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Two weeks back in Ontario, Canada

May 8th, 2024

Since we’d missed our landing gate at JFK from Frankfort due to the medical emergency landing in Manchester, (we were scheduled to land at 2:45) we had to wait to get a gate and even then, we had to wait to be towed in!  So by the time we got off the plane it was 6:25.  Then it was immigration and bag pick up.  They had arranged for some staff to be outside the baggage claim to help customers with connecting flights.  Since our flight to Buffalo was scheduled for 6:59, we couldn’t make it as bags had to be rechecked so they rebooked us at 10:35.  We had to go from Terminal 1 over to 5 by AirTrain and then check in and drop off the bags.  JetBlue advised that the rescheduled flight did not include excess baggage so we’d have to pay another $45 for each of the two bags OR go back to Terminal 1 and get it sorted.  Since we had this “credit” we were going to get, we just paid it.  (Note: we did in fact get reimbursed by Expedia for all baggage charges later.)

We arrived at Terminal 5 and had nearly two hours to kill, so we found a bar with a hockey game on and enjoyed a couple of cold beers.  Now we’re hungry as they really didn’t feed us much on the plane and gave us even less to drink so we got some food.  Upon arriving at the gate, we learned the flight was delayed two hours; this delay grew and grew by more and more delays:  12:51, 1:22, 1:40, 2:00, 2:45, 3:00, 4:21.  They did give us each a $12 voucher for food but not much was open at this time so we stocked up on drinks for the road tomorrow.  (Later we both received a $100 credit with JetBlue but it’s only good for a few months.)

Doug called our hotel in Buffalo where we were going to spend the night before picking up our car and they will hold the room IF we can ever make it there.

Amanda has offered to pick us up at the Buffalo airport but with all these changes, we told her we’d take the airport shuttle to the hotel and Uber over to get the car in the morning (along with our Amazon and other shopping).

We were pretty tired all evening but after 1 am got a second wind as that feels like morning to us but we’ve been up since 3:15 am London time so by the time we left we’d been up over 33 hours!

Finally we saw the flight from Boston arrive and after cleaning/restocking we were able to board and left at 4:08.  We arrived in Buffalo, called the hotel shuttle and went directly to bed after checking in.

Fran woke up just after 9:35 am to sunny skies.  She got up and had a shower and Doug woke up around 10.  After getting dressed, Fran caught an Uber to go over and get out car; Amanda said they’d be out we have our own set of keys for the car and she had put all out packages in the back seat.  She returned to the hotel, we packed up all the bags (thank goodness the Civic has a pretty large trunk!) and we drove over to Walmart to do a bit of grocery shopping for us and for Josh (eggs and dairy is way cheaper in the US) before crossing the border.

Fran had heard from Amazon yesterday that one package wouldn’t be delivered until today so after we went shopping, we checked to see (just in case but we doubted it would be there) and it wasn’t.  Oh well.  We’ll be back in August.

We topped up the gas tank and made our way to the border.  We’d discussed already with Joshua about getting cell phone plans for Canada and went to do that first in Milton – about an hour from his place.  We got plans through Koodo which runs on the Telus Canada wide network.  We paid $34 for 20 GB for Doug and $39 for Fran with 40 GB; both of unlimited calling and texting.  It’s not cheap but it is Canada – one of the most expensive countries for cell phone coverage.

We arrived at Joshua’s around 5:30 hitting only one bad batch of traffic for about ten minutes and then we had HOV lanes to get past most of it.

Considering how little sleep we had in the past 48 hours, we were happy to manage to stay up until 8:45 and slept well and long that night.  Josh went off to work and we had the day at the house mostly catching up online and doing daily things.

Josh was home around 4:30 and the grandkids arrived by 5.  We played some games, went outside for a bit and had dinner.  They go to bed at 8pm and we managed to stay up until 9:30 that night.

The northern lights were putting on a show this weekend much further south than normal but here around Toronto we were lucky enough to see them – too cloudy all three nights!  Bummer.

Saturday, we spent the day playing games and going to the park with the grandkids.  We also did a walk over to Tim Horton’s for donuts.

We had given the kids some geodes from Morocco and they had fun splitting them open:

For dinner we watched “Dennis the Menace” which they had never seen; Cyrus loved it, Arya thought it was dumb.

Sunday after Doug’s run and Fran’s exercise, we played board games with the kids (again) and then took a bike ride for 11 km to a restaurant for a mother’s day lunch.

Josh gave Fran a gift certificate to have a ring repaired and a lovely orchid plant (which he will have to take care of since we can’t do that on the road!):

The kids did well; Fran’s butt had issues as did her back on the bike she used so Josh, kindly let her use his ebike for an easier ride on her back  since it has higher handlebars (not much improvement on the butt side though!). Turns out the peddle was loose on the bike she was riding and Josh had issues with it and upon arriving at the restaurant, asked there and at a nearby gas station for a tool – the bike tools he had with him, did not have the correct socket for it.  He was able to tighten at least with what he could borrow.

We had a nice lunch sitting outside under a tree and then we rode home.  Doug took the bike with the peddle issue and went ahead of us.  Turns out the peddle came off twice and then he tried to ride “one-legged” and after Josh caught up on this regular bike, he “towed” Doug using a long branch they found.

