut heading down.  A meowing cat came up to me and was very affectionate but wouldn't stop meowing, so I had to finally give up trying to figure out what it was trying to convey.  My next stop was West Seattle and I got on the first one that came my way, 56, even though it didn't go all the way to my first destination there, figuring I could connect to another bus quickly or do a quick hike.  Along the way, outside of Safeco field was Seattle Mariner player Ichiro (I looked him up, not knowing anything about current baseball players, and he's Ichiro Suzuki).  The bus got stuck for a while due to a train, so any time I gained taking a bus around 11:25 instead of a better bus at 12 got lost, particularly since the hike took longer than I recalled and no bus came in the meantime.
 
[NOW:  The 56 bus is Metro Transit. Ichiro Suzuki has since been traded.]

In West Seattle's main shopping area (Arcane Comics and Square One Books being defunct; no going back to Square One this time) I visited Pegasus Books, Leisure Books, West Seattle's Easy Street Records, and Rubato Records.  I visited the Safeway but it no longer had the pop machine with the mystery button.

[NOW: Rubato Records is now gone.]

I then took a 55 bus and then a 713 bus to Alki Beach.  Saw the Birthplace of Seattle Marker, the miniature Statue of Liberty (Lady Liberty was wearing a Seafair cape this time), the Bath House which is not used for baths, and various stands (didn't seem like the Alki Art Fair but could be; if so, more scattered on the beach than it used to be).  I bought lunch from Pepperdock Hamburgers.
 
[NOW: Both busses are Metro Transit. It almost for sure wasn’t the Art Fair.]

I took another 56 back downtown, where I visited Swerve, Pike Place Market (Rachel the Pig, fishmongers, BLMF book store, Holy Cow Records, Lionheart Books, First and Pike News), Zanadu Comics, then back to parade set-up.  I got a Slurpee at the 7-11 closest to Seattle Center, then back to International Fountain, then Orange Julius for early dinner, then fountain again, then back to 7-11 for souvenir cup (quite the line up due to people having free Slurpee coupons; the cup I bought was in the shape of Thor's foe Destroyer).  More parade set-up pics, during which time people could start finding places on the road (it was neat being able to cross streets and not worrying about lights), then back to Seattle Center's Center House (I was worried about a possible bathroom line, but people were actually lining up for the water fountain), then back to 7-11, then off to pick my spot. I took a while but found one where I could get decent shots of the Space Needle (in the meantime I got some photos of the runners).  I grabbed some pop from the 7-11 across the street before the parade began).
 
[NOW:  Swerve is now gone, replaced by an umbrellas shop. Center House is now the Seattle Center Armory; they’ve evicted Orange Julius.]

For the most part I got a decent spot, on Denny Way just off of 4th.  Only problems were the police bikers didn't perform there as much as later areas in the route as it was right at the beginning (I got enough good photos of them at the Greenwood Parade) and people occasionally blocked each other's views.  All the usual suspects described in the Greenwood Parade so I won't list them all off again.  There were two big celebrities, one much easier than the other to see and get photos of.  Early in the parade there was Drew Carey.  He stood up on a convertible and lingered, so there's no question I got good shots of him.  Much later in the parade, after it got dark and before I repositioned myself to my final spot, taking advantage of people leaving) was Tom Skerritt. He was struggling with a sign that didn't want to stay on the car.  I stayed in the car and didn't linger enough for me to zoom in, so while I got photos of him, I'm not sure they're recognizable as being him, or even if the sign was clear enough.
 
[NOW: The same issue with the motorcycle cops happened next year as well, marring an otherwise excellent place to view the parade. Drew Carey of course was the main actor in the Drew Carey  Show and is the current host of The Price is Right. Tom Skerritt was Dallas in Alien and Sheriff Jimmy Brock iin Picket Fences.]

After the parade ended I got photos of litter people left behind (more of that tomorrow, but wanted to get some immediate shots as some might be cleaned up by morning. I bought cheese puffed corn from a nearby store before heading back to the hostel.
 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Flickr Uploading Challenges: Niagara Falls

Noting the most signficant areas of Niagara Falls is also a challenge when captioning photos for Flickr.  There are two distinct areas where this is an issue.  In both cases one of the problems is that while you are there you are seeing some pretty amazing things and wanting to get some great shots, and a lot of notable things are quite close together.  Furthermmore, you probably aren't too concerned with taking all shots from a particular angle in a row so that labelling is less time consuming later.  If you're thinking of stuff like that, then Niagara Falls probably isn't for you. Most people will bhe lost in the moment while there.

At the falls themselves there are multiple landmarks I like to note. Again, my camera is in constant motion, so it's rare that too many photos in a row feature the exact same combination of the below.  So, all in one pretty close area are:
  1. Niagara Falls, Ontario (the city)
  2. Niagara Falls, New York (the city; pretty much all phtosof this city while at the falls will also contain Niagara Falls State Park)
  3. The Rainbow Bridge (actually rey, but since it's the means of crossing countries by car or foot, it's quite notable)
  4. The observation deck on the New York side
  5. The American Falls
  6. The Bridal Veil Falls (pretty close to the American Falls)
  7. The Horseshoe (Canadian Falls)
In some cases I also note the Maid of the Mist.  I also make note when I'm actually on the observation deck or the Rainbow Bridge.

The other area, and again, my camera's in constact motion, so the exact same combo of attractions appearing many times in a row is rare, is Clifton Hill.  Clifton Hill has lots of intersting tacky attractions. So many in fact that I decided I couldn't really list them all, sadly. Otherwise I'd never finish.  The ones I do note are:
  1. Guinness World Records Museum
  2. Movieland Wax Museum
  3. Haunted House
  4. Dracula's Haunted Castle (this can cause some confusion because it's just a couple doors down from the Haunted House)
  5. SkyWheel
  6. Ripley's Believe it or Not Musum (particular if the photo depicts King Kong hanging fom the exterior of the attraciton)
  7. Burger King (particularly if it depicts the Frankenstein Monster holding a Whopper)
  8. House of Frankenstein
  9. Criminals Hall of Fame Wax Museum (not actually on Clifton Hill, but visible from the north end of the street)
  10. I also tag Dairy Queen and Wendy's because the major fast food chains tend to attract views/
Again, there's lots more I could list including Adventureland and Brick City, but I have a lot to note as it is.

