User Discussions > Other Discussion

New Travels and Stats Discussion

(1/172) > >>

Starting this thread as a place where we can discuss our own travels and stats.  Many of you put little notes about your travels when you send me .list updates.  Put those things here so everyone can see!

The promotion of autb to preview status brought my overall active+preview percentage just below 10%.  Fortunately, I have just enough travels on that system that's not concurrent with eure that I should get back over 10% on the next site update.  At least until more systems in places I've never been move up to preview.

Just finished what was supposed to be an 8-day pre-back-to-school trip in August that turned into a 2-part odyssey due to a self-inflicted SNAFU right from the beginning.

Original plan: random mileage in Wisconsin & Michigan on the way to cross the border at Sault Ste Marie, then the TCH to Ottawa and Montreal and the Maritimes, back through New England and a bit more Quebec, and then a return via southern NY. Intended clinches included 11 interstates, 2 US routes, and a few Canadian freeways.

The SNAFU made itself apparent when I was about 1 hour from the motel on the first day: my passport was still at home in Ohio. So rather than a border crossing the next day, it was back to my house. I was determined to clinch the western-U.P. routes I had planned, so the trip home took a bit more than 16 hours. Almost ran into a bear in the dark. The starry pre-dawn sky over Lake Superior was gorgeous.

So the third day involved another haul toward my original night 3 destination west of Montreal. Going back to the Soo was out of the question (not in the mood for another 16+ hour drive) so I made a slightly more direct route that afforded the opportunity to clinch the 401, 402, the 403 in Ontario in addition to the 416, which was part of the original plan. Stopped for the night in a charming independent 50s-style roadside motel I'd visited on a prior trip and slept great.

The fourth day was supposed to take me to Shediac, NB, via a few autoroutes in the Montreal area and a more-or-less straight shot the rest of the way. I seemed to be making great time, so I diverted to pick up a few more autoroutes (mostly in Quebec city) and still looked to be only an hour off schedule when I arrived at a poutinerie in Riviere-du-Loup for lunch. A successful combination of noises and gestures resulted in a poutine and a Pogo, and as I took my seat I remembered the time change coming my way, meaning that if I was lucky I'd make it to the motel just before dark. So I sped off, determined to make up time so I could get a selfie at the giant lobster before the sun set.

First impressions of New Brunswick, which (along with PEI and Nova Scotia) was entirely new to me: lovely country, but who the hell designs/maintains the roads there? NB 108 looked to be the shortest way to the Acadian coast, but it appeared it was paved (where it was paved) by some fellow tossing shovelfuls of asphalt at potholes whenever they appeared or whenever he had asphalt. A bumpy patchwork of materials and mixes that didn't always get on well together. 80 km/hr was a dream, not a speed to be exceeded. My reward at the other end, after reaching supposedly-major NB 8: a one-lane bridge. Not a construction zone: a completely finished bridge crossing a river that had one lane, and traffic lights at either end to regulate the backed-up traffic. At least NB 11 was mostly smooth, although additional passing lanes would have helped. My return trip through the province on the TCH was more swift, although it introduced me to the hilarity that is a railroad crossing, gates and all, on a 110 km/hr freeway. Twice.

Shediac by moonlight was nice, and offered some good seafood in the one restaurant that was still open, but the next morning was a bit more harried as I had an appointment to keep with the PEI-to-Nova Scotia ferry at 9:30. And given that I was not in PEI yet, I needed to get going nice and early. Crossing the Confederation Bridge at sunrise was pleasant, and the island itself was delightful, but I could only make a mental note to plan a more involved trip here in the future. As it was I had some time to see the (outside of the) Province House and got out to a scenic lighthouse, but was unable to make it to the CBC offices where the radio announcers were passing out free Frisbees to anyone willing to share their favorite Olympic moment on the air.

There were no delays getting to the ferry, which departed on schedule, and upon debarking in Caribou, I was able to reach Halifax in time to snag a donair and take it to a scenic spot overlooking the bay for lunch. After that I added in a short jaunt into the interior to check out a few small towns, and headed back to NB for the evening, this time in Fredericton. At the University. To overnight in a dorm. Because in Canada, evidently that's a thing. School was not in session, and the price couldn't be beat (less than US$30). I had the entire building to myself.

The trip to the border and beyond was uneventful. Found a wonderful lobster roll at a place on US 1 north of I-195. Chatted with a homeless woman in a parking lot in Portland, because it seems to be a popular place to be homeless. Headed up a S L O W US 302 to Littleton NH and eventually crossed the border for the third time on the trip. Some of Canada's finest and politest were in the mood to stand on guard for thee, so I experienced my first thorough search in possibly 20 years (just my car, fortunately). Finding nothing but my suitcase and a couple bottles of ketchup, they sent me on my way to an unimpressive cheap motel north of Sherbrooke, where I got yelled at in at least two (probably three) languages by the proprietor. For moving the refrigerator in my room to an outlet that had power.

Day 7 started as early as possible, so I could get away from that place and cross the border, again, without much of a wait. No wait at all, in fact, although Our Man in Highgate Springs wouldn't let me go until he'd circled the car, peering inside slowly doing the squint-n-stroke-your-chin thing. Last crossing made, I made a bee line for the NH-MA border, finishing off two more interstates in the process. Bypassing Boston on 495 didn't completely insulate me from Summer Saturday traffic, but I endured and got to Plymouth to pick up the east end of US 44 and get photos with which to tease my daughter, the most anti-Plymouth American I've ever met. Took that west to the Connecticut Valley, and settled in to my last night's accommodations, a boarding house masquerading as a motel.

The trip home was uneventful aside of the clinching and some nasty weather, but the quiet drive gave me time to contemplate What Could Have Been, and so with my family's blessing, I began planning the make-up trip that would lead me back to the original route through northern Ontario to Ottawa and back via Cottage Country. The length of time needed was the sticking point: doing it in two days would be murder, but there really wasn't much to justify three days and the extra cost. So I worked out a compromise involving a motel in a cheaper location the first night, and an Airbnb the second. I hadn't tried Airbnb before, but to save $75+, I was willing to take my life in my hands. Canada doesn't allow guns across the border, right? How unsafe could it be?

So this holiday weekend worked out perfectly: the weather looked great, I'd have a day at the end to recover, and I still had some data left on the international phone plan I'd bought for the August trip which would expire soon*. I headed north this past Friday and, upon crossing the border, turned east for the Ottawa Valley. Discovered that First Nations in Ontario make something called "bannock" that tastes almost exactly like Navajo fry bread. I arrived early (for me) at the hotel, went out to explore the town, and came back to a nice long sleep. Given the opportunity to do this as a 3-day trip naturally tempted me to cram in as much driving as possible, so in addition to picking up the mileage lost to my mindlessness when the initial trip began, I extended the footprint of the sequel to include a few more western Quebec autoroutes and the remainder of the Toronto-area freeway network. Saturday morning, more than a few Montrealers were heading north to the mountains, so I bypassed the gridlock on the A-15 Nord by taking QC 117 instead, which somehow turned out to be even slower. Nonetheless, the rest of the province's traffic was "fluide" according to the VMSes, so I managed to get back to Ontario only 2 hours later than I'd planned. From Ottawa to my destination near Oshawa, I chose the Central Ontario Route of the TCH, since I'd already gone the fast way and this looked shorter. Maybe it would have been, if the speed limit was higher than 80. Who came up with that idea? Fortunately, my Airbnb host wasn't inconvenienced by me getting there after 9. Also fortunately, he didn't kill me.

I sneaked out at 5:30 Sunday morning, after discovering a highly rated donut place that opened at 4 am. And here was a first--a donut place that didn't have donuts. Not until 7:30, they told me matter-of-factly, as if this is entirely why were they open? Actually, it was a second: the day before, I also stopped at an unremarkable small-town donut place at about 8:00, and they had none and weren't planning on making any. Guess I expected more from the land of Tim Horton's, but being the land of Tim Horton's at least meant that there was a Timmy's less than a mile away (true anywhere in the country) and so I satisfied my craving with serviceable pastries (and spent my last $5.50 Canadian).

