In Ann Arbor III


Drop everything and go to Ann Arbor.

I've basically done this twice in the past week. Erin heard that Wendy managed to land a booth at the Omaha Art Show and she was taking a number of her paintings over to sell. As breaks go, I think this was on a par with Erin winning the CBC Literary Awards. The Omaha Art Show is good exposure for my sister-in-law's developing career as an artist.

So, just as Erin's father came up to Montreal to be with us at the awards' ceremony, Erin felt that she should go to Omaha to support her sister. She travelled with her sister from Ann Arbor to Des Moines and on to Omaha the whole week. She had a good time with the family, and arrived back with Wendy in Ann Arbor this past Monday. The missing link, of course, is the section of highway between Ann Arbor and Kitchener, and that's where I came in.

Unfortunately, I could not afford, nor get enough time off work to go with Erin to Omaha, but I could drive her to Ann Arbor. Freddy the Faithful Ford may be in the great carlot of the sky, but renting was not a problem. Especially if you pay a little extra and get yourself a gold card. I learned this last year: gold credit cards come with automatic renter's insurance, and given that insurance costs can be as high as the initial cost of the rental, one only needs to rent a car twice in a year before one makes back the higher cost of the credit card.

Thus I dropped everything and took Erin to Ann Arbor this past Tuesday. I dropped everything again and came back to Ann Arbor late Wednesday, staying overnight. I'm blogging from Wendy's machine right now.

I probably said this before, but if you're travelling from Ontario to Michigan -- anywhere in Michigan -- cross the border via the Bluewater Bridge between Sarnia and Port Huron. You have expressway travel on either side of the bridge and the traffic is far less than what you encounter between Windsor and Detroit. Also, AVOID I-94 through Detroit. Take I-69 to Flint and cut south on US-23 if you have to. This adds miles to your trip, but it cuts down on travel time, believe me.

There have been no problems at the border. We were pulled aside for an in-depth random check the first time we crossed over into the United States, but it all went smoothly. The full trip is four hours, which made last Tuesday (where I drove to Ann Arbor and back the same day) quite a trek, but it's manageable. And sort of fun. The first time over, I got to rent a Chrystler Seabring. The second time, I landed a PT cruiser for $37 a day and unlimited mileage. That sound you're hearing is my father gnashing his teeth in jealousy.

I'm aware of the irony of this transit buff waxing about rental cars, but the occasional rental doesn't hurt, and frankly I'm coming to appreciate car travel for long distances moreso than air travel. You see more of the country this way, and the costs are significantly lower (especially if you have family to provide stopovers along the way). I've also read somewhere that a plane contributes as much CO2 to the atmosphere, if not more, than the comparable number of cars that would be taken otherwise, and then some. The train would be the more civilized way to travel, but failing that, I'm making my own tracks across America...

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