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Out and About – Week of July 14th

When I think of getting Out and About, my ideas usually center on St. Joe County, Portage, Kalamazoo, and parts of northern Indiana. Traveling out of country is taking it a bit far, but every so often it’s a good idea to go someplace where a passport is needed. In doing this, your appreciation of the good old USA is strengthened.

We just returned from a seven-day visit to our neighbors to the north. Traveling to Canada is a great experience. The Canadians are quite hospitable and a good percentage of them know all the words to our “Star Spangled Banner”. It’s sad to think that you’d have to look really hard to find someone who knows the name of the Canadian national anthem, let alone the words. My wife practiced singing “O Canada” on the train between Windsor and Toronto. The melody is easier to hum than ours, and listening to either one can be an emotional experience.

The reason for our visit to Toronto was the Lions International Convention, which ran from July 4 through July 8. The highlights for me included seeing Neil Sedaka, Olivia Newton-John, and song writer David Foster. During Neil Sedaka’s concert, he mentioned that back in his early days of song writing, one could easily understand the lyrics. When lyrics were difficult to come by, he’d throw in a couple of “Doo Lang-a-Langs”. Makes sense to me.

Another highlight was the parade; this four-hour spectacle took place on Saturday. Approximately one hundred and twenty countries were represented. Watching a parade of this caliber makes one realize just how many different cultures make up this world of ours. I noticed that the highest level of spirit came from those countries whose economy was much poorer than ours. In other words, those with less have more positive attitudes and are more appreciative of what they do have.

The Fourth of July passed without any fireworks. We did watch “The Fourth of July Celebration From Washington, D.C.” on TV Friday evening. It wasn’t quite the same without live fireworks and a hot dog or two.

I’m sure many of you have traveled throughout Canada, but for those who have never ventured north of the border, it is an experience you’ll not want to miss. A passport is something you’ll need to have with you. You may be asked to show it, whether you’re entering Canada or returning to the United States. The customs people seem to be quite relaxed. They are interested in knowing where you are going, where you’ll be staying, and why are you going there. I strongly advise that you don’t try to rush them along. They have a job to do and they do it quite well.

We crossed the border at Detroit and took the Ambassador Bridge into Windsor. From Windsor, we traveled by train to Toronto. Staying in any major city can be quite expensive, and Toronto is Canada’s largest city, so you can do the math.

Toronto is a city under construction, so making use of a taxi is the best way to get from point A to point B. Like any other major city, pedestrians and bicyclists are everywhere. It made me wonder why there were so many pedestrians visible at 10 AM. Don’t they have jobs? Why aren’t they already at work?

A few final words of advice that I feel I should share. If you’re planning to travel outside of your home area, and this would include traveling out of state for any length of time, you should contact your credit card company. They know where your card is, and they want to make sure you are with your card. Finally, please don’t announce your travel plans on Facebook. Burglars have Facebook accounts, too, and they’re always looking for people who love to announce their travel plans.

Our Canada trip was wonderful. It was great to get Out and About to some place new, and, of course, it’s always great to get back home and sleep in your own bed.

See you Out and About!