Woe-begotten by the lack of retail opportunities on Good Friday2, Meaghan had the brilliant idea to head to the Galleria Mall in Buffalo. I've apparently been before but it's definitely been a while. I've also never crossed the border as the driver before, which was unnervingly exhilarating. Save for the fact that we crossed at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge - which was apparently the only delayed border crossing in North America - the actual entry into the US was rather uneventful. The fun started when the GPS tried to save us some money.
Instead of taking down the I-90, the GPS took us through scenic North Tonawanda, where highlights include:
- Eight (8) traffic lights at the intersection of two (2) streets
- Obama/Biden '08 election signs3
- Cars running into bicycles
The mall was not terribly busy; many Ontario plates, plus some Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Massachusetts...uh oh...I've forgotten the rest. We saw plates from nine states. Woo! 18 per cent! We made friends with a highly perky JC Penney cashier, and a gentlemen who felt very passionately that if everyone acted like FYE (American HMV) and priced their CDs at $9.99, music downloading would cease to exist. He then called Metallica "jerks".4 We picked up a few good deals, and then headed over to Target, where a true masterpiece of retailiness took place.
It seems Meaghan's sister had a faulty hair straightener that set her back a pretty penny, and needed to be returned to a Target. To accomplish this, we purchased a replacement at one Target, carefully swapped the packaging, and returned it at another nearby Target (seriously, we looked at the GPS; there were five Targets within 10 kilometres). It was wonderfully sneaky, and wonderfully easy, and really made me feel as though there is hope for the retail business.
You would think that, with our shopping trip over, the day would lose its interest. You, however, would be wrong.
First, our trip home was going to include a trip to Niagara to see Rachel. Unfortunately, the Garmin GPS did not exactly want to take us the shortest route. Instead, it wanted to take us over the Hill Island Bridge...which is in Kingston...Buffalo to Niagara...shortest route...through Kingston. Brilliant! Luckily, we brought my TomTom, and it seemed to know how to get us there.
But, before we got there, we had to cross...duh-duh-duh...The Border. One thing I do remember about crossing back into Canada was that it is much harder than crossing out of Canada. And this Friday was no exception. First, there was the obligatory hour-and-a-half wait, but during that time we were able to work on our story. We were in New York for about seven hours. We went shopping at the mall. We're both Canadian. And, the important thing - we only bought $150 worth of merchandise. We figured it was a pretty believable amount, and not enough to result in having to pay duty. However, we were not aware that if you are out of the country for less than 24 hours, you are not actually allowed to bring anything back.5 Nor were we aware that we would get such a pleasant border guard. As such, we were saddled with a $24 duty charge.6
We did, however, successfully manage to get back into the country, without the necessity of a strip or automobile search, and got onto Niagara to see Rachel and Kevin.7 It was a relatively quick little visit, as we were both fairly exhausted, and still kind of fuming over our border incident, so we got out of there after a lovely dinner at Boston Pizza (not on The Hill). Overall, it was a great last minute trip, and it's given us a bunch of stories.
Oh, and I saw a weiner dog.
1 - Albeit, not as quickly as promised
2 - Which apparently is not lacking in America or Quebec. What happened to you, America and Quebec? Where are your lip service religious values?
3 - I mean, good choice, but I hope you're not still waiting to vote
4 - For...some reason
5 - JB says it's actually something like $32 you're allowed to bring back, but for all intents and purposes, nothing
6 - Turns out, we're excellent estimaters. We said $150 between the two of us: Meaghan - $47, Me - $97, Total - $144
7 - KevinKevinKevinKevin.