Thursday, 17 December 2009

Driving Home For Christmas

One might well ask, 'How is it possible to drive from England to the Untied States? There's that pesky little bit of water in between.'

The answer, of course, would be, 'Start in Canada.'

Yes. Canada. Why Canada? Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Rather than going to Georgia or Texas and then up, I went from London to Calgary, Alberta. I was supposed to connect to Denver and then to Billings (yes, I know. It's ridiculous.) However, we were an hour late leaving Heathrow, and then we had to circle the airport for half an hour before we could land. I'd nearly missed my connection before I even left the plane! I got through Canadian customs very fast (I ran to be at the front of the queue) but then got stuck waiting for 30 minutes for them to decide to deplane our luggage. Finally got that, walked over to the connecting area, and they said, 'Your plane is gone. You'll have to rebook.' Nice. That was the last plane Stateside for the rest of the day. After quite a long discussion with the airline personnel, we came to the conclusion that they couldn't actually get me to the US for 48 hours. Uh huh. 2 days. Ummm... it's only an 8 hour drive!!!! So, we decided (the reservation woman and I) that it would make most sense for me to cancel the rest of my flight, and drive to Billings. So, I canceled my remaining flight (and got a refund). [color=red]NOTE! DO NOT DO THAT UNTIL AFTER YOU'VE DEFINITELY FOR SURE GOT ALTERNATE BOOKED!!!![/color] Then I went over to the car rental desks and tried (note the word TRIED) to get a car. Umm, turns out you can't rent a car in Canada and return it to the US. Or, you can but it's very difficult and quite expensive. So, there I am, in a foreign country, no way out, jetlagging major time. I didn't actually burst into tears, but it was an effort. I called my folks (again) and just as I was starting to tell my mom the full situation, the manager of National Car Rental comes up and said, 'You'll never believe this. We've just had a US car returned, and we need to get it back across the border. I can give it to you for 1/2 the price of a domestic, turn up on the day rental. That's $150 plus tax.' (Canadian dollars.) Umm... YES! I'll take that! :D So, I drove out of Calgary last night.

Stayed the night in a tiny little . . . I hesitate to say town . . . just north of the Canadian/US border. It was that small. It was a hotel over a bar. The room had a bed, a light, and a sink. That was it. (Everything was very clean, just very spartan.) Smelled faintly of smoke. Didn't care. It was 10.45 pm local (6.45 am London!) and I was tired. Very tired. I was asleep before 11. But, by 5.00 in the morning, the random plink-plink noises the radiator was making got to be too much for me. I got up and hit the road.

And then, the border crossing. For the second time this year I've managed to confuse a US Customs Officer on the US/Canadian border. Last time it was because my answer to 'Purpose for visiting Canada' was 'To get a haircut.' This time it was 'Driving from England to the US.' Ok, so what I actually said was 'In transit from England to the US.' But, I got an equally blank look. (The answer to the previous question - How long were you in Canada? - was, 'Over night.') So, then I had to explain why I was now driving, instead of flying to Montana. Eventually he gave up trying to understand and just sent me on my way. It was funny.

Finally, I got to Billings a little before noon today. Yeay!! I'm home!! We immediately drove up to the airport to return the car, then stopped off at WalMart for necessary supplies (DIET COKE!!!!), and now we're back.

I'm tired!!!!!


collettakay said...

All roads lead to WAL-MART!!!! (so funny!)

Glad you got home safely. Have a great visit with your family.

Merry Christmas!

Lanie Ree said...

That is quite a trip! I'm so glad they found you a car. The only worry I have is- DIET coke? But the aftertaste! Adele, go with normal Coke. You'll live longer.

Have a Merry Christmas with your family!!

Miss Beevers said...

What an adventure!!! Good job it did not snow!! Or was there snow?? xxx

Adele said...

Ree - Regular Coke is too sweet. I hate it. Sorry....

Miss B - Yes, there was snow, but not falling. It was already on the ground. The roads were fine.

Thanks, Colletta!!

Trisha said...

Wow, an adventure is right! Hope you get some good R&R in now!

Melissa said...

Wow, what an adventure. I am not sure I could have done that myself. Glad you made it through customs. Hope you have a very Merry Christmas.