Driving up to Canada

It was 5:30 AM when I awoke. No alarm necessary. I just woke up. It was daylight out. I didn’t go back to sleep. So I decided it was time to go. To my surprise, 5 of my neighbours were assembled in a grassy median area just outside my house. On a Sunday morning. I suspect it is a regular meeting. Most of them are dog owners.

I had breakfast, put the bike on the roof of the car, tossed in my suitcase, and headed south.

South? Yes, I drove south on 611 to 276, when west to 476 and turned north. Eventually I got to Interstate 81 and onto Highway 401, then 416, and into Ottawa. I was on the road at 7AM and stopped at Starbucks in Willow Grove on 611 (north of 276). Most of the driving was slightly foggy with very little traffic. By 9AM I was ready for something more to eat. As I stopped, I realized it was still the breakfast menu on the menu and most people were just starting their driving day. A quick stop at McDonalds gave both me and the car me the fuel each needed and I started driving again.

I kept listening to National Public Radio (NPR). When I was in New Zealand, I listened to National Radio. In Canada, CBC. The only problem with listening to NPR on the drive to Ottawa is needing to change the station a few times to find the next repeater. Repeat being the key word. Not all stations broadcast the same program at the same time. So I end up listening to few repeats as I station hop. I keep thinking about getting satellite radio for road trips. I really like NPR and I listen to it whenever I can.

I stopped in Syracuse to get more Starbucks. I went to the shop in the middle of the University campus… Roads were blocked off, no idea why. I had to park two blocks from the store. Walking there, the spell of last nights beer was very strong in the air. Clearly it was party time. Getting back on the road, this stop had taken up about 25 minutes given the problem finding the locations and getting back onto the Interstate, I recalled: keys. I don’t have the keys to the post office box. No worries. The staff at the UPS store are very efficient. They’ll help me out. But damn it. I’d thought about those keys about a week earlier. It also means I don’t have the key to my parent’s house, where I’ll be staying for three weeks.

I stopped once more for Starbucks, and I think this was just past Watertown, but I’m not sure.

Crossing the border was interesting. I was not asked for my ID. I was asked about the printer. It took about 4 minutes speaking with the border guy. All worked out fine. I’m in. Given that I have Canadian citizenship, coming into the country should not be much of a problem but it’s always something that gives me pause for thought.

Shortly after turning east on the 401, NPR on the radio started fading out. Time for CBC at 91.5 FM. Appropriately enough, it was about hockey. Specifically, the Ombudsman for the Player’s Association. Lookup that word: Ombudsman. How entirely correct to enter the country, tune to the national radio program, and hear hockey. It’s enough to bring tears to the eyes of any true red-blooded Canadian.

I arrived at my parents at 3PM. They were watching the NHL game which had started at 2PM. I watched the rest. Then they tuned into an OHL game. I unloaded my car and made notes for things to do on Monday morning. By 9PM it was time for the Dallas-San Jose game. My parents went to bed after regular time ended, but they watched the game from the TV in their room. I went to bed after the first over time period, the game still tied.

Yes, this is Canada. Hockey. Spring weather. And, for me, conferences.

I went to bed at about midnight I think. This is the list of things I had to do on Monday:

  • pick up prepaid SIMs for myself and for Robert Watson at Wireless Wave
  • Stop by Matthew’s place, pick up stored BSDCan gear and take him to lunch
  • upgrade the software on the registration computer. It’s been idle and in his basement for 12 months.
  • pick up my mail at the UPS store
  • pick up boxes of Google swag stored at Liz’s place (she picked them up from the UPS store a few weeks ago)
  • meet with U of O conference staff to finalize details
  • send out 1-week-to-go BSDCan message
  • send out 2-weeks-to-go PGCon message
  • Call Subaru and get a letter of compliance so I can import my vehicle into USA
  • Send out accommodation details to speakers including my newly acquired Ottawa number in case they need to contact me
  • Buy a UPS
  • Deliver the WAPs to the volunteer doing the wireless networking
  • drop by Starbucks and use their wireless to catch up on email

Little did I know that my brain was conspiring against my cunning little plan.

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