And that is Canada on the other side.
In the 10 (ten!) (holy shit!) years we have been doing this, there has always been some sort of misadventure. Horrific traffic jams, late-night GPS misfires, roadwork lasting for the entire state of Pennsylvania, and so forth. This year was no different.
We thought we'd gotten our bad luck out of the way quickly, after it took us 45 minutes to go the five blocks from my office to the entrance of the Holland Tunnel. Giddy with excitement over our impending four days of bad behavior and fattening food, we decided to stop for dinner at McDonald's. And then, as we zoomed back toward the interstate, there was a regrettable incident involving a possible slight degree of over-excitement about a bag of fries, an unlucky twist of the wheel, and a diabolical concrete curb on a no-shoulder road in the very fine state of New Jersey. Our front right tire was the casualty.
Which led to this:
Artist's Impression of Four Women with Seven Post-Secondary Degrees Between Them,
All of Whom Rarely Drive, Figuring out How to Change a Tire
and also to this:
My friend Liz predicted, when we first pulled over our wounded vehicle on this deserted side street,
that the subsequent events would unfold as either a slasher flick or a porno;
I think this photo should make it clear which way things were leaning.
But a couple of hours, two stolen landscaping rocks, and one musclebound cop later, we were back on our way. With 200 miles to drive in three hours on a donut spare.
And we did it. We coined the phrase "but also, still drive," as encouragement for a flustered driver hunting with mounting urgency for the headlight switch on a rapidly darkening stretch of interstate, but we did it. And these were our rewards:
Oh, and the Mounties? Yeah, that happened. On our last night, our friend's mom took us for an amazing sunset boat ride down the river, and as she made a wide U-turn to head back toward the house, a Canadian border patrol boat flashed its lights at us and pulled up alongside. I prepared to be boarded, but they just asked us probing questions like why had we been motoring along and then all of a sudden popped a u-ey and headed the other way? (Answer: we live on the east side of the river, and after traveling south, the only way to return to the house via boat is to pop a u-ey.) And they were so relentlessly polite and Canadian about it all that we couldn't really get too grumpy with them.
But still, I wasn't bold enough to take a photo of them while we were in sight of them, lest they think I really was a terrorist casing entry points into our fair northern neighbors. So I waited till they were a safe distance away. That little blob on the horizon in the photo below, friends, is a vessel of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
And thus ended another glorious ritual of summer. I have come away happier, fatter, and confident of success in any future speed drills involving locating and dislodging the spare tire in
Satan's Minivan a 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan.