Friday, November 30, 2012

Sudbury Ontario to Cambridge Ontario

Granddaughter Robyn's second birthday was October 21st while granddaughter Jolene is going to be four on December 23rd but, in the interests of getting all the traveling family together, parents Mike and Kim decided to hold a joint party on Sunday, December 2nd.

This morning, Action Sudbury held its Red Ribbon Kickoff, the start of our holiday campaign to encourage people to Drive Aware, Not Impaired. As Vice-Chair, I put on my new jacket, shirt and tie and actually got to say a few words, primarily suggesting that the various sober driving organizations need to work together locally. Some of the ladies said I cleaned up nicely and should dress up more often. After the festivities, I took all the display gear to Normie at the Sudbury Trail Plan office in Garson where he was going nuts because this weekend was the cut-off of the reduced price snowmobile trail permits and everyone had left it to the last minute.

As we were getting ready to leave, Kim called and asked if we could look for a FurReal Friends toy dog named Cookie. We started at Toys R Us where the lady told us Cookie was discontinued. Then we tried WalMart where the very attractive toy department manager said she had one earlier but it was gone. She suggested Zellers, which was liquidating due to the Target takeover. There we found Cookie but it was $70, not the $20 Kim expected. With discounts, it was actually priced at $56. We called Kim and, after some debate at her end, we were told to get it even though there was a No Return policy in place.

Finally, after a stop at Subway for a road lunch to go, we were rolling south bound at 3:25. I had hoped my brother Rabbi, who is home in the Soo from the Oil Patch in Alberta, would have been able to join us but he had other commitments. The first half of the trip was uneventful although, after a stop at the Tim's south of Parry Sound, we heard barking coming from the back seat where we had Cookie stowed. Near Waubaushene, we started to encounter snow which began to lightly coat the roads so I slowed down. North of Barrie, we saw a gang of northbound plows taking up the whole road with a long line behind them. The only catch was that there wasn't much snow on the road, which didn't speak well for the judicious use of our tax dollars. Through Barrie, we were held up because a couple of vehicles tangled and a pickup truck was crosswise in the road.

Pickup truck crosswise on Highway 400 at Barrie

Once clear of that obstacle, we continued south on slushy roads. I was pleased with how the truck handled it. My Neon would have been sideways and my Caravan would have been pulling back and forth but the Avalanche just drove through it in total control. I had it in Four Wheel Drive Auto mode, which means the front differential is engaged but only puts power to the wheels when the truck thinks it needs it. This uses a little more fuel but gives a much more stable feeling and better control. Still, we took it easy because I don't want to be one of those people who think 4WD is a magic bullet and then end up in the ditch.

I had always wondered how the Garmin Zumo 550 knew to change to night mode since it doesn't have a visible light sensor. I finally looked it up and the consensus is that it works off the internal clock (which it is not smart enough to adjust for time zones even though it knows where it is) and the sunrise/sunset times in the current zone to change the setting. This device is both very smart and incredibly stupid at the same time but I don't know how I traveled before I had it.

We stopped at the Highway 89 Service Centre McDonald's for burgers to go and were treated to another episode of Cookie barking in the back seat. I wondered if we should feed her? The road dried out near Canada's Wonderland but we still took the expensive Highway 407 toll road around the north side of Toronto, where the electronic Compass sign said "Arrive Alive - Drive Sober" This is the motto of Arrive Alive, the provincial organization Action Sudbury is affiliated with. When we reached Highway 401 West, we encountered bumper-to-bumper traffic and crawled our way along, although it picked up a bit as we got closer to Cambridge. Even with the black ice, I think that the forty car lengths gap that some drivers were leaving was a bit much.

We finally pulled into Kim and Mike's at 9:30 PM after negotiating glare ice on the Cambridge side streets. They don't believe in using salt (or much of anything else) down here in the winter.

Today's Route (285 truck miles):

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