We have two lovely cats for re-homing in the Columbus, Ohio area. Both are females and good natured. Their owner is moving to live with her daughter and cannot take the cats with her. They are of course free to a good loving home. They can be separated.
Looking back thru my pics and I decided to put a few of these up tonight. They are from A D FARROW, the Harley Davidson store in Columbus, Ohio. They date from June 2010. A great visit if ya get a chance.
Bejasus. From 2011.
St Patrick’s Day dawned bright and sunny and I awoke with a strong urge to eat corned beef and cabbage washed down with green beer. I tickled my lovely coleen awake and bounded from my bed ready to do justice to the great day.
I arose and looked for me pipe but none was available so I had to make do with a cigarette. I couldn’t find me shilelagh either so sadly I dressed and Faffy the leprechaun was ready.I just had to be careful not to set me beard alight when I lit my fags.
Me and me lovely leprechaunette headed out the door in search of a leprechaun watering hole. We drove and Faffy saw a sign for the fair city of Dublin but his leprechaunette told him that this was the USA and the real Dublin was many miles distant beyond the end of the rainbow…
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I miss Ohio. I miss us there.
And deepest snow
That land of rivers
Paddling in their gentle flow.
I miss our evenings
The flicker of lightning
On a warm summer night
Visits from humming birds
Holding you tight
Red tailed Hawks
And White tailed deer
Turtles and bullfrogs
View from my eyrie
As people walk dogs
I remember days out
Short North market
Chili ice cream
Flowers and music
Soft Ohio accents
And Harleys … so many
Kissing goodbye, kissing hello
A note in your lunchbox
Missing you so.
Columbus and Cleveland
Cincinnati, Holmes County
Long drives, Starbucks and Amish
Holding hands at the mall
Red ball sun rising on the horizon
Driving the freeway
White clouds in a huge Ohio sky
Coffee and smoke stops
My hand on your thigh.
Our song of the night
And missing awakening
With you in grey morning light.
Nearly two years ago now.
I left you once more
I said my goodbyes
And still I think quietly
God bless you Buckeyes …
© 2013 Stan Rogers. All rights reserved.
Here I was again. Back in the US Border Patrol’s Secondary Investigation unit at Toronto Airport. I still couldn’t believe it. I had done all this yesterday. I had my passport stamped and my I-94 entry permit to enter the US stapled into it valid until July 2011. And just because my flight was cancelled last night I was back here again? WHY? What could of changed since yesterday?
After about 45 minutes of waiting and muttered swearing I was called up. Not to the original lady but further back to the luggage inspection table. My luggage was opened and checked. I was questioned as to why I was entering the USA again. Unbelievable! But I was duly authorised, processed, sanctioned and allowed once again to get my sweet butt into the US. I made my way back through security. Belt off, shoes off, laptop out. Beep goes the scanner, out comes the wand and I am through. Now puh-lease don’t cancel my flight again tonight. I had checked the weather earlier and it looked clear… hopefully.
I made my way to the bar. The same one as yesterday and I paid an extortionate price again for a couple of beers and a Gin and Tonic. I could see the runways and aprons and they looked clear and so this was it. The final leg of my journey back to my Raven. I swigged the last of my G&T and made my way to the gate. After about 30 minutes we embarked.
My flight to Columbus was to be on a Bombardier Dash 8. It only carries 39 passengers and inside it looks more like a bus than a plane. And … this plane has propellers …Eek! The flight is less than half full so I can choose my seat. I do. As near the front as possible and in an aisle seat. I chat with the passenger across the aisle. It turns out he is from Nova Scotia. The part he is from is populated mostly by people whose families originated in Dorset England and they still speak with the vestiges of the Dorset accent. Amazing. He is researching this and is in the process of writing a book and so I give him my card. Hope I’ll hear from him soon. We also seem to share an interest in Arthurian legends and he shows me a book he is reading. I do remember reading the same one many years back myself.