So the photos are fun to look at, probably some of my best photos whenever I visit the Golden Horseshoe region, but boy are they incredibley slow to caption!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Review: Looper

I'm going to try to be vague on a lot of the details, even the stuff that's revealed very early on, but everyone's idea of a spoiler is different so read at your own risk.

The basic premise is that people called Loopers get paid by employers from the future to kill people from the future.  There's a catch to this that propels much of the plot but I won't reveal that. But something happens to send the main character, himself a Looper on the run chasing oine of his targes that gets away.

The movie is well acted, and has lots of action and interesting ideas.  It's a shame that the time travel logic just didn't work for me. If someone from the future shows up in the present and then something happens to his past self, the future self is only affected at the point that it happens to the past self. To to use an example that's not in the movie (so as to avoid spoiling anythin that does happen), if the past self loses an arm, the future self still has two arms until his past self loses the arm and could be carrying something with that arm until it blinks out. For me to buy into things more, the changes should have already been in effect when the future self arrived because they'd already happened to him.


There's also a scene early on that doesn't seem to jibe even with this logic and seems to be in there mainly to try to placate people who disaagree with the logic that the rest of the movie (even the ending) takes.

There's also bits about telekinesis that except in one case I'd cut from the movie because the movie works just fine without the other cases.  And there's also a character who's critical to the plot but who because we only see glimpses of them, I wasn't able to make the connection with that character I needed to fully appreciate another character's agenda.

I don't want to pan the movie too much. Again, there's a lot to like about the movie, particularly the interaction in one coffee shop sequence.  And the kid is a good enough actor that despite him playing yet another kid who speaks with the dialogue of someone in their 20s, he actually made me sympathize with him.  I appluad the movie for trying to be something different and not just a cookie cutter sci-fi action movie.

But, despite the fact that overall critics and audience members who post online seem to love the movie I still can't quite recommend it. There's a lot to like about the movie but I just wasn't able to suspend disbelief in this instance.  It's a shame because there's a lot of movies that are a lot more dumbed down and don't try as hard that I do enjoy up to a point, and I want to see more ambitious stuff like this.  But if I can't buy into some pretty critical elements of the plot then I must reluctantly state that it just doesn't work on the whole.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Trick to Catching a Bus Downtown from Thetis Lake




Thetis Lake is a great beach to visit in the summer: opportunities to hike, sunbathe, and swim.  Catching a bus to Thetis is not too hard: you get off on the Old Island Highway at 6 Mile Road and simply walk along the latter unlike you reach the lake.

The return is a bit more difficult because you have to cross the street. Worse still, you have to cross the Old Island Highway on the side of 6 Mile Road furthest from the bus stop because there’s no crosswalk nor walk signal on the other side.  It’s very easy to miss a bus while waiting for the lights to turn, because if the bus slips byu just before they turn, you’re too far from the bus stop.

Here’s a little trick though that will increase your chances of dealing with the lights.  A little ways before the lights you go a bit uphill, and then you have a good downhill stretch.  Just before you reach the top of the hill you’ll see the street lights.  The trick at this point is to be counterintuitive: if the light is green, just keep walking to the intersection; you won’t make the light if you’re that far away so you might as well relax.  However, if the light is red, run as fast as you can to the intersection.  Chances are excellent that the light will turn green either shortly before or shortly after you reach the intersection. If the light turns green shortly before you reach the intersection you can probably make it at this point if you keep running, and if it turns after, then you definitely have time to cross.

Once you cross there’s one more road to cross, from one end of 6 Mile Road to the other. I won’t tell you to break the law by ignoring that light; however, cars very rarely enter or leave 6 Mile Road on that side of the road (unlike the other side) so use your best judgement there.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pacific Northwest Trip Summer 2011 Day 5 Friday July 29




This is the fifth of a series of posts dealing my eighth trip to Seattle as an adult. I’ve made minor corrections to these reports. Also, I’ve added additional thoughts with the hindsight of two years later or to add further clarification. 
Haven't done a morning edition this trip but I think last night warrants one.

First though I forgot to mention yesterday at the fountain a couple were having a serious make-out session

Couldn't find my room card for a while, about an hour.  Luckily it turned up before I'd have to pay. Two women arrived in the dorm a bit late.  One was particularly not shy and with the door open enough to let the light in, stripped to a shirt and panties and wandered into the hallway.  I was a gentleman and stayed in bed but another guy in the room apparently happened to need to use the bathroom around the same time. 

[NOW: The above was written in the morning; the rest I wrote in the evening.]

I walked to Olympic Sculpture Park.  At the start of the park is a fountain/art piece called Father and Son, but I think that  name is intended with a wink, since the statues of the "father" and "son", who are facing each other, are naked/anatomically correct.  Elsewhere in the park there's a sign saying Cyclists Yield to Peds.  If that sign was closer to the Father and Son piece, Peds would have an unintended double meaning.

The giant ampersand ("&"), missing last year, is back at the park.  That art piece is called Love and Loss, because nothing conveys love and loss like a giant ampersand rotating on a pole.

I also briefly visited the Olympic Sculpture Park Mini-Beach (unlike the non-beach area there's no sculptures here) and Myrtle Edwards Park, both right by the Olympic Sculpture Park proper, before returning to the latter.  I also saw a concrete bench which turned out to be another art piece and the giant comb on a wheel.  I soon returned to the hostel for breakfast.

The next park of the trip was not placed on a specific day in my schedule because it was weather depending, but it was planned more generally for a weekday with the plan to bump a day if need be. I took the 478 (Sound Transit) bus to Federal Way Transit Center, then transferred to a 402 (Pierce Transit) before heading to my main destination of the day, Wild Waves Theme Park.  The first ride I tried was the Tonga River, basically a tubing trip under mild conditions, doing a circle.  I asked if taking pics was safe; i was told it was, but my camera got wet and did act a bit off sporadically after. No pics lost as a result.  Konga River Tube Sliders were more dramatic than your typical water slide.  I did this twice at this point.  Zooma falls is a more dramatic still water slide.  Would have liked to have done this more than once but couldn't fit it in.  From there I did another ride that was too crowded to do more than once, Riptide, where the slide eventually do a few spins around before dropping down the final shute (kind of like water going down a drain).

All the above rides involved tubs.  I then went on four more traditional but still fairly dramatic water slides sharing the same entrance: Python, Ravage, Banzai, and Bobsled.  There were a couple of other slides with these four, but they required you to be shirtless, so I passed on them.

