I really faced a dilemma Sunday. I was pulpit supply so I couldn’t leave early and I needed to get back for a Monday doctor’s appointment. In between there was this massive coastal storm that promised havoc through most of my normal route from Maine to New York.
So, I got this bright idea. Why not bypass the storm and head through Canada?
Actually, it wasn’t a bad plan. Under normal circumstances, the northern route on paper is only about a couple of hours longer. Given the weather, well… And the forecast in Quebec and Montreal was for snow showers.
It wasn’t a bad trip, but I don’t know if I saved any time. It actually took me 18 hours (including a power nap and more than usual stops). I don’t know what Maine, New Hampshire or Massachusetts would have been like, but New York sucked. The last 2 1/2 hours were really stressful.
The trip, nonetheless, turned into an adventure. When I reached the Canadian border, I was delayed about a half hour at customs. I think this was because they were lonely. Six — count em — six handled my arrival … one at the booth with the usual questions (why through Canada? I guess they didn’t hear about the storm), another insider to ask me more questions, two more to confirm my answers and two more to search my car (the ladies even got to go through my dirty laundry). Of course, during this span, I was the only car in sight. Maybe they were lonely.
That was also the end of my communication with the outside world. GPS stopped … bars disappeared and I didn’t have a good hard-copy map of Canada. In retrospect, I think I could have added coverage through Verizon … I received that message — except it never came through until I was stateside again. I also could have downloaded directions offline through Google Maps. I just didn’t give it a thought.
Anyway, I generally knew where I wanted to go (Route 20) so I stayed on 173 and stayed on 173 and stayed on 173 for about an hour and a half. I stopped twice to make sure I was going in the right direction (and to pee because I was keeping myself hydrated). Through fractured French-English I was assured I was. The only mishap was I missed a turn and almost ended up in a dump.
When I finally got to 20, I had to backtrack my way southwest. With a good map or GPS I probably could have shaved off about an hour or so.
Somewhere in Montreal — I think at the tunnel — I ended up on Route 40 with no way to turn around. But it was going southwest so I stuck with it. Somewhere along the route I saw a sign for Point Champlain and remembered there was a crossing there so I took the exit. Lo and behold there was a sign for Route 20 ouest (west). So I probably lost about an hour there. I eventually needed gas (106.4 per liter — a little over $4 per gallon) so I fueled my body as well with a Papa Burger with lard fume (bacon) and a frosty A & W root beer.
And then I drove and drove and drove until hitting customs at Alexandria Bay where the U.S. agent took about 10 seconds before telling me to drive right on through.
Before I leave Canada, however, here are a few additional tidbits. Canadian top speed limit is 100km (about 60 mph) so I didn’t pick up any time. Because of the weather it was pretty much 45-50. It snowed from Quebec until I got home, only in Canada it was a dry blowing snow (not a lot of moisture so it wasn’t piling up). Roads were pretty clear, usually with one lane down to the pavement although, ironically, it was usually the passing lane.
I literally saw about 50 plows in Canada, all in the opposite direction except on the ramp when I re-entered 20.
Traffic was moderate except for Montreal where it was heavy.
Rest stops are called Onroute and I stopped at a few, mostly for directions. I met a guy from Wisconsin who noticed my Green Bay jacket and we struck up a conversation. He told me he has two friends with season tickets … they were willed to them.
At one stop, I noticed a group of Mounties and asked them how far it was to the U.S. border since I had seen a sign about 90 kilometers back about the border and not one since. They told me I was about 15 km away and we started talking. They asked why I was in Canada, business or pleasure. I told them I was coming from Maine to New York and figured I would bypass the storm. I told them I thought there was only supposed to be snow showers. They laughed and one said, “This is a snow shower.”
I did decide to nap when I got into New York, hoping the plows would come through. They did, but it wasn’t much of an improvement … and only got worse as I traveled through Tug Hill.
All told, I could have shaved about 4-5 hours … still longer, but I know the regular route would not have been fun. There was no stress going the northern route. It was just another adventure.
When I relayed the experience to my kids, I told them if Karen was with me, I’m sure “today would be the first of many ‘I love you but I don’t want to talk to you’ days.” My girls, who are their mom incarnate, responded, “No doubt” and “100%”. Deanna added, “Nicolle and I weren’t thrilled either!”
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Are you wanting something very much? Have you asked God for it?