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What a rough couple of weeks. Hurricane Sandy which became known as Super Storm Sandy which became Super Pain Sandy hit the New York and surrounding areas on October 29, 2012 like a punch in the gut. Watching the devastation was heartbreaking. Entire neighborhoods flooded. Lives lost. Houses and lifelong belongings and memories swept away within minutes.  While I was safe and warm here in Toronto, my family is all back there so it was a very worrisome time for me. The most difficult part of all this for me?  Not being able to get in touch with any one in my family. With power and phone service out and cell and internet spotty at best, it was days before I could get an update from anyone down there. It was such a strange and unsettling feeling. In these days of social media, with everything being tweeted before it seems it even happened, the idea of no communication at all can be a startling sensation.

Millions were left without power, some even weeks later. Gas shortages caused tempers to flare in long line-ups. No electricity, no lights, no hot water, no heat- I don’t know how my family and all those others did it. Would I be able to take it that long? I applaud their strength and determination and only hope I would have that courage.

Below is a video shot and edited by my cousin, Scott Meyer, a professional film editor. It shows the damage and devastation Hurricane Sandy did in Howard Beach, New York, an area hit particularly hard.

Living here in Toronto, I have experienced my share of weather. I think we only have two seasons here. Every year it seems we skip fall and spring and have extended summers and winters. Yes, I have felt cold. I have experienced snow, often more than I can deal with. I have also sweated through hot, humid summers. But, I have never been caught in a weather event that devastating or destroying. I lose my power for more than an hour and I’m a basket case. I remember the great blackout of 2003. My power was out for 25 hours. It was terrible. I remember following the radio coverage as neighborhood by neighborhood got power back while I was still in the dark. Nothing is more irritating than hearing ‘with the exception of small pockets, power has been restored to 95% of Toronto’ when you’re residing in one of “those small pockets” But that was only one day and it was in the summer. I can’t imagine going without power for over a week, in November when the days are short and temperatures drop near freezing at night.

Would you be able to hold up under those trying circumstances? Have you ever experienced anything like that and how did you cope? Let me know by leaving me a comment.

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If you missed Part One,  and the exciting details of my outgoing trip, click here.

As promised, here is the account of my trip back to Toronto

 July 26

8:00 AM- Leave relative’s house for train station to take railroad to the city. Looks like it will rain.

8:30- Arrive at Huntington train station on Long Island. Buy ticket to Penn Station.

8:55- Board train to Penn Station. Take up more than one seat with luggage.

9:30- Mid-point of train trip. It is raining very hard right now. Train is getting crowded. Getting stares from wet passengers for taking up more than one seat.

10:10- Arrive at Penn Station. Have to walk about 8 blocks to Megabus stop. Still raining out. Have to navigate crowded city with luggage and umbrella.

10:45- Find bus stop. It is outside and uncovered. Glad it has stopped raining. There is already a line of people.

12:00- Estimated Departure time. We have yet to board the bus.

12:15-  Start to board the bus. Again faced with decision of whether to go upstairs or downstairs. Family with several children heads upstairs. Decide to sit downstairs.

12:30- Pull out to begin return trip to Toronto

3:00- Make rest stop. Decide not to buy any food at this time, but get off bus to stretch legs and use bathroom.

5:00- Make scheduled stop in Syracuse. Buy sandwich from Subway.

6:00- Enjoying my turkey Sub. Bus driver suddenly pulls off thruway and announces we have forgotten a passenger and are returning to Syracuse, 38 miles away. Talk with angry passengers about inconsiderate passenger.

7:30- Arrive in Syracuse, again. The forgotten passenger is nowhere to be found.

7:45- Forgotten passenger found inside terminal, an older, confused woman. We forgive her. Passenger anger now turned towards driver.

8:00 – Leave Syracuse for the second time.

10:00- Arrive at border crossing-customs and immigration. Once again, gather my belongings and pass through quickly. Canadian border agents not as happy to see me as American agents.

10:30- Two mysterious pieces of unclaimed luggage noticed. Turn out to belong to the forgotten passenger from Syracuse. Crisis averted.

