The Adventures of Lauri and Rose on the Road in America
Day 13, June 25, Saturday
This turned out to be a better day, but then after yesterday, almost anything would be an improvement. We left our Albany motel after cereal, coffee and juice. I decided Mother should drive since I seem to have such a hard time some days. She said this was going to be a “big” driving day, and so it was. Mother drove, and I navigated. We managed to find the freeway in downtown Albany that took us around town to the New York Thruway. She got in the right lane to get a toll ticket, and we headed west.
The drive through New York is a pretty one full of forests and rolling mountains. The traffic moves right along on the thruway, usually at 65 to 70 mph or faster. We stopped at one of the service centers to check on souvenirs and found NY coffee mugs that we liked. At another service center we found little silver New York spoons that we decided we would adapt to the tree ornaments since we seemed unable to find anything else.
Mother kept driving, so I snoozed a little bit. It was really nice to relax for a change. At one point she shouted, “Look, a deer.” Ahead of us, a good distance away, a graceful doe darted across the west bound lanes, slowed a little in the median, then scurried across the eastbound lanes and headed into the woods. We had kept a watchful eye out for moose in Maine and had not seen any (fortunately). We had seen the watch for deer signs throughout New York, but this was the first time we had seen a live one. Several less fortunately animals littered the sides of the roads. That was true along the freeway we traveled in Michigan, too. After seeing one live deer cross the road, Mother got a little nervous about seeing more, but we did not.
The weather today is really hot, probably in the upper 80s or low 90s with lots of sunshine. This is the warmest weather we have encountered on the whole trip. Hard to believe we were wearing sweaters not long ago. I am sure glad the car has air conditioning.
We made a stop to swap drivers (I decided Mother was getting too tired to drive any longer) and another to get gas At the end of the toll road we watched the lanes carefully again and got into the right one to pay our $10.60 fee. I was still driving as we approached Niagara Falls. That meant I got to drive across all those marvelous bridges over water yet again. We had good directions from a New York travel guide at one of the thruway service centers on how to get around Niagara Falls since we did not want to go into town. We managed to make all the interchanges without mishap.
We left the United States and crossed into Canada. We had to wait a few extra minutes while the customs agents changed shifts at Finally, the young guy manning the booth waved us forward. He asked a few standard questions including if we had any alcohol with us. Mother said she had four to six ounces. “Four to six ounces? Is that all?” he asked. “That’s all that’s left,” she responded. He wanted to know if we had anything we planned to leave in Canada. When we said no, he wished us a safe trip.
Our destination for the night was London, Ontario. It was still about two hours away. I knew Mother was really tired, so I kept driving. As soon as we crossed the border, the skies thickened and looked really threatening. I did not relish driving in a rain storm, but we had only a brief time when it rained. Other than that, it was just a few big, fat drops here and there.
I was really concerned about getting us through Hamilton without ending up in Toronto. We knew which roads we needed and really watched the signs carefully. It takes some getting used to seeing speed limits in kilometers instead of miles per hour. Most highways are posted at 100 km, or about 60 mph. I don’t know why the Canadians bother to post a speed limit. Nearly all Canadian cars whizzed past us at least 10 or 20 mph faster than we were going.
We made it through Hamilton and its heavy traffic without a missing a turn. Amazing!! As we headed west, the weather cleared, and it was obvious from the dark clouds I could see in the rear view mirror that the storm was behind us.
The next challenge would be to find our motel in London. Mother had information on the Knights Inn, but no directions from Ont. 401, the highway we were traveling. London is another large city with more than 300,000 people, so I knew we could not just drive around and find the motel. There were several exits to the city. Spotting one with several hotels near the highway, I pulled off the road and into the parking lot of a Holiday Inn. I needed a bathroom break badly and headed for the restroom in the lobby while Mother asked for directions. The front desk women were really helpful. One of them actually knew where the motel was located. They gave us detailed directions (and we really need detailed instructions) back to 401 east bound. We headed into London at the next exit.
After driving several minutes into town, we found the right road where we made a right turn. The motel was not too much further down the street. We pulled in and drew a deep breath. We had managed to find another place where we had a room for the night. This motel is in an older section of town. At least it had air conditioning and was clean. That was all we really needed other than supper.
The motel manager sent us down the street to the Del Mar cafe. It looked like a small town restaurant where they knew everyone who came in the door. We ordered one of “Gus’ specials,” hot turkey sandwiches with real roast turkey. The dinner came with a bowl of homemade chicken rice soup, mashed potatoes, salad, peas and a slice of pretty good pie for $6.95 Canadian. It was a real bargain. Gus himself took time out from his kitchen duties to sit and eat dinner at a booth right next to ours. Since we have no breakfast of any kind at our motel, we figured we would stop in the next morning before we left town. It would be only our second full breakfast on the trip.
We returned to the motel. Mother was looking for “Into The West,” a mini-series she is watching on a cable station. She was not sure if it was TNT or TBS. We ended up watching the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan movie “You’ve Got Mail” instead. It is still a cute flick. But, I am so tired I could weep. She will have to try to find the show tomorrow night. Sunday is another big driving day, but we will end up in Ludington, MI, where we will board the car ferry for Wisconsin on Monday morning. Once we get to Wisconsin it is five hours to home.
"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.