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.

The Road to 65, Mile 212: The Sierra’s Back Door


June 28, 2015, Big Pine, CA-  I got my Nissan back in shape again, with a morning visit to Jiffy Lube.  Friends Wendy & Steve hosted a brunch, which was a group effort, and thoroughly enjoyed by all.  Then, I bid farewell to my Reno family.

Little did we know that, a scant thirty miles away, above Gardnerville, three vehicles, including an RV, had collided.  One of those involved was killed.  I was in the southbound five-mile line of cars.  Two hours later, I was in Topaz Lake.  While in the intermittently-moving line, I took these shots of the area.



The scene at Topaz Lake was rather quiet, away from the bordertown casino anyway.


Off to the west, the Sierra Nevada showed just a smidgen of snow, where there are normally several feet, even in late June.


The first town I entered in California was Bridgeport, already set for Independence Day.


I had a pleasant break and supper, at the lively Rhino’s Grill.  “Rhino” is the owner, not an item on the bill of fare.  Seeing so many families and couples enjoying the nation’s back roads does my heart good, as does being served by congenial folks, of all ages.

The last time I visited Mono Lake was in 1980.  It is about 1/3 smaller now.


This saline lake is still a gem, but an endangered one.


As I drove towards Big Pine, and my stop for the night, I caught a glimpse of a superb California sunset.


Then, as is its wont, the sky went to bed.


After all that waiting, and switchback-negotiating, the Nissan was just fine.  So was I, settled in at Bristlecone Motel, run by one of the town’s two mechanics.