Initially my plan was to stay overnight in Sarnia, about 5 hours drive from Ajax. I didn’t want to drive too much in the beginning and wear out the kids too early. They were excited about Disneyland and my plan was to exploit it but not to the extent where their excitement is ruined by the fatigue and boredom. 4-5 hours in the car for the first day seemed just about right. However, Sarnia was having one of the worst winter storms in last 30-40 years since earlier that week. The highway 402 which is the main way to get to Sarnia had been closed since Monday after there were multiple accidents on the road and heavy snow fall made it impossible for the traffic to continue. Hundreds of vehicles and caravan of trucks were stranded on a 22 mile stretch of the road leading to the city.
I stumbled on this link where a man stranded in that snow storm nicely described his ordeal.
I had already booked a motel room in Sarnia, several weeks ago. On Tuesday morning listening to the weather I had a bad feeling about Sarnia. In Ajax we did get a little snow fall but nothing like that particular part of Ontario. I cancelled the booking. There are several border posts to get into USA from Ontario. I picked Sarnia because it was a city we had never visited before and heard it was naturally beautiful. After examining the map and weather I decided Windsor was the best bet for us. The snow storm did not hit Windsor as badly and the possibility of getting stranded was very little (unless there was an accident). Yet, to be safe, we took several comforters, some extra gas in a designated plastic container and plenty of food. During winter it is very difficult to foresee everything that can go wrong. It was best to be prepared.
Windsor is about 400 kilometers away from Ajax. Highways were relatively clear and we drove between 100-120 kilometers/hour stopping once one a roadside refreshment center. Kids were already bored, especially Farheen who had been badgering me with her ‘Are we there yet?’ routine since we drove just two kilometers away from home. The refreshment centers are life savers. She is not fond of food but ice cream cheers her up. With treats in hand she was relatively happy and we continued toward Windsor. As we entered the city we found it still recovering from the snow storm that blew over it the day before. Street curbs were covered with piled up snow that the snow plowers had plowed from the streets.
I had reserved a room in Super 8. This is a popular motel chain and offers reasonably priced rooms. The kids like motel rooms (apparently they like any place except their own home). The tons of children’s channels available on the television cheered them up sufficiently to engage in their usual lengthy bickering about picking channels. It is customary for us to gorge on pizza and wings during motel stays. We hit a local pizzeria and ate plentiful. We drove around for a little bit. Windsor, a medium sized city, is the southern most city in Canada with a population little over 200K. The city hosts university of Windsor and is located in the vicinity of much bigger and reknown American city of Detroit (separated by Detroit river). Among several other attractions the two that stands out are the casinoes – Ceasers Windsor and the Windsor Raceway and Slot operated by the crown corpoaration OLG. The most notable structure in the area is obviously the Ambasador bridge – a suspension bridge that connects Detroit with Windsor. It is the busiest international border crossing in North America in terms of trade volume: more than 25 percent of all merchandise trade between the United States and Canada crosses the bridge (The four-lane bridge carries more than 10,000 commercial vehicles on a typical weekday).
Next day my plan was to drive much longer and the kids needed good rest. We returned to the motel, watched television for a little bit before sending the kids to bed. A long trip waited ahead of us but the end of day one was satisfactory.