Friday, July 20, 2012
If it's Friday, we're heading for Canada!
Friday we awoke early and tip-toed out of the beach house while the ladies slumbered, Mike having left much earlier to get in a day’s work in the city so he could return before sunset. We had an international travel day ahead of us and another hot one to boot. I stopped at Bella tires to get my air pressure checked, thinking I might need more air in them, but was surprised when the guy actually let air out. I dutifully had a check-up at Les Schwab before leaving, but that was back in the 60’s and it was already approaching 100, that whole hot air expands thing. I’d never seen Detroit outside of the airport and, as it turns out, that might be the best part of the city known for poverty, crime, and fallen businesses, according to Lonely Planet, or maybe I made that up.
I’d heard that gas prices were higher in Canada so turned down a street just before the international bridge and found a corner station within a few blocks to fill up. Suddenly, we were immersed in another culture and I was definitely the only white woman in the hood as I stepped out of my minivan with Oregon salmon license plates and a bumper sticker that reads, "Certified American Tree Farmer." I pumped my gas as coolly as possible, silently cursing my lack of preparation in not dressing like my favorite rap star (possibly because I don’t have one), while trying to avoid the obvious stares I was eliciting. Drawing on my automatic Peace Corps cross-cultural survival response in a further effort to appear casual, I hummed the only tune that surfaced from my rock library—Detroit Rock City. Really? Kiss? Ghostface Killa might have been more appropriate but I didn’t even know he existed until I just googled Top Rap Artists. Which is when I also “remembered” that Eminem got his start in the Motor City. But it’s questionable whether or not a blonde, white lady wearing sunglasses and flip flops humming “Lose Yourself” would have made the right impression. And even though my bladder was as full as my gas tank, I opted not to step inside to inquire about public facilities.
The Ambassador Bridge lived up to its name: the Americans took our money ($25 US/$22.50 CA) and the Canadians read our passports and we were international, eh? First stop, McDonalds, where we began our lesson in shame, producing our crap American dollars as payment with an apologetic shoulder shrug. And used the facilities. As I drove towards Toronto, I admired the Canadian road signs. Somehow they seemed so much more genteel than our own, like they’d issued from the proper lips of a Canadian Grandma with a slight British accent. “Seatbelts compulsory,” she reminded us with a slight wag of her finger. Can you even read the word compulsory without a lilt? “Fatigue kills, take a break,” she reminded, sipping on her afternoon tea and somehow you simply wanted to pull over at the next exit and join her. “Tailgating kills, leave some space,” she suggested. They really could use her in Chicago.
At last, we pulled into our friend’s driveway in Peterborough where we took a picnic to a park on Chamong Lake and the kids swam while Cath and I visited. If you only have one evening together, you make the most of it. And we did. We’d met on the Christmas sands of Costa Rica in 2010 where Bella and Annika became amigas and we all picked right up where we left off on the summer sands of Canada, eh? When darkness threatened and we realized we were the only ones at the park, we called the kids off the swing set and headed into town, arriving at the downtown Holiday Inn for the night.