Continuing our honeymoon road trip we are back on the road. Mildly aware that we are running out of petrol. The car says we have enough left in the tank to get us 5km past Sault Ste. Marie. Service centres are just small local petrol/gas stations. They have generally been appearing just after we have gone around slow traffic so Triston refused to stop.
Now it is a little bit desperate. We do not know what is ahead. The car estimate of 5km further than the distance to the next city doesn’t fill me with confidence. I proclaim that the next small town we go past or the next petrol station we see – we have to stop.
I don’t care who we have passed or how long it took us to manage to overtake, we will stop. Slightly panicking, I start googling to see if there is petrol stations nearby and what towns lie between us and Sault Ste. Marie. I don’t easily find results on the highway. This makes me think we will have to pull off the highway and head into one to the towns.
I haven’t gotten far in to my search when we see what looks like a buzzing service station. We pull in, even if we did have enough to get through to Sault Ste. Marie – I don’t want to risk it. Nothing would be worse than being stuck on the side of the road waiting for rescue because we didn’t plan well and ran out of petrol.
Not that we were in an actual rush, it just isn’t appealing and I didn’t want a drama like that on my honeymoon. A spook in the night at the motel in Banff was enough drama for me.
Well, if the drive around the lake felt like summer, this petrol station sealed that feeling. The Agawa Crafts and The Canadian Carver fuel stop. It felt like the start of every summertime road trip movie. They had crackling speakers softly playing radio classics. A market stall with various vendors. A huge bathroom block, food truck and multiple buildings selling food and souvenirs and an array of teepee’s, carvings and crafts.
It looked like everything had been in place since the ’80s or the birth of time. It felt like home, like summer. Like it was exactly what you wanted, needed and what it should be plus more. It was well cared for in a non-updated way. It was what it was and you either embrace it or you trip over the uneven floors. I loved it.
The best part was the complete full service so we could both jump out of the car and wander around. They filled it up, parked it and then returned the keys and you paid for petrol.
It was hugely popular. We were watered, rested, shopped and relieved all while our car was being taken care of. Refuelled and all the windows cleaned. They even removed the bugs from the wing mirrors and headlights.
Most movies that have this kind of scene, let’s be honest they are generally horror movies. How many road trip or “summertime gas station refuel stop” movies have ended well?
From here it was a quick hop to the Sault Ste. Marie area and we start to think about where we should stop. If we want to get to Toronto tonight we would be arriving after 2am without stops. That wasn’t too appealing.
Google is our friend and we try to find a town that is on the way and affordable. I don’t know how or why but we hastily decide on Sudbury and book the TownePlace Suites by Marriott. It might have been the laundry facilities or the distance between. It was affordable, breakfast was included and it was only a few hours away, which seemed doable, unlike Toronto.
With Sudbury booked and night falling, the lake views mostly behind us I settled in to book and plan the last few nights we had in Canada. Distances were far less, affording us time to plan. It appeared that we would now skip Toronto. We weren’t actually ever planning on going to Toronto, we just wanted to see Niagara Falls.
Drive to Sudbury – do our laundry, eat, sleep, get up as early as we could, eat the hotel breakfast.
Drive to Niagara Falls – enjoy it for as long as we like then drive to Ottawa.
Ottawa to Quebec the day after and finally Quebec to Montreal.
Our flight is out of Montreal early in the morning so the night before is really not flexible. We should stay in Montreal. I book the hotel with points – Hyatt Regency Montreal. This probably could have been booked weeks ago but it wasn’t. I think about booking the other hotels but feel I need to discuss it more because I want to stay in a hotel that is by far the most expensive hotel we have ever stayed in.
Previously we have stayed in hotels that usually cost a lot and we have paid just 10 or 20%. This hotel usually costs a lot less than it is showing right now. We have left it late and now it is ridiculously expensive. It is our honeymoon and when will we be back in Canada? Moreover, when will we be in Canada on our honeymoon again? This one is going to be a battle over the budget. I decided just to book the Hyatt in Montreal with points, Sudbury for tonight and everything else is left for another time. Again.
We arrive in Sudbury, the rooms are cozy and spacious. Triston orders and then collects pizza from the other side of the highway for dinner. We do our laundry and sleep. The hotel was great value and breakfast is a small selection but the basics to get the day started. We had only just woken up in time to get the last remnants of breakfast.
I am not sure if they had more food earlier but our options are all, ‘grab and go’. Juice and coffee with take away cups if you like and muffins – not English or breakfast muffins, cake muffins. Cereal, again there is the option to take this with you and there had been fruit but it appeared everyone had laid claim to them. We do as the breakfast items suggest – grab and go.