Toronto's freeways and not-free-ways were satisfyingly devoid of traffic. It was eerie: I figured Saturday and Monday would be the big driving days, but certainly someone would be on the road besides me. However, I was brought back to reality on the QEW heading back south, which evidently was what everyone else was doing, too. Stop-and-go through Oakville, and on into Hamilton, and most of the way to the 406, where I finally exited, dreading the back-up at the border sure to await me in the afternoon. Await me twice, actually, since I was planning on clinching both the 405 and the QEW. I'd driven part of the 405 before an old exit was closed, so I planned on going to the last turnaround before customs, but with all the traffic I knew it could take a while even if I didn't cross. Taking back roads from the 406 to the 405, I was pleasantly surprised that the traffic had been headed somewhere else; I drove at speed to the turnaround, did a U-turn without drawing any attention, and got back to the QEW to head for the Peace Bridge. Again, the traffic was gone. Maybe everyone I'd encountered earlier was heading to some event in St Catharines, since the QEW was nearly empty. Even across the Peace Bridge, the only vehicles I saw were headed the other way. On the other side, I lined up in one of the TEN! open gates behind one other vehicle, and when I got to the booth, our conversation lasted about ten seconds. Easiest crossing ever. Back in the States for good, I celebrated with two Buffalo institutions, Ted's Hot Dogs and Anderson's Custard, which are fortunately adjacent to each other on US 62. From there I followed 62 across Buffalo to the Thruway, which clinched the route east of the Mississippi.

All told, the trip that started out badly ended really well. Almost 4500 miles, 77 newly clinched routes (including I-75, I-89, I-91, I-93, and I-95, seven 3dis, US 44 & US 302, and a bunch of Canadian freeways), and three new provinces.

* Long AT&T story: At least, I thought I had some data left; calling AT&T, I couldn't actually find someone who knew for sure. The best they could do was say they were pretty sure I'd used about 60MB of the 300 purchase. Friday afternoon when I got to my hotel, I noticed that my data usage for the day had barely increased. So I headed out to get some pictures of the town, and upon turning on cellular data, got the warning message that I'd already burned through 80% of my data. So, somehow, just using Google Maps in the car and checking something in Safari while waiting at a construction site, I'd gone from 20% to 80%. I checked the usage again on my phone, and it hadn't changed at all. I called AT&T; they couldn't decipher it either and assured me it was an error. So I shut it off until I left in the morning. Within minutes I got the message that my data was gone, and now I was on some pay-as-you-go plan, which wasn't great since I had about 30 hours left in Canada. This time my call to AT&T was answered by a more confident-sounding employee, who said that, although she had no idea how much data I'd used, she was sure that I'd used it all, but now I was eligible for a once-in-a-lifetime offer to pay them a lot more and get some more data. I managed to negotiate her down to pay nothing more and get even more data, but I was still irritated that (1) they can't tell me how much data I used, and (2) they don't see why that's a problem. Even now, over a day after leaving Canada, my phone still says I used less than 300MB over the entire month.


--- Quote ---although Our Man in Highgate Springs
--- End quote ---

FYI, we simply call that Highgate.

And I think I know why the border crossing agents "liked" you.  You were out of state.  Because I'm not, I have yet to have a border crossing between QC and NY/VT/NH last longer than 45 seconds.


--- Quote from: froggie on September 06, 2016, 03:07:32 pm ---FYI, we simply call that Highgate.
--- End quote ---
OK, I was just going by what CBP called it.

--- Quote ---And I think I know why the border crossing agents "liked" you.  You were out of state.  Because I'm not, I have yet to have a border crossing between QC and NY/VT/NH last longer than 45 seconds.

--- End quote ---
Mostly I get the same treatment, and the only delay is the queue. Of the eight crossings I've made so far this year (all at different ports), I've been waved through after about three questions and 30 seconds six times.

Honestly, I expected to be questioned a lot more than I was since I was making so many crossings within days, sometimes hours, of each other.

Impressive numbers for @mapcat, now at 31.4% of our active mileage.  Wow.

Meanwhile, new additions have pushed me back under 10% for active+preview, with no travel imminent to bring me back up.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version