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Ontario-New York-Vermont

It has been a challenge to update the blog since the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Not only has cellular Internet service been absent or unreliable, but the relentless pace of driving nine hours a day has completely obliviated the enjoyment and adventure we usually get from traveling.

No longer, however. We are back in New England for the summer, and there will be no more spine-compressing, gas-and-go travel for a while. Well, not until July, but I'll get to that issue later.

De Tour Eleanor Lynn cooking.jpg

Our stay in De Tour, MI with the good doctor and his wife was extended out of sheer laziness. I needed to catch up on sleep and our hosts were making it far too easy to stay. Eleanor paid her way by giving Lynn a cooking demonstration on Saturday afternoon and making another dessert too (something with chocolate sauce, banana, pound cake ... who knows, but it was good).

So it was Sunday morning before we finally swatted away the mosquitoes, hitched up, and headed north to Canada. Regrettably the trip through upper Ontario from Sault Ste. Marie and eastward along Rt 17 was less interesting than I had hoped. The country is mostly flat, with small hills, and there's not a lot that captured our attention. I was hoping for a series of interesting local features: farmer's markets, bakeries, crafts, cultural museums, piney lodges, general stores, short scenic hikes, etc. Mostly what we saw were the routine roadside and rural emblems of commerce: farm implement dealers, gas stations, motels, and the ubiquitous Tim Horton's. As result, we stopped only for gas.

Gas turned out to be its own potential adventure. Many gas stations along Rt 17 do not have "Pay at the pump", which we have come to regard in the US as a virtual right of citizenship. Instead, the upper Ontario stations offer an anachronism: full service. A real human being comes out and pumps your gas -- something usually seen only in the two US states where pumping your own gas is still illegal (Oregon and New Jersey).

We discovered the dark side of "full service": no service. Since we were driving on a Sunday afternoon, many stations were closed. Towing a trailer, one does not have a lot of miles in the tank between 1/4 full and Empty -- and the fuel stations ("gas bars" locally) along Rt 17 are occasionally spaced rather widely.

It finally came to a point where we had our choice made for us. If the next station didn't have gas, we would have to park there overnight until it opened. The prospect didn't bother us much; we've slept in weirder places. But as it turned out, not only was there an attendant on duty, but he was happy to spend a couple of minutes comparing US and Canadian candy bars with us. (Consensus: Canadian candy bars are way better.) We came out of there with 80 liters of gas and an interesting chocolate-peanut-caramel crunchy thing called a Cadbury Wunderbar.

Along the eastern end of Rt 17, north of New York state, the scenery turns more to exposed granite outcrops and tall trees, so it starts to feel a bit like the Adirondacks. We stopped at an Irving truck stop for dinner and then relocated to a nearly deserted Wal-Mart for a very quiet night, before making the final few hours past Ottawa and across the border once again.

US Customs are always unpredictable, but with a few simple preparations you shouldn't have any trouble getting across the border with a trailer. I get asked about this a lot, so we have an article slated for the Fall 2007 Airstream Life on exactly that topic.

In New York we stopped in at GSM Vehicles, where Colin Hyde and Suzanne Brown are leading the team that is building Matthew McConaughey's custom Airstream. That's another thing we are documenting in the magazine, so I took some pictures for the next issue and interviewed Colin about the latest details going into the trailer. (Congas, a digeridoo, and solar panels, among other things.) We'll have those pics and a description in the Fall magazine also.

Plattsburgh courtesy parking.jpg

Colin and Suzanne invited us to their house for courtesy parking, so we delayed our arrival in Vermont by one day and spent the evening in their driveway, near their 30-foot 1950s Airstream Sovereign.

Lake Champlain Airstream ferry.jpg

And now, after a short trip across Lake Champlain on the ferry, here we are, parked under the cedar trees in Vermont. Whew!


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