Snaps for Canada. And Cassadaga.

I've spent the past 8 days traveling through Ontario, Quebec and New York State. I'm happy to say that the harvest of stories from sources proved way beyond worth the trip. So I'm heading toward the airport to continue on for another week away from my family back home in Seattle. First, I'll offer this. It's easy when playing my hand so close to the vest to lapse into generalities. But to protect the value of what capturing for the book I'm writing, generalities will have to do for right now. Here's a fattie - I dig Canada. I know I've been rarely but indeed guilty of that tired American cliche` where we make fun of what we know of them - acting like an oafish bully joking about the obvious when confronted with that soft-spoken, unassuming bloke. Now I plan to embark upon an unofficial pro-Canada campaign. Speaking as a nonetheless proud American, I think much of the problem is we just don't know what's gone on or is going on up here. When I got back into Toronto last night after a few days in New York State, I felt sincere pleasure in the returning to a place I barely know. Yet. I merrily got up this morning after only a few hours sleep at the prospect of one last run along the downtown Waterfront. Beyond Toronto, the history I saw thanks to intended stops in Kingston, Ottawa and Montreal offered just a taste of how much is and always was bubbling up here.  Now that's not to say that I didn't get entirely jazzed by the many hundreds of miles of a side trip I took between the border crossing at Plattsburgh, NY through all the way to the Peace Bridge outside Buffalo. Along that route I drank deeply from the sights offered by the Adirondacks (not the best day for vistas, but Highways 28 and 30 rawk). I spent a night in Lake Placid - its just-shy-of-tacky pridefulness and the fact almost every worker appears to be in world-beating shape are just two footnotes to a larger awesomeness. However, if there was a quiz about what was my far-and-beyond favorite stop, I'd tag as this trip's tip top stop the area in and around the teeny town of Cassadaga in Chautauqua County (in far western New York bordering that little notchy part of Pennsylvania along Lake Erie). I spent just one night there, above the Whiskey Hill Saloon. Long story. Totally worth it, though. It's situated at the one stop light in town. There's rich history all over the area. And I went there with a reason. I'll hold back that card, because it's an especially good one which I can't wait to play someday. If you're a Spiritualist  on the way to catch up with a dead pet or Houdini seeking out the mediums in the area (or maybe you're a documentary filmmaker working on a sequel for HBO), stop in at Whiskey Hill Saloon - get the "garbage wings", ask about the "lodging" and tell the owner, Kim, that I sent you. 

And so onto New York City, with a briefcase full of notes and quotes and readiness to roll on, totes magotes. But not before telling Canada and Cassadaga the equivalent of "I love you, man."