Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Road Trip Begins

First job of the morning? Figuring out what is needed and what is not.

Checking the trunk of the car, I emptied everything out, looking at the vast amount of stuff we had with us. So very, very, much stuff. Dozens of shampoo type products, a tent in two giant bags, and – things that I don't quite remember, because they were very quickly put into the “we don't need” category.

After repacking the tent, and getting everything from the back seat into the trunk, I turned the eye on myself. My pack was in great need of cutting through and cleaning as well. A number of heavy clothes were set aside. Souvenirs joined the, send it away, pile. My scrap book, now way to many pounds, and three times larger than when it was empty, was the final addition to things that were not required.

At the Hard Rock cafe in Niagara, New York, we met up with my parents. Being only two hours from Toronto made it a convenient place to meet up, considering I still wasn't prepared to cross the Canadian boarder, until I' been away for a full year. Never having eaten at a Hard Rock this was a pretty decent experience. The nachos? Not too bad. The ribs? Well, I tell you what – the menu described them as perfectly cooked, fall off the bone. If I liked ribs the way normal people liked ribs, then I would be thoroughly disappointed in my lunch. But, as I am a fan of tough, use your teeth to rip the flesh from those little white sticks, carnivorous ribs – well... They were just what I wanted.

After the food we all headed down to the wee little state park island with a trail running around it, taking travellers from one view of the falls to the next. I can say in all honesty, I had never seen the falls from this side before. And, without really getting into it, the American side is to Zambia, what the Canadian is to Zimbabwe. Take that as you will.

Along the paths people were falling over to the ground, and having a hard time standing up. It is hot. It is very how here in the North Eastern United States. Hawaii? It was fun, and warm, but here? This is hot.

I welcomed the air conditioning back in the car.

Wandering through the parking lot, I was shocked by the various plates. People from well over two dozen states were, on this day, here at Niagara Falls. I'm going to assume this has something to do with July 4th, otherwise – well, lets hope they take a quick zip across to the land of maple syrup, and coins with some old lady on the back of them all.

Today was the second time I'd seen Canada since I left. The first was through the window of a plane when I flew over Newfoundland. Seeing it from the ground, watching the red and white flag blow in the breeze? Well – it made me want to head back, at some point. Not now. And not back to HST. That stuff terrifies me.

Not wanting to wait to get our trip underway, the magical GPS unit - which has never led me astray (except for that time in the mountains, with the 12 emergency vehicles, an the 911 call, and – well except for that one time when it did...) - was plugged with Cooperstown. Our next destination. Just before we left, my dad gave me a copy of the motel magazine which lists possible places to stay in a number of states. Every regional area has their own. Not only are they potentially handy, but the also have coupons. Ohh!

Sixty miles or so down the road, the lack of music started to get to me. Sure I'd travelled without music a long time, but road trips? Well they just need it. I had a loaded MP3 player, and I had an FM transmitter. But what I did not have was a AAA battery that would power said transmitter. Next stop? Wal-Mart!

The GPS showed us where to head, and off we went. Inside this wonderful store, we bought twelve bottles of kool-aid for three bucks, some cookie sandwiches for two fifty, and some chocolates for a buck. Yes – it would be a healthy dinner. Katerine also bought herself a fantastic Spongebob beach towel. I approve.

AAA batteries made their way into the basket.

Back in the car, we headed off – and I was attempting to get the FM transmitter running. After a long time in storage, the LCD screen displaying the station it transmits to was no longer working. I don't want to get into how long it took to press buttons changing the transmitter station, and then scanning the radio trying to find it. Eventually I got it up and running. Right before it decided that New York State has a station on just about every frequency, which pretty much makes the transmitter useless.

Once we're out in the country, then hopefully it will get going again. I'm looking forward to searching around trying to find the right station again. A new one may be purchased – however the web site shows Best Buy only selling iPod versions of the device.

Putting more miles between us and Buffalo, we ended up in Syracuse New York, under the advice of the motel magazine. Rolling up, exhaustion beginning to kick in, we noticed the advertised price on the sign was 52 bucks a night. Our coupon let us get the room for 43. The first question we were asked when we stepped up was, “do you have a coupon?” Now I will feel like a sucker if I ever pay full price at one of these places again. Clearly savings exist.

The free wifi, and the promise of food in the morning? Well it just made it the perfect combination. With the price split in two, it also happens to be cheaper than a hostel. Air conditioned room, soft bed, privacy, illusion of safety, food, internet – this is all a little posh for me. American drive-by motels, posh... who could have ever predicted such a thing?

Cable TV, fresh towels, ice machines... Wonderful.

If things keep on like this – I think I might become a little soft. Like an Aussie in the winter. I'm not prepared for this.

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