Friday, January 02, 2009

Yes, I'm playing catch-up. It's what happens when one takes a week off from the interwebs.

I missed this event, which is a shame, since I have a good Montreal story:

It was the only time I ever heard the fateful words coming out of my husband's mouth on any of our numerous road trips: "What could have possessed me to take this trip???!!!???!!????" he exclaimed as we had to stop the car and scrape off all the ice that had accumulated on the windshield as we drove into a windy blizzard on December 26, 2005.

What, indeed?

It was our last driving trip in the northeast before we moved back south. It was Dan's once-a-month sanity trip, his opportunity to escape New York City, and he chose to head to Montreal on Canada's Boxing Day, with the help of a good hotel rate found on Priceline and a load of chutzpah, not to mention a willing wife. That willingness was being sorely tested in the face of this storm, however, the likes of which we'd rarely seen, even in Queens. Windshield washer was being used as though it was going out of style, and it still wasn't enough to thaw the ice on the glass, so we had to stop a couple more times before entering the greater Montreal area, where we were amazed to see folks driving on the superhighways like the weather wasn't there.

Doofuses that we were, we'd forgotten to pack our son's snowsuit, but that problem was easily solved, Dan thought...we'd head for the Carrefour shopping center just outside of the city and purchase a new one. He was operating under the assumption that this was a Carrefour store similar to ones we'd shopped at in Spain on our honeymoon - think upscale European Wal-Mart.
That assumption was so, so wrong.

The parking lot was jammed. The halls of the mall were almost unnavigable from all the hordes of people clogging them, but we managed to stuff ourselves through the doors of a Sears and got hold of an entire snowsuit, gloves, boots, and hat for $35 Canadian. Dan looked at a hockey table on sale for $50 and wondered if we ought to take it back for my cousin. Granted, the Boxing Day sales were incredible, but there was no way in hell we were going to schlep a tabletop hockey game back to New York.

We had a beautiful stay in Montreal after that harrowing travel day. We walked the underground malls. We took the Metro, saw squirrels frolicking in the snowdrifts around our hotel, and visited the site of the '76 Olympics, where there is now a Biodome with several wild animal habitats and some flightless waterfowl exhibits that keep the Arctic and Antarctic birds in lighting conditions similar to what they would be on that particular day at the poles. At that time of year, the Antarctic penguins were in 24-hour light conditions, and I noticed two penguins standing at the back of the exhibit and staring into the wall. Guess that's what happens when the light is boring into your eyeballs round-the-clock; I could imagine the poor things silently imploring the Biodomers to make it stoooop...

The tower above the Olympic site afforded an amazing view of a beautifully cold city, the sun shining above it all as we looked at where we'd been. We spent some time at Mont Royal Park as well, as my son bummed a few rides on someone's toboggan and slid through the snowdrifts there.

However, what would have been a most enduring souvenir of our trip was left beside the gas pumps at the Montreal filling station we pulled into for a rest and refueling on that first day of travel. We should have returned with a gallon each of this miracle chemical for all our friends and family, but it would have been too much to claim at customs. Here's to that blue elixir that keeps the Montrealers' windshields ice-free and enables them to zoom down icy freeways at 90 mph:

No comments: