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Monday, August 9 - The Long Road Home:
I woke up, collected my things and went down to the desk with Denis to check out and make sure Denis was set to spend another day in the room. There were a few communications blocks at first, but Denis used his French to get them cleared up - gotta love those bilinguals. Too bad I spent most of my time in high school on Italian and dead languages (get a Gathering in Italy and I'll be golden).
We all gathered together for breakfast and ended up sitting next to Gorebash and a couple of his friends, though we pretty much kept the conversation within our own groups. Leo split afterwards to catch up with the group heading to Six Flags, and Denis... I don't remember what Denis decided to do, but he went off on his own.
Kelly and I gathered our things, went down to my car and headed off around 10 - getting out of the city was much, much easier than getting in.
With no stops along the way (well, no pick-ups anyway), it was smooth sailing. We hit traffic around Toronto, but fortunately we were staying outside of the city so there was no risk of getting misdirected again. A storm threatened to make things particularly hazardous but it held off long enough for us to get to the QEW and to Hamilton.
Got Kelly back to her place in one piece and didn't stick around for long - cat allergy aside, I was in a mindset to just get to Niagara Falls and relax. Got out of Hamilton without incident and headed on back to the States.
Of course, it wouldn't be a road trip if there was no incident. I ended up following the wrong signs and got lost on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls - nice town, just not where I wanted to be. Eventually I got my bearings and continued on to the correct bridge.
I slowed down on the bridge to take a look at the Falls, which was as close as I would get this trip, and continued on home. I had an interesting conversation with the border guard that, well... I was tired. This is pretty much verbatim:
Guard: Okay, I gotta ask - what do your plates mean?
Me: "Let there be night." It's Latin, motto of a club I belonged to in high school.
Guard: Ah. Okay, citizenship? ~What I heard: Citizenship papers?~
Me: Birth certificate and driver's license.
Guard: No, what country are you from? ~What I heard: What country are you coming from?~
Guard: ...What's a Canadian doing with Virginia tags?
Me: What? I'm not ~~sudden realization of what he had actually said~~ ...oh! I'm American. Sorry. Yeah, American.
Guard: Carry on.
I got to the hotel about the same time as a crunch of Italian tourists and guests who didn't seem to understand the concept of checking into a hotel, so I opted for a quick dinner while the crowd dispersed. Nothing, and I mean nothing tastes as good as a steak after a long day on the road.
Made it into my room and ordered "Master and Commander" for some post-travel entertainment. As soon as it ended I went to sleep.
Day's mileage: 430
Total mileage: 1,360
Tuesday, August 10 - The Long Road Home Continued:
I woke up around 8:30 and carried myself to the Duty Free Shop to exchange the Canadian currency into ol' Greenbacks as I doubted I'd have another chance after Niagara Falls (another difference between the U.S. and Canada - while you can exchange currency almost anywhere up there, you can only do it at the border and international airports down here). I walked there because the only exit by car was back into Canada, and while I very much enjoyed my time up there I just wanted to go home.
I decided against going to the Falls for three reasons: rain was coming, the crowds were gathering and I just wanted to go. So I left at 10 and began the final leg of the road trip.
It started with my getting turned around in Buffalo. I lost track of the various signs and ended up on I-90 Eastbound. Okay, so, not wanting to go to Albany I turned around, donated $.30 to the state of New York via their toll booths and tried getting home again.
Not much to report for the first part of the trip - just followed the breadcrumbs from the way up. However, if you'll recall the storm that slowed Leo and me down on Wednesday, it would seem lightning can strike twice in the same place. Just before State College and my turn off to I-99, a storm fired up and dropped visibility to zero. It was pretty dramatic - driving rain, lightning all about and cliffs on either side of the windy road, all at speed (nobody felt like slowing down). I made it out of the storm in one piece and well beyond my exit.
By the time I figured out that I had missed my exit I was halfway to I-81, so I decided to carry on. As I mentioned back on Wednesday, Pennsylvania is entirely too big. Oh boy, well, I made I-81 and carried along on to I-70. I had planned on going to I-66 to avoid the traffic, but I was approaching the nine hour mark and didn't want to add another 40 minutes to what was going to end up being a 10 1/2-hour trek, so I braved I-70.
Only when necessary, friends; only take that road when absolutely necessary.
So that path aside I made it home in one piece - although very, very tired. I stayed up just long enough to grab dinner, my only meal that day, and then hit the bed hard.
Day's mileage: 580
Total mileage: 1,940
That's it - all I've got. Thanks for reading through it.
Thanks for writing it up. How did Leo get home?