September 19th, 2001


Trip update #1

09/11/2001��There we were, heading back to Canada for the jump... sitting in a Subway, having a late breakfast, when we heard on the radio about the World Trade Centre/airplane encounter. Colin and I exchanged glances and smirks - this had to be a joke! Who would run a plane into a building like that?! Besides, we'd just been there! The news report continued, and mentioned the Pentagon. There was no laughter, and no punchline followed. I approached the sandwich artist behind the counter and asked if the station we were listening to was prone to jokes, or if this was a real report. "No joke, this is the real thing," came the reply. You've gotta be fuckin' kidding me...

The local phone was useless, as it kept losing connection. Down the road a ways, we happened across a gas station with a phone, and stopped to phone home and announce our continued good health. As Colin talked to loved ones, I noticed across the highway (main road of the town) that there was a run-down business, dedicated to selling hubcaps. Hundreds of hubcaps filled the front area. "Collette would love one of these," I thought! Quickly, I made my way over to this treasure trove. After a quick explanation to the only living being I could find on the lot, I was taken to a barn/shop building, and a homemade ladder within that led to an unlit upstairs area. Did I mention that the ladder was propped up on two metal buckets? "Up there, on the left, pick out which ever one ya want."

"Oh, perfect... " I thought. "I bet he says that to all his victims... he's left the building. Well, if I hurry... I bet that's what all his victims thought..."

I scrambled up the ladder, quickly located a decent hubcap, and made my way back down to ground level. As I exited, I came face-to-face with four other people. I quickly received looks of "who is this guy... and what's he doing with our hubcap??" My hello was met with a single nod from one of them. Fortunately, the man I had been dealing with was along promptly, and I left the premises unscathed.

The radio continued to distribute news of the terrorist activities, and the reactions it was causing. All airports were shut down; it would seem that Joe will definitely not be joining us in Toronto.

Getting back into Canada wasn't too bad. We waited about 15 minutes, and had to present ID, and had the trunk searched. We made it into Toronto and found our place-of-stay for the next few days. There resided some kind of small, puntable dog; I quickly named her "Pukey" - you're smart, I'm sure you've figured out why.

09/10/2001��After a minor altercation in the morning, we headed back into Manhattan; we had to get back into the Statue of Liberty so we could get into the crown, after all! We discovered on the way that we were a day off with our schedule; we thought it was Sunday, but the traffic was fairly busy for early Sunday morning. Damned if it wasn't actually Monday... Once we arrived at the statue, it only took a couple of hours in total to get ourselves to the top, for a measly two minutes of crown-level gawking. Move along, move along... other people want to see this too, y'know!

Well then, off we go to the World Trade Centre. Despite the rain, you can get quite the view from 107 floors up! The food there wasn't bad, albeit a bit expensive; I know - shocking, isn't it...?

Naturally, we had no umbrella for our trek back to the car. When we finally reached the parking garage, we dragged our dripping bodies through the lowest level to the car, and proceeded to change into dry clothes right there, using the car as shield/change room.

It was time to find our way to the theatre for Les Miserables. How were we to find this? Fortunately, we had a good hour and a half until it started. We began by finding Broadway Street (a task far less easy than expected - directions from a police officer were required), since the theatre was apparently fairly close to this; but which part, exactly? Stopping in a small restaurant with an open door, we asked for directions (how un-male of us, for the second time!). "Just get on the subway, take the QNR to such-and-such street, and then it's only three blocks over from there." Uh... QNR? Sure, sure... what?

After locating the subway, we had the task of actually giving money over to get a ticket - no easy feat, I assure you! The ticket machine was extremely adamant about not accepting our bills - it wouldn't even try! Fine then... up and over to another subway station. This machine was far more accommodating, and readily swallowed our cash in exchange for a transit pass. A maintenance man deciphered for us what "QNR" meant, and we were quickly on our way!
Les Miserables was excellent! No more shall be said about this, as I'd hate to ruin it for you if you haven't seen it; if you have, then (hopefully) you already know what I mean...

Crap. Time to take the subway again... locating it was not difficult, and obtaining a pass was far easier than our previous attempt. Now, if only we could locate the QNR track... "Ah, here it is. Umm... no, this is the wrong one. Must be over here, then... umm... nope, this isn't it either. Where the hell is it? And why aren't there any maps for this convoluted web? As soon as we find the Minotaur, I'm asking for directions!" We finally found the right track, and were soon on our way back to the garage/change room. Fuck me - $30 (US!!) for parking! No need for muggers - we were gettin' robbed anyway...

09/09/2001 The fog this morning was amazing! We had to stop and get a couple pics of it - you can find those in Expeditions.

