Friday, March 06, 2009

Sudbury Ontario to Cambridge Ontario

Here We Go Again

It was just a week ago that we came down this same road heading for Cambridge/Waterloo. That was for dress shopping. This time, we're heading for a birthday party. Fred is a friend of ours from the motorcycle rally circuit who lives in London. He rides a GL1800 in a sporting manner and is the gentleman who coached Heather when she was working on her motorcycle licence. Well Fred is going to be 80 and they're having a surprise party for him in New Sarum tomorrow afternoon.

BTW, New Sarum is adjacent to St. Thomas, home town of Rachel McAdams, if anyone is interested in star gossip.

But what a difference a week makes. Last Friday, we set out in the tail end of a blizzard with temperatures dropping down to the 10F below levels. Snow was drifting and whiteouts were common. This Friday, the temperature is 35F and a light rain fell overnight. The roads are clear and spring is in the air despite four feet of snow in the front yard.

We left Sudbury just before 7:00 AM. The drive down was uneventful and traffic was light. All the snowmobile trailers we saw going south on Sunday were headed back north today. They were in for a major qualitative difference in their riding experience this time. At Derek Roberts' Esso in Waubaushene, where a couple of sleds rode in for gas last Sunday, there was only grass and dirt today. I opted to follow the 400 right down to the 401 and avoid the tolls. We made it into Kitchener in about four hours and twenty minutes, good time considering I held to 20 KPH over the limit.

The Passport Office

Since we were coming down this way and since our passports just happened to be expired, we planned to visit the Kitchener Passport Office as soon as we got to town. I had pulled up the PDF forms on line and filled them out, printing the hard copy. We got photos at the CAA last week and don't need guarantor signatures because we are renewing within a year of expiry. We would have gone to the Sudbury Passport Office, but we don't have one. our former Liberal MP campaigned in the last election saying we should have one, but she didn't do anything about it for the 13 years she was part of the government. One reason why she is 'former'.

I found a nice big parking lot right across the street from the government building. Unfortunately, it was for monthly parking people only. Going around some blocks, I found an underground lot with lots of spaces. It was a three block walk but the first two hours were free.

They have a reception counter where a knowledgeable person checks your application and photos and gives you a number. Sandy and I shared a number, D353. After signing in the appropriate places, we sat in a waiting area looking at a big electronic board of which window was serving which number. A's were new applications, D's were renewals. I have no idea what B's and C's were. But they were at D347 in Window 07 so how long could it take?

For the present, we discovered 07 was the only renewal window. No big deal because how long could a renewal take, especially since the application was vetted already. We didn't count on D349. I don't know what this younger gentleman did, but the lady working the window had to go and confer with her boss twice, they both conferred with someone else once, they tore up his application and made him write a new one, then she went and wandered around looking lost for a bit before making him write some more. Personally, I wasn't concerned with his problems except that he was doing all this in the ONLY window serving us poor D type people. If he screwed up the form, why wasn't he sent back to the end of the line to start over? Or taken in a back room and beaten with sticks? I was starting to think I could become a waiting room hero if I hit him with a chair.

Eventually, they noticed the backup and, after good old 349 had been tying the window up for a half hour, they switched a couple of other windows to renewals. Shortly thereafter, we were summoned to Window 10 where Joanne ably took care of us quite quickly. We talked about bikes and the upcoming Friday the 13th at Port Dover while she completed the paperwork. Then it was off to pay the $87 each and get a receipt. The passports will be shipped to us within the next ten working days and then I will notify NEXUS of our new documents. Can't be too careful when your name is on the Watch List.

Hey, we made it back to the van in just under two hours so the parking was free.

What a Nice Day

It was hard to imagine an early March day like the one down here. Unlike our snowbanks back home, the ground is clear here. It's about 60F and there is no sign of salt on the streets. The sun is shining brightly. We saw our first motorcycle on the 401 in Milton and now they are everywhere. My throttle hand was twitching.

Kim hadn't had lunch so we stopped at Subway on the way over to her place and got us all healthy sub choices. While Kim and Sandy caught up on soap operas, I took a run to Staples for some new Zebra gel pens and notebooks. They have new selections in the Netbook category so now I have to do more research. Sooner or later, I will have to jump in, probably by the end of this month. The trusty old Lifebook is just getting too slow.

Back at the house, I finished up the Freedom Riders monthly treasurer's report and the 2008 annual financial statements and sent them out to the members. I won't be at the Sunday meeting, but that's no reason not to have the reports done. Then we had an excellent supper and watched TV for the rest of the evening, taking turns playing with Jolene until it was time to turn in.

Jolene Picture

Sandy took the camera and got some shots of Jolene. Here's one.

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