Monday, March 26, 2018

Woodstock Ontario to Sudbury Ontario

Up at 6:00 AM, we had the luggage loaded in the car before the hotel breakfast opened at 6:30. Once again, I had sausages (rounds this time) and scrambled eggs while Sandy had the usual cereal and yogurt.

After stopping by Heather and Tom's house at 7:00 to say goodbye, I fueled at the PetroCan station on Norwich Avenue. I think they mad a mistake because I paid $1.139 per litre while the prices everywhere else were in the range of $1.30. I'm probably a bad person because I did not rush right in and warn them about the discrepancy.

We were on the road at 7:50, driving east on Highway 401 straight into the rising sun. This caused me to think about son-in-law Mike, who had a new job in Mississauga. Commuting from Cambridge, the sun, if it was clear, would always be in his eyes both ways.

Traffic moved along just fine until we got to Highway 8, where (as usual) everything ground to a screeching halt. Rather than idle along the several miles to the Highway 24 exit, we got off at 8 and took Sportsworld Drive/Maple Grove Road around the jam directly to Highway 24 (or what passes for Highway 24 after Premier Mike Harris destroyed the provincial highway numbering system twenty years ago). We followed this to Airport Road and Mono Mills, stopping at Tim's in Erin for coffee and a breakfast sandwich. Then it was across Highway 9 to Highway 400 North, at which point I was very pleased to find us pushed by a south wind.

After stopping at the On Route in Barrie to top up the coffee mug, we continued north uneventfully. North of Parry Sound, I had several random thoughts:

  • The fences designed to keep wildlife off the road also confine people to that same road
  • The rumble strips on the centre line and fog lines of the highways are probably the most cost-effective way to prevent vehicle crashes ever invented
We also noted logging activity adjacent to the Highway 69 as the land is cleared for the ongoing and seemingly never-ending four-laning project. We arrived home safely at 2:00 PM right on the nose.

Today's Route (314 Equinox miles):

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Woodstock Ontario

The Best Western had more breakfast options than the standard Super 8 continental fare. They had some kind of egg things, sausage links and potatoes. That was enough for me while Sandy had cereal and yogurt. She is always easy to please. I really like biscuits and gravy in the morning but that is a creation that is virtually unheard of in the Great White North.

Those who know us are aware that, while Sandy and I were both baptized in the United Church of Canada and both married Catholics our first time around, we have not been believers since before we got together. I consider myself a Deist, believing in a Creator of the Universe/Mulitverse. However, considering the magnitude of Creation, I don't see any credible evidence that the Creator interferes with its operation or know/cares about our insignificant planet. That said, a Creator able to create 170 billion GALAXIES could be omnipotent enough to care about what I did last Saturday night, so I can't say absolutely that believers are wrong. I will just say that, in my opinion, what they believe is improbable.

That said, I have very clear views on religion itself. People can have trouble dealing with the concept of mortality, especially their own. They have difficulty with the trials and tribulations of life in general, so they find comfort in turning to a higher power to make sense out of it all. Voltaire summed it up by saying "If God did not exist, it would have been necessary to create Him." Given the human need, religion fills a void for many people and helps them lead a happier life. As long as they do not interfere with the rights of others to believe or not believe something different, I wish them the best. Life often isn't easy and we each need to find our own way of coming to terms with it.

As the once great and now fallen Cosby said, I told you that story to tell you this one. Our daughters were never baptized and did not grow up with a church a part of their lives. We did talk about the meaning of "Life, The Universe And Everything" but I never took a hard position, hoping they would find their own way just as I did. Both of them married husbands who had been raised Catholic. Kim and Mike recently joined Cambridge Community Church, a friendly and welcoming Protestant venue that we had attended with them a while back. Heather and Tom have joined Calvary Church in Woodstock and we were now going to witness her baptism. I am proud that both of our offspring have weighed their own convictions and joined what seem to be very positive groups in each of their communities. Sandy and I hope this proves them and their families with purpose and fellowship.