We quickly came upon our first toll booth - and so it starts... We made it into New York City this morning (a good 14 hrs ahead of schedule, no less!) and headed directly into Manhattan, going through two more toll booths along the way, with high hopes of seeing some superhero action! Alas...�

We found a place to park - it really wasn't that hard... wandered around, kinda looking around (found Central Park), and kinda looking for the Empire State Building - how can you not find such a large building? Street vendors everywhere, garbage, pedestrians walking out as far as possible and crossing when they can against the light. Driving seems to consist of no signals and very aggressive driving, though not necessarily hostile, unless you're courteous! Half of the time there either are no lanes, or after an intersection you find that there's not as many lanes as there were before the intersection - makes for an interesting time merging... the traffic lights are small and generally set to the side.

We finally found the Empire State Building (we had wandered farther than we thought!), and went up to the observation deck - couldn't help but think of Sleepless in Seattle. Made mention that the upcoming bungee jump is to be 50% higher than this!!�

Heh... we actually found our way back to the car!

On to the Statue of Liberty - we were unable to get into the crown! I had been hoping to see some X-Men references somewhere within the statue, but alas, there were none.

Once we were tired enough and no longer amused with the Manhattan area, we wandered back down highway 9A and found a motel along the way that was considerably cheaper than anything we'd checked out in Manhattan - go figure... This afforded yet another shower - oh, bliss... wonderful again! It was rather warm in the room though, and the air conditioner made a lot of noise. That wouldn't be a problem, really, except that Colin has turned in early (it's 9:00!!), while I sit here typing away. We do have a wake-up call coming in at 7:00 after all...

Just put some water into the sink to soak my juice box in to cool it off... do people really drink this?? There's a definite brown tinge to it... I'm perhaps just spoiled.

What are we going to do tomorrow? Perhaps go look at fancy houses, and see if we can locate some 8-hole Docs for Colin... a place this large requires a guide of some kind. Maybe we can move our opera to tomorrow night instead of Monday... we could then head into Toronto a day early. As it is, the plan is to leave for Toronto after the opera anyway... get into town bright and early; again, a day early; two if we can move the opera up a day.

Only one day in this city, and our toll booth total is at $6.75...

As of yet, I have no way of getting in touch with James; I hope I can get to him some e-mail when I get to Toronto, in hopes that he is prompt with a reply. I must remember to call Joe before I leave here to find out what the plan is... I have a feeling, though, with everything that's going on for the poor guy, that he won't be able to make it. Certainly unfortunate, but these things happen...�

09/08/2001 More driving... blah. We finally made it into Sudbury, had a shower (Oh, so wonderful! Can you count the days? Yeah, gross.), and visited with some of Colin's family. His grandmother was rather feisty, racing down the hallway in her wheelchair, telling a hall-snail to move outta the way!�

We then headed off to New York. We were forced (by gunpoint, dammit! okay, not really...) to do 130kmph for most of the trip into Toronto, since that was the minimum that traffic was doing! Sweet! I could definitely handle being in a place that 30kmph over the limit was certainly encouraged, if not practically enforced, by the masses. We happened by Queen Street during our meanderings and efforts to find a major thoroughfare. I knew that Emu lived near Queen Street somewhere; I wondered if we'd, by chance, see her along the way? What were the odds...?

Once we got ourselves onto the QEW, we were set for the 'States. Re-entry was almost effortless this time - the guy was really nice!! No ID or anything! And he didn't even have his hand by his holster! I was most impressed...�

09/07/2001 Okay, today was rather boring. We drove all night, taking turns driving/sleeping in the back seat. We did make it to the Ontario border by about 5:30am though. We went through the States as a shortcut (at Fort something-or-other) going along the south side of Lake Superior, instead of going through the Thunder Bay area. We were stopped at the border for a search and form fill-out - the guy with the rubber gloves was surprisingly gentle!

Just an interesting note as we made our way through the states:
Minnesota - just the arches for McDonald's, no wording
Wisconsin - the arches and "McDonald's"
Michigan - the arches and "McDonald's Restaurant"

It was late evening by the time we reached the USA/Canada border again. Re-entry into Canada was really quick and painless! They must have had us listed in a database, cuz all the guy really wanted was the license plate number.

09/06/2001 After getting the guy I was covering for up to speed on what went on the past couple of weeks, I got away from work at noon. Good thing too! I still had to get travel insurance for the trip into the States. Naturally, I forgot all the tapes I had set aside at home; what would this trip be like without some kind of entertainment along the way? When all was said and done, we finally reached escape velocity from the city at about 3:30pm...

As we made our approach to the Saskatchewan border, we passed through Medicine Hat. I, of course, thought about Lisa. We didn't have time to stop by, but perhaps on the way back? She had mentioned coming back to Calgary to visit in late August, but that didn't come about.

We crossed the provincial boundary around 5:30pm, and made it to the Manitoba border somewhere around 10:30pm. In truth, there's not a lot of detail of the in-between... fortunately it was dark out, and we weren't subjected to the monotonous view of the flat and seemingly endless prairies. Falling asleep in the back seat also helped...
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