One advantage to living in western NY, other than the overbearing winters that drive all the tourists away, is the privilege of living in close proximity to some prominent national landmarks. One of the most notable is Niagara Falls. I got a call from a good friend who wanted to make a trip to the falls to see the light display and the frozen falls. (Spoiler alert: we were disappointed on both counts)
I have been friends with this guy for a long time, we went to summer camp together, we were at each others weddings, and we mountain bike together a few times a week during the summer months, but he is a self-proclaimed “big picture person.” Details are not his strong suit. So this trip was themed around his favorite phrase, “we’ll play it by ear.”
The trip was fine, the road were clear, the falls were beautiful, the lights were mediocre, but we got to spend some time with some good friends so it was a good trip. We left right after work on Friday, drove straight out, (only 1.5 hr drive) crossed the border for about four and a half hours and made the return trip the same night. The only money spent was for tolls, parking, and dinner, which was (by decree of my wife) at the Hard Rock Cafe on the Canadian side.
One observation our group of foreigners made about a certain Canadian Outlet mall we stopped at was the blatant lack of people. This was supposed to be a discount retail establishment, with several notable brands. At 8:30 pm the weekend before Christmas, the only patrons we saw was a group of high school-aged kids loitering around the Burger King. We were further perplex to learn that the entire plaza shut down at 9:00 pm, many were locked tight at ten of.
As we climbed in the vehicle and headed back towards the neon lights we couldn’t help but formulate international comparisons to the American equivalent. We were conservatively speculating that our local Outlet mall had about 10 open parking spaces at 8:30 that evening, with about 35 vehicles searching for them, and that they would remain open and profitable for a minimum of another 3 hours. I am sure there are a number of symbolic cultural differences that can be expressed using these Outlets as a metaphor, but in truth, I just don’t understand Canadian culture enough to postulate.
I would, on the other hand, like to hear some other opinions. So if any of you have any ideas or reasons for this great disparity then let us know if the comments.