I then left the water ride area for the time being and rode the Wild Thing (one of those roller coasters that does a 360 degree loop.  I was quite satisfied doing this once, but no, there was a round two (I *think* a slightly different route).  I was going to brave I-5, where they raise you up high on a contraption and then drop you, but there was an additional charge of $25 so I passed.  I then had a pizza meal at Village Cafe.

I then rode Klondike Gold Rusher, not unlike Mulholland Madness in Disney's California Adventure.  You're in a cart that jerks you around everything you hit a turn; expect mild pain. Timber Axe puts people in the "blade" of a giant axe, which does a few 360 degree loops in both directions; despite wearing an earband I kept one hand on my glasses the entire ride.  Lumberjack Falls is mild but cute.  You go up on a boat, then across, then straight down and get splashed; if you stand just outside the exit and watch the next group go down, you will also get splashed).  I then hiked a ways to Timberhawk: Bird of Prey: a lengthy wooden roller coaster.  Like most wooden roller coasters there's a bit of a psychological effect but it's reasonably tame by coaster standards.  I then rode Pirates, which was very mild; you swing up to the left and to the right for a bit.

I passed by Hook's lagoon, which has ducks and some sort of fish.  You can feed them for 25c but I just watched. I might have the order a bit off, but I believe it was Tube Sliders four more times (once per tube), Banzai and Ravage again (a kid went down on his stomach before the lifeguard could stop him), Konga Rivers tube (I got bored in line and was taking pics just to amuse myself, which led to a minor Q&A with the park police).  Then the Wave Pool (not very wavy), then the Ferris Wheel (not that big; unlike some, you can't take pics while riding), Gold Rusher again, Lumberjack Falls again (this time I stood to the side when watching a later group go down so I could get pics without further water risk to my camera), then Timberhawk.

By now it was a little after 4:30 (park opened at 10) and park was open until 8, but stomach my told me it was time to quit instead of waiting for the crowds to die down. On the way out or jump before some kid tried asking me for 50c.  I took the 402 back to the transit center, but there as a bit of a wait for the 578, so i took the 574 to Seatac's light rail and used that instead to return to downtown Seattle.  I visited Borders then headed towards Seattle Center.  Bits of the set-up for tomorrow's parade were already happening; some people had even put their seats in place despite the parade still being over 24 hours away.  I ate at the McDonald's across from Seattle Center, then relaxed at the International Fountain.  There for the first time in many years (over a decade maybe) I splurged and got cotton candy.  After a while at the fountain I returned to the hostel.

[NOW: The 402 again is Pierce Transit, the 578 and 574 were both Sound Transit. The light rail, called Central Link, is also Sound Transit.  Borders is now defunct.]


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Flickr Uploading Challenges: Île Perrot



When I travel to different places and then look at the photos afterward, I try to caption the more notable locations as well as, whenever possible, whatever municipality I’m in at any given moment. Sometimes this results in some creative challenges which I’ll illustrate in various blog posts, starting with this one. (see http://www.flickr.com/photos/24917258@N05/ for my photostream).

Today’s lesson involves Île Perrot.  I passed through Île Perrot en route to Montreal.  The thing is there are basically two Île Perrots, though they overlap.  One of them is an island.  When heading to Montreal, you pass through two municipalities on the island. The first is called Pinchot. The second is called le ville de l’Île Perrot, or, simply, Île Perrot.  So I felt it was important to note both the island and the municipality to minimize confusion.

However, there’s another wrinkle: Île Perrot (the municipality) isn’t limited to its island namesake. It also spans two additional islands, l’Île Claude and l’Île Bellevue.  So you cross through Pinchot and l’Île Perrot while on the island called l’Île Perrot, but if you are visiting l’Île Perrot  (the city), you could be one one of the following islands: l’Île Perrot (the island), l’Île Claude or l’Île Bellevue.  So I made notes clarifying which l’Île Perrot(s) was/were on any given photo.

You may have noticed one more wrinkle: While most search engines are good at ignoring accents, the l-apostrophe is a wrinkle, as the presence or absence of that part could affect search results (le, la, and les are not problems because they’re not attached to the noun).  So when possible if I could do so organically *though the use of captions and tags) I tried to refer to both l’Île Perrot and Île Perrot in a photo. 

How many more views will I get doing things this way? I don’t know. However, this is the easiest way to make the photos appear, and the clarifiers minimize confusion to the best that I’m able to.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pacific Northwest Trip Summer 2011 Day 4 Thursday July 28



This is the fourth of a series of posts dealing my eighth trip to Seattle as an adult. I’ve made minor corrections to these reports. Also, I’ve added additional thoughts with the hindsight of two years later or to add further clarification.  

I took a slightly shorter than usual trip to Olympia, but by slightly shorter I mean I didn't arrive in Olympia (by way of 590 Sound Transit and 603 Intercity Transit) until 8:40; the latter claims to accept Orca cards on express busses only, but there was no Orca reader either direction. I visited the Capital to a degree, but not to the extent of previous years. It doesn't really look that different from Victoria's equivalent, though it's still beautiful looking.  I grabbed a breakfast to go at Subway and wandered past the Heritage Fountain, which was not yet open, so I headed to a nearby bus stop, not wanted to rush breakfast by heading to the main terminal.  But then I decided that rather than take the bus to the next area of Olympia I wanted to visited, I'd cross the bridge instead.;  One thing led to another and I walked to the general area of my destination. 

[NOW: Intercity Transit has now officially dropped the ORCA card entirely; previously it was apparently available on some express busses but I rarely if ever saw an ORCA reader.]

I visited Office Max because I expect to run low on memory cards, but they were too pricey.  I visited the Blockbuster but they were not yet on, as expected, but it was the only time I had.  I walked down to Barnes and Noble, then to Westfield (a mall, but hopefully obviously nowhere near the Tukwila one), then went to Borders on Westfield Promenade one last time, buying a couple comics.  I returned to the mall proper and caught the 48 (getting a $2 daypass) to Olympia Transit Center (I was careful not to get on the 48 heading the opposite direction). At the transit center I took the 66 bus to Lacey, where I visited Olympic Cards & Comics and Boomerang (a music store where I bought some DVDs), then grabbed a lunch to go at McDonald's, which I ate at Lacey's Transit Center.

[NOW: As implied above, Borders is now defunct. The busses above are Intercity Transit.]

