May 22-25, 2009
Saint John, NB
When I started this blog, I was only planning on writing about Bryon’s death forward. Facebook reminded me today that On This Day eight years ago, Bryon arrived from New York for his first trip to Maine. It was before I moved to Albany. I felt like I wanted to share what I remember about that trip. I don’t want to forget before my daughter is old enough to hear the story so if I write it here, she will likely get a better account. A preservation of sorts. Also, I am riding a pretty harsh grief wave and maybe writing about this will give me a break from the grief.
As I was saying, Facebook reminded me that 8 years ago, I was excitedly awaiting to arrive of my love. It was a Friday. It was his first time coming to Maine and his first time meeting the parents. That was back when there was that topless donut shop in Vassalboro, ME and Bryon was getting a rise out of me by telling me he was going to stop. He didn’t actually stop but he enjoyed pulling my chain.
Saturday Bryon and I began the 3 hour drive to Saint John, New Brunswick. We made a stop at the West Quoddy Lighthouse in Lubec so we could say we had been to the most eastern point in the United States.
We arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in the late afternoon. Bryon was driving and somehow knew his way around even without using Google Maps. He had an amazing sense of direction. We stayed at a Delta Hotel. We had dinner at the Saint John Alehouse which boasted the largest collection of beers on tap in Eastern Canada. They had 29 beers which Bryon found charming. We both ate these delicious burgers with a cheese that was flavored with Guinness and we both had a side of poutine. Bryon was talking about hockey with the bartender.
The next day, we drove another hour and a half to the Bay of Fundy National Park. I remember we passed a cute historic little cemetery and I was sad we didn’t stop. (I have fascination with old cemeteries.) Bryon assured me it was okay that we didn’t stop because they were probably Loyalists anyway.
We spent the day at the National Park. It was beautiful. We had lunch at a restaurant in a little coastal New Brunswick village named Alma. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but I remember that we ate fried clams and that the service was not good.
That night we had dinner back in Saint John at a restaurant that overlooked the Reversing Falls. We went out a bar after but I don’t remember the name.
The next morning, we stopped at Moosehood Brewery and Bryon bought a few pint glasses on clearance. I think they have all been broken. At some point, we went to the New Brunswick Museum but I don’t remember where that fit into the timeline.
On the way, I remember we stopped at a gas station and convenience store in rural New Brunswick because we weren’t sure if we had enough has to get back to the US. (If you are not from the US or Canada, the reason we wanted to get back to the US is because gas is much less expensive here. So if you drive to Canada from the US, always, always, always fill your tank before you cross the border.) We put in ten dollars worth of gas figuring that would get us back to the US. Bryon couldn’t resist playing some scratch-offs.
I was excited that we were stopped on the International line.
So many details I don’t remember. Makes me glad that I now keep a travel journal and I write down all the mundane details like the names of restaurants and what we ate and every Museum we go to. I want my daughter to know every detail of our adventures. But I want to give her some idea of the adventures her Mom and Dad had before her.
Last weekend I took my daughter on our second big adventure since Bryon passed away. My best friend from Maine, who had been living in Florida with her fiance, just relocated to Ann Arbor, Michigan. I looked at google maps and saw that it was about a nine hour drive. I ascertained that it would be long, but it was doable. The drive to my parents house in Maine is usually about 8 hours so this would only be a little longer. I decided to make this into a “runcation” (which I will write about in another race recap post.) To make an exciting weekend even better, my other best friend from Chicago decided to drive up with her daughter. In case you forgot, she was the one who consoled me as I sat on the floor in a Las Vegas casino crying a month ago.
I couldn’t seem to get my act together all week so I was packing on Friday morning and got a later start than I had wanted. I kept feeling like I was forgetting something. I had to remind myself that there were Targets in Michigan and if I forgot anything, I could just get it at Target, along with other stuff I don’t really need but I will decide I can’t live without. We finally got on the road around 9 am.
Our trip was pretty uneventful, though we ran into some snow but it was sunny by the time we were in Western, NY. Before we knew it, we were at Niagara Falls. My gas tank was just below a half of a tank but I stopped to fill my tank before entering Canada. Anyone who travels to Canada knows, gas is very expensive and it is wise to fill up on the United States side of the Border.
I was nervous crossing the border without Bryon because I had read on the internet that Canada was careful about children crossing the border without both parents. If you are a single parent traveling with a minor, you need a notarized letter from the other parents stating it’s okay. Well, Bryon wasn’t here to notarize any sort of letter. So I brought my daughters birth certificate along with a copy of Bryon’s death certificate. (We also have NEXUS cards) I was chatting with the Canadian Border agent who was very nice and she said it really was a concern when parents don’t bring any ID and it was clear I was my daughter’s mother. She did look at our NEXUS cards and my daughter’s birth certificate. The border agent said she didn’t need to look at Bryon’s death certificate but told me that it was a good idea to have it on me just in case.
My daughter finally fell asleep in Canada. The drive was long and uneventful with lots of farmland. Bryon and I had never traveled further than the Niagara region so Southern Ontario was all new territory. I found myself wishing he was on the trip with us. For starters, he would have been doing the driving. Second, we drove by so many places that would have excited him, like the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. I imagine the conversation would have gone something like this:
Bryon: Let’s stop! It’s the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame!
Kerry: You don’t even like going to the American Baseball Hall of Fame. You think it’s lame.
Bryon: But Kerry…It’s the CANADIAN Baseball Hall of Fame.
Kerry: But…you aren’t that into baseball and a visit will take up a lot of time and we want to get to Michigan before it get’s dark.
Bryon: You are a Miss No-Fun.
