Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bad postcard of the week: The mystery of the disappearing Wawa goose

It's a really, really big goose.
Today we have a sad tale, which we shall call “Mysterious Demise of a Landmark.”

I’m talking about the apparently late, great Wawa Goose.

This week’s bad postcard takes us to the northern shore of Lake Superior and the little town of Wawa. Wawa means “Wild Goose” in Ojibway . I know you were wondering.

I must say that I was intrigued by the title, “The View From Wawa’s Famous Goose.” I’m not sure I’d climb especially high to get a look at the Canadian version of an interstate, especially if I’ve been riding for hours on said road.

Do Canadians call their interstates “interprovinces?” We’ll have to look up that one.

Anyway, the view really isn’t that spectacular, so the goose must be the attraction. Let’s read the back:

“High on a hillside at Wawa, Ontario, the huge, 30 foot WAWA GOOSE, built of steel on a concrete base, stands as a monument to the completion of that section of the Trans-Canadian Highway No. 17. In the view at the left, the highway, known as the Lake Superior Circle Route, is seen winding through the valley below.”

Now, I’m the kind of roadtripper who will stop at just about anything, especially if I have the Gnome of Victory and Celebration along to pose.

So on the off chance that I am in Wawa, I would likely pull over to check out a 30-foot steel goose, especially if it is one of the three weeks of the year when it is not snowing there.

Plus, seeing a Canada goose in Canada is kind of cool.
 
The goose might be gone, but it looks like there are plenty of other things to do in Wawa.
And, check out the glowing review left on tripadviser.com: “Bigger than Life: Really a stunning statue. It really is a majestic bird. The sculpture/artist captured a unique pose of this avian beauty. There were several other variations of this statue throughout key locations in Wawa. Each unique by the pose captured.”

Now I’d point out that a “bigger than life” goose could actually be not all that big. A bigger-than-life goose could conceivably fit in the trunk of my Civic. But this one does appear to be really, really big.

Sadly, I might not ever know – and not because my travels don’t often take me to northern Canada.

I saw the link to the Wawa goose cam and pounced. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t have done the same. This is why the Internet is an amazing thing.

The goose is … gone. OK, here’s our mystery. What the heck happened to the goose?

There are different versions.

The goosecam site reads:
“Wondering how the goose flew this coop...?  A little bird told us that the structural engineers say that our Goose is cooked!  It’s been laying golden tourism eggs for Wawa for years but now Wawa is on a wild goose chase for $500,000 needed to re-feather our town. Let’s flock together and fly over to www.thewawagoose.com.  Put a feather in your cap - make a $50 contribution towards towards a new HONKER!”

Keep in mind, that’s probably $500,000 Canadian dollars, which means it’s probably like $700,000 American dollars.

Then, the always accurate Wikipedia tells us “The Wawa Goose has been temporarily removed for refurbishment after heavy flooding damaged the sculpture in late 2012.”

Flooding?  The sculpture is 30-feet tall and up on a hill that provides views of the interstate-like road. That would be a flood of Noah-like proportions!

Then, the official Wawa goose fund-raising site tells us another story:

“:Unfortunately, our old Goose has announced that he will be retiring by this Fall. Even though he will be missed, he ‘s told us that he is tired and his weary knees can’t handle the long standing periods any longer, not to mention our really cold winters! So it’s official, he needs a replacement to take over his important job and we need your help to make this happen!

They…think…it…talks.

So it looks like we will never know.

We did learn that this is actually the second goose. The first was made of plaster and chicken wire and lasted three years before the Canadian winters did him in. He now resides in the safety of a downtown general store.



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bad postcard of the week: Newsflash -- water is wet!

Hey, Eunice, what does that water feel like?
How does the water feel?

Wet.

I remember when we were kids and went to an ice show at Nassau Coliseum. The way out was along the ice rink. The normally tall hockey rink boards weren't there. You could reach over and touch the ice, which is exactly what every kid did.

An usher, in that classic usher voice that indicated both authority and disdain, said something like, “Keep moving, and don’t touch the ice.”

And I remember someone’s mom or grandma telling the usher, “They just want to touch the ice. Let’s them touch the ice.”

Sensing victory over the usher, I quickly did reach down and touch the ice, along with every other kid within earshot.

It was cold.

It’s not like we were strangers to ice on Long Island. It just needed to be touched. It’s like when the waitress tells you to be careful that the plate is hot. It’s a small rebellion.

I recalled that moment when I saw this week’s bad postcard.

It looks like one person reached over to see if the water was wet, and everyone else on the boat needed to follow suit.

Perhaps the back reveals more: “FLORIDA’S SILVER SPRINGS. Home of World Famous Glass Bottom Boats. Hand Feeding Fish.”

Silver Springs is two things. First, it’s a Fleetwood Mac song that I have a love-hate relationship with. It’s a beautiful song. The studio version was left off “Rumors” for length and demoted to the B-side of the “Go Your Own Way” single.

The live version is even better, and was included on the 1997 reunion, “The Dance.”

It’s great, with one big problem. There’s the line “You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you.”

