Dancing on Highway 401

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I’m not sure what Canadians call motorways, I’m plumping with ‘highway’, I’m sure someone will tell me if I’m wrong. Anyway, the plan for today was dead simple – head up highway 401, then 400, then 11 and hop off at Huntsville. As I hopped into the car, I repeated my mantra of the moment; ‘Drive on the RIGHT’, and pulled out into traffic. Actually, driving on the right is no-where near as difficult as it was in AK – not that it was difficult – except that I couldn’t see the road markings; and now I expect stop lines to be back from junctions over here (in the UK they’re *right* at the junction). I faintly understand 4-way-stops (I still think they’re nuts though). It was easier though, because I could see the road markings – which makes it much easier to judge position.

Anyway, yeah, so I headed down the 401, up onto the 400 and was astounded to find that I appeared to be driving through Lincolnshire… It’s one of the things that is very weird about Canada – despite it’s huge scale, sometimes it does such a good impression of the UK that you could just be there. Then, just as suddenly it’s character will change entirely. It’s really quite strange.

Anyway, I headed on up, and then the snow started. Suddenly, the countryside was covered with a light dusting of very pretty snow; eventually it got a bit thicker and started to bring to mind my visit to Alaska last year; then it got really heavy. Probably not ‘really’ heavy by Canadian standards, but heavy by UK ‘2cm is a severe weather warning’ standards. In fact, for the first time in a long time I started to question whether my driving was going to be adequate to cope with the conditions. In my own car, maybe. You might think it’s weird to think that driving in severe weather I’d prefer a 1969 Minor to a 2006 Chrysler; but I know the minor’s handling characteristics; I know how the road feels in the minor; I know what it’s capable of. This I do not know about the Chrysler.

Eventually, deciding that I fancied a break and that maybe I should re-think my plan to go North given the snow I headed off to some Services at Orillia. I am terrible for using engine braking – back when I was taught to drive it was still good practice to slow down using the gearbox and engine, and although people don’t teach that now I still do it – even in an Automatic, I just let the car loose speed through coasting. So it wasn’t until the first set of lights in Orillia that I tried the brakes. Fortunately I twigged that they weren’t actually working in any meaningful way and went for accelerating through the amber light; I tried them again, and after a loud cracking noise, and a brief flicker from a couple of warning lights, they perked up. I don’t think they liked the icy-slush.

Anyway, yeah, so the snow eased off while I munched, and I decided to head onward. This was made more challenging by the complete absence of any signposts for the highway I’d just come off. 11 North I wanted, 12, North and South but no 11 North. So I took my only, but somewhat longer than normal for me, detour. I experimented with going back the way I came (nope, no rejoining for you Kate); I tried 12 South – which my look at the map said had to cross over Highway 11. It didn’t. It was very pretty, and I did just drive along it for a bit going ‘ooh, this is very pretty’. Eventually though, I started to feel a desire to see Huntsville, so I turned back and headed North on 12 – eventually finding 11 North. Raa!

All of which lead me to Huntsville. I’d say lots about huntsville, about the roads carved out with blasting, about the pretty houses, the friendly nature of the people I met… but I suck at that stuff. There’s a few photos on Flickr, but not as many as I’d like – I kept being drawn towards ideas – I had lots of ideas – very few of which worked. But the place was pretty. I stopped off in a Coffee shop / Cafe who’s name I forget, but which had the Soul Sistas Wellness Kitchen in the same building. They did the best Carrot cake.

I spent a while hanging out outside an abandoned house, the only shot that made it from that is the broken glass…

Heh. I had fun though, and then I hopped* back in the car and headed back. It snowed, but not nearly so much as on the way there. I got back onto the 401 without incident, but the 401 was… stationary. Pretty much. I suspect that, like the M25 it’s normal state is ‘static’. So I danced. I dance a lot in traffic; and having worked my way through to the Soulwax CD (Hang all DJ’s Volume 4) there was much in the way of dancing goodness pouring forth from the Car’s speakers. I danced, I bopped, I shimmied. And I was passed by a Red Pontiac with a really, really shocked and amused woman in it. Several times, in the shuffling traffic did my dancing cause her to point and / or laugh.

I dun’ mind. I like dancing.

Eventually her lane shot off into the distance, and I was left strutting my funky stuff (albeit sat down); and then, about 10 minutes later, in the distance I did spot them. And so I prepared. I’d actually hit a quiet section of the CD, so I wound it back to the same point it’d been at when I passed them the first time (the Dead or Alive / Round Round remix), and danced and shimmied my way past them again, this time pausing to wave cheerfully. I think this time she was shocked because they’d left me behind a long time ago….

I do like freaking people out.

So yeah, I had a really good day – and I got to see a whole other side of Canada. One of many sides, I’m sure. It was fantastic though, and beautiful. Stunning, gorgeous… Mmm. I like Rural Ontario, although I’d be intrigued to know what it’s like for lesbians out there in the middle of no-where.

Anyway, more pics, as usual in the Flickr set (someone’s already added one as a favourite, that’s really odd).

*For very limited values of ‘hopped’ – I think I’m very much the wrong shape for the Chrysler – it has no lumbar support (even with the lumbar thing on maximum); the sunvisor clouts my head when I put it down, and I have to have the seat so far forward that getting in and out is a bit of a trial.


Kate is lord and mistress of all she surveys at pyoor.org...