There I took the 66 back to Olympic Transit Center, where I stepped outside the bus briefly for fresh air; I got back on as it became the 13 to east Tumwater.  Tumwater Video had closed down, so a crossed a bridge over the freeway to west Tumwater where I visited Blockbuster, then quickly took the 12 bus back to the downtown area of Olympia, which I finally explored in depth, starting with Sylvester Park and Fireside Books across the street from it.  I then visited the multicultural bookstore De Colores, then Rainy Day Records (bought some documentaries), the Star Wars Mural, Orca Books (the cat there will let you pet it but its body language is that it doesn't consider being petted any sort of profound experience), then Last Word Books, then Browser's Books (no sign of the dog today), the Danger Room Comics (bought one comic).  I returned to the Heritage Fountain after changing from pants to my swim trunks nearby, and walked in the fountain.  The fountain's decent but not too sophisticated. Water jets on the ground shoot at various speeds and intensity.  Since the only direction for the water to shoot is straight up, you could in theory stand strategically in the middle of the fountain and stay dry.  In terms of the weather it was by now the nicest day of the trip, so I let myself get a bit wet.  Some student artists went around asking people to participate in some project.  I politely declined, wanting to relax some more and dry my trunks and shirt before the trip back.

[NOW: The busses above are Intercity Transit. Tumwater’s Blockbuster is now gone. Fireside Books recently closed.]

I wandered back to Olympia Transit Center and took the 603 bus (half price due to the daypass - $1.25 instead of $2.50) to Tacoma.  I just barely missed my connection because gawkers driving slow at apparently minor accidently slowed highway traffic. I started to walk to Tacoma Book Center to kill time, but noticed that the Sounder was about to leave in a little bit so took that instead of the bus (and sadly neglected the book store; hopefully next week).  The Sounder is a double-decker, so while it costs a bit more than the bus ($3.75 instead of $2.50 or $3 depending on time of day) and a bit slower, it's more relaxing and a better photo op.

[NOW: 603 again is Intercity Transit. The Sounder is Sound Transit.]

It only goes as far as the International District, but I caught a bus with a passed out guide dog a ways north, staying within the Ride Free Zone because I don't think the Sounder allows for transfers.

[NOW: I think the bus was Metro Transit.]

I made it to Seattle Center.  I briefly couldn't find my VISA credit card and photo ID (found both soon after) and was going instead to pay cash for an Orange Julius, but having made the decision to pay cash, apparently 5:55, not 6:00 is when they close Orange Julius. My telling them (I was rummaging for my money right by the till) that I'd hoped to buy a meal didn't change their mind.

[NOW: Around the time that Center House became the Seattle Center Armory they evicted Orange Julius.]

I went to the International Fountain (where I found the missing cards), then Quincy's (like Orange Julius in Center House in Seattle Center) where I grabbed a meal and returned to the fountain.  After more relaxing there went to the nearby Silver Platters, bought some DVDs, then returned to the fountain once more, then returned here where I finished off a Pepsi I started on on Monday.
 
[NOW:  Again, Center House is now the Seattle Center Armory, though I did see a sign or two with the old name last visit.]

[outdated note about the parade omitted.]
 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Pacific Northwest Trip Summer 2011 Day 3 Wednesday July 27



This is the third of a series of posts dealing my eighth trip to Seattle as an adult. I’ve made minor corrections to these reports. Also, I’ve added additional thoughts with the hindsight of two years later or to add further clarification.  

Insomnia last night, in part because nothing was covering the windows. Not sure if I got any sleep.

Today is one of those examples on how to use an itinerary, in that I deviated quite a bit from it, and yet today wouldn't have been possible without a gameplan.  I was a bit uneasy about the timing of my original plans for the day, so when I still couldn't sleep and got up a bit after 6, I decided to substitute my Fri plans, at list to start with. I took the 554 bus to downtown Issaquah, then took the 209 to Snoqualmie, passing a few small towns like Fall City (imagine a pioneer town that has a giant Spongebob Squareparts) along the way. Snoqualmie is quite neat, a railroad-based town, with a wooden wheel and a giant log on dpisplay. I bought a couple breakfast sandwiches at Snoqualmie Market before taking the 209 bus (most of the seats are for the elderly and disabled) back to Issaquah Transit Center.  From here I was originally going to go to Cougar Mountain Zoological Park, but it's a bit of a hike and I didn't trust the clouds to rain on me nowhere near shelter. So instead took a bus to Eastgate Freeway Station, Bellevue and then crossed a bridge and went down a parking lot staircase to Eastgate Park & Ride; bit of a wait there but in my sleepy state didn't bother me much. I took the 221 bus to what I thought was Duvall. However, it seems that there's similarly named intersection in Bellevue and the computer got it wrong.  I also lost my last remaining itinerary sheet but luckily found where I dropped it.  Anyway, no Duvall this trip.

[NOW: The 554 bus is Sound Transit. The 209 bus, a small bus like ones that nowadays typically travel to smaller communities, is Metro Transit. The other two busses were also Metro Transit.]

Luckily I was pretty close to another place on my itinerary, albeit originally planned for later, so I walked and took a 230 bus to Crossroads Shopping Center.  I visited and got some DVDs at Silver Platters (still there but in a different part of the mall), noted that the Blockbuster was now gone, and visited Crossroads’ Half Price Books and Barnes & Noble. I took another 230, asking the driver to let me off near Redmond Town Center (in Redmond). He suggested one location which would have meant backtracking, but I figured out an earlier and better stop to get off at first visited Redmond's Half Price Books near the Center.  In the Center (one of the most beautiful shopping centre I've been to), I visited the Center's Borders one last time getting some DVDS and comics. I then walked to Redmond Transit Center, then doubled back to 7-11 to grab some much before returning to the Transit Center. I barely had time to start eating before a 230 bus to Bellevue Transit Center arrived.  From latter I'd originally planned to visit the nearby Barnes & Noble and Downtown Park, but while I like both, especially the park, I wanted to connect with my original Wednesday plans mid-way, so I took a 535 bus to Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood. The bus arrived so quick I didn't have time to drink from a fountain, let alone continue my lunch.

[NOW: The 230 bus is Metro Transit.   As the above hints at, Borders is now defunct. The 535 bus is Sound Transit.]

Alderwood lost its Borders during the first wave of closures, It has a lovely outside area, including fountains, a horse statue, etc.  Inside the mall I bought some DVDs at f.y.e. and got an Icee at the food court. I found it to be pricee, er, pricey, so I didn't mind paying my credit card.  I went to a nearby bus stop and barely had time to continue my now cold lunch before a 115 bus arrived.
[NOW: The 115 bus is Community Transit.]

