Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Border Views

We enjoyed a rather marvellous day. Cuppa performed something of a miracle by managing to get me out the door and on the bike before nine o'clock. The day was cooler and less humid to begin with, and given the relatively early hour, we biked in relative and enjoyable comfort.

After doing our 45k/28mi and showering, we ended up down by the St Clair River under the bridge that connects us with Port Huron, Michigan. It almost always seems 10°F cooler there by the water, right next to Lake Huron, and so it was very pleasant there today when the normal temperature around here was in the mid-eighties Fahrenheit, which is rather cool for this summer.

Although I have blogged a bit about this before, in Bean American for example, I was almost dumbfounded by the stark contrast between the two sides of the border today. I counted maybe fifteen cars on the American side (far left above — sorry about the distance), but there were probably well over one hundred cars on our side (far right above). People were out on the Canadian side, strolling, sitting on benches and lawn chairs, enjoying the day as they saw fit. I could see no bodies on the American side.

We have three chip (French Fry) trucks under the bridge on our side (one is shown to the left above). There is nothing on the other side. Consider that there is another chip truck and more people in a park to the north of the bridge and two chip trucks and even more people in another park just to the south.

Canadian kids were floating with the current in droves (see middle above). There was always some group or other going by. The current is so strong that it carries them right along; they don't have to swim; they simply go with the flow and have a blast. There were no American kids in the water on the other side. There were also usually about twenty kids or more hanging around right under the bridge. I photographed a few of them to the right (above), and you can see one boy diving off. Again, there were no American kids cavorting on the other side.

Canadian seagulls were even out in force, but there American counterparts were nowhere to be seen. And I couldn't help but include the picture of the Dad and his baby although it has no relevance whatsoever. He had biked the baby there in the cart or whatever that contraption is called. (If you squint, you might be able to see that he is holding the baby up against his shoulder. How wonderful is that?)

I wonder what the differences inland would have been today. Were Americans biking on sideroad and trails like Canadians were, or were they walking the trails and enjoying the same day in the same way? If not, why not?

I can't explain the differences to any great degree. Yes, for whatever reason Americans don't do chip trucks (at least where I have been) so that might explain a small part of it. But we have several music festivals by the water in summer, and they don't. It's not like the physical environment is any different on this side of the river. They have the same climate on the other side: same summers, same winters. Why aren't they out enjoying such a fine summer day too? What the heck are they all doing anyway?

It's all very curious to this old fella.

(PS: I'm not making any value judgements; I am simply observing and reporting.)



Heather said...

We have one of those "carts" to haul Maddie around in when we go for family bike rides. We call ours the "buggie", but I have no idea what its official name is :-)

So glad you had a nice ride today. It was quite pleasant biking weather here too.

It IS rather curious why there's a distinct difference on either sides of the water.

Valerie - Riding Solo said...

I used to live by a pond and creek (crick) and we were in or on them every day. I don't know where the city kids were!

In this heat a trip to the shore is a treat. We rode the bikes up around Interlochen a week or two ago. It's 20 degrees cooler.

I hate packing, luck to you!

blue2go said...

Those are beautiful photos! I'd love to see that area in person! We have a Lakewalk that's full of people, bikes, skaters, strollers and dogs almost any time of the day during the summer. Also Bayfront Park with music and events, wonder why it's so quiet on the other side over there?

-epm said...

There were no American kids in the water on the other side.

The American kids were home playing the new X-Box game "Extreme Virtual Swimming," slouched in their bean-bag chairs in their air conditioned game rooms.

There were also usually about twenty kids or more hanging around right under the bridge. I photographed a few of them to the right (above), and you can see one boy diving off. Again, there were no American kids cavorting on the other side.

Given the prohibative cost of medical care and the ever-present threat of a law suit, most American parents frown on letting their kids engage in such activities. Besides, for the same reasons, most municipal parks and recreation areas in America now ban any activity that could possibly -- no matter how remotely -- result in an injury greater than (or equal to) a stubbed toe.

Besides, groups of cavorting youths is just the first step on the path to gang violence. We'll have no cavorting here, thank you very much.

As for the dearth of American chips trucks, it's because McDonalds bought them all then shut them down. It's a plot, I tell ya!

Lora said...

I would add that it all the children are involoved with scheduled activities like camp. There's just no time for frolicking these days, no profit in it.

And chip trucks? Have you any idea how many trans fats are in chips? Surely you are trying to add to the obesity problem in our country.

Gina said...

Ok, so does a chip truck produce only chips, or are there other things, too?

I have never heard the term before. It seems from your picture they are akin to what we call catering trucks over here.

Anvilcloud said...

They are basically just chip trucks although they may provide a few other things as well. They do chips the old fashioned way: each chip floating on its own in the bubbling vat. Then they scoop the chips out. Chips under the bridge are a local tradition, but you'll find chip trucks scattered here and there in many Canadian cities, at least in Ontario.

Guinevere Meadow said...

I wish we had chip trucks here!! That sounds so much more quaint and homey, rather than going to an institutionalied commercial place of business for my trans fats. :)