Wednesday, October 21, 2009

An impromptu day off...

So yesterday was a pretty good deal. I had decided to finally cash in that paid day off I had been awarded some time back. Now admittedly, it was not all sunshine and wonderful as they had previously forecast, but I wasn't going to let that dampen our enthusiasm. Besides, when have they ever been known to be even remotely near the target?

So my honey and I set off at around 0900hrs, to first take the van in for an oil change. Easy-peasy, right? We stop into Crappy Tire and the dude there tells us it'll be about 3 to 4 hours before they can look at the van. We look at each other... screw that! Off we go to Mister Lube on Saint Joseph. There, we drive right into a vacant bay and they set to work on her. The van has a little over 72,000kms on her (it's a 2004 model, believe it or not...) and has never had the tranny fluid changed out yet. They ask my better half if she wants to get it done while we're there. She looks at me for some guidance. We talk about the two Dodge vans she had previously purchased, whose trannies had literally exploded on us. We get the tranny fluid changed out.

$154.00 and some 40 minutes later, we are trundling out with all fluids topped up, oil and tranny fluid replaced and the van running noiselessly. Love it. Money spent on preventative maintenance for your vehicle, no matter what type, is ALWAYS money well spent. Now we are feeling like the world is our oyster. What to do with the rest of the day? Hmmm... a road trip sounds like the perfect answer. She wants to investigate a shoe store in Massena, NY for a pair of slippers before her trip to Oz at the end of the month and suggests that from there we might venture out to Alex Bay. Cool... We'll swing by home, pick up our passports and off we'll go.

And so we did. Loaded up with all we needed, we struck out first of all for Cornwall via the 417. Before long we were taking the exit for the 138, which would lead us South to the water. I was a little rueful that we were not riding, as the temperature was absolutely balmy, but then again you couldn't acount for the weather stateside and whether or not it might bring rain a little later on. So I kept my bottom lip in and concentrated on enjoying the day. As we neared Cornwall, we both spied a little black vole on the shoulder of the road. It was running furiously towards the roadway, only to do an abrupt 180 and scamper off in the opposite direction, after a car passed a hair's breadth from it's wee head. Both my wife and I laughed at this comical performance.

This was my first time going through the new US Customs inspection point. There were 3 lines opened and things were moving swiftly along. My wife observed a sign which cautioned motorists that their actions and conversations were being recorded on video. "Did you read that?", she said. "Is that true?" "Absolutely", I replied, "It really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone". As our turn arrived, the customs agent asked us where we were heading, as she examined our passports. We advised her we would be stopping in Massena then heading out to Alex Bay. She handed us back our passports and bade us a pleasant trip. "Wow... that was pretty simple", my wife said. 'Sweetheart", I replied, "after all the times we've been across here, there ain't nothin' they don't know about us, or that hasn't been verified at least 3 times. Soon as our license plate shows up in their scanner, they got everything on us."

I had brought my riding jacket along, as I had thoughts of perhaps finding a new riding vest. I'm currently looking for a home for my recently received Veterans - UN/NATO - Canada crest... We stopped in at the St.Lawrence Centre Mall in Massena. There we visited her local haunts such as T.J.Max (which contains incredible bargains and a great selection of winter wear for both women and their menfolk, by the way...), The Shoe Store and J.C.Penney's. While she busied herself in the shoe store looking at various models of slippers, I wandered over to their men's section, where I had previously found a great pair of Sperry 'Topsiders' shoes. These are particularily big with the "boating set" and are a well-made, comfortable and waterproof type of boating shoe. They were fairly expensive here at home ($70.-$80.), but down there I picked up at pair for a mere $34.00.

I looked at many pairs of very well priced , quality sets of footwear (notably the winter stuff), when my attention was caught by a pair of black, industrial-looking boots. Upon further inspection, the ol' Bar and Shield logo (as in Hurgle - Durgleson) was impossible to miss. The boots themselves closed with double zippers at the front, were very ruggedly built, were quite a bit heavier than my present set of boots and had style to spare. Boots of this quality back home would cost me $200.00 easily. The price tag on the box indicated $99.00 US. I was very interested, even though they carried the 'common-as-dog-dirt' Harley logo. "Well... with my riding pants over them, no one'll see the logo", I reasoned to myself. I decided to schmooze around a bit more before finally deciding one way or the other.

My better half was having no luck in the slipper department, so I dragged her over to where the boots were, just to get a second opinion. She was duly impressed by them and asked if I had made up my mind on them yet. I replied that I hadn't, but that it was a kick-ass price for them at any rate. We decided to carry on to T.J.Max's from that point. Again I occupied myself doing some browsing of my own and making mental notes of items I just might return for. We left there finally after about a half-hour and began making our way back to the end of the mall we had entered by (J.C.Penney's). As we passed the shoe store, my wife told me she had to make a pit stop in the heads and said she'd meet me at the bench in front of the store.

I plunked myself down for a spell and thought about them boots. They sure were nice and that price? You couldn't beat it with a stick. I saw my Honey walking back in my direction and she was smiling. "You're still thinking about those boots, aren't you?", she asked me. "Tell you the truth", I answered, "I kinda am". "That is a really, really good price on them", she volunteered. "If not this year, you might need 'em next year", she teased. "Oh Hell okay... I'm gonna get them", I told her. "Good", she said, "I'll just be right next door here when you're done". And off she went as I made a beeline for the aisle which held the boots. The cute little blonde employee intercepted me at the door, looking hopeful for a sale. "I'll take 'em", I told her. "Great!!", she said and hurried off to get the only remaining set of size 11s left in the store.

I met up with my better half and we left through J.C.Penney's where on the way out, she found the perfect pair of slippers. Just what she had been looking for! You have to love it when a plan comes together. From Massena we proceded to Alexandria Bay. It was a nice, relaxing drive, during which we saw a herd of penned elk. We stopped off in Alex Bay and went to stroll along their Main Street, only to discover that the