We spent the afternoon playing with the kids and after did the same.  They are never tire of board/card games!

Monday morning, the kids were picked up at 7:30 am, Josh went to work in the rain but it was over by around ten.  Around 10 am Doug left with both our phones and Joshua’s (we all have the same phone) and took them to a place to get our batteries replaced – our phones are three years old but functioning well other than the battery life.  The shop charges $60 each including the battery and we are all hoping this will help us delay getting new phones for at least another year.  Fingers crossed.  We’ve been considering new laptops as well but really, ours still work well so no REAL reason to upgrade yet.

We spent the week doing chores, exercise, online stuff we’ve been putting off until we have great internet (which Joshua definitely has!), walking and planning our next couple of weeks.  Tuesday night Josh and Doug went to the movies to use the gift cert Josh had given Doug at Christmas when nothing was worth seeing.  On their return to the house, the engine light came on in the Honda.  Next morning Josh found his OBD reader and it said the car was low or out of coolant.  Josh called around to the local garage and they could look at our car on Friday.  In the meantime, he brought back some coolant and Doug tried it – it leaked right away.

Doug did one of his marathon walks that day, Wednesday and on Thursday, Fran went for a mani/pedi – also a gift certificate from Josh from Christmas when the shop was closed as the woman had COVID.  The weather was mostly cool and overcast but by Thursday, the sun came out and more or less stayed.  Fran spent her afternoon weeding Josh’s front garden.

Doug took the Honda over to the garage on Thursday afternoon as access to the main street was going to be closed on Friday for rail line repair and we didn’t want to have to drive it the detour way around as it was much longer.  The mechanic said almost right away that the radiator needed replacing but he could order and still do the work on Friday.

That night Josh learned that the grandkids were apprehensive about coming to his place on Friday as they claim they were “overwhelmed” last weekend and needed more “down” time.  He agreed that could happen while they were here but after much discussion with their mother and learning some things, she said she’d decide on Friday.  We expect what happened is she “asked” the kids if they wanted to go as she always lets them make decisions (Josh does this too but to a lesser extent), and they said no but she won’t admit that.  We offered to go away for the weekend so he didn’t miss his time with them, but he said it would be like giving in to them so he insisted we stay.  So we did not get a second weekend with the grandkids – we hope this will not happen when we return later this summer.

Doug went to check on the car Friday morning and was told – “do you know you need a new thermostat?”.  Of course we didn’t and after some persuasion Doug talked him into getting that done today as well (he wanted to put it off till Tuesday as this is a long weekend in Canada).  When Doug returned before 5 to pick up the car it was all done.  After he left the engine light came back on but this time it was an O2 sensor reading which we are not going to worry about.

So, Friday night we had dinner with Josh and watched a movie and Saturday we took a short road trip out to Wasaga Beach to see it after all these years and treated ourselves to DQ for lunch.  Yummy!

The weather was pretty good; low 20’sC / mid 70’s F and dry.  That night we went to a local pub to watch game 6 of the Vancouver Canucks vs Edmonton Oilers second round place offs.  The best of 7 series is at 3 – 2 Vancouver so if they win tonight, Vancouver moves on.  Unfortunately, Edmonton won on home ice and the series goes to Game 7 on Monday back in Vancouver.  Joshua and I told Doug he cannot watch the game as Vancouver always loses when he does!

Sunday began with a gorgeous morning and an expected high of 27C / 81 F so summer has begun!  After lunch we went for a walk at the conservation area in the sunshine and to cool off we went to the pub for a pitcher of diet coke.

Today we tried out the beer Doug bought in Belgium as we gave  one of the bottles to Josh – not really “our cup of tea” but Josh enjoyed it.

Josh made us pizza using his outdoor pizza oven that night and watched a movie.  Monday was Victoria Day so Josh was off work so we enjoyed another day with him.  Doug did his long run we helped him do some heavier clean up stuff in the garage, he helped Fran wash the car at the local self-serve power wash and played some cards before a dinner of popcorn and a movie at home before saying our goodbyes.

Tuesday, Josh went to work early and we cleaned up, packed up and after our breakfast hit the road for our big road trip.  Our destination today was the city of London; our friend, Joanne, lives there – she used to be Doug’s assistant on the job he worked on in Fredericton.

The sun was shining and we took the scenic non dual carriageway route.  It wasn’t the fastest speeds but it was through rural southern Ontario and much more scenic – and bonus:  40km / 25 mi shorter! We arrived at her apartment building, she came down and met us and took us up.  Last time we saw Joanne was two years ago when she had just moved into this place.

She took us for a walk through the nearby trails and it was a lovely beautiful day for such a walk, even a tad too warm; temps hit 27C / 80F.

We returned to her place and then took her out for dinner at a nearby local restaurant.   We had a nice dinner and returned to her place for the night.  It was quite warm in her apartment and neither of us slept well as she had no AC.

We were up early on Wednesday and left Joanne’s by 7am in order to start our drive to Chicago – you never know about the traffic in and around that city and we didn’t want to arrive too late in the day.  Our EzPass got us through all the tolls too.

Well as luck would have it we had no issues crossing the border at Sarnia and we landed in the at Port Huron before 9am.

We’ve driven 948 km / 589 mi since we picked up our car in Buffalo so far.