And here we go. The lights in the cabin dim. We belt up and get the safety spiel from the charming lady in charge of the cabin. I watch as the props spool up and we head off towards the runway. It seems a long way and I wonder if the pilot has decided to drive to Ohio instead but no. We stop briefly and the engine noise grows. I can’t even see the props. They are just a blur and then…. we are off. Eek! One of the properties of the Dash 8 is it’s short distance take-off and in what seems an impossibly short time we are up. The aircraft shakes and shudders. My heart beat speeds up and I watch in spellbound terror as the undercarriage retracts and a snowy Toronto grows small below me. But soon the seatbelt sign goes off with it’s comforting ‘ding’ and we settle in for the short flight across Lake Erie and down through Ohio to Columbus.
Time for a Glenfiddich I feel and so I ask the charming stewardess for a ginger ale. It arrives along with a plastic glass filled with ice. I pull out a Glenfiddich and screw off the top. The stewardess appears again with nibbles and tells me I shouldn’t be using my own whiskey. Now after the 24 hours I’ve just had I am willing to fight her if she tries to take it away but no. She smiles and tells me to put it away as I can have some from her ‘private stash’. A minute later she is back with 2 miniatures of Johnny Walker. I think of asking her to marry me as I pop the cap and top up my glass with scotch and ginger ale. One BIG sip and the world is put to rights. I even dare to look out of the window. These small planes don’t fly that high and the night must be clear as I admire the twinkling lights below. I can make out a shoreline and I raise my glass as we cross the lake and this cowboy is back in America.
I even start to enjoy the flight as I chat to my friend across the aisle and the stewardess as I mellow out on Johnny Walker and before long the announcement comes that we are starting our approach into Columbus. I look out of the window and below me Columbus stretches out in the night. That old familiar skyline looks beautiful by night. I can see roads below as traffic moves around the city. The small plane banks and we belt in as the stewardess collects our empties. Lower and lower till I can see individual cars driving along. We even pass over a sports stadium. The beautiful green field shines in it’s floodlit glory. A brief moment of fear as the undercarriage lowers with a disconcerting thud and then we are down. I feel like I am back home.
It doesn’t take long for us to disembark and to be honest I can hardly contain my excitement. I am wearing the biggest grin as I stroll through the terminal. No immigration to go through. That was all done in Toronto. And then … there she is. My baby looking a beautiful vision in a long red coat. That smile and Raven black hair that I have missed so badly for the last 6 months. All the problems of my flight and my last abortive trip fade as I walk towards her. I can see she is taking pictures as I walk up to her and into her arms. “Baby I’m home.”
Next I collect ‘the luggage’. It’s good to see it has arrived safely too and we leave the terminal. I am in a daze by now. Happiness and relief that I got here this time and Raven tells me that we are being picked up. I suspect her daughter has come to get us but I am totally gob-smacked as a massive white limo glides up in front of us. “Surprise baby.” she chuckles.
© 2011 Stan Rogers. All rights reserved.
The flight was good. Nice and smooth with no turbulence. Just how I like it. The food wasn’t bad as airline food goes and I even got free wine. Great stuff Air Canada. Unusually for me I actually watched a film all the way through ( She’s Out of My League) which wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. I had a couple of scotches and almost cheered when the pilot announced we’d be arriving 15 minutes early, pretty good as we’d been 40 minutes late taking off. But all the time I was dreading my arrival in some ways.
Last time I took this trip I ended up going no farther than Toronto. Before you transfer to the US bound plane you have to clear US immigration in Toronto and last time I didn’t. The US Border Patrol told me that as I had spent 6 months in the USA already last year I had to be out of the country for 6 months before I could return. I had only spent 4 months out last October and so I got turned back. Yes it turned out to be a very expensive day trip to Canada for me along with the heartbreak of being just a few hundred miles away from my Raven and not seeing her but the full tale of woe was posted earlier on in an earlier blog which you can read HERE…. So here I am wondering if I’ll get problems again entering the US. I had even emailed them beforehand to check. Fine they told me. No problems they told me but they told me that last October too so I wasn’t putting a lot of faith in that.
The descent began into Toronto at and we landed at 2:45pm local time. This had to be one of the smoothest landings I have ever encountered. Hardly a bump before we landed back on Terra firma. I offered a prayer of thanks to the gods of aeronautical engineering and disembarked wondering how the next few hours would go. Luckily my connecting flight to Columbus Ohio wasn’t until 8:20pm so I had plenty of time to get through immigration … hopefully. I was disappointed not to see snow on the ground in Canada as we landed although it did start to snow a little as we disembarked.
