Sunday, July 6, 2014

Just 10 Short Hours Away! ~ Road Trip to Canada ~The Coast of Illinois goes International Once Again!

All I said was, "I have a long weekend coming up."

Four weeks, two concert tickets and ten short hours later I found myself here:

Yup. Canada.
 explaining to the border guard that 'yes, we did in fact drive 10 hours just for a concert'. It seems that once the word 'Parrothead' came into play it made sense. It seems the border guard's sister is 'one of them'.

I love a good road trip. There is something about watching the scenery roll past my car window as our favorite music plays on the radio and Bart and I debate the fate of our victims in a rousing game of Marry-Shag-Hit in the Head with a Shovel.*

So, when Bart heard we had several free days he hit the internet and discovered that Scott Kirby – one of our favorite Trop-Rock Singers was playing in London, Ontario, Canada. I am sure that this decision had nothing to do with the fact that he had recently renewed his passport and it was burning a hole in his traveling cargo pants pocket.

A ten hour drive (more like twelve with truck-stop stops) can be daunting, best illustrated by the 'You're going where?' face of most of the people I know.

(You, too, can make the 'You're going where?' face by tipping your head to the right while simultaneous squinting your left eye completely shut while keeping your right eye open just wide enough to prevent the insane person in front of you from shoving you into the car with them as they declare 'We are going to Canada for the weekend!')

But we have the road trip thing down.

For this particular trip we packed:

a cooler of fizzy waters – which leads to numerous truck-stop stops

several boxes of red hots – only 80 calories per box and so hot you can only really eat half a box thus requiring MORE fizzy water and MORE truck-stop stops.

an outdated Cosmopolitan magazine – because I am too embarrassed to read it in front of my grown daughter

and a cable to sync my iPod to our new car's media center.

However, we haven't exactly figured out the media center so once we got the iPod to play, it began at 'Addicted to Love' by Florence and the Machine followed by 'Addicted to Love' by Robert Palmer and proceeded to go through every song on the device in alphabetical order. Suffice it to say, I have enough 'A' songs to last from the McDonalds in Vandalia through to the Mobile gas station in Terre Haute.

Somehow the shuffle button got hit outside Toledo.

We were delighted that the alphabet worked out to 'Feel Like a Number by Bob Seger as we hit the first of many Detroit exits. And we shut it down when Space Cowboy began blasting as we pulled into line at the border.

The diverse beauty of our country always leaves an impression on me during a road trip. Be it the plains of Kansas – which many dismiss as boring but I find awe-inspiring, probably because I fully expect Sheriff Bart and the Waco Kid to ride over the butte ala Mel Brooks – to the endless corn fields of the Midwest. Maybe it's because I grew up surrounded by these rustling plants, but I can study these fields for hours as they zip past my car window, reaching out in endless stripes of dark and darker green.

We saw more than our share of corn fields this trip. The corn seemed to be a bit taller in central Indiana than it did in central Illinois. Which, according to Bart, means the ghost ball players are more likely to be playing around Indianapolis. Whether that is true or not, I can not say. All I know is YOU NEVER WANDER INTO A CORNFIELD. According to my parents you will get lost and never find your way out until the farmer mows over you at harvest at which time you will be very very sorry.

We also saw a lovely suburb of Toledo. Why they put an interstate through the middle of a Toledo suburb, why they put stoplights in the middle of the interstate and why the GPS Wench took us through a suburb of Toledo is beyond me, but it did make me think that should I ever have to move to Toledo, it might not be so bad. Assuming the intersection camera didn't get a clear photo of my plates as I accidentally blew through the first stoplight.

And, thanks to my awesome driving skills, as well as the fact that I wanted nothing to do with driving through Detroit or the subsequent border to Canada, we also stopped at Luna Pier. What we thought was a charming roadside gas station turned out to be a charming little beach town on the banks of Lake Erie. 
Pay no attention to the woman who has sat in a car for nearing ten hours. Please note the lovely lighthouse and beach home behind her.

And they say the Great Lake they call Gitchigoomee is gloomy...

Our journey became considerably more industrial as we drove into Detroit. I am aware that Detroit is known for the auto industry but I was not prepared for the FIELDS of car factories lining either side of the interstate. While no 'amber waves of grain' these enormous factories made an equally important statement about our country. It may sound cheesy but I was as awe-inspired by the FORD plant as I was by the plains of Kansas, the mountains of Colorado and the beautiful blue Gulf of Mexico.

And then it was time to cross the border.

I have a notorious history of border crossing issues. (See Accidental Terrorist and Hello Customs...)

I was instructed to keep my mouth shut and if I could pretend to be asleep without looking DEAD that would be even better. Never mind that my current passport picture makes me look like an anemic stroke victim pushing 95 years of age.Which is probably what distracted the border gaurd when Bart completely forgot the name of the singer we were going to see or the name of the hotel we were staying in.

As he stammered and played word association with other musician names I piped up with the name of our hotel – the Delta Armorie – and then wowed the the guard with my awesome Priceline purchasing skills.

It was then that Bart came to his senses and commented that the singer was a sort of Margaritaville style Parrothead singer and well, the border guard has only his sister to blame.

For better or worse, he let us enter Canada.

I was hoping for a complimentary bottle of maple syrup.

Come back Friday for the second installment of Coast of Illinois Goes International – The Road to A1-Eh!

*Marry-Shag-Hit in the Head with a Shovel is the Bob and Tom Radio version of Marry-$%#!-Kill, then endlessly entertaining game in which one player lists three celebrities and the second player must classify which action he or she would take with that person. There are only two rules to this game- you can only assign one person to each action and NEVER use people whom you know as the choices.



  1. Wow, that sounds like quite a trip. I was a bit daunted by our recent 3hrs trip, let alone a 12hr one on a long weekend. You guys did a great job!
    Can't wait to hear the rest :)

    1. Thanks Kalliste! Sometimes these road trips are the best I can do to satisfy my inner adventurer. Plus - it is the only time I get McDonalds!!


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