I took the bus to near Lynnwood's Half Price Books, but before entering finished my lunch.  Like previous Half Price's the most tempting items where multiple DVD sets, but the same company puts out lots of similar sets with quite a bit of overlap, so the returns were diminished.

I went to the nearby Swift bus stop, Crossroads Station (nowhere near Crossroads Shopping Center above; still Lynnwood). Swift busses are express busses where you pay at the stop before entering. A took the Swift bus to Shoreline, where I transferred to the 358 bus. A cranky guy asked me questions. I answered politely until he got rude and then I ignored him.

[NOW: The Swift bus is Community Transit. The 358 bus is Metro Transit.]

Getting off in the northwest area of Seattle, I took distant shots with zoom of the Elephant on Aurora statue, then walked to the Greenwood area of Seattle, where the Greenwood parade was getting up (on my way over I was nervous at the group of police cycles heading my way until I remembered, right the parade (wasn't doing anything illegal, but my picture taking raises questions in some).  At Greenwood I visited Blockbuster, Dreamstands Comics (bought some comics; would have bought more but there was stuff in a lot of the areas of I wanted to look at), then Balderdash books.
[NOW: Balderdash Books is now closed, though 50c Books has opened up in its place.]

I bought some diner at Walgreen's, making it the third retail meal purchase.  A dog was quite excited about the parade about to commence.  The Greenwood Parade is best described as an earlier starting "dress rehearsal" for the upcoming Torchlight Parade, with many of the same participants, including the police motorcycles (a highlight, though one causing lots of delays as they near a lot of driving room), horses, dogs, Seafair Clowns, Lake City Western Vigilantes, a tow company's Toe Truck (shaped, yes, like a toe), and the Seattle Seafair Pirates.  This year a few vintage cars finished the parade, but immediately before was the traditional ended, a pirate ship that fired a cannon (got some nice smoke shots).

I left the parade to head to the bus stop.  Lightning struck twice and I was again able to get photos of Seattle Seafair Clowns sitting in the outdoor area of the same pub as last year (Bleacher's), though this year their van obscured them somewhat.  This year the 5 bus arrived a lot sooner than usual, so I took it to near Seattle Center.  Kids where still playing in the fountain when I arrived, but soon after it turned 9 pm and the fountain entered dormat mode.  Had a bit of a wait at this terminal.
[NOW: The 5 bus is Metro Transit.]

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pacific Northwest Trip Summer 2011 Day 2 Tuesday July 26



This is the second of a series of posts dealing my eighth trip to Seattle as an adult. I’ve made minor corrections to these reports. Also, I’ve added additional thoughts with the hindsight of two years later or to add further clarification.  

Slept well enough but still woke up pretty dazed.  I originally planned to wander around and then have breakfast at the hostel before truly heading out, but in my dazed state I remarked to one of the owners that I was heading out for the day.  The owner seemed puzzled when I told him a few of the places I was visiting (see below). I definitely miscalculated the first part of the day as we shall see.

I walked downtown and put extra money on my ORCA card, then in the Downtown Transit Tunnel, Westlake, took a light rail to Tukwila International Blvd Station in Seatac.  There I transferred to a bus that took me to Westfield Southcenter in Tukwila an hour earlier than planned (note that only places that are noted at being in Westfield, a mall are there; lots of things are nearby). Which would have been fine but it was nearly ahn hour and a half before most of the stores opened so I ended up spending two hours doing one hour worth of stuff in the area. I visited Tukwila Pond Park and saw a loon I think heading into some bushes in the pond as I was trying to take a pic. I ate breakfast at McDonald's (mixed Coke with a bit of Hi-C; okay but the Hi-C dominated despite less of it) and then headed to Barnes & Noble, where I bought a heavy and thick but discounted Spider-Man book. I visited Westfield, still not yet officially open to get my bearings for later (and also to unsuccessfully search for bus schedules), then visited Target out of boredom.  I returned to the pond, taking pics of a brown rabbit en route. The same bird tried hiding again but I got some pics anyway.  Also saw an eagle.  I arrived at Tukwila's Half Price Books just before their 10 am opening, the headed back to Westfield, seeing the same rabbit en route.
 
[NOW: The light rail is Central Link/Sound Transit. The bus was 140/Metro Transit.]

At Westfield I visited their Borders for the last time (bought some comics) and their f.y.e.  I took the bus I originally planned to take (a 140) to Burien.  I dipped briefly into Normandy Park before returning to Burien and visited Blockbuster, Page 2 Books, and Pawn X-Change (the latter's website says they're now Cash America but I only saw Pawn X-Change's today).  I went to the downtown area of Burien briefly and decided to take an earlier bus than planned.  Unfortunately of my camera battery died en route to the bus and I didn't realize until I was on the bus that I had left behind my itinerary and locations list where I had switched batteries.  Luckily I had a spare in my hostel, so for the rest of the day relied on memory and detective work to figure out what I had planned for the day.
 
[NOW:  140 again is Metro Transit. I think the switchover to Cash America has now happened. Burien’s Blockbuster is now gone. The bus from Burien was the 180/Metro Transit.]

I took the above bus to Auburn Station.  Luckily I recalled the next bus I was to take so before exploring Auburn I checked where and when I needed to take the bus.  In Auburn I visited Comstock Book & Binding (sneaked a pic of a cat there) and grabbed lunch at Burger King.  I took the 917 bus to the north end of Pacific, and then walked north to Algona.  Here my memory failed me as to where and when I was supposed to make a connection to Federal Way and almost got it wrong (the alternate route would have worked but more slowly), but I noticed that the 917 was on the same route as the 181 and another schedule noted that the 181 went to Federal Way, so I took the 917 back to Auburn, this time stopping at the Supermall (didn't explore to ensure my connection) then from there took the 181 to Federal Way Transit Center.  It was overcast most of the day but finally started to turn nice around now.
 
[NOW: The 917 bus and 181 busses are also Metro Transit.]

I visited another Barnes & Noble (the Blockbuster in the area having closed down), then Pawn Pros, then Fantasium (Spy Comics & Games under new management), then Pawn X-Change.  Passing roughly where Borders used to be (it closed during the second of two waves of closures before liquidation, I went to McDonald's for a Coke only (it's apparently one of the few not offering a $1 deal), then visited Action City Comics then Al's Music & Games
 
[NOW: I think this Pawn X-Change is now a Cash America but I don’t recall for sure.]

