We took the shortcut John Steinbeck couldn’t.
And it wasn’t because he didn’t have Mapquest. It was because he had a dog.
Steinbeck, once seeing Niagara Falls, had hoped to scoot west across southern Ontario, re-entering the U.S. at Michigan. But Canadian border officials told him that, while Charley was welcome in Canada, the author might have some problems getting his poodle back into the U.S.
Steinbeck lacked papers documenting that Charley was vaccinated against rabies, and — 1960 being pre-email, pre-fax — getting sent an instant copy wasn’t a possibility. His only choice, other than waiting on the U.S. mail, would have been to drive back into America and get Charley re-vaccinated.
So he opted to turn around. Even that proved problematic. While he never got through the gate to Canada, he got a good grilling once he was back at the entrance to the U.S., and, from the sound of it, got it bit frustrated with the U.S. officials. Steinbeck didn’t like government bureaucracies. “Government can make you feet so small and mean that it takes some doing to build back a sense of self-importance.”
Ace and I on the other hand would have no problem on either end. I had his paperwork, but wasn’t asked for it at any point.
We zipped right through Ontario, traveling less than four hours, and under 200 miles, as opposed to the seven hours and more than 400 miles it would have taken had we stayed in the U.S., veering south and north again.
The scenery, once we got outside of Niagara Falls, wasn’t much different than what Pennsylvania and Ohio would have offered — a lot of the same flat land and fast food franchises. The only real difference was the money and the metric system. I stopped for some 99-cent gas — even though I knew it was that much per liter. And even though it cost about the same to fill my tank, it still felt good to get something — ephemeral as it was — for under a dollar.
I popped inside the gas station to get some cigarettes, and asked when I didn’t see the standard racks of them behind the counter. The employee pulled open a big drawer — law requires them to be kept out of view — revealing numerous brands I’d never heard of in funny boxes. I asked her what was cheap.
She recommended “Next.” I paid in American, got change in Canadian. The pack’s government-required warning — one of several really hard-hitting ones — showed a burned cigarette, with all its ash hanging on, though in a very limp manner, and a written reminder that the cigarettes I intended to smoke could make me impotent.
That not being a big factor in my life right now, I lit one up. They were shorter than American cigarettes, which is how America would want it, but there are more to the pack.
I would have liked to spend a night in Ontario, smoking my Nexts, and the only reason I didn’t was fear of big roaming charges if I got on my phone or my computer.
Leave it to America to come up with roaming charges (I’m assuming we invented them). What’s next? Freedom fees. Wanderlust taxes? Curiosity tolls? America seems to like us to stay put and spend money, and if we go somewhere, have a destination and reach it, thruway style. Do what the GPS lady says. Don’t you dare stray from the path. Stay within the parameters of your network.
I’m sure there are good reasons for roaming fees, I just don’t like the name. The word “fees” should just not be attached to a concept as free and wide open as “roaming.”
I feel a song coming on:
Oh, give me a home, where the buffalo roam (fees may apply)
And the deer and the antelope text.
As a society, partly because of our increasing tendency to take directions from computers, we have grown less likely to be vacilando. It’s a Spanish word, from the verb vacilar. As Steinbeck notes in Travels With Charley: “If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere, but doesn’t greatly care whether or not he gets there.”
Steinbeck said there is no English equivalent for the Spanish word. I would argue “roaming” comes pretty close, though.
Vacilando as we’ve been on our journey, we didn’t wander much in Ontario, and managed to get to Sarnia and the U.S. entry gate just as the sun was going down. There was no search, there were no seizures, just a flash of the passport, a peek at the dog and a few polite questions about whether I’d purchased anything in Canada (“Just these funny little cigarettes,” I replied).
We stopped for the night right there — in Port Huron — and took off the next morning for the other side of Michigan and step two of our shortcut: a ferry ride across Lake Michigan.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 22nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, border, bureaucracy, canada, charley, cigarettes, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, gas, government, john steinbeck, metric, niagara falls, officials, ontario, papers, rabies, road trip, roaming, roaming fees, sarnia, shortcut, tourism, travel, travels with ace, travels with charley, vaccination, vacilando, wandering
A cat from New Mexico turned up unexplainedly in Chicago –1,300 miles from his Albuquerque home.
