Two Sides, Same Team


June 17, 2022, London, ON- The DEA squad carried out a seamless check on our line of traffic, at a contraband check on the U.S. side of Ambassador Bridge (between Detroit and Windsor). The agent who was checking my vehicle asked to pop the “trunk” and was given the go-ahead to open the hatch on Saturn Vue. His dog-partner found no contraband, and I was on my way to the Canadian side, where a thirty second query as to my travel plans sent me en route to this Ontario namesake of the Titan on the Thames. (There is a Thames River here, as well.)

I left my friends, the Schroeders, around Noon, having tended to laundry and a couple of errands at establishments near their home. Saturn Vue got an oil & lube, a new air filter and scrubbed headlights, at a Jiffy Lube nearby, then I was off in search of I-94, which for some reason was unknown to Google Maps. A kind librarian in Buchanan, MI, directed me to the only entrance she knew to the Interstate-which was in Benton Harbor, on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Out of the way, yes, it was, but I sensed that a full drive across that beleaguered state would at least unleash some healing energy. At least, that is my hope, having said a bunch of prayers at a Rest Area, outside Battle Creek.

It took four hours to cross the Wolverine State, and another forty minutes to go through the border crossing, most of which was the security check mentioned above. The process made me glad that I had done laundry before crossing-if only to not disgust our canine friend.

Once on the 401, I looked for a place to pull off for the night. I did drove from Tilbury to Chatham, on a back road, taking in the small town Friday night scene of a small group of teens, making the best of a weekend evening in Tilbury. They looked happy, at least. In Chatham, I spotted a small motel, with one car in the lot (a red flag of sorts, this being Friday night and all. The proprietor apologized, in advance, for the room he was letting me check, prior to lettting it out (another red flag). I found it was flea-infested, though the lights, TV and shower were all working. The final red flag was that he had no credit card reader, but he would gladly do an “e-transaction”, if I would just tell him my bank account information. Hmm, where have I heard this before? I bid him good night, and drove clear to London, where the Super 7 Motel had a fine room available, and there was a jacuzzi. I enjoy a bit of luxury, every so often, and this spa was made of marble, working perfectly.

Tomorrow, I will hopefully connect with a group of friends online, and look about London further, before heading towards Ottawa. Friends in Toronto have already said they are unavailable, so I will stay away from the metropolis this time. On both sides of the border, though, we are one team.

Round and Round I Went


May 14, 2022,San Diego- It took 45 minutes to locate FOUND Hotel. The address is 505 West Grape Street, which is easy enough for those who recognize that the east-west surface streets in Little Italy are often bisected by Interstate 5, and its entrance/exit ramps, which feed large volumes of traffic onto Grape and Hawthorne Streets in particular. Add to that, the train and trolley tracks, with which I am at least a bit familiar, and locating a small hostel becomes an adventure in perseverance.

The other “fun” part was that Google Maps has the old phone number for FOUND, which loops ad nauseam and does nothing to connect. Hostelworld has the new number, which I called, and connected with Gabrielle, the office manager, instantly. Thus, 45 minutes did not turn into an hour. I am set for the next two days.

The day’s drive from Blythe to San Diego featured three traffic-tying accidents along California Highway 15, between Murrieta and Mira Mesa. Once past those, my air conditioner stopped complaining and worked just fine. (In traffic tie-ups, I have learned to turn off the A/C and open the windows, which works just fine in anything less than the blast furnace of a Sonoran Desert summer.) A return to an old favourite, Gramma’s Country Kitchen, in Banning, brought a fine Frisco Burger and Cole slaw. I also enjoyed pleasantries with Donna and Karen, who have greeted me at the counter, on various visits over the past eleven years. Donna is “Gramma”, running the establishment with her husband, who stays mostly in the office.

Going up and over the hill through Hemet and Menifee, then inching along, through the above-mentioned accidents, I still got to the hostel before 5. This evening, after grabbing a couple of slices at Mr. Moto Pizza, and a few words of greeting to two of my hostel mates, it was time for a visit to the Harbor. Here are scenes of sunset, in “America’s Favorite City”.

I walked back up to Little Italy, on the way back to FOUND Hotel, and came upon a lively crowd, enjoying the presentations of a DJ. Here is the fountain, around which little girls ran and shrieked with delight and different young people tried their hands-and feet, at somersaults.

Harbourside and Downtown were walls of sound this evening, thanks to the mid-Spring music fest. I am destined, it seems to happen upon such revelry, no matter where I go. Yes, life has its moments, but it’s generally sweet.