Saturday, November 26, 2011

Why we will always turn the radio on from now on before any car trip

When I started writing this post two days ago, I wrote: One week ago right now, I was sitting down to a lovely dinner of chicken burgers and other yummies with my friend Michelle and her two lovely daughters (and John and our kids) at Michelle's house in Waterloo.

But now it is two days later and I finally have downloaded the rest of the photos to go with this post.  My intro kind of lost its poetic appeal when I have to say "as of a week ago two days ago, I was sitting down to a lovely dinner..."  Such is life around my house.  Great intentions!

We had a great weekend two weekends ago visiting our friends and family in Waterloo and vicinity.  The drive there was HORRENDOUS, worse than last year even when construction on the 401 heading west slowed us down so badly that we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in scenic Trenton, Ontario.

That was a total walk in the park compared to our drive to KW last weekend.

We hit the road 30 minutes after we had planned to (which is pretty much what we always plan for).  The kids were chatting so much in the car that I didn't turn the radio on to listen to CBC Ottawa's drive-home show.  (Cue foreboding music here.  DA DA DAAAAA.)  We stopped for supper in Kingston.  I got a curious Facebook message from my friend Jan asking if we'd encountered the slowdowns on the 401 because of "that accident" she'd heard about on the radio.  Nothing so far, I commented.  On we went.  DA DA DAAAAA.

Not long after we were faced with endless brake lights.  We had just passed an exit that would have allowed us to get to Highway 7.  Instead we sat between that exit and the next one for...
FOUR (horrendous) HOURS.

For most of that time, we sat with the engine turned off, as did most of the cars and transports around us.

I won't give you the rundown of what has to be some of the worst hours of our collective lives but we did live to tell the tale.  And miraculously no one had to get out to pee which was very good since cars were zipping up and down the shoulder (in both directions!), police cars were zipping up and down in one direction, and transport drivers were using it as their personal parking lot.  Not a safe place to squat for a pee.

And where did we end up spending the night?  At the exact same Holiday Inn Express in scenic Trenton, Ontario.

Of course, our situtation was much, much better than the poor people who were actually involved in the accident that closed the 401 (initially in both directions).  There were two transports involved and 4 cars.  Someone died on the highway and another was airlifted from the 401 in critical condition.  It was really bad.

We did finally make it to Waterloo the next morning and spent the rest of the weekend making the rounds.

Hope and Ruby begin the first of many tea parties

Madeline and Emily play as though no time has passed

Aunt Sue looks on while Henry explores Uncle Steve's dinky cars

Hope and Claire seemed to like the cars as much or more than Henry did.

Omi and Claire snuggle up.
We were lucky enough to hit KW during the weekend of the Santa Claus Parade.  We all really like this parade because, unlike Ottawa or other big cities, you can always get prime viewing even if you arrive well after it has started.  What a refreshing change!  We were thrilled to start the day with breakfast at Greg and Tamara's house and then we all walked over to the parade with kids in tow.
Aisha found the bands a little loud.

There are a few floats/acts I always look out for at the KW parade:

The big lion
The giant Kitchener Ranger who has to bend way down to make it under the wires.

The "Waterloo Oriental Band."  It remains a mystery to me.
I was lucky enough to squeeze in a reunion coffee with long-ago friend Cathy.  A lifetime ago I used to date Cathy's brother and spent a lot of time with her and her family at that time.  We lost touch about 15 or so years ago.  Of course, you always wonder how people are doing and what they're up to when you lose touch. Through my dear friend Marnie (who I also saw in Waterloo but neglected to photograph), I found Cathy's blog and badda-boom badda-bing, reconnected.  And now we read each other's blogs, email now and again and are Facebook friends.  Funnily enough (and awesomely enough), I won a prize on Cathy's blog recently for her 500th blog post: a great Running Room shirt (for John) and a Starbucks gift card.  For the handover, I met Cathy at Starbucks in Waterloo and was thrilled that her dad, Erv, joined us.  What a great time we had chatting and catching up!  Here are a couple of pics stolen from Cathy's blog:

Cathy and I showing off John's new shirt (he loves it by the way)

Erv and I posing with our drinks (courtesy of Erv!)
The drive back to O-town was thankfully uneventful aside from Henry seranading us with screaming most of the way.  It was GREAT.

Needless to say, my Starbucks card was put into use on Monday morning at our neighbourhood Chapters (aka free babysitting in the form of a Thomas the Train table).

This is what a woman looks like after a weekend away with three kids.  That is a fully caffeinated drink. 

Henry enjoys part of the spoils in the form of a ginger molasses cookie.
Great weekend but glad we don't do that drive more than twice a year or so.  Of course, as Henry gets older and we get wiser about turning the radio on (!), it will get easier.  Right!?

1 comment:

1970kikiproject said...

it was SOOO great to see you again, karen! and i love reading your follow-up comments on the shirt and the gift card! so glad you won! :)
so glad the rest of the weekend's fun and socializing made up for the horrible drive - your poor family.
i am with you on listening to the radio - that was my downfall, too, when the drive home from TO took three hours - i assumed because the gardiner was clear, i'd have smooth sailing home - um, no. but after reading YOUR experience (four hours + kids), i am not going to complain.
ok, two years, same hotel at the last minute...next trip, can you take another route?!
already looking forward to the next time you can get down here. we'll try to have another parade in your honour!