No one knows how he got there, but eight months after disappearing from his home in New Mexico, Charles was picked up by Chicago Animal Care and Control.
Fortunately, he was checked there for a microchip — and had one.
That still wasn’t the end of his troubles. His owner said she lacked the funds to go there and pick him up, raising the possibility that, after traveling so far, he would be euthanized.
Then another Albuquerque resident came to the rescue. Headed to Chicago on a trip, he agreed to pick up Charles and bring him back home.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 20th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 300 miles, albuquerque, animal control, animals, cat, cats, charles, chicago, found, lost, meandering, microchip, news, ohmidog!, pets, travel, trip, wandering
This little beauty was found wandering the streets of Dundalk Saturday.
She was taken in by one good samaritan and passed along to another good samaritan, who is fostering her in Baltimore until a home can be found — either her original one or a new one.
She being called ”Ella.”
A spirited and loving mutt — my guess is a Rottweiler/Jack Russell mix …”Jack Rottsell?” — she was found just off Dundalk Avenue, near Sollers Point Road.
She was found without a collar or tags, is estimated to be about five months old and gets along wonderfully with other dogs.
If you’re interested in Ella, contact Lori at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by jwoestendiek February 22nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baltimore, dog, dundalk, ella, found, found dog, loose, lost, lost dog, pup, puppy, rottweiler, stray, wanderer, wandering
A dog seen wandering around Danville, Virginia last week with a plastic container stuck over his head — in the fashion of a spaceman or deep sea diver — has been captured and relieved of his involuntary helmet.
A police officer captured the dog Friday morning, after a resident spotted him and called for help.
He’s now in the custody of the the Danville Humane Society, which has named him “Jughead.”
The Humane Society had been trying to catch “Jughead” all week because the plastic container — similar to one cheese puffs might come in — was preventing him from eating or drinking. They’d offered a $500 reward to anyone who could capture him.
Danville Police Officer Mike Smith captured the dog Friday after a woman spotted him resting on a porch on Colquhoun Street, the Danville News reported.
“He was eager to drink. He seems to be doing better now. He seems to have come around a little bit. He was very scared and very shy when we first saw him but he seems to be doing better now, Danville Humane Society Director Paulette Dean said.
The Humane Society says it will put Jughead — believed to be a pit bull-chow mix, about four years old — up for adoption if no owner is found.
Dean said Jughead wasn’t the first animal to get entrapped in litter. The society has had cases of stray cats, a fox and a raccoon getting their head stuck in containers.
“There are dangers of littering,” she said. “People need to keep their trash contained.”
And their dogs, too.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 10th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, captured, container, danville, danville humane society, dog, freed, head, humane society, jug, jughead, litter, paulette dean, pets, plastic, reward, stray, stuck, virginia, wandering
Gary Rowley hadn’t seen Brindle since 1999, when his dog nosed open a door and disappeared into the night.
This past Sunday — thanks to a microchip, Facebook and an animal lover who volunteered to drive the dog 1,300 miles back home from Oklahoma – they reunited at Rowley’s home in Fredricksburg, Virginia.
“He needed a way home,” said Laurie Swain, who flew from Virginia to Oklahoma, then drove the dog back. “If the dog can wander 1,300 plus miles in 10 years I can certainly spend a few days driving.”
Rowley had given up on finding the dog in the decade since he went missing, shortly before the Super Bowl in 1999.
Then, last month, he received a message on Facebook: “Did you ever have a dog named Brindle?”
The question came from an Oklahoma military family who had discovered Brindle hiding under a bush, NBC News in Washington reported. After a local veterinarian found a microchip in Brindle’s neck, the family tracked Rowley down.
“I don’t know what to say. I just can’t believe someone would do this,” Rowley said.
Rowley has no idea how Brindle managed to wander so far from home, but he says it won’t happen again.
“For him to get out now, he’s going to have to turn a knob and flip a dead bolt,” Rowley said. “I’m still thinking about some of those child safety locks.”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 3rd, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 10 years, 300 miles, brindle, decade, dog, dogs, door, escape, escaped, facebook, fredrickbsurg, gary rowley, lost, microchip, miracle, missing, oklahoma, reunion, reunited, virginia, wandering