Sunday, June 05, 2005

Road Trip: In retrospect, I must say my road trip through Canada and on to Lenox MA was quite a surprise. First off, I encountered virtually no traffic problems whatsoever. No construction delays, no accidents, no rush hours. Not even coming into Toronto at about 5PM on a Friday night. Even the wait times crossing the border were relatively short. (Perhaps not surprisingly, the cross into Canada is a virtual wave-through -- "Do you have any firearms?" "No." "Your final destination in Canada?" "Toronto." "Have a nice day." -- but the cross back into the U.S. is a bit of a event, including the showing of ID and border guards well over to the suspicious side of the scale. They all seem comport themselves as if you owe them money.)

I had harbored a secret dread of this road trip, stemming quite probably from my memories of family vacations as a child -- multi-day ventures that quickly turned into extended exercises in hostile frugality and discomfort on principle. Going deep into the night to save $5 on a motel; suffering without bathroom stops in the interest of being taught a lesson; endless griping and smoldering antipathy towards everything and each other. Some people learn to look back sort of thing romantically. Not me. I'd just as soon forget.

Even as a poor, young adult, road trips involved driving my old Toyota Celica -- no air conditioning, no cruise control, and with only an AM/FM radio that, on a good day, would emit sounds other than static as long as the radio station was less than five miles away. I would drive the length of I-75 from Michigan to Florida, allowing myself the indulgence of a single night's stop in the toothless Mecca of the Georgia/Tennessee border where I could get a bug-infested room for $17.95 -- remember to ask for towels when you check in.

It's really no wonder I developed such a fear and loathing of protracted auto travel.

But this time, facing a mere 12-hour trip to the Berkshires in Massachusetts, I made arrangements for an extended weekends -- outbound Niagara Falls and inbound in Toronto -- to break the trip into manageable chunks.

Prior to leaving, I took the opportunity to get my butter-smooth Camry (with A/C, cruise, PS, PB, sunroof, etc.) detailed just to make for a more pleasant environment. And then there's Sirius, which serenaded me with anything I desired from jazz standards to techno at the flick of a button.

In Niagara I stayed at the Hilton in a Jacuzzi Suite. In Toronto I got a massive room at Cambridge Suites. In Lenox, I was at Canyon Ranch. It's good to be king.

There is something to be said for surviving to middle age. Demons exorcised.