Monday, November 9, 2009

WRT on the Road: Surprises at every mile post

By Wild Road Tripper

TORONTO -- Oh, the wonders of modern North American travel.

After being packed into two airplanes for what seemed like an eternity, we gladly approached Buffalo-Niagara International Airport Monday lunchtime in anticipation of a nice, less-than-full bus ride around Lake Ontario into the hub of English Canada, hockey's holiest city with hockey's worst NHL team.

A soldier who was training with his unit near Anderson, Indiana received a call from the Red Cross telling him to get home, so he left his unit in the middle of his training and flew home to Buffalo. Now, where did we come in?

Well, I was asked to take a picture of him with Buffalo Bills great Thurman Thomas as we all got off the aircraft in Buffalo this afternoon, a picture that I was happy to shoot (once I figured out how to use the young man's camera phone.) Anyhow, I was happy to help make a soldier's day. I hope the rest of it went better.

After that, we boarded a Coach Canada bus from Buffalo Airport to Toronto. Of course, at the customs inspection at Fort Erie, Ontario, directly across the Peace Bridge from Buffalo, mention of a certain local hockey player took place. And, it wasn't Fort Erie native (and Minnesota Wild radio anaylst) Tom Reid. But it was a local native.

The customs inspector played hockey with the brother of Cal Clutterbuck and still plays locally in and around Niagara Falls with his cousin, and also has met Owen Nolan, another Niagara region native. "You have tickets?" he asked. "Yes, sure do" was our reply. I thought for a minute that we were going to do a live version of 'Leafs Lunch'.

Customs inspection completed, we arrived at the Royal York Hotel on time (despite the QEW packed both directions from Oakville all the way Downtown, 18 miles) to end the first day's travel on this fall's road adventure.

Since we departed Minneapolis at 5 AM (with everything except ripping open an envelope, 'Amazing Race'-style) to start this trip, the plan for this evening definitely includes an early end to a long day. Now, if the Wild would win tomorrow against the formerly-hapless Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre, that would be a good start to the proceedings. Kim Johnsson will be back; Petr Sykora won't, no thanks to Dallas Stars pest Steve 'Headshot' Ott and his Brian Boitano imitation on Sykora in the third period of Saturday night's Stars-Wild game in St. Paul.

Where's Don Cherry when you really need him to make a comment?

More throughout the week...WRT

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