I made my way through the Terminal at Toronto and boy was my heart pumping. I hadn’t let on to my Raven how worried I was about being turned away again but I think she knew and bless her she didn’t let on. But anyway finally I reached the luggage carousel. I filled my immigration form in and waited. Before long I spied one of my cases. I have learned to make my cases easily identifiable just for this purpose by putting bright blue straps around them. It makes it a lot easier than trying to spot your case amongst the rest of the similar luggage. I loaded it onto my trolley and awaited the second one… and waited … and waited. Finally I was the only person left there. Oh buggerit! Don’t tell me that the bugga’s had lost half of my luggage? I checked with one of the guys working nearby. He took my bag receipt and disappeared ‘backstage’. I finally saw my lonely case appear and breathed a sigh of relief. It turned out to have got stuck in the conveyor loading area.
Next it was Border Patrol time. I girded my loins and made it through to the immigration hall. Now Border Patrol officers are a special breed. I think one of the entry tests must be to tell them jokes. If they smile???… FAIL! Mercifully the queue was short and I met my man. The usual unsmiling questions followed along with fingerprinting and a retinal scan. And just like last time I got the big red ‘SI’ scrawled across my file. I was directed to the ‘Secondary Investigation’ office, handed over my file and was told to sit. I waited … and waited. My nerves were shot by now and a very very large scotch with a smoke seemed an impossible wish. Was my nightmare about to repeat itself. Along with an inability to smile it also seems a necessity for the Border Patrol not to hurry. Those guys really know how to take their time.
After about an hour I was called. Here we go again I thought. I mentally prepared myself for the third degree and the luggage search. But … it never happened. The guy was actually courteous and after a minimum of questions he apologised to me and told me that he’d made a note in my file so I wouldn’t have problems in future. I could of kissed that guy. I would happily have had his children and mentioned him in my will. And I was through. I had to book in my luggage for the onward flight to Ohio and go through the customary shoes off, belt off, laptop out, beep beep of the scanner but the security guys must’ve thought I was on something judging by the smile on my face. I wanted to shake them all by the hand and thank them personally … but nah. I just made my way to the departures lounge in search of a beer or a coffee. No smoke unfortunately but I needed a drink.
I called Raven first though. I was a little wicked and told her I had bad news. I heard her voice falter so quickly I told her. “The bad news is that you have to pick me up in a few hours … I’m through babe.” We were both over the moon. Only a few hours now and I’d be back in my baby’s arms in Ohio. I decided to get a coffee first as I still had a few hours to waste till I embarked. Finding a ‘hole in the wall’ Starbucks I ordered a large Pike Place, laced it heavily with cream and Splenda (Gotta watch the figure ya know) and headed off to find a seat. I found one right by a shoe shine guy. I nodded hello as I sat down and promptly spilt a good measure of coffee down my jeans. As my baby says “Ya can’t take me anywhere.” but did I care?….Naaaa. I was on my way back home and still sporting a huge smile. The Rabbi having his shoes polished must have thought the beaming coffee stained idiot in the pork pie hat was an escaped lunatic.
I finished my coffee and wandered around the shops for a while. No mistaking I was in the ‘Land of the Beaver’. There were raccoon hats, fluffy mooses dressed as mounties, Maple-leaf beer glasses and all sorts of local paraphernalia by the box-load. I contemplated buying a raccoon tail hat till I saw the price. Maybe I should get into the raccoon tail supply business? This is Canada, there must be shed loads of the little critters willing to donate their tails to help out with my finances?
Looking at my watch I realised that I only had an hour or two till embarkation on the last leg of my journey and it was fast approaching beer o’clock. I headed off to find a nice bar safe in the knowledge that only a few hours remained before I was back with my baby …..
Little did I know how wrong I was…..
© 2011 Stan Rogers. All rights reserved.
So here I am in Toronto Airport. I have just been refused entry into the US by the American border patrol who have handed me over to Canadian immigration. Mercifully the Canadians are great and I get the feeling that there is no love lost between the competing border guards. The Canadian guard asks me a couple of questions and that’s it. He stamps my passport and I am allowed into Canada. I tell him my tale of woe. He smiles and grins. “Fucking bunch of ass holes.”
he says in reference to the US Border guards. I must admit that I agree.