I also thought fondly of Bryon as I drove by London, Ontario and saw the sign for the Labatt Brewery. He loved Labatt.
I was bored with the radio in the car and ended up listening to the CBC news. I decided that would be my cultural activity of the day since I would not be stopping at Tim Hortons, or the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame or the Labatt Brewery. I drove by a really large wind farm that went on for 45 minutes. Then I was finally in Windsor, Ontario and then I was crossing the Ambassador Bridge into Detroit. The Bridge was beautiful and I couldn’t take a picture because I was driving. There was a very large American flag. I don’t know if it is because I am generally a patriotic person or if it was because I was glad that my long drive was almost over but I started to belt out “America the Beautiful” when I saw that flag. My daughter was not impressed. I can’t blame her as I am not exactly a good singer. Actually my singing is not even tolerable. Poor girl.
We made it to Ann Arbor around 7:15 after google maps took us on an interesting drive in Detroit. I was so excited to see both of my best friends. Since I don’t use people’s names in this blog, I am going to refer to my friends as “my Maine best friend” and “my Chicago best friend”. And I will refer to my Maine best friend’s fiance as “the Scientist” because, well, he’s a scientist. We sat down and ate some Domino’s Pizza (which I learned is headquartered in Ann Arbor) and drank some Aldi wine (not too bad). My daughter was excited to see my Chicago best friends daughter and they wore princess dresses and chased each other until it was time for bed.
I woke up early Saturday morning to make my run to Target to buy the items I forgot, along with those other items that I didn’t really need but decided I can’t live without. My Chicago best friend came with me and we decided to do the “divide and conquer” approach and I think we were out of there within 20 minutes. It was quite impressive.
After we returned to the house, we packed up to take the bus downtown. My daughter really enjoyed riding on the bus.
The plan was to take the girls to the Natural History Museum at the University of Michigan. They had a great time running around and looking at the artifacts but they began to get tired and hungry. We had made it through the first two floors and the Scientist went up to check the third floor and said there wasn’t as much there so we decided to leave.
I wanted to do some shopping so we stopped at The Den to buy my daughter and myself an article of clothing that said “Michigan” on it.
We then had lunch at Hopcat which was delicious and very reasonably priced. I had the tacos which were delicious. And I don’t know what the seasoning was on the crack fries, but they were amazing. My daughter learned the hard way that the hot sauce was not ketchup. There were some tears but I still think she handled better than some adults would have. The hot sauce was really hot.
When we returned, I put my daughter down for a nap and my Chicago best friend stayed with the girls while my Maine best friend and I went to the race Expo which I will write about in another post. After we went to the Expo, we needed coffee so we went to a Meijer that also had a Starbucks. In 2007, I lived in Indiana for three months and I forgot how awesome Meijer was. It’s like, one of the seven wonders of the Midwest. Anyway we were in desperate need of caffeine and I also had to get the Starbucks You Are Here mugs. It’s my latest obsession. Anyone else into those mugs?
After the girls woke up from their nap, we made plans to go to a Mexican restaurant, Los Amigos. The food was really good and I am a Mexican food snob. I was excited to see Chilaquiles on the menu because I think the only place I can get them locally is at El Mexicano in Saratoga. I was excited that they had a train. It was like Governor’s except it was a Mexican restaurant and we were in Michigan, not Maine.
We were all exhausted Saturday night and didn’t stay up late.
Sunday was race morning which, again, I will write a separate race recap.
After the race, my Chicago best friend and her daughter left. My Maine best friend, my daughter and I drove 45 minutes to Dearborn to go to The Henry Ford. It was pricey but I felt like it was something you need to do in area. We were starving so we had lunch at a diner in the Museum. It was an actual diner car from 1946. Jut don’t expect to get a diet soda because when my Maine best friend tried to order one, the waiter informed her that there was no diet soda in 1946. However, the prices were not reflective of 1946 and they did accept credit cards.
My daughter took a cat nap on the car ride and was tired and was beginning to lose it after the cars, trains and planes so we decided to call it a trip. I didn’t feel too bad because my Maine best friend decided to buy the membership because she figured out that a membership would pay for itself in two trips. She also figured that this would be the place that out of town guests would want to go so a membership made sense.
We had a relaxing Sunday night. We ordered Chinese food for dinner and just hung out and went to bed early.
My daughter and I were on the road by 7am. We had a morning stop planned in Windsor, Ontario. When Bryon and I got engaged, I went on theknot.com and was active in the September 2012 board. Theknot.com was glitchy so we moved our group over the Facebook and we are still an active group. There have been so many milestones, babies, new jobs, new houses as well as divorces, illness and now death. I am the first widow of the group (though one of the ladies of the group was a widow who married her second love in Sept 2012) Anyway, one of the ladies on the board lives just out of Windsor (she blogs here) so my daughter and I met her at a Tim Hortons. I have known her online for over 5 years and it was exciting to finally meet her in person.
After our visit, we had a long car ride back. My daughter slept for about half of the Canada portion and none of the New York portion. We stopped for lunch at a rest stop just outside of Buffalo. The drive was long and uneventful and we made it home around 6 o’clock.
This adventure was still bittersweet. I didn’t miss Bryon as much as I did when I went to Vegas. Maybe that was because Vegas was the first adventure since Bryon passed. Maybe it was because both of my best friends were there which provided twice the distraction. But even though travelling without Bryon may have been easier, I still got sad when we passed the University of Michigan stadium because Bryon was such a sports fan and I knew he would have been excited. I guess I just have to have faith that he comes along with us in his way but I just wish he was physically still here to go on these adventures with us. I miss him so much but I must carry on for him, for my daughter and for myself. But it does make me feel good that I am still fulfilling the promise I made to him in the final hours of his life.