Here I deliberately went off itinerary.  I was originally going to go straight to Seattle from here but regretted bumping Angle Lake Park off the itinerary; the weather was nice and there was a new express bus of sorts going past it (letter A) so I took it there.  I changed into my swim trunks but didn't swim because I didn't bring my towel (there were lifeguards so I could have).  I took another A bus to Seatac Airport, where I took the light rail back to Westlake Station, Downtown Transit Tunnel back in Seattle.  I walked to the International Fountain, en route passing a glassblowing showing that outside had put out some glass flowers and added a glass vine to a real tree. I also visited the Chief Sealth statue
 
[NOW: The A bus is a Metro Transit RapidRide bus.  Angle Lake Park is in Seatac.  The light rail was again the Central Link/Sound Transit.]

I went into the International Fountain to cool off, thinking I'd dry quickly, but it clouded over again soon after.  I checked Orange Julius but they probably closed around 6 and it was now 6:45.  I went to the McDonald's across from Seattle Center, which has four poles inside, one each having basketballs, soccer balls, baseballs, and footballs.  Having dinner there I mixed Coke and lemonade to better effect, but again the Coke seems to be the weaker drink in any mix. I felt something in my hair which turned out to be a wasp that started exploring my table, otherwise leaving me alone from then on.  I didn't kill it but its chances of survival probably depend on part on whether it's smart enough not to eat the food. I returned to to the fountain, changed back to regular pants and then returned to the hostel a bit earlier than planned. Probably that heavy Spider-Man book helped tired me out.
 
[NOW: Around the time Center House became the Seattle Center Armory they evicted Orange Julius.]

I think I forgot to mention yesterday: I actually found a section of Seattle Center I hadn't seen before, and small fountain with a hard to describe metal state. A testament to the size of Seattle Center that I can still make discoveries.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pacific Northwest Trip Summer 2011 Day 1 Monday July 25



This is the first of a series of posts dealing my eighth trip to Seattle as an adult. I’ve made minor corrections to these reports. Also, I’ve added additional thoughts with the hindsight of two years later or to add further clarification.  

[Preamble of no importance to the general public deleted.]

Trip nearly ended before it began.  Couldn't find my bad with ID, credit card and money at first.  Finally figured out where it was.  On my way out the door my outside door opener fell off my keychain; luckily I noticed it fall.  A guy held the elevator for me and started asking a lot of questions. I was in a rush so I answered politely but didn't say a lot.

Getting through Customs went okay; the new id seems to get me through faster than the water damaged passport.  Ferry was a bit late arriving in Port Angeles.  Made it to the transit bus seconds before it left.  There would still have been two other connecting busses in a pinch though.

[NOW: I took the Coho ferry/Black Ball Transport over. Due to complaints about my water damaged passport, I was using an Enhanced Identification Card to cross the border. The bus to Sequim was the 30 Commuter/Clallum Transit.]

Got off bus in Sequim and had lunch at McDonald's, visited Rite Aid and Walgreen's, changed from pants to trunks in the Sequim Public Washrooms, then took a bus to Port Townsend. I saw a deer as the bus was leaving Sequim.

[NOW: The bus to Port Townsend was the 8/Jefferson Transit. I got off at Haines Park & Ride.]

At the Park & Ride transferred to another bus and got off downtown Port Townsend, a few stops ahead of time to get some photos.  Used my ORCA card to pay for the ferry fair and took it to Keystone on Whidbey Island; grabbed lunch on the ferry and saw porpoises (or at least one's fin).  Zipper broke on large bag at the bus stop but luckily there's a 2nd zipper. Took an Island Transit bus to Coupeville (had trouble exiting the bus because my bag got caught).  Bus from Coupeville to Clinton ferry Terminal (bus was 10 min late most of the way but still managed to get the ferry).  Took the ferry to Mukilteo, then a bus from there to Lynnwood Transit Center. Put my slacks on over the trunks due to rain and caught a bus to downtown Seattle.  The fountain near Westlake Center was working this year (it wasn't last year).

[NOW:  The bus downtown was the 11/Jefferson Transit. The ferries to Keystone Ferry Terminal and to Mukilteo were Washington Ferries ferries. The first Island Transit bus was number 6, the second number 1. The bus to Lynnwood Transit Center was 113/Community Transit. The bus downtown was 511/Siound Transit.]

Bag is very tall so decided to wheel the bag and walk to the hostel instead of taking another bus.  Got a great bed at the hostel; it's the only bed in the room that has access to a power outlet.  Started charging three batteries (have a power bar) and then walked to the International Fountain in Seattle Center (which has new signage).  For those who are new to these reports, this fountain is particularly large, with a drainage system on the bottom so kids etc can play in the fountain.  Water streams/bursts can be quite tall at time. It was on but while not pouring was ironically too rainy for people to get wet in the fountain.

Walked to the nearby Silver Platters and bought a bunch of oddball movies, including a TV series release put out by Troma.  Walked back to Seattle Center and grabbed a meal at Orange Julius that I ate at the fountain.  Leaving Seattle Center, I noticed that the amusement park section was gone, leaving only a surprisingly small empty space. Walked downtown (en route took a pic of a new art piece, a giant red statue of a popsicle (the two-stick variety) and bought a DVD at Borders, which, like all remaining branches is going out of business.  Then I walked to Pike Place Market, where I took pics of Rachel the Pig(gy bank), saw a bit of the fishmongers closing down for the day, visited Holy Cow Records (bought a DVD), and visited Golden Age Collectibles (sneaked a pic of the sign that says to leave bags at the counter but that there's not responsible for stolen bags. I visited Left Bank Books (a book store that...the Bush clan would never visit), then left Pike Place Market, visiting Swerve (a record/movie store) and dropping stuff off at the hostel (one of the owners remembered me). 

[NOW: Orange Julius at Center House, now Seattle Center Armory has since been evicted. Swerve is now gone.]

I went back to the International Fountain. A couple brought their golden retriever and pug. The former was carrying their own leash in their mouth without help from owners (doggy Stockholm Syndrome?).  I walked to a supermarket (bought some of what passes for beer in the US) then bought more DVDs at Easy Street Records.  I headed back via the main Queen Anne shopping area.  As I already knew, Underdawg Records and Queen Anne's Blockbuster were gone, but that area also lost its Uptown Cinema. Doesn't bode well for that shopping area.  Some guy tried to act weird to the camera but I just avoided him.
 
[NOW: A new cinema has opened up at the old one’s location.]

