The observations and opinions of a person who has no discernible insights or ideas.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

"Anyone can miss Canada, all tucked away down there." 

Two weeks ago tomorrow was the 8 year anniversary of my departure from Canada. To celebrate, the next day I followed the same route that I took almost 10 years go to get to Canada in the first place. This time, I stopped in Toronto, home to the CN tower and a surprising number of clusters of high-rise apartments spread all over the greater metropolitan area. I only saw the former from the air, but I stayed in one of the far-flung high rises (this one was a hotel, but it’s the same idea essentially).

Toronto is a very different part of Canada from where I stayed. For one thing, there’s a lot more people, and not all of those people were white. On the other hand, the roads are painted about the same and the signs are all in the so-called “metric” system. After an okay dinner in an Italian buffet restaurant run by Chinese people and a good night’s sleep (the best I’ve had on the road in a year), we went to visit a small company that was just over the back fence from the hotel. It wasn’t until that meeting was over that I realized it was Halloween. That was the second one I had spent in Canada (now I have been through every holiday twice except for Remembrance Day).

Since I had a lot of places to go, we headed off to the airport where I got to wait for about 3 hours for my flight. At the Philadelphia airport I had some pizza from a store that was run by Indians (7-11s, not casinos) and was soon in scenic, sunny Scranton where I had two days of meetings to attend, broken up by an evening where everyone went to eat together at a local Italian restaurant that offered all of about 8 different dishes.

The next day, four of us left the meeting early to drive to New York. It was only about 200 miles away and so we thought we’d see it while we were in the neighborhood. Since I had directions printed off from two different electronic mapping systems and a GPS that can do autorouting, I was the navigator, albeit from the back seat behind the driver. We got lost (sort of) once and made two wrong turns. The one time we got lost we were making a side trip that we didn’t have directions for. The both wrong turns were made within 100 feet of our destinations and in the first case the guy in shotgun had been there before and was doing the endgame navigation and in the other case it was a turn onto a road that wasn’t on any maps.

It turns out that driving into New York in the late morning and early afternoon is okay traffic-wise. We met with two different companies on our trip. Each company had at least one guy I didn’t like at all, but I did like the president of both companies. After eating dinner with they key staff from the second company at a nice Italian restaurant in a strip mall (anyone sensing a pattern here?), we headed back through the thinning late-evening traffic. It looks like we missed the worst of the traffic for the busiest city in North America. By 10:30 that night, we were back to our hotel in Scranton.

On the way home, I got my first ever upgrade to first class. This upset one of my traveling companions who went on 20 trips in the last year, compared with my 1 trip (2 counting this one). First class was nice, but I don’t think I got the most out of it. Maybe it would have been better if I drank alcohol. Not feeling crushed even though the guy in front of me had his seat reclined was good, and not having to fight for shoulder space with the guy next to me was a pleasant change.

In summary, I traveled 4075 air miles and 500 land miles. I had 6 flights taking me to 6 airports. I visited 6 states, 1 province, and 4 cities with a million people or more. I had Italian food for dinner 4 nights in a row, followed by some Taco Bell on my way home from the airport. I met with 3 companies and one military organization and had two meals paid for by the companies (one of them also gave me a flimsy mouse pad and a coffee mug).

That’s my trip. Happy Remembrance Day everyone!

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