Road Trip III: Day 1.

I have no idea who these entries are for. Love of the game.

So I took the red-eye Wednesday night from SFO to EWR. Why is Newark EWR? No clue. Anyway, I’ve never taken a red-eye before so I was kind of surprised – the flight was packed. Having talked to some people since I’ve learned that red-eyes are always packed, but who knew? On a Wednesday night? Kind of random.

It’s terrible, but ever since last September I’ve been extremely wary on flights. I just eye all the other passengers, trying to locate shifty looking characters. And, it’s terrible, but I’m racist. I won’t elaborate, but yeah, on a purely emotional level, I am. Anyway, I’m not the only one. So you know, going onto the flight, they take your boarding pass and some people are randomly selected for searches. Anyway, the guy at the gate was “randomly” selecting every Hispanic looking passenger, and no one else. Blatantly racist. Also, he was black. Not sure if that’s relevant. I just thought people of color would be more sensitive to other people of color but I guess it doesn’t always work that way. Anyway, it made me chuckle.

So yeah, flew there, hardly slept at all. I guess everyone else knows this, but just because it’s overnight doesn’t mean it’s a full night. The lights were only off for about 3 hours, I think. I think I got a couple hours of restless sleep. Anyway, got there at I think 6:30 Eastern time, and Dave and Andrew picked me up. They promptly got lost getting back to Henry’s place, but eventually we got there.

Not much to say about the Hsu estate, just that I’m mad jealous. My sister bought a house recently in Houston, ridiculously large (they only occupy the first floor) and ridiculously cheap by Bay Area standards. And I know I should be happy for them, and I am, but more than that, I’m jealous. Actually, jealous is the wrong word. I’m not resentful towards any person at all. I’m bitter at the Bay Area housing market. That’s all it is. But anyway.

So yeah, Henry has a house, and as Dave has said, that’s a weird thing. Plus it’s a New Jersey house, which, for a Californian like me, is even weirder. No fences, for one. Ohio’s like that also, and it’s a different feeling. It was funny because I recognized a lot of the furniture at his place. Me and Jieun have been furniture shopping for the past month, and one of the places we hit was Ikea. Anyway, Ikea was fairly well represented there so a lot of things looked familiar.

Henry was doing some work he had to get done before we left so we watched a little TV. Later I checked e-mail. And my fantasy baseball team. Fantasy sports is ridiculous. At least baseball. You have to check every day. And I was really concerned that I wasn’t going to get to check my team during the road trip. Each day makes that much difference. The irony is, I’m next to last in my league. But I’m not ashamed of that – it’s my first season and I had a horrible draft. The thing is, I’m this close to overtaking the next guy in third to last place so I’m obsessed with making it happen. I’m a loser, as if you didn’t know.

We threw the Biaxin football around a little bit and then we took off in the Hsu Passat wagon. Hours late if I’m not mistaken. I have no idea what we talked about on the way to Canada, but it was something. And we made a lot of stops, but for the life of me I can’t remember why. Lorraine made us cookies and Rice Krispies Treats so we munched on those on the way.

Our first big stop was in Buffalo, New York. I realized after the trip that Dan Kim was there – shoulda called him up. But yeah, I forgot about that, and we were barely there an hour so it prolly wasn’t possible to meet up anyway. In any case, we stopped for the sole purpose of getting Buffalo Wings. It’s somewhat a source of pride to me that I’ve tasted a Denver omelette in Denver and had Buffalo Wings in Buffalo. But anyway.

We called a friend of ours from Buffalo – which is another story in itself – about where to go and he directed us to one of two places, neither of which he knew the exact location of so we kind of had to wander. So we wandered through downtown Buffalo.

Buffalo is one of the most depressing places I’ve ever been to. Everything looked old, run down, and deserted. There are ghost towns in the West – Buffalo’s like a ghost city. At least to me. Absolutely depressing. Plus a lot of fat people everywhere. Smoking.

Anyway, we somehow found the place: Anchor Bar. It’s where Buffalo Wings were created. I’ll be honest – they were disappointing. I think the problem is we got normal wings instead of hot (“suicidal” was another option). And we did this partly because my stomach wasn’t feeling well. Which I suspect was caused by some bad orange juice I drank. What I do in the morning is grab a Balance bar (the best tasting nutrition bars) and a small orange juice carton and eat on the way to work. It’s pretty nutritious, and fast.

Well one morning I take a carton and it’s bloated with gas. When I open it, it exhales. But I still drank it. The reason being, the morning before I had grabbed another carton that was also puffy and thrown that out. But after seeing two, I thought, maybe that’s normal, that it gets puffy like that. It turns out that Jieun dropped two of the cartons in the grocery store. I’m guessing those were the two puffy ones. In any case, it’s my suspicion that it made me sick for a few days. I didn’t go diarrhea or anything, just had this persistent stomach ache. But anyway.

So yeah, because of my stomach I pushed for the normal, not hot wings, and I think that was a mistake. I’m actually pretty upset about it, because (God-willing) I’ll never be in Buffalo again, so when will I get a chance to try the hot wings from the founder of Buffalo wings? I guess never. But oh well.

Eventually, we got to Niagara Falls. This place was nothing like I thought it would be. I think the only impression I had of Niagara Falls came from Superman II. But yeah, I just thought it was a big hole that water went down, and that’s about it. It turns out it’s a big freaking deal. There’s a big park all around it, tons of shops, and hotels and casinos. A whole city around it. Kinda cheesy if you ask me, but whatever, it was a big place. I could kinda see why people would go there on a honeymoon. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff to do.

Whenever I see great places of nature I think of God. I guess that’s natural, but yeah, I’m not even sure what I think about, I just think about God. And time and power and the futility of man. I also like watching water. I have no idea why. When I was younger we went to the beach a lot more than I do now, and I’d spend hours just watching the waves go in and out. Something about seeing water flowing just soothes me.

Anyway, yeah, I’m gonna say Niagara Falls was second only to the Grand Canyon in natural wonders I’ve seen. My mom just got back from Brazil and she said there are falls there that are more amazing. Maybe. But yeah, the Niagara Falls are pretty freaking amazing.

Dave had seen this documentary on the Falls that was pretty interesting so he gave us some geological background and stuff which was surprisingly interesting. Are normal people like this? I dunno, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say we were all kind of interested in the geology of the falls, except for John. One thing we needled Dave about was this site where the river supposedly makes a 180 degree turn. We found the place, and it was nowhere near a 180 turn. 120 max. I mean, to be a 180 turn, the river would have to turn back upon itself. What does that look like? But anyways.

Here’s another weird thing about the Falls. There were all these New-Agey Buddhist type things all over the place for World Peace. Like a pseudo temple, weirdo monuments, stuff like that. Absolutely random.

I wanted to stay a bit longer but John was supposed to meet someone in Toronto that evening so we kind of had to go. So we went. But yeah, there’s a lot to do in Niagara Falls. We could have spent 3 days there, easy.

Again, I can’t remember what we talked about the whole way up. It must have been something, but yeah, I have no clue what it was we talked about.

Got to Toronto and checked in, while John met his mentor. The rest of us went to the Skydome for a Blue Jays game. We were hours late so only managed to catch about 3 innings. But we snuck in to the lower deck really close to the field. If you calculate the cost of those tickets with how much of the game we saw, we got about our money’s worth for the tickets we actually paid for.

The Blue Jays were playing the Mariners, which is partly why we went. Dave made a bunch of awesome signs in Japanese, but since we were so late, we didn’t bring them with us. Which is a crying shame. He made some choice ones, like “Even Celine Dion likes Ichiro!” complete with pictures. Or my suggestion, “Chretien, Mulroney… Ichiro!” That’s funny in any language. But oh well.

Because Ichiro was there, there were tons of Japanese around. A lot of them in our area (first base side, just above the visiting team’s clubhouse) trying to catch a glimpse of him as he came in from the outfield and sticking around afterwards hoping for an autograph.

Another interesting thing is that they had cheerleaders at the game. Ugly ones, but cheerleaders nonetheless. In that sense it reminded me of Stanford (ouch). I went to a baseball game in Korea once and they had cheerleaders there also, doing roughly the same thing. I like it, personally.

I liked the SkyDome also. I’d rank it third of the ballparks I’ve been to. I dunno, I remember when it first opened it looked huge for some reason on TV. And it is huge. But more intimate than I thought it would be. Of course, we snuck into the lower deck, about the 15th row. Anything’s intimate at that distance.

The garlic fries were a disappointment though. I don’t know why the quality of these differ from park to park, but it does. I still think the ones at the Coliseum are the best. The ones at the Skydome were among the worst I’ve had.

The Skydome is interesting because it has all these places “built in”. Like everyone knows there’s a hotel past center field with rooms that face the field. There’s a Hard Rock Cafe in the second deck. Stuff like that. We took a brief walk around and saw the Hard Rock Cafe. Whatever, just like every other Hard Rock Cafe. I do think, though, that unlike Planet Hollywood and, from what I hear, Rainforest Cafe, HRC has decent food. My opinion.

So we went back to the hotel and John wasn’t there. So we took off, I believe in search of bubble tea, but I’m not sure. It’s hard to remember what we did. The thing with John is it’s hard to know what he might have been thinking. Dave is probably best at it which is why he thought it was OK to take off. So we did. We explored some of Toronto Chinatown. Went to a random place. This place had literally hundreds of items on the menu. I’m not exaggerating – they were numbered. I think in the 400s. Anyway, I got spaghetti with black pepper steak. Not bad. But we couldn’t find any bubble tea that was open. Like in Vancouver, the places to go are outside the city.

I can’t remember if this happened this night or the next night, but we parked the car in a lot right next to the hotel and struck up a conversation with the attendant there. Anyway, it turns out he was from Ethiopia. I learned from this guy Yosef at Stanford (I think he was in CCC – we went on Urban Immersion together) how to say hello in Ethiopian, so I said it to the guy.

I’m telling you, his whole expression changed. At least to my eyes. He was surprised in a pleasant way and it made a good impression. I dunno, there’s something powerful about that, reaching a guy on his level, even if it’s something small like just saying hello. There’s a lesson there somewhere but I’m not articulate enough to figure out what it is.

That’s pretty much it. I’m not sure if we shared or not that night, it was too long ago. Pretty boring huh? I think the next day is more interesting but don’t count on it.

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