Friday, October 26, 2007
Off to Jersey
08:25 on the bus.
I'm currently on the Hamilton express GO bus travelling from Toronto to Hamilton. A bus that I almost missed thanks to getting up a bit later than I thought. I had gotten home at 2am last night from working on the set of the Hulk. While I'm happy that I made a bit of overtime the downside is that I only got about four hours of sleep last night. Leah had called me at about 6:50am to make sure I was up. I was, but I was pretty groggy.
I was then cursed with a series of small delays trying to get to the GO bus station. Starting off with "I feel like I'm forgetting something.". I hate that feeling. Usually when I think that I actually have forgotten something. Despite the feeling of missing something I left the apartment anyway.
Originally I meant to take a taxi but realized I had no money in my wallet thanks to taking a cab the night before to get home. That meant I had to make a stop at the corner bank machine to get money. Oddly enough the bank machine was not accessable because the bank doors which are usually open were locked.
There was another bank machine at the bottom of Coxwell on Queen in the donut shop. I lugged my stuff there (a duffel bag of clothing and battery chargers, a pelican case with camera gear, a camera bag with more camera gear and my laptop bag). A streetcar was right there. I decided to take the streetcar instead (saving the taxi money for better things).
The streetcar seemed to take it's time going along Queen street toward Yonge. But once at Yonge I popped into the bank machine on the corner (which was my bank so I saved on transaction charges - yea!) From there I went down the stairs of the subway station to find a mob of people going in the opposite direction. I had just missed the subway train to Union station and had to wait for the next one.
Upon exiting Union station, in order to get to the GO bus station, you have to cross the street. For some reason the city has placed a barricade in the middle of the street making it more difficult to cross (you either have to climb over or walk around). You can cross at the lights at the north end or you can cross where the barrier ends on the south end.
The barrier allows you to see the bus you're missing pull out of the bus terminal while obstructing you from getting there. I ended up crossing the south end. It's more dangerous but it was closer and I could see my bus pulling up.
The final obstacle stopping me from getting on the bus was getting a ticket. Not being familiar with the ticket vending machine added a bit of stress to my mad morning dash. My bank card kept getting rejected. "Who designed this stupid interface?". Then I realized I was punching in my card PIN number before the account type. Usually it's the other way around. "What the? Who designed this interface again?". I had gotten my ticket just as the bus driver was closing the luggage doors on the side of the bus, managing to get into his line of sight just in time. He greeted me with "How are you this morning?" . He was nice and cheery for someone that probably got up earlier than me. I felt great now that I had made the bus and was off to Hamilton. (How many people say that?)
It's a bit overcast today with the sun coming up over the horizon just peeking out from behind some clouds. I'm now somewhere around Oakville I'd imagine. I haven't really looked outside the bus as I've been taking inventory.
In my rush out the door I forgot two things (that I know of so far).
1. Epson p-4000 (portable hard drive)
2. 8 gig compact flash card (which is probably in the p-4000)
While I still have one 8 gig card, one 4 gig card and one 2 gig card on me, I would feel better with another 8 gig card since I don't have my hard drive to back stuff up. That said, I do have the laptop so at least I have something to back up stuff to each night.
We'll see how much crap I can lug around.
09:05 Leah meets me at the Hamilton bus stop.
09:28 Meeting at Allison and Trevor's apartment for the van.
09:42 Loading onto the van.
09:57 Tracey makes a call and gets us all to sing Happy Birthday over her cell phone.
11:51 We get to the Canada/US border
12:22 Three hours in some start falling asleep.
12:58 Our first stop across the border for food, washrooms, and smoke break
Looking at the storm drain signage. I wondered if there was a problem requiring the sign to be there.
Melanie's comfy slippers
13:39 Back in the van and on the road
15:06 Somewhere around Syracuse I notice this truck.
15:53 Second pit stop across the border, Adam needs a smoke
Maybe we should have bought food at the last stop?
The cool American food selections
In front of the second pit stop in the States.