That should be, “the woman WHO loves you,” of course. I know Stevie is full of angst, but that’s a huge grammatical error. How come no one ever pointed that out?

Anyway, it’s distracting as I listen to an otherwise beautiful song.

Silver Springs also is also one of Florida’s first tourist sites and another reason why Florida tourism history is divided in pre-Disney and post-Disney eras.

Silver Springs is famous for crystal clear water, though it appears kind of muddy in out postcard. And people could ride in boats like “Chief Osceola” and look through the glass bottom boats and see what is below.

Apparently the boats also were trailed by hungry fish. I suppose that’s fun – in a pre-Disney sort of way. Not exactly Space Mountain.

Now if you want to hand-feed gators in the Everglades, that would be a thrill ride.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Bad postcard of the week: Guys like to stay in risky motels

Occasionally my work offers the opportunity to stay in some really nice hotels  – like last year’s overnight visit to the Essex House overlooking Central Park.

And, when I go places with my baseball buddies, we tend to stay in the cheapest places possible.

We are guys. We would rather spend our money on food at the ballpark. And we are not adverse to a limited amount of risk and adventure.

I thought about one of our riskiest stays when I saw this week’s bad postcard. We’re headed to Kansas and the 50 Motel, which boasts of cable TV and electric heat.

Actually, there’s more. The back reads: “50-Motel, West Highway 50-Emporia, Kansas, Phone DI 2-7587 – Joe and Jo Ann Lapping, Emporia’s finest motel units, featuring individually controlled flameless electric conditioning. T.V., phones, sound proof, American Express, free coffee. Conveniently located ½ mile east of Kansas Turnpike entrance on Highway 50.

I’m not sure what featuring individually controlled flameless electric conditioning is. But I’m glad they didn't boast about big, fluffy pillows. Or, about snazzy d├ęcor, unless you like cinder blocks and paneling.

Still, it’s nicer than a place we stayed in once.

We were headed from Cleveland to Detroit for one of our glorious executive games. The four of us opted to spend the night in Maumee, which is just outside of Toledo and the then-home of the Mud Hens.

Being guys on a baseball road trip and our stop unexpected, we opted for the cheapest place possible.

Now, my version of the cheapest place possible actually means the cheapest Hampton Inn or similar chain with a breakfast bar that includes a waffle maker. And splitting a room four ways makes that somewhat reasonable. Plus, you get waffles in the morning.

My companions disagreed. For one thing, we’d need two rooms. And another, they had lower standards.

Gulp.

We ended up in a chain famous for being inexpensive.

We walked into the office area and discovered the clerk sitting behind the kind of thick bulletproof glass you see in gas stations in dangerous neighborhoods. I've never seen something like that in a Red Roof Inn, much less the Essex House.

“Our car is safe here?” I asked my buddy. What I really meant was, “Are we safe here?”

I know I slept with one eye open, possibly both of them. Every voice or footstep in the corridor brought fear and a reminder that there would be no waffles – should we survive the night.

We did survive, of course. But I walked out into the corridor in the morning and there on the white wall appeared to be a splash of red liquid that wasn't there the day before.

Now, it could have been paint, or ink, or nail polish or something like that.  But I don’t think so. 

I was never so glad to check out.

So while the long-gone 50 Motel had flat pillows, I see no blood or chalk outlines or police tape. We stayed in worse.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

We must embrace opportunities to shine like Sid Fernandez in the Big 5-0

I’m not freaking out about 50.

Seriously.

I think the only people who should be depressed about aging are those sad souls who have not experienced amazing things and have not been surrounded by people who love them.

With those two things in mind, I recognize that I have been blessed far beyond what I deserve.

If I were a baseball team, we’d be wearing a sweet patch with golden numbers.  Making it this far in reasonably good shape is reason to celebrate.

So in keeping with tradition, we are declaring this the Sid Fernandez birthday.

Fernandez, of course, wore number 50 to salute his native land of Hawaii.

By the way, this tradition is going to get more challenging as we move into numerical territory frequented largely by coaches and players who start spring training in the major league camp but don't necessarily finish there.

But El Sid is a worthy representative of our arrival at the mid-century mark.

He was a little chunky, and a little inconsistent. He could be frustrating. I can relate. 

But when Sid had everything working, he was pretty special.

When the Mets needed him most, Sid came through. 

The Mets came out a little flat in the deciding Game Seven of the 1986 World Series after the magical comeback of Game Six.

Down 3-0 in the fourth, Ron Darling allowed another runner. The game -- and the championship -- seemed to be slipping away.

Davey Johnson pushed Sid from the rotation to the bullpen during the Series because he feared the Red Sox would tee off on the lefty in cozy Fenway Park. That had to hurt.

But with the Series on the line in Game Seven and fellow Hawaiian Darling in trouble, Davey called for Sid. 

He rose to the moment, stopping the bleeding and shutting the door. He was masterful. And the Mets’ bats finally caught fire and roared back to win the game and the Series.


There are times in life when we are counted out and feel passed over. And there are moments when we are given our chances to shine.  As my friend Jeff said, we are given opportunities to excel. 

So our goal for year 50 is to embrace those moments, like Sid.