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Toronto Trip March 2011 Updates

I've made updates to my previous Toronto Trip March 2011 reports.  The updates are within the reports themselves, but for people who only want to see the new material, it's included in this post.

Toronto Trip March 2011 Day 1 March 2 
http://saneinsanities.blogspot.ca/2011/12/toronto-trip-march-2011-day-1-march-2.html
No changes

Toronto Trip March 2011 Day 2 March 3
http://saneinsanities.blogspot.ca/2011/12/toronto-trip-march-2011-day-2-march-3.html

{Original paragraph 3}
This morning I was supposed to go to a convenience store for the people I was staying with (Aidan and Josh) but they hadn't opened for the day.  Aidan and I walked to a Subway in Korea Town on Bloor where I bought a breakfast sandwich.  Continuing east on my own I visited Bob Miller Book Room (which seemed to be in a high security area), Indigo (same company as Chapters), Masin/Presse Internationelle (that was on a side trip to Yorkville before turning to Bloor), then Rogers.  Passing Castle Frank Cres. (luckily not Frank Castle Cres. because I don't think the world is ready to have a street named after the Punisher), I crossed a bridge where Bloor becomes Danforth and visited Book City, Presse Internationalle, Greek City (Greek videos etc; owner wouldn't let me concentrate), Re-Reading (strong smell of incense; isn't there supposed to be an incense taboo?), Rogers, Blockbuster, Circus Books & Music (bought some horror DVDs), Comics & More (the cheap boxes where on shelves making them hard to look through), then walked south down Greenwood and west on Gerrard (bought DVDs at Jumbo Video),  then north on Pape where I visited Atomic Age comics and tried to visit Pape & Dingwell (accidentally walked in not realizing it was closed; my impression of the guy was that he probably found customers an annoyance even when open), briefly west then south down Carlton (visited Don's Convenience to look at the DVDs), south to Queens, where I went west and checked out Queen & Jones Pawn (very claustrophobic), then west east and visited In the Groove

{Bob Miller Book Room amended to Doug Miller Books. Maisin amended to Maison. Queens amended to Queen St. E.}.
[UPDATE September 19, 2012]: Blockbuster is now defunct in Canada. Rogers has left the video rental business. Toronto's Jumbo Video is now closed.]



{Original paragraph 4}
I took a streetcar west and visited Kops, BMV Express (bought a grphic novel and a couple books on comics), HMV (bought Dark Skies complete series DVD), Silver Snail Comics, then lunch at Bob's Submarine.  Continuing on west visited Criminal Records, Outer Layer, Cosmos Records, Frantic City Records Eyesore Cinema (bought a DVD), Rotate This, 2Q Video, Type Books, Black Dog Video, I headed north along Ossington (visited Frantic City Records), west on Dundas (Monkey's Paw Books), back to Ossington to College St, went west and visited Marquee Video, then a trolley east to Queen Video. Walked to Ammo Video (bought DVDs; they were having a clearing out sale), Dragon Lady Comics (bought lots of comics), MVP Master Video Production (all Italian), then walked south to Bellevue (Dension) Square; unfortunately the Al Waxman statue (late actor best known for King of Kensington and Cagney & Lacey) had graffiti on it.  Went back north to College where I visited She Said Book then took a streetcar once more east.  I visited the Legislature grounds, apparently on the University of Toronto property (I don't know enough of ON politics to speculate if the people there have spent much time in the educational areas).  I continued east to Yonge and headed south. I visited Play De Record, Hairy Tarantula Comics, HMV (largest one in Toronto), BMV Books (bought DVDs), the inaccurately named but still large World's Largest Bookstore (now owned by Chapters) (latter two on a brief walk east on Edwards), back to Yonge: Future Shop, then Dundas Square, Toronto's equivalent of Times Square (large neon signs, ticker tape messages, and the like); it was sundown then so I good time to see that.
 
{Largest amended to Biggest.}

[UPDATE September 19, 2012: Prt of the Queen St E streetcar route is temporarily closed for construction. Ammo Video and Dragon Lady Comics are now closed. I think the graffiti has been cleaned from the Al Waxman Statue.]
{Original paragraph 7}
I then decided to return to Aidan and Josh's place but on my way to the subway visited Sonic Boom Records (much bigger than their unrelated Seattle namesake; bought a few cult movies including Troma movies, then took the subway "home").


[UPDATE September 19, 2012:This branch of Sonic Boom has moved from Bloor to Bathurst, within the Honest Ed's complex.]

Toronto Trip March 2011 Day 3 March 4
http://saneinsanities.blogspot.com/2011/12/toronto-trip-march-2011-day-3-march-4.html

{Original paragraph 8}
It was 3 pm now and had to choose whether to sill visit St Catharines or not.  I heard good things about St Catherines and bad things about Hamilton so took a chance despite the 1 1/2 hour layover. Big mistake.  It might have been a nice place to visit at some point but is now a @#$%hole.  A couple of people were rude to me on m way downtown.  I had some hope it might be okay when I saw a gorilla statue wearing an apron, but the buildings downtown looked like if you breathed on them they would collapse.  I got directions to a book store to the busses and took a bus back to the GO stop.  I visited the Fairview Mall there (Future Shop, Chapters, Zeller's, where I got some chocolate peanuts,) then took the GO bus to Stoney Creek (greater Hamilton), then took a bus to Hamilton proper.  Some residential buildings there were run down but even in the dark the downtown area looked quite nice and I'll have to visit it again in the light some day when I have more time.

[UPDATE September 19, 2012: All Zeller's are being converted to Target stores].

Toronto Trip March 2011 Day 4 March 5
http://saneinsanities.blogspot.ca/2011/12/toronto-trip-march-2011-day-4-march-5.html

{Original paragraph 4}

I took one subway train to St George and another to Union.  Crossing over to the Union train station, I bought another daypass before grabbing breakfast at McDonald's.  I took a GO train to Pickering (left very little impression on me beyond one half being north of the highway, the other half south), where asking directions to one store proved to take a lot longer than expected.  I crossed the highway with the original intent of visiting Blockbuster and Chapters but the rain was coming down good so I doubled back without getting to them.  I walked east along Bayly, ironically deciding not to go to Video 99, the store that had cost me a bit of time getting directions, as it was too far out of the way in the rain.  Another store wasn't open yet as I headed eat.  A bus honked to let me on at one point but I didn't know how close I was to my destination I was so I declined, which may have been a mistake, though by not getting on I crossed to street to Ajax (a pretty industrial town) on foot right after and later crossed a small but nice wooden bridge.  I visited Corner Books and Deju Vu discs before heading north to Gnu Books.  Heading west to go to the Ajax GO Station I noticed that the LCD screen had stopped working due to the rain and I checked things with my backup camera to see if it was at least taking pictures okay.  Unfortunately I chose some sort of security area to check this out and due to an annoyed security guard who didn't connect the dots between the rain and someone fiddling with their camera, had to walk a ways to determine that at this point the camera was in fact working except for the LCD screen at that time.

