I meant to write a new blog post this week, but got distracted by my stories. So hello from Canada! I’m tapping this out in a hotel room in Niagara Falls, on a magazine assignment this weekend.
I had a chance to bring my husband along for this one, and we drove from Philadelphia to Niagara today.
I packed for the weekend, including the parts of all the electronic devices we can’t stir a step without. If I tied the charger cords for our phones, computers, iPod, iPad and GPS together, it would form a cord long enough to wrap around planet Earth at the Equator.
I packed them all while my husband voiced his acute disappointment with the white Hyundai Accent furnished by Enterprise Rent-A-Car. I pointed out that since the rental was on the magazine and wasn’t costing us anything, there was no need to complain so strenuously, but he cared little for such technicalities.
Winter decided to begin in New York State today, by the way. For six hours every snowflake in the northeast flew at our windshield while winds buffeted the car. We passed at least three serious accidents, each one leaving us to wonder how the crashed vehicles had possibly ended up oriented that way.
I’m ill-accustomed to long car trips. My husband dwelt happily on his impending first-ever jaunt over the Canadian border. He asked me if we were going to see lots of French Canadians. I explained that the falls weren’t exactly a hotbed of French Canadian culture, and he was deeply disappointed.
Later, as the weather worsened, I apologized for the timing of my assignment.
“I didn’t know there was going to be such a bad snowstorm, Babe,” I said.
“I did,” he said matter-of-factly.
“Really? You saw a detailed forecast?”
“No. It’s Canada. Of course there was going to be lots of snow.” I was glad that not all of his Canadian expectations had been dashed, especially since it meant he was totally unfazed by the hellish roads.
We scanned for NPR stations through most of Pennsylvania and New York, but lost out for a stretch near Scranton and tried Rush Limbaugh instead. We learned that Newt Gingrich was a deplorable candidate because of his ill-concealed belief in manmade global warming, and that Conservatism is about ideas.
Later we tried a local pop station which announced its “stupid fact of the day”.
“Did you know that the first grilled cheese sandwiches were served in the 1920’s, and that they were served with the cheese toasted over a single piece of bread?”
After so many hours in the car, somehow, it was the last straw for me.
“That’s the most inane thing I ever heard!” I cried in a sudden rage. “Who could possibly even want to know that?! And if the first grilled cheese was really just cheese toasted over bread, then the first grilled cheese was a pizza.”
My husband looked benignly at me from the driver’s seat. “They said it was a stupid fact, Babe.”
We found a rest stop and had the joy of choosing between Roy Rogers and Dunkin Donuts for dinner. On the way out I became engrossed in a wall of text about the founding of the Mormon Church and the history of western New York’s 19th century towns, until Lala grew impatient. Of course highway driving at dusk in a snowstorm is far preferable to reading a historical placard, even for an instant.
I was interested to see that the Texas Roadhouse steakhouse chain persists right up to within a few miles of the Canadian border, and then we were across. We made it to our motel and ordered a pizza while I learned that I had somehow failed to pack my own computer’s power-cord.
Driven by the need to publish something before I sleep, I picked up the iPad in bed while my husband watched TV. Suddenly a French newscast filled the room and the remote control prodded my knee.
“Hey,” my husband said happily. “French Canadians!”
I can only hope our next day across the border will be as satisfying as this one.