On the road again. Sudbury to Niagara Falls was a boring drive. We had traffic, road works, probably not enough sleep and we were generally irritable all the way to the falls.
Luckily for us, the 5-hour drive only took 7 hours. Oh wait, that isn’t lucky. Our plans to have lunch at the falls added to our agitation. Waking up irritable, getting a basic juice and muffin for breakfast and then driving through road works and traffic for hours made lunch at 2pm seem impossible.
There were not too many options for us to stop along the way from the time our lunchtime hunger set in (probably 11am) so we had to keep driving and snapping about stupid things, even if we were on the same side, not many nice things were said so we decided it was best if we both stopped talking until we ate.
We arrived, alive, worn-down and hungry but alive. After a parking debacle (no where to park, no where free to park, no where cheap enough to park with my ever so friendly input – just park and pay I don’t care how much it costs how much more time will we waste driving in circles, argh the guy was saying if you tell him your eating there he will let you park there, just say we are eating there stop saying we aren’t jeez! Pay. I don’t care. Stop the car in the middle of the road, let’s just get out and eat.) we decided to go with the valet service offered by The Keg Steakhouse and Bar. The place we decided on for lunch after I googled Niagara Falls lunch + views and it had decent enough reviews for us to give it a try.
Maybe Outback Steak House and the free parking if you ate there was better. A walk down to the falls but this was the place in the GPS. We had already done 4 loops of the town so we were eating here now, hell or high water. Valet parking was not difficult or expensive and compared to the rigmarole on the busy streets any amount would have appeared worth it.
We didn’t make a booking. It is outside of traditional lunch hours now so while it was busy it was is full. We are seated on the window and had a great view of the falls. Lunch is amazing. Expensive but amazing.
Breakfast was more than 7 hours ago. Any meal was likely to be good but this was better than a just simply being our saviour from starvation. It was a great meal even if I had been full. We ordered one of everything we wanted which is our usual. We are both quite pleased with the results. Yes, our wedding bodies are long gone with ordering habits like this. What is life if you don’t enjoy yourself? We sure do.
After lunch, with our car still safely parked we walked down to the Falls Incline Railway that we overlooked during lunch. We arrived just after everybody else arrived and there was some kind of issues with people in front. So after a 45-minute wait and not processing in the queue at all, literally not one single person in front of us had managed to buy their tickets in that time. We decided to go for a walk to the parkland at the end of the street.
We saw animals play. While there were some water views nothing great, back to the car to drive along the front street. After watching a show (altercation… maybe not altercation but heated exchange as a minimum between a valet and one of the car owners in the hotel driveway) our car arrives.
We are blocked in for a minute but it gives us time to put the GPS on. It isn’t far but we don’t really understand how to get to the street in front of the falls. Our hangriness (anger from being hungry if you haven’t heard the term hangry before) has now subsided. I offer to drive the car so Triston can have a look at the falls. We switch while we wait for the car in front to move out of the way.
The plan is I will park and meet him as I have been before and wasn’t too fussed. To me, the falls are thunderous but short. We have sat for hours and looked at them while eating lunch. Ok, maybe an hour . 90 minutes tops but it was relaxing and felt like a couple hours rest. I am instantly stuck at lights. Then just stuck in traffic. Every crosswalk is packed. So traffic is really slow-moving. In 10 minutes I move less than 100m.
Finally, the light is about to turn green. THWUMP the passenger door aggressively swings open. Dang it, why didn’t I lock the door. I quickly consider my options, can I drop and roll out of the car. The laptop and drone are in the back. A car-jacking was not on my to-do list so this is either disappointing or overachieving. Sigh. I put my hand on the door getting ready to open and run, look over to the passenger door and they are getting in. Keep calm, this is not America they probably don’t have a gun. Then Triston’s content little bobbly head falls into the seat with the rest of his happy body and he exclaims he is done we can go.
The light is green. I drive forward still in traffic, we come to a stop again. This is when I slap him for scaring the crap out of me. He says he has been trying to call me to say he was on his way back to the car. I was driving so I didn’t pick up the phone. I am usually the passenger so we hadn’t set my phone up for Bluetooth or anything. He saw that I was basically in the same spot so ran to the car. He opened the door as I was about to take off so it swung open a little more aggressively than he planned. It was just him so it was all ok.
We swap drivers again as soon as we can, my heart rate eventually settles and we continue on to Ottawa.
Honeymoon day nine was 29 – 30 July 2017
Originally published 2nd March 2018
Updated 7 November 2019