27 February 2005

How to Lose Your Mind in Four Days

Start with a car. Add 3 young adults, aged 23-25. Plot route through NS, NB, ME, NH, VT, NY, ON, QC, NB, and NS. Add little/no sleep, ongoing self-deprecation, crankiness, and know-it-all-ism.

Shake thoroughly.

Brandon had a job interview at a university in southern ON and offered to pay for all the "travel expenses", since he had to go anyway. So, J-Fos and I tagged along for the ride. I'm not going to pretend that it was a bad trip. I had a good time. Not to mention that I got out of my house for 4.5 days, after sitting around for 5 weeks.

Initially, I wasn't sure I should go. Chronic unemployment has been hard on my bank account. I was waiting for a call from Beth. I was hoping for sub days in the meantime. Then, during a conversation with Andrew about my constant malcontent with my work (or lack thereof) situation, it was suggested that maybe getting away wouldn't be such a bad idea. I thought and thought, and thought some more. And I decided to go. The more I thought about it, the more I just wanted to get away. So away I got.

Left midnight, drove through the wee hours to arrive in "Banger" for an early breakfast. Then south to N. Conway -- an outlet town in wonderful tax-free NH. I bought a towel. Not very exciting, but I've been dreaming of this towel for years. 11 years ago, I went to this same town with my family, and I bought a HUGE bath towel at the Ralph Lauren outlet. I still have it and use it, but lately I've noticed that its getting a little worn. So, my goal for the trip was to get a new one. $20 USD and a 7 hour detour later, the towel was in hand (as well as some great Old Navy deals).

I don't think my trip-mates weren't overly impressed with the detour. Jenni got some nice stuff at Old Navy, too, but neither one seemed to think the extra car time was a reasonable trade-off. Still I was pleased.

The shit hit the fan during lunch. Apparently, there is no direct route from NH west to NY. I wasn't aware of this when I asked for the detour, or maybe I wouldn't have been so insistent. Brandon insisted that the quickest route was to go south to MA, but Jenni and I couldn't see how that made sense. We ask about going north to QC, or even not as far south, but Brandon was being stubborn.

Finally, noticing that we seemed unable to resolve the route, a nice couple sitting next to us at Wendy's offered an alternative. It consisted of mostly back highways, but cut pretty much right across from NH to Albany (where they were from, which is why they knew the route so well). I drove most of the way there, and only missed two turn-offs. I also stalled the car at just about every possible intersection, causing myself much frustration, and Brandon much (vocal) annoyance.

We switched off just outside of Albany and Brandon took the wheel.

The roads were shitty. Jenni and I weren't just concerned about the driving conditions, we were scared. Brandon kept insisting that it was fine, but there was low visibility, snow, blowing snow, and much swerving. Finally, we ended up pulling off in Utica (find that on a map), NY. We stayed at a crappy motel to avoid the storm and get some much-needed, uninterrupted sleep.

We finally made it to Niagara Falls around lunchtime on Sunday. Having nothing to do, we went to T-dot for the evening. We went shopping. Jenni and I got some great deals at H&M. Brandon was (I presume) bored. Then we met my brother and his (not?) gf at a great jazz bar on Queen. There was a vocal trio doing some Andrews' Sisters and other great standards. Then we were all supposed to go to this cool ice maze down by the CN Tower, but we didn't get there in time. I spent a lot of time trying to get in touch with many of my T-dot friends. Andy crapped out -- never found out why -- Lani ditched me (okay, fine, she was tired and it was a Sunday -- she had to teach the next day, and I was asking her to meet us at, like, 9 pm), a couple of others didn't return phone calls. Brian was the only one to show.

Because of the lateness, we just ended up going for coffee (which, incidentally, kept me up all night), and then catching the streetcar back to my brother's condo, where we'd left Brandon's car (free parking!), but it was fun.

The drive back to Niagara was shit. Major storm (#2!) and bad driving conditions again. We left at 11, we arrived in the hotel ~2.

Monday, while Brandon was at his interview, Jenni and I lay in bed and watched The Weather Network and talked. We went to the hotel restaurant in our pjs, then went back to bed. We took our time getting ready.

Eventually, Brian met us in the crappy touristy part of town. We wandered around, trying to kill time until Brandon was done, but he was taking so long that we decided to go the the Falls ourselves. It was awesome. As Jenni says in her "blog", it would look better in the summer with some contrasting colours, but it was still amazing. After we tired of squinting through the mist, we played in the gift shops for a while. I got Andrew a souvenir (eventually to be left in the back of Brandon's car), and we played with the toys. That's where Brandon found us, and we headed off for lunch.

Summary: Ate, grabbed luggage from storage at hotel. Brian went home. We hit the road.

In the end, it took us ~25 hour to get home, driving through some more of the shittiest weather again. The highways in the southern part of La belle province was messy. Brandon had started the drive, and once we made it through T-dot, Jenni took over. Then I took the wheel from Eastern ON. I made it through the highways in Montréal without getting lost. Eventually, I started getting really tired, so I switched off with Brandon again. I was sleeping, when I heard Jenni suggest that she take over. I guess there was a lot of swerving going on....

I suggested that we pull off the highway and have a nap in the car. The temperature was hovering around the freezing mark and I thought it would be safe for a quick nap before we hit the road again. Famous last words.

I sort of forgot about the part where I didn't bring a blanket, so while Jenni and Brandon were snuggled under many layers, I had two: my shirt, and my coat. I did sleep about 15 minutes, but then I was too cold. I shivered for another 20 or so, then I woke Branond and told him that I'd drive again. I drove for another 2 hours. Jenni took over and drove for another 3, then Brandon took us home from Fredericton. It was such a fucking long car ride. I was so tired. I couldn't sleep for more than ~45 minutes at a stretch. When I got home, all I wanted to do was bathe. I felt vile.

Things I learned:
  • 4 days is not enough time for a road trip when the destination is 2 days away.
  • I can be extremely amused, even when suppressing homicidal urges.
  • Even though I'm used to not having her around, I miss Jenni a lot.
  • Hanging out with my brother is okay.

So, that's the road trip. Coming up: Big news!!

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