Pre-adventure Adventure: Pick up rental car (it sounds so easy…)

The Plan:

  • My dad will drive from Grimsby to Mississauga and pick up me and the kids. (Thanks Dad!)
  • We will drop off kids in Grimsby with my mom. (Thanks Mom!)
  • My dad and I will continue to Buffalo Airport and get rental car (this should be approx 1 hour each way).
  • Back to pick up kids and head home.

The Reality:

  • We forget until too late that this is a long weekend which = border crossing Hell.
  • As a result we wait at border for 2 hours, not counting actual travel time.
  • Pick up Ford Escape (nice ride!)
  • Can not connect my iPhone/music….!?! mild panic immerges… that’s okay Erica keep calm, we will sort it out when we get to Grimsby until then I will find a good station on Sirius Radio.
  • I try to close the trunk and can’t reach it… hmm… (yes, okay I know I’m vertically challenged but I think something’s wrong.. again we’ll sort that out in Grimsby)
  • My Dad and I share directions which seem quite simple to get back to the Peace Bridge and we take off separately.
  • I pretty much immediately get lost.
  • Since we are in the US and I don’t have a data plan I resist all temptation to turn on my map app. Surely I can figure this out the old fashioned way. I had grabbed a tear off map from a car rental place so I pull over to take a look. Apparently it helps to really know where you are if you want to use a paper map.  But from what I can tell I am definitely going the wrong way but I do have a couple options so I head back on the highway and take a chance.
  • I end up at a toll booth that I am certain we didn’t pass on the way to the airport.
  • I ask the toll-dude,

“Am I going the right way to the Peace Bridge?”

“No, you are not.”


“Where are trying to go?”


“Where about in Canada?”

“Anywhere in Canada would be fine.”

“Go straight ahead and take exit 25 to the Rainbow Bridge.”

“Awesome – thanks!”

  • exit 23…exit 24… exit 25A.. Exit25B…Exit to Canada … WTF? How did “take Exit 25” become so complicated?
  • According the sign I have 3 miles to decide what to do .. Canada seems like the logical decision but the last time I went against the specific directions and trusted my gut instinct I ended up.. well .. here. So maybe I should take exit 25.. but A or B..? And how long is 3 miles in kilometers? Oh. THAT was 3 miles. crap. wrong exit.
  • Thankfully I find the Border within minutes – whew! and even better there are only 3 cars ahead of me – Oh Happy Day!
  • Border Guard, “How long were you in the United States?”

“Just long enough to pick up this rental car.” I have nothing to hide.

“A rental? You do know you have to pay tax on it if you want to bring it into Canada, right?”

“um… no..?”

“Why did you rent it from Buffalo if you are driving through Canada?”

“Because it was cheaper.”

“And that’s why you are taxed for it in Canada.”

“Oh. Well that sucks. But I don’t really have a choice now so I guess I’ll pay the tax.”

“You do have a choice; you could return the car.”

“But then how would I get home?”

“I see your dilemma.”

  • So I go to the inspection centre and pay my tax. Thankfully it still ends up being much cheaper to have rented from the USA and frankly I’m still much more concerned about still not having access to my music (and I can’t find a decent channel on Sirius Radio to save my life – where is the CBC R3 station???)
  • In no time at all, I’m back in Grimsby. Despite my challenges I’m only slightly behind my Dad. He is much more upset about the tax than I am; all I want is to figure out how to play my music!! I have over 50 hours of driving ahead of me – music will help keep me sane. (okay okay… I said ‘help’ keep me sane)
  • My dad has also realized that the reason I can’t reach the trunk of the Escape is because the handle is broken.. the good news is he thinks I should have enough space for a step stool.  As a back-up he ties on a rope as a makeshift way for me to close it.
  • Then me, my Dad and his helpful neighbour try to get the Bluetooth to work. It works and then it doesn’t. But then it works again. Hooray! By then my mom is cooking dinner for her unexpected guests (we are totally overstaying our welcome by now – sorry mom and dad!!). I take the car for a spin to the grocery store to pick up some last minute items for the trip. After some fiddling I somehow get the music to play on the way there but on the way home I can not make it play. And in my frustration I get lost on my way back to my parents.
  • I roll into their driveway on my last nerve. I’m cool with getting lost, I’m cool with unexpected taxes, I’m cool with trunks that I’m too short to close but for the love of God – do NOT fuck with my music!!!!!!!! (insert hissy fit)
  • My dad sends me in the house so he can try to figure it out in peace. (read: GO TO YOUR ROOM UNTIL YOU CAN MANAGE!)
  • After my time-out I go back to the car and we somehow figure it out together.  It’s not a perfect solution and my dad insists that there must be a better way to make it work but I beg him to stop fiddling. I can play my music. That’s all I care about. (my breathing starts to return to normal.)                       

The Lesson Learned:

  • Planning is over-rated but maps can be helpful.
  • I get lost. A lot.
  • It’s okay because I seem to be able to find my way out.
  • Everything will be okay as long as there is good music. 

Are we there yet????


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Beth says:

    I suspect you will get lots of practice with maps and directions … Starting …… NOW! Be safe and have so much fun! BON VOYAGE!


  2. richkote says:

    You are never too old for a time-out. 😉 I now see how effective they can be Enjoy your travels ……. and your music



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