And that’s it. I am in Toronto, Canada. Alone and wondering what the hell to do next. I look at my watch and see that in ten minutes time I should have been landing in Columbus Ohio. I call my Raven immediately now that I can use my phone. She is waiting for me to walk through arrivals there and I tell her the bad news. We are both devastated. Only about 200 miles apart but that might as well be 20,000 miles. I am stuck. In a foreign country and alone after travelling all day. What to do next?
I tell my poor Raven to go home and we will talk soon but I need to get sorted out. It is a daunting feeling in many ways. Cast adrift in a foreign city 3500 miles from home. So my first stop is at a bureau de change to swap 50 US bucks for some Canadian cash. I guess I won’t be needing the US ones this trip now and I am struck by the friendliness of the lady there. I tell her briefly of my plight and she even fiddles with her machine so I only pay $2 commission instead of $4. She is also disdainful of the US border patrol bless her. I move on to Starbucks and grabbing a coffee I balance it on my airport trolley with my two suitcases and head rapidly for the exit to smoke my first cigarette since London about 14 hours previously. It tastes so good and I have another while watching the steady stream of limos, taxis and shuttle buses passing through.
Next job I suppose is to sort out a return ticket asap, and so I wheel my world on a trolley over to the Air Canada booking desk. Again I tell my tale of woe to the counter clerk who again is so friendly and sympathetic. She manages to get me on the early morning flight back to London at 07:50 and I am really surprised that she doesn’t charge me a cent. All other times I have changed flight details it has cost around a $100 so this is excellent news at least. She asks me if I need a hotel but I reckon I can kip in the airport till morning and by now I am feeling so shattered. I’ve been on the go for about 24 hours now and even the last sleep I had was short and broken by my pre flight nerves. So I need more coffee and nicotine now that my return is sorted.
And so back outside the terminal with more coffee and my fags. I start talking to a young Chinese guy who is doing the same as me, smoking and drinking coffee. Of course I again go through my tale and he commiserates with me. Then he asks me if I can drive. Of course. And he offers me a job driving for his parents … Amazing. I’ve only been here an hour or so and I have a job offer. Gawd knows what I’d be doing. Taxi-ing or food deliveries? Who knows but I thank him and regretfully refuse his kind offer but I did get tempted for a few seconds there. I just can’t get over these Canadians. Everyone of them has been so damned friendly to me. I am impressed and my faith is restored in human nature to some extent.
My Chinese friend flicks away his cigarette and high fives me before going back into the terminal. I contemplate people and think of an old saying. ‘Rules are for the guidance of wise men and obedience by fools.’ I smiled and thought how appropriate that is in regard to the US border patrol. I finish my own ciggie and re-enter the terminal too.
Raven calls me back and I tell her of my progress but she won’t hear of me sleeping in the airport lounge and she insists I get a hotel for the night. Is it any wonder that I love this woman so much? And so I go back outside and ask one of the shuttle bus drivers for the number of a reasonable hotel. He suggests the Comfort Suites on Carling View Road and I call Raven back with the number. Bless her, she arranges it all for me and even though her computer has gone ‘tit’s up’ she visits a 24 hour fax place in Columbus to book a night for me. By now I am drooping noticeably but she calls me back in about half an hour to tell me that she has sorted it. I grab another coffee and a sandwich from Tim Horton‘s this time and head back out to the shuttle buses.
But all the buses are for specific hotels and I am so tired that I forgot the name of mine. Damn … Bright idea. I have the phone number written in my wallet so back into the terminal and depositing some Canadian cash into a payphone I call them. They remind me of the name and tell me the driver will look out for me when he arrives in about 5 minutes. Excellent and so I go back to the shuttle stop. For some reason I go to look for my wallet….. arghhhhhhh. It’s gone. I flap about wildly like a wounded duck, slapping pockets but no … it’s gone. I run (well I move as fast as I can pushing a trolley with 2 suitcases on) and thank gawd. There it is. Still laying open on the payphone. I grab it quickly and rush out yet again just as my bus turns up. Sleep beckons.