[UPDATE September 19, 2012: Blockbuster in now defunct in Canada. I think the Ajax branch of Gnu Books is gone.]

{Original parapgrah 5}
I made it to the Ajax GO Station and had lots of time, so because there was no food place in the area that was open, headed south to a pace called On the Run (tried to avoid the muddier areas of the path) before heading back to the GO Station, where I bought some Vanilla Coke at a convenience store.  I took a train to Whitby though I had to switch cars because due to construction they weren't letting people out in some cars in Whitby including mine.  In Whitby I bought some trade paperbacks (happy all sealed) at Comic Book Addiction before heading east, passing through a small but nice downtown area.  I saw a GO bus heading the right direction and got on.  The driver was a bit annoyed by how wet the daypass was.  I got off at Oshawa Centre in, yes Oshawa, where I went inside to work out the final plans for this part of the trip.  Heading east some more I got some DVDs at another branch of Deja Vu and then visited Blockbuster before making my way downtown.  There were actually three comic shops in Oshawa's downtown.  I bought some comics at Silver Star (some subsequently water damaged), none at Skyfox (few comics, more gaming stuff if memory serves), some at Worlds Collide (also subsequently water damaged).  I went to the GO bus station but didn't see any stops for busses heading to the GO train Station in Oshawa so went to a stop I recalled.  A bus happily came soon after; when I asked he driver if she stops at the train station she replied "If I have to." Good enough for me in the rain.

[UPDATE September 19, 2012: Again, Blockbuster in now defunct in Canada.]

Toronto Trip March 2011 Day 5 March 6
http://saneinsanities.blogspot.ca/2011/12/toronto-trip-march-2011-day-5-march-6.html

{original Paragraph 4}
At Union Go Station some confusion arose when I wanted a daypass that would cover both Oakville and Mississauga's Square One Mall.  The cashier said that there was no Oakville-Square One transportation on Sunday.  I wasn't sure at the time if I had plugged in the wrong date or if the bus I wanted was another system (the bus number was actually the same) or if a daypass was possible with two different GO sections so I just bought a daypass to Oakville.  I grabbed some lunch at Union's Dairy Queen and then walked outside where there was a statue of a naked guy and pigeons.  Heading back in a security saw me taking photos and asked me to delete the ones I just took.  Unfortunately there was something wrong with the delete button of my new camera but luckily because I had a train to catch so he let me go after promising to delete them later.  I took a train to Oakville, whose downtown looked really nice after the snow.


{UPDATE September 19: I didn't see the statue there during my next visit, possibly due to the construction.]

{original paragraph 5}
All the stores I planned to visit were gone but there was a store called Comic Connection where I bought a couple of cheap comic paperbacks.  Returning to the train station I confirmed that Port Credit was part of Mississauga and decided to visit there instead (I would have had to stop there anyway to get to Square One).  I took the train there, therefore, where I did see the bus to Square One.  But since it would have been a long trip to take a bus there and back and then go to Toronto (If I took a bus back to Toronto from Square One it would have been an added cost since it was outside the daypass zone) I decided to just explore that area.  I wandered around (both there and Oakville earlier I visited the lake briefly) and visited a book store that wanted $3 each for some really beat up comics.  I also checked out a few other stores, including a discount store that was a bit on the pricey side, very comparable to a nearby convenience store.  I bought some chips at a sore by the train station.


[UPDATE September 19: Oakville's Comic Connection has moved to a new location.]


Toronto Trip March 2011 Day 6 March 7
http://saneinsanities.blogspot.com/2011/12/toronto-trip-march-2011-day-6-march-7.html

{original paragraph 9}
Heading back west on Bloor (with a brief sidetrip south on St Thomas to visit Theatrebooks), I revisited Bloor's BMV and Book City (BMV was probably my favourite book chain here; lots of remaindered books).  I also visited another book store but I'm blanking on the name; maybe Paul something.  And I visited Honest Ed's; a general discount store.  Inside isn't that interesting but there's a real PT Barnum feel to the outside as well as the signs inside.  Lots of corny joke, plus well lit on the outside at night.  I kept meaning to visit a music/movie store a few doors down from where I'm staying, but I missing the closing time by about 4 minutes today and they open too late tomorrow).  I dropped off my stuff at Aidan's place and they went to Pizza Pizza; as with a couple days ago I ordered a medium pepperoni pizza there and bought some Vanilla Coke at Bloor St Convenience Store while waiting.  I decided to relax the rest of the day as I'll have a long day tomorrow (three extra hours to be exact).
  

{Bloor St Convenience Store amended to Bloor St Mini-Mart.} 
 [UPDATE September 19: The third bookstore was probably Doug Miller Books.]

Toronto Trip March 2011 Day 7 March 78
http://saneinsanities.blogspot.com/2011/12/toronto-trip-march-2011-day-7-march-8.html

{original paragraph 2}
More nighttime kitty activity again (Artemis).  I wanted to do a final exploration.  I left my bag at Aidan's place because it was already packed thus heavy, but my camera still had over 1000 photos in the memory card.  I walked to the McDonald’s across from the ROM on Bloor, then went south along Yonge, visiting a couple Shoppers Drug Mart because on the way over a lost a few things such as my electric razor due to my bag opening up.  So I was searching for plastic ties.  Neither had any.  I visited Dundas Square, when roughly around the time I was going to head back anyway I ran out of photos.  Taking a subway from Dundas to Bloor stations (north) and Yonge to Ossington stations (west) I managed to get space for a few more photos by temporarily changing my camera settings to the lowest quality.  I decided this time to exit Ossington from the further side to Aidan's place this time, as I wanted to do something different.  This worked well because I found a dollar store en route.  The guy there didn't speak very good English but I found the ties I wanted to stop zippers from opening up.

[UPDATE September 19: I won't put a damper on most of my trip reports by mentioning this in the earlier days' reports, but Artemis has since passed away.]