Sunday, December 28, 2008

The visit was nice, but the travelling was HELL!

I got my car dug out by 11 am on Tuesday, December 23. I should have left by 9 am in order to make it through to Mom's (625 km or 375 miles, a seven to eight hour drive the way I go; I made it once in 6.5 hours in summer). But the coolant (antifreeze) was low, and it took about two hours to find that 1) finding the right coolant for your make and model is a mystery unto itself, and 2) everyone within walking distance was out of it. I've learned that the coolant reservoir must be cold to open it up safely. (I had a hard time opening the hood at first, then I needed to use a rubber mallet to loosen the cap.) Finally I packed the car and drove to Canadian Tire and bought a jug of universal coolant (can be used in any car or light truck), and had to wait about 45 minutes with the hood open before I topped it up. It was about 2:15 pm and snowing by this time, which meant that even with ideal driving conditions I wouldn't get to Mom's until about 10 pm.

I have a cold and laryngitis and a persistent cough, and even with multiple stops for coffee by the time I reached Long Sault (just off highway 401 before Cornwall) around 8 pm I knew I wouldn't last, so I took the first exit that showed a motel sign and checked in for the night. Overnight about 4" of snow fell -- I planned on calling Mom on my cell at my first stop for coffee, but, incredibly, there were no service centres open except for those with rather long detours off the road. And the snowfall further east had been even heavier. Once into Quebec province I had to take a construction detour over very snowy roads, which added an hour to the trip, and I didn't get home until about 10:45 am on December 24, coughing the whole way. Mom and I had planned on cooking The Turkey in the morning, but she couldn't wait for me, and she had a hard time getting the thing prepared and in the oven.

Weather on Christmas day was just about perfect, but I coughed for the whole hour's drive. We stopped to get some lozenges for me (my first Christmas shopping trip). They worked pretty well (the lozenges). On Boxing Day we didn't leave our small town (3500 souls) and I bought that disgusting Buckley's Cough Mixture and tissues on sale (my last Christmas shopping trip). Mom bought me lunch.

So the visit with Mom, though brief, was pleasant, and Christmas day at my brother's went well. Then on Saturday morning I took off about 8:15 am and met:
1. Freezing rain on the way into Montreal -- a number of vehicles off the road
2. Torrential downpours between Cornwall to past Kingston -- more vehicles off the road including a pickup, two semis, a minivan, and a passenger bus
3. Fog
4. Fog plus torrential downpours. Traffic slowed to under 50 kph in many stretches.

It wasn't until I reached the city of Toronto itself that the visibility cleared, and I was home by 5:45 pm -- 9.5 hours. On the plus side, I gassed up at 66.5 cents per liter on my way home.

I was glad to get home as you can imagine. And I moved my car to a parking spot right across the street from my house this morning! And my catsitter Ol did a good job -- the cats were rather pleased to see me.

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