© 2010 Stan Rogers. All rights reserved.
And so my ordeal began …
The landing was smooth into Toronto. I picked up my luggage. I filled in my forms and headed into the airport. I had to follow the signs to ‘Transiting into the USA.’ Great. No problems. I lined up ready at the immigration desks. I have to make this clear first of all. I was in Toronto Airport, Canada but the USA Border Patrol are based there and you have to go through them before getting your connecting flight to the USA. I still had almost 3 hours before my flight to Columbus Ohio so it all seemed a doddle.
Now firstly I think the US Border Patrol recruit from the kind of people who seem to find smiling to be the equivalent of farting in front of a maiden aunt. It just don’t happen and yes I have met them before at Newark, Buffalo and all points East. I know they are the forefront of democracy against the evil off all that is not American but these guys take it to extremes.
I meet my immigration officer. I know I am in for the long run. He gives me the usual run-down. I expect that. I crack a few jokes. They go totally over his head. Nothing unexpected there then and next he squiggles a huge red ‘I’ on my file and tells me they will need to ask me more questions. I am led away to the immigration suite.
I place my yellow folder on the pile and sit to await the fun. And before I continue … the words in the squared brackets are my unspoken words. If I had dared to utter them I think I would still be manacled to a bench in a cell while being forced to watch episodes of As The World Turns.
Firstly I get a guy who reminds me of Danny DeVito with hair and the usual Border Patrol symptom of PDD (Personality Deficit Disorder)
HIM…Please sit down sir while we process you. You must turn your phone off. [Resistance would be futile.]
ME… My pleasure. Will this take long? [Off course it will but I have to ask?]
HIM… I can’t say sir just be patient, we are doing our best. [Yea right.]
I sit and be patient with great difficulty. Plenty of time yet. But I start to get worried when people who are shepherded in after me get their forms stamped and go through to their connecting flights. Without being overtly impatient I start to pace and look at my watch while giving him [Hurry the fuck up] looks.
I am handed over to a young ginger haired lady. About 25 going on 50.
HER … Mr Rogers I am making some enquiries about you. Please be patient and sit down. I look at her face. It and smiles look like they are strangers. I just pity her boyfriend. [I bet he needs his passport and an entry permit before making whoopee amongst the ginger pubes?]
She plays with her computer terminal…[OMG she can’t be on fecking Facebook?]
I get the horrors that she is checking my websites!
She disappears holding my file.
And I get passed onto my last officer. 6′ 4” and built like a brick shit house.
HIM … Please stand here Mr Rogers. He takes my picture [One for the album] and my finger prints. Now sir why are you requesting permission to enter the USA?
I am visiting my girlfriend.
HIM. But you have already spent six months here this year?
Before I go on, this guy has the most Hispanic accent. He says ‘is’ I hear ‘Eez’.
ME. Yes that is correct but I have a copy of an email Sir that says this should not be a problem. I show him the missive and the lines that say that my visit shouldn’t be a problem.
HIM .. But thees is from ze office people. Zey ‘ave no idea. It is irrelevant. [Resistance eez futile]
HIM … I ‘ave a problem that you want to enter MA contri sir.
ME … Why eez, sorry is that.[ At least I am flying in. I bet your relatives took the wet route across the Rio Grande.]
HIM. I ave to confer weeth my boss. [For fecks sake.]
I return to my seat. By now I have missed my connection. I have been in this bloody room for about 3 hours now and I am getting brassed off. I can’t call my Raven. I get interrogated after this. My luggage is opened and inspected. I get asked if I suffer from a mental illness? [Yea I am mad at you bastards.] I get asked if I have money? I show him my wallet and lots of dollars. I show him bank statements. He seems to have problems with Pounds and numbers larger than ten. But to be fair he does seem sympathetic to me and he tries again with El Jefe, but no luck and eventually I am told I will not be allowed to enter the USA as I haven’t spent enough time outside since my last visit. Yes I am gutted. I ask to use the toilet and I am escorted to one. It is protected by a key pad. The Danny DeVito with hair lookalike stands guard outside as I pee.
And then I am led along with my luggage and deposited in the Canadian immigration office… My mind is in turmoil.
© 2010 Stan Rogers. All rights reserved.