We arrived at the church at 9:00 AM. Sandy and I had already been there for a Christmas pageant. Kim, Mike and the girls attended as well. The hall resembled a theatre with a stage, very comfortable seats and all manner of AV equipment. There were musicians on guitars and percussion and a singer. The style of music was very similar to what our friends in the Christian Motorcycle Association play during the worship services at the Freedom Rallies. It's a little subdued for my tastes (I prefer a rousing round of Southern Gospel music making a joyful noise), but they do seem to enjoy it. The baptism was full immersion in a large tub on stage. As Heather came out, they played a video on the big screen of her recounting her journey to this point. She referred to her father as "non-believing but philosophical". I can live with that. Then she climbed into the tub, the pastor said the words that traced all the way back to John The Baptist, and she was submerged.

The rest of the service seemed anti-climactic to us. Rhianna, a friend of the twins from high school who lived in the area. was there with her husband and youngest. It was good to see here. On the way out, there was a lot of handshakings and we were blessed many times. I don't mind that because the intent was sincere.

The entire family repaired to Crabby Joe's in downtown Woodstock. It had just opened and the server, Chris, got a table set up straight away. He was also very good with the kids, one of the best I have ever seen. I tried to reflect our appreciation in the gratuity.

Grandma Sandy and Fiona

Robyn and Mommy Kim

Jolene studies the menu while Jasper peeks and Robyn watches

Jasper waits for food

Reminds me of The Waltons

Enjoying the company

Our hirsute son-in-law Mike

Back at the hotel, I was hit with a resurgence of the flu. Heather and Kim were going to a discussion session at CCC in Cambridge and wondered if I wanted to come along. I didn't want to get too far away from a bathroom so I was forced to decline. Next time. Instead, I went to bed early and stayed there until morning.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Sudbury Ontario to Woodstock Ontario

Heather invited us to Woodstock to witness her baptism into the new church they have been attending. We had planned to go down yesterday. This would have given me a chance to see the Doubleheaders Model Railroad Tour, something I have wanted to participate in for years. Unfortunately, I have been laid low for the last two days with a nasty strain of the flu. It was bad enough that I dropped eight pounds in 48 hours. I was feeling better this morning. At least I was keeping food down for the time being.

Snow had been melting steadily since the end of February but, suddenly, it was colder and the snow seemed to want to hang around. It was bright and sunny but only 15 C when we left at noon.

Highway 69 is looking pretty snow free

Highway 400 was moving well

We stopped at the McDonald's in Parry Sound and again at the On Route service centre in Innisfil. From there, since it was late afternoon on a Saturday, I opted to drive right into Toronto on the 400 and take the 401 West. The 407 is quicker and less congested during busy times but the tolls are expensive enough to be considered highway robbery. The back route via Highway 9 is OK but slow so I try to stick to the big road during times we expect it to be less jammed up.

Of course, the online traffic map from the Ministry of Transportation that I consulted at the Innisfil Service Centre wasn't exactly truthful (why am I not surprised?). The 401 West was very slow to the 427 exit and then jammed up again in Mississauga for no apparent reason.

I reflected on the rest of the drive once we got rolling. The twit driving in the centre lane (it's a six-lane road) at 40 KPH less than the rest of the traffic needs to revisit his driving skills. He was like some kind of obstacle in a video game. There was also a class of aggressive drivers who figured that once they got going fast enough, turn signals didn't matter. Using blinkers is a habit I have developed. I do it without thinking. Not using them is a bad habit that can lead to very nasty consequences. As for the driver of that Ram dually belching black smoke every time it accelerated, you need to get that pig serviced. All things being equal, driving in Northern Ontario looked not so bad.

It was 39F when we pulled into the Best Western in Woodstock. I switched to my light jacket and shoes for the first time since last November. I was still a bit under the weather, so we just laid low for the rest of the day.

Today's route (315 Equinox miles):