11:00-Two passengers delaying us from leaving. Remaining passengers leave overheated bus to wait outside and yell at bus driver.

11:45- Leave border: Final destination Toronto.

1:15- Finally arrive at downtown Toronto bus terminal. Wait for luggage to be unloaded from bus. Grab taxi for home.

1:40- Arrive home almost 18 hours after leaving Long Island. Take anti nausea pill to help me fall asleep. (See first leg of trip)

Well that’s my trip. Would I do it again? I don’t know. It was a very long, yet interesting trip. It was extremely tiring but was a lot cheaper.
Are there any other bus travellers out there? Is there anyone who actually prefers this mode of travel to flying?

Leave me a comment and let me know.

 

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Brown Sugar Pop Tarts

Most of you who have read these pages before know I have some beefs with the lack of availability of some foods here in Canada, decent pizza, bagels, etc. But there is another area that needs to be discussed. I’m talking about foods that can be purchased here but only in limited selections. I may live in a country that offers freedom and opportunity but I don’t have access to a wide choice of Pop-Tarts®.

Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts® have got to be one of the greatest foods ever invented. Enjoyed both warm out of toaster or straight out of the package they are the perfect example of food that is both tasty and convenient. Great at home or on the go. Don’t get me wrong I am very happy that they are available for sale here in Toronto, but why the limitations on flavors? At last count, there were 29 flavors available for sale in the USA.  In Canada: seven flavors. Not to mention the shortage of special collections like the Ice Cream Shoppe line or even packages of minis, which opens up a whole new world of Pop-Tart® enjoyment. US varieties also offer unfrosted and special seasonal editions like Pumpkin Pie and Sugar Cookie. There are even lower fat versions and one’s with added fiber, which speaking from personal experience have proven quite effective when need arises.  But here in Canada with the exception of S’mores and Chocolate Chip you are basically left with just your traditional chocolate fudge, a childhood favorite, and your fruit flavored fillings, never a big hit with me.

Canada is a multi-cultural country with people from all corners of the world. Yet, we can’t even feature a double-digit amount of flavors of Pop Tarts®. Why not some special Canadian only Pop-Tart® introductions? Then again these are people who thought Ketchup and Dill pickle made for good Potato Chip selections so maybe its best to keep them out of the toaster pastry business.

Do you have a favourite Pop Tart flavor? Maybe a traditional favourite or a now retired variety? How do you like to eat them hot or cold? I have even heard of people eating them frozen. That daring I’m not. I’d love to hear what you have to say so leave me a comment.

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World Trade Center Tribute in Light

Tribute in Light

September 11th. A date that needs no explanation. We all remember where we were that day ten years ago. I am probably one of the few that did not watch it as it unfolded. A light schedule, and a beautiful fall morning, I decided to take advantage and run a few errands by foot. Nothing seemed out of the usual while I was out. It was only when I returned home I realized the world as I knew it had changed.

I remember that short period of time, hours that felt like days, when I did not know the status of my relatives who work down in Manhattan.  While they all were physically fine, some have memories that will never fade. Maybe I felt guilty by having a couple of extra hours of innocence, but I could not leave the television coverage for the next week. I remember my mother dragging me to her friend’s previously planned party. It was like she was telling me it was okay to join life again.

I look at my soon to be ten year old cousin today, her mother pregnant with her at the time, the surprise girl after three boys. How close was she to being one of those September 11th babies, never to know one of their parents?  I think about those children and how they are doing today.

Even though I live in Canada the tragedy and pain of that day was felt as if it happened around the corner. I think when it’s a place where you know people, a place you call home, the hurt feels deeper. I never felt more an American than on that day. Ten years have past. Like all Americans tried to do, I went on.  As the seldom heard lyrics of America the Beautiful go:

“O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!”

The site of the World Trade Center is being rebuilt. The 9/11 Memorial opens today and the 9/11 Memorial Museum one year from now. One World Trade Center will be the tallest building in the United States. Hey, New Yorkers still have to gloat. Hope lives on. But we all will remember what happened ten years ago today on a bright clear Tuesday morning.

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