No vacation is truly an adventure, until something goes wrong.
Based on that statement, our recent excursion into the Excited States was actually a roaring success. It all started just after we crossed the Niagara River, and pulled up to the American Customs booth.
I had packed our Koolatron, a mini, portable refrigerator, the night before we left, with all kinds of drinks, Pepsi, iced tea, bottled water, orange juice…. As I was packing the car, the wife added some snacks to keep a diabetic’s blood sugar up – snap peas, baby carrots and cherries.
The border guard asked if we had any fruits or vegetables. I said ‘no,’ and the wife startled. He wasn’t worried about the peas or carrots, but Canada has cherry mites. Wifey says, ‘That’s okay. They’re Washington State cherries.’ ‘Let’s see them.’ The bag she had just finished was Washington, but the replacements she brought along were from British Columbia. ‘They have to be quarantined.’ he says, and into the garbage they went.
Still distracted and smarting from the loss of the cherries, I was one lane too far right, and ended up heading south towards Buffalo, instead of swinging east towards the New York Turnpike. A situation usually easily rectified, at the next exit I pulled up, over, and back down. I practiced a bit of Zen driving, by following a Greyhound bus that looked like it knew where I was going. I was right. He led me well into Pennsylvania.
Our Canadian cell phone plan won’t talk to American cell towers. Several miles down the Turnpike, the wife’s phone rang. Is the car haunted?? It was our Canadian Virgin Mobile plan. “For a mere $7/day, we’ll contract AT&T to provide you full phone service. We realized that you were outside Canada by GPS tracking your cell phone.” Great idea! and I didn’t hardly feel stalked at all. We got Google GPS on the wife’s phone. I wanted to call the new voice Navigator Nancy, but that name was already taken. She became just Google Girl, and I now have three female voices in the car, telling me where to go.
The second episode of Lost, was filmed in Wilkes-Barre, PA, where we stopped for the night. Frenchmen and ballerinas call it wilks – bar, but the locals insist that it’s wilks-berry. The address of our motel was right on a main access road, but we couldn’t find it. By finally asking a convenience-store clerk, we discovered that it was actually up a hill, behind a U-Haul storage facility, and accessed from a small side-road, by going through a TGI Friday’s parking lot.
We didn’t learn that until we’d been past it 4 times. I pulled into a small side-road to turn around, only to discover that it was the entry ramp for the Interstate. We went nine miles back North. I tried my patented up-over-and down maneuver©, only to find that the down ramp took me to a narrow, twisty State highway which only eventually got me back to what passes for civilization.
I must have earned some positive Karma points. The next day’s highway mishap actually brought me out ahead – still behind, but not as far. We wanted to go from an Interstate, to a State Highway, in Harrisburg, PA, to save about 60 miles. All three female voices told me to take exit 5B. I thought that 5B would be on the far side of the overpass, but like the one I missed in Buffalo a few years ago, both were on the near side.
Just as I realized this, and tried to reach the off-ramp, a local air-conditioning repair truck swooped out of the outside lane and cut me off. Oh well, we’ll go down to exit 4. No ‘up-over-and-down’ in the middle of a city, Ethel’s directions took me ‘down here,’ and then ‘across there.’ The wife complained that, if I must get lost, I should at least do it in an area with stately, historical homes, not the grubby factory and warehouse route we took.
When I reached the highway up-ramp, I manage to insert my vehicle into a ‘volume of traffic’ jam. When I looked in my mirror, I found the air-conditioning van 3 or 4 spaces behind me. After inching along for 3 miles, because of two more feeder ramps, we finally got back to ‘highway speed.’
In a previous blogging challenge, I’ve said that Life makes me happy. Just before we leaked out of Pennsylvania into the Maryland panhandle, we curled around the base of a small mountain, just in time to see 10 colorful hot-air balloons rising up its sides. The long, smooth, descending curve allowed us to observe them from a variety of angles and elevations. Perhaps not as large or exciting as the Taos, NM hot air balloon festival, I still took it as a sign of apology and reward for the travails of the previous day.
There’s more to come, so I’d like you to come back. 😀
This is the problem with anywhere inside the Appalachian range – all highways only go SWxNE, and the towns are stacked up hillsides. Switchbacks are the rule.
I’m aware of the odd limitations, but Wilkes-Barre, in addition to the strange pronunciation, offered some new rules. You could go north on the Interstate, but not get back on going south. The Google street-view – when I got around to accessing it – was photographed in 2011, and clearly shows the motel. Since then, the U-Haul facility was built, obscuring the view from street level. And the motel isn’t on the main road, even though the address is. If they’d just said that they were at #2 Muddy Rut Lane, I’d have been checked in a half hour sooner. 😯
Reminds me of our auto trip back East some 19 years ago, a.k.a. before GPS. We were crossing one of the NYC bridges, I think it was Throg’s neck (what’s a Throg?, I wondered). Anyhow, I took the wrong exit on the other side and we ended up in a slum area that looked like a good place to bury bodies.
Also, when we went to live in Boston for a couple of years we found the area had a peculiar custom in the naming of streets that drove (pun intended) me nuts: only the cross streets had name signs but there was no indication of what major street we were on. We figured they were saving money on the signs and just assumed that if you didn’t know what street you were on, you didn’t belong there anyway.
We’ve been on a lot of roads and streets where we didn’t belong. Most of the time it’s been fun/a learning experience. 😀
This is a Throg (or about 50% of the time – Throgg). http://www.boweryboyshistory.com/2009/02/name-that-neighborhood-what-exactly-is.html
I am most interesting history! Thanks!
You should have called me when you got lost coming off the international bridge.
Oh, wait, you have Canadian service only.
Heck, you maybe could have asked the border agent for directions to my house. He’s probably the loony neighbor who used to live across the street from me, and I’m sure he knows where we moved to. Then, after hosting a nice meal for you and Mrs. G.O.D., I could have escorted you back to the Thruway.
Wellll… I wasn’t exactly lost. I just wasn’t paying enough attention to get on the Youngman Expressway – on the first try.
Didn’t you read the part about Virgin Mobile Canada stalking me, to offer me $7/day AT&T service? Having accepted it once, now it’s supposed to kick in every time we cross the border, so Mrs. G.O.D. can call you when we come to visit. Only problem might be that we’ll have to drive out to Batavia to activate it. That’s about where we were when we got the ghostly call.
We’re going to hold you to that promise of another meal together. We’ll just have to figure out when it might happen. 😕