I should get in traffic jams more often.
Returning from Kingston on Labour Day Monday, I got stuck in a bad jam (imagine) on the 401 between Trenton and Grafton. Being slightly familiar with the area thanks to a visit to Ste. Anne's Spa earlier this year, I opted to get off the 401 and head down to Highway 2.
You'd think a million folks would think the same thing, but I reached Highway 2 in about three minutes, then drove west through Grafton and Colborne at 80 to 90 clicks before getting past the accident. I quickly jogged back north to the 401 and that was it.
I might have saved only a few minutes, but it was great to get off the dullest highway in Ontario and onto Highway 2. I drove past small farms and motels and a guy who had built a corn maze in his fields. It made me wonder how folks make a living these days in agriculture in Ontario. But at least it was thinking about something different and getting a closer view of real folks and real towns, including cute little Grafton. You can buzz along at a good speed pretty much the whole way, and it's a great alternative route. Next time I head east, I'm thinking of doing Highway 2 as much as I can from Oshawa to Kingston. Maybe I should do it on a motorcycle?
WHALES AND BABOONS PROVIDE AN AFRICAN FAREWELL
Star reporter Emily Mathieu has filed her final post from South Africa. She didn't have much luck finding great white sharks but she did some across some cool whales and more baboons. Check her report at www.thestar.com/travel.
ADVICE FOR OUT WEST
A lifetime acquaintance of mine who loves to get out on the road for driving trips recently returned from a late summer trip to British Columbia and had some interesting tidbits.
He stayed at the Coast Bastion Inn Nanaimo and thought it was great. Nice room right across from the water, a tidy boardwalk, friendly people.
He had booked the MacQueen Manor, a B and B, in Kamloops but wasn't sure he had the right address. He stopped at a gas station and as he asked directions, a woman in line next to him said, "You mean Pat MacQueen? She was my sorority sister. I'll drive you there."
How nice is that?
The MacQueen Manor didn't look like a typical B and B but he said they had a nice room and a tremendous breakfast, a comment borne out by a report I spotted on tripadvisor.com.
He loved Banff (who doesn't) and the gondola and recommends the Douglas Fir Inn; just a couple minutes out of town.
He wasn't so crazy about the woman in charge of a B and B he stayed at in Nelson, B.C. (not friendly) and thought the Sylvia Hotel on English Bay in Vancouver was nice and has a great location but needs some sprucing up.
Oh, and he remembered Peachland, B.C. from a trip back in roughly 1965 and thought it was great.
So there you go. I gotta say he's never lied to me. I don't think.
RELIEF FOR AMERICAN TRAVELLERS?
Long-rumoured talk of a bill that would help passengers stuck on airplanes is heating up again. USA Today reports
that "airlines are losing another ally in their fight to stop Congress from passing a law that would allow passengers to get off planes delayed at least three hours on airport tarmacs."
The story goes on to say that the Business Travel Coalition is slated to come out in the favour of the move, a position it hadn't taken in the past.
There's been talk of a passenger bill of rights in Canada, too, but it appears to be stalled. Or perhaps just waiting for Parliament to resume.
Hey, with the Liberals seemingly falling in the polls, maybe this is something Michael Ignatieff should pick up on. Or maybe he'd sound elitist. Of course, he could link the airline bit with the potential loss of Greyhound service in remote parts of Canada and look pretty good...
JIM'S DEAL OF THE DAY
Timing the Canadian-U.S. exchange rate is like timing the stock market – compelling in theory but just about impossible in practice. The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa gets rid of the guesswork with its at-par rate for Canadian guests, valid straight through until the end of the year. The California resort, 35 minutes south of Santa Barbara and 90 minutes from LAX, is located in the culture-rich town of Ojai, known for its ‘Pink Moment’ sunsets and home to the oldest competitive tennis tournament in the U.S. Both tennis and golf are available at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, along with on-site dining featuring California central coast cuisine. The at-par rate applies to the property’s Bed & Breakfast package. See www.ojairesort.com.