As you may know from the second to last post, 2010 wasn’t one of our better years. Or as I recently overheard my husband explaining to a friend on the phone, “She’s had a hard time going from two parents to no parents in 11 months.” Wednesday was the one-year anniversary of my father’s death, but because of circumstances, I spent the day busily preparing to leave home again, to clear out my parents’ apartment.
Thanks to the vagaries of New York City’s rent control, we have 90 days from the date of death to empty the Upper West Side apartment. We started making plans after Christmas, having had a bit of time to unpack, rest, and sort through three months of mail. I also started stocking up on bubble wrap (which I had sent to a friend and neighbor in my parents’ building), audiobooks (the CD version, so we can play them in the truck out loud), rolls of stretch wrap, and tape. I also joined the Canadian Automobile Association and ordered a stack of maps and Trip Books, all of which arrived with incredible speed.
But the best feature of all at CAA/AAA is the online TripTik Travel Planner, which is free and immediate. For someone who remembers trundling down to the NYC office at Lincoln Center where a staff member would pull out a little printed plastic comb-bound map of, say, the Northeastern United States and then proceed to mark the best route with a highlighter, the online planner is a revelation and great fun. You can find out instantly how many miles/kilometers and hours between locations, among other things. And allows me to show you our route to the east,
and back home, to the west,
We’re going to drive as long as we can each day without making ourselves crazy, and stop every night to sleep in a motel, preferably, the kids say, with a swimming pool, so I’ve packed the bathing suits. We figure it that, weather permitting, it should take us about five to seven days there, and five to seven days back. Some of our tentative stops on the east include Brandon, Manitoba; Dryden, Ontario; Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario; Sudbury, Ontario; and Toronto, to see Tom’s sister and her family quickly. On the way back, our tentative stops are Cleveland (our first stop after NYC); Beloit, Wisconsin; Alexandria, Minnesota; then into Canada by way of Winnipeg; Regina; and home.
We are going to spend most of our time looking out the window to see the sights, and listening to CBC Radio and various US stations across the continent, for news as well as weather and road conditions. UPDATED to add: I just found out at their website that the helpful folks at NPR offer NPR Road Trip for those planning a long drive. You can “print turn-by-turn directions for your drive and know which NPR stations are available throughout your driving route.” Or just get a printable list as a PDF. Nifty.
But for evenings once it gets dark and that long, rather less interesting stretch across the Canadian shield, we have the following audiobooks:
:: Simon Winchester’s Atlantic (unabridged, read by the author); we all enjoyed “Krakatoa”, and Winchester is a marvelous reader
:: Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf, a new Naxos production
:: Watership Down, new on audio CD, which I’ve been waiting for for years now
It’s been liberating planning a cross-country drive — no plane departure times to make at the airport three hours away; all the toiletries where they belong without separating out liquids and gels, nail files and clippers; no planning of meals to combat inedible and expensive airline food, since whenever we get hungry we’ll stop at a supermarket, cafe, or coffee shop for provisions; and, compared to our trips to the small island, no laying in a supply of particular things we can’t find there.
When we get home, aside from arranging for a Sea-Can container in which to store my parents’ furniture and other belongings, we are going to distract ourselves by commencing our long-awaited kitchen addition, which will give us more eat-in kitchen space and storage for some of our home school books, and then finalizing blueprints for our new house. We were going to break ground last spring until we were overtaken by events and I ended up out of the country for much of the first few months of the year. The main thing that helped me through all that happened, aside from reading and gardening, was planning my new kitchen and my new bathroom in my head. If your tastes run that way, I highly recommend this kitchen book (I got my copy cheap at BookCloseouts), which makes dandy and relaxing reading with a cup of of Mariage Frères Rouge Bourbon Vanille tea.
Cross your fingers, please, that the weather behaves and the roads are clear. We’ll be making the trip with our Ford F250 pickup truck and a 16′ cargo trailer, and a stack of maps…