Sorry to worry anyone, but getting on line is not always easy and by the end of most days I am exhausted. It is now Sunday and we are in Augusta, Maine.
Rose and Lauri’s Adventures on the Road in American
June 2005 Trip
Day 2, Tuesday, June 14
We were up at , but neither of us was moving very quickly. I finally got the car loaded and asked one of the “Motel Ladies” if we could have the same room when we returned in two weeks. She said she would write it down.
I drove a few blocks down the street to the House of Flavors for breakfast where we each had the $2.99 special – two eggs, breakfast potatoes and toast. We topped it off with coffee. The total tab with a tip was just under $10. After breakfast, we pulled into a gas station to fill the tank. Gas was $2.18 9/10 per gallon. Mother decided she needed post card stamps, so we made a stop at the Post Office right on the main street. While I purchased her stamps, Mother signed and addressed Fathers Day cards to Wes, Jason and Frank. I dropped them in the mailbox and we headed out of town about . Mother decided she was not sure where the road we needed was, so I pulled into a Walgreen’s drug store to check the map and then went in to ask for directions. We were on the right road, but needed to go a few more miles. I found US 31 and headed south toward Muskegun.
After about 45 minutes, I was starting to get drowsy and did not feel alert enough to be driving, so I pulled into a rest area and let Mother take over. I intended to doze, but she needed someone to watch road signs for her, so I closed my eyes for a few minutes when I could. We traveled Interstate 96 to Lansing and then took Interstate 69 east toward Port Huron.
Just west of Flint, Mother pulled off the freeway into a McDonald’s for a quick lunch, a selection of $1 items. I had a Diet Coke to boost my caffeine level and took the wheel after we were finished eating. We continued east toward Port Huron on the US/Canadian border. Mother collected out passports to have ready when we crossed the border. I managed to drive across the bridge high over water without too much personal trauma.
We cleared the Canadian customs site with no delay. The passports seem to be the key to getting in quickly. We told the young woman we were headed for Niagara Falls, NY, and intended to leave nothing behind. I drove for about another 45 minutes on Ontario 402 toward London before pulling off the four-lane divided highway to get gas. It was priced at 85.9 cents per liter. Mother spent the next half hour trying to figure out how much that was per gallon. I think she finally settled on about $2.60. And, we think we are paying a lot for gas. Our highway changed numbers at London to 401 until we got to Woodstock and then it was 403 to Hamilton
The speed limit was 100 km per mile, or about 62 mph. I set the cruise control at about 65 and was passed by nearly all the traffic, so I pushed a little higher. We did see two Canadian patrol cars along our route. I passed the first one doing about 65 mph and saw the other one peel out of the median ahead of us and pull over another car. I suspect the guy must have been doing 75 or 80.
I arrived in Hamilton, Ont., population 491,000 at about just in time for the afternoon rush hour. Oh Joy!! Again, Mother was not sure where we needed to go to find the “QEW” – for the Queen Elizabeth Expressway -- (even with her AAA map) and urged me to pull off so could get directions to the road we needed to take to Niagara Falls.
Rather than argue the point, I exited on one the downtown-like streets and pulled into a gas station. I went in, map and notebook in hand, to get directions. A nice man (Indian or Pakistani, I think) advised me to never argue with my mother, and then he added he never argues with his wife, either. He pointed across several blocks of buildings to a church tower and said that was where I needed to be. Fine, I thought, how do I get there? He said we needed to get back on the highway we had just left and continue the same direction we had been traveling. He gave me detained directions to ensure that we exited on the right roads in the correct direction. Then he directed me back to an entrance ramp to the highway. Everything was clear, simple and right! Bless him!
A few minutes later we were back on course and made the right lane changes. I moved along with the traffic not looking at the speedometer. What can you do??? The traffic was heavy, but drivers, for the most part, were well-behaved. Almost no one followed too close and there was no jockeying back and forth between lanes. I was not going to drive all the way to Niagara Falls, but ended up doing just that. There really was no good place to stop and change drivers.
Again, we had trouble finding the right road in Niagara Falls, Canada, that lead to the bridge to the U.S. We ended up driving in a big circle. I asked a construction worker as we paused on the road, but he said he had no idea. Suddenly, there was a little sign, and I do mean little, that said “Bridge to US.” We had missed the sign the first time down the street. about a minute later, I was driving across yet another bridge over water. Lucky me! “Oh, look, there’s the falls!” Mother said has we passed over the famous landmark. I looked quick, but had to keep my attention on the road as it was just two lanes wide. Besides, I’ve seen the falls at least three other times. Mother has been here, too.
We showed our passports to the US customs agent. He asked how long we had been in Canada: “just a few hours.” Did we had anything to declare, “No.” Mother asked about the freeway we needed to find that would lead us to the motel. He just said to look at the signs at the next street corner. I pulled over at the corner, so Mother could take her “Entering New York” sign photo, and check the map.
Unfortunately she had written down I-90 and it was really I-190. We tried to find the right road but got turned around and headed the wrong direction. Once more I pulled off the road and asked for directions. Two more left turns and we were on the right road going in the right direction. Of course, it took just more minutes to find the motel. We got checked in, found our room and unloaded the car. I got Mother a bucket of ice and she pour herself a Manhattan. I passed when she offered me one. I needed food first. We rested for a few minutes before heading to the Little Italy area and the Como Restaurant, which the front desk man recommended. With a hotel-provided map in hand, we found the restaurant with no trouble.
After much deliberation we ordered spaghetti with meatballs and glasses of wine. The dinners came with good salads and wonderful bread. Dinner arrived on heaped plates, easily enough for 2 or 3 people. We ate what we could and brought the rest back to the motel. I double bagged it in Glad zipper bags and put it on ice in the cooler. If our motel tomorrow has a microwave we can use, we have plenty for another supper.
I tried to get on-line using the motel’s wireless connection, but could not. Nor could my computer produce a local MSN connection number. So I called Wes at home using a calling card. Then I settled down to type out our day on the road. Tomorrow we head for Albany, NY, to tour the capitol. Today was clear and dry, but a thunderstorm blew in over Niagara Falls this evening. Good thing we decided we were too tired to take a tram tour that Mother had thought about. It is past time for bed.
"Go confidently into the direction of your dreams. Live the life you always imagined" Thoreau
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.