Thursday, May 11, 2006

Journey's end ... almost

Day 3 - Monday, May 8
Edmundston to Montreal

There's not much to say about this leg of the journey, except that the stretch of highway from Riviere de Loope to Montreal retains its title for most soul-destroyingly dull drive ever.

Seriously. Though my drive time was only slightly more than half as long as my previous two days, I was starting to go snaky after the first two hours. It felt as if it was a ten-hour drive, whereas my two previous ten-hour drives passed quite quickly and happily. This was exacerbated by my rude re-introduction to traffic ... after two days of blessedly empty highways, I was suddenly jockeying for position with hundreds of cars and trucks. It was enough to make me claustrophobic.

The payoff however is that this stretch of highway does ultimately bring you, however excruciatingly, to Montreal .... Montreal, where the rude re-introduction to traffic continued and I realized just how accustomed I had become in the previous nine months to the streets of St. John's and that city's particular dimensions. I was staying with my friend Amanda, who works as a manager at the downtown Chapters on Rue St. Catherine ... trouble was, I couldn't remember exactly where on Rue St. Catherine the store was, so I essentially circumnavigated the city center for about an hour until I found, after two abortive attempts, parking in the general vicinity of the Chapters. A hour of city driving ... in which time I could have crossed and recrossed St. John's about six times.

And to think, I used to be an urban driving pro ...

At any rate, destination found. I arrived in the city at 2pm local time, and found parking by 3:00. Amanda got off work at 6:30, so I went in search of lunch -- having a lovely sandwich at Cafe L'Etranger -- and then set myself up in the Chapter's Starbucks with my laptop, a latte, and a good view of the street below. As I expected, Amanda eventually saw me as she wandered past, and, taking my bag into the back room for safekeeping, sent me out for wine for dinner.

Amanda's partner Michael (the guy on the far left in the picture in my post about Jer) is in Shanghai on business (the business of designing and testing video games -- jealous anyone?), and her mom was there to help out with their daughter Sarah. So we had a very hearty dinner (cheese and onion pie!), and then sat up fairly late working through the wine and talking.

Amanda's one of my favourite people, another alumnus from the notorious Richard III production mentioned a few posts ago: costume designer extraordinaire (also working on the Macbeth I directed in 2004), den mother for helpless actors, and great friend. We can, and did, talk for hours ... and with a significant amount of wine in our systems, it made for a rather groggy morning as I drove her to work and then continued on to TO the next day.

Departed Edmunston: 10:00 am (local)
Price of gas: $1.15
Price of gas in Quebec: $1.13
Arrived in Montreal: 3:00 pm (2:00 local)
Found parking: 4:00 pm (3:00 local)

Total distance: 541 km
Total driving time: Five hours exactly (more or less, not counting city exploration)

Day 4 - Tuesday, May 9
Montreal to Toronto

Everyone will have noticed by now that I have been keeping track of gas prices. This is because it seems that the farther west you go, the cheaper it gets -- to the point where, gasing up just outside of Kingston, the price had dropped as low as $0.99 a liter. That's a twenty-one cent difference between St. John's and Ontario. My point? People in Ontario aren't allowed to complain about gas prices to me this summer.

The last leg of the journey was uneventful ... the biggest excitement coming in simply trying to get out of Montreal, as my St. John's driving mentality again caught me out unprepared. Rush hour in St. John's is between 8:30 and 9:00 ... I'd forgotten that rush hour in a big city like Montreal effectively starts at 7am and basically runs until ten. So leaving Amanda's place at 7:30, I was thinking to myself in satisfaction that I'd be ahead of the madness.


It took me a little over an hour to make it past the city limits.

Departed Montreal: 7:30 am
Left city: 8:35 am
Price of gas: $1.08
Price of gas just over Ontario border: $0.99
Arrived Toronto: 1:50 pm

Total distance: 535 km
Total driving time: Five hours, twenty minutes

Distance: 2959 km
Time: Twenty-nine hours, twenty-five minutes
$$$ spent on gas: $271.40

But as my title indicates, the journey isn't entirely over ... the last leg awaits on Saturday, a mere two hours to London. So hear that, London peoples! I'm back in town soon. Let the kegs be tapped! I'll be sending out an email soon to everyone with contact info ...

And as for the TO types, I'll be back in town for five or six days for the Congress of the Humanities at the end of the month. More updates to come.


Lesley said...

Not allowed to complain? Clearly you need to visit Windsor. Where gas has hovered at the $1.05 mark for a few days and before that was about $1.10 for about two weeks straight while it was 93 cents in London. And if that isn't enough to make you shudder, think about this, gas is approximately 77 cents a litre across the border, but it isn't worth the $8 you have to pay to cross. So there. I will complain all I want! Have fun in London though, I'm sure you'll have a few complaints about the London drivers. They haven't changed at all. And I can say this, coming from a town where no one knows how to drive on an Expressway that has been here for about 30 years.

jer said...

See you in town, and maybe at Congress too (I will only be there for a day as I'll be en route from another conf...)!

Loz said...

didn't i tell you that's the worst bloody stretch of road on earth?! just when you think it won't end, it doesn't end. it keeps going. and going. glad you made it safe and sound though.

viagra online said...

I don't know what to think so when I'm driving I feel like driving for a long time, that's really common.