Adam and Carl.
Tracey and Jacquie rest in the van.
Marybeth walks toward the van from the rest stop
A quick picture before setting off.
16:20 Various bus activities.
16:21 Lindsey at the wheel with Allison interacting with people in the back.
16:28 Leah looks outside. Seems sleepy.
17:20 The next pit stop. Hurray! There's non-vending machine food.
At the Subway restaurant... so many choices...
...including Subway Raisins and Pizza!!!
One of the great things about going to another country is the different foods you can try out, be it a Nutty Bar from a vending machine or a food that they don't have back home. In this case I noticed Subway (a sub sandwich chain also in Ontario) had Subway pizza and Subway raisins.
I didn't get it. What was with the raisins? Are they pushing this in the States to push healthier food? Has this chain always sold raisins or is this something new and maybe will make it's way back to Canada if successful?... or unsuccessful? Why market raisins of all things under the Subway brand name?
I bought a box a of raisins for the novelty and to see if they were something amazing. I also bought a pizza, more to do with being hungry than to see iof it was amazing. Both were okay but nothing noticeably unique or extraordinary about them.
18:24 Starts to rain
19:14 We drive through a long tunnel
20:42 We're lost. We stop in at a gas station to get our bearings.
20:55 Is That Renee?
After getting our bearings at the gas station with on eof the most filthiest bathrooms we made our way back to the Jersey Turnpike. While following the on ramp onto the major artery someone in the bus said "Hey is that Renee?". We all looked out the side of the van to see a car facing the wrong direction parked between the on ramp and the highway.
We stop to check out the other car
It turned out it was. We had pulled over to offer assistance. I noticed that cars coming off the on ramp were speeding by pretty quickly so I placed my flashing bike light on to a sign post a few meters up the road thinking the flashing light would get motorists to slow down. Nope.
Helping with the spare tire
As it so happens by the time I walked back to the van another truck had pulled up behind us. It was a New Jersey fire fighter responding to a call that a car (Renee's car) had went off the side of the road into the forest. The fire fighter, whose name I forget, had put his EMS lights on as well as his front beams to help us see what we were doing.
The thing that impressed me was that he had come to help us on his day off. He told me that there had been accidents everyday over the last five days where someone was killed... at the same place we were located. It didn't surprise me as even with all his truck lights on the traffic still sped by us.
09:05 A very nice FDNJ firefighter comes to our aid.
21:13 Two police cars show up, traffic actually slows down a bit.
Eventually two police cars showed up. Finally I noticed traffic slow down a little. Once everything was sorted out we all got back into our respective vehicles and made our way to the hotel.
What are the odds that we'd both get lost at the same place, stumble into Renee's car, and find a fire fighter on his day off? Someone upstairs is looking out for us. Later on I realized that we had both been using MapQuest so maybe that had something to do with the getting lost in the same place part.
21:41 Allison lloks up the final directions to the hotel.
21:45 We arrive at the hotel
21:49 Check in.
Food available behind the reception desk.
Leah and my hotel living room.
If you're ever in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, I highly recommend the Marriott hotel there. The rooms come fully furnished. A living room with a fold out sofa (my bed), a bed room (Leah's room), a bathroom, a full kitchen. When I say full kitchen I mean dish washer, refrigerator, stove/oven, microwave, even microwavable dishs, pots, plates, bowls, and cutlery for four people. It was all very impressive.
23:09 Trying to find decent food and beer... with no luck.
After getting a bit settled in, a bunch of us ventured out to see if we could find food (some of us, namely Trevor, went looking for beer). After travelling around in the van a while we realized the only things open were gas stations and the odd convenience store... and none of them had alcohol. I still remember Trevor's face drop.
It turns out New Jersey is much like Ontario in terms of free flowing booze. It doesn't flow after certain hours. Dejected not getting beer or food we made our way back to the hotel where Leah and I ordered some Italian delivery.
00:07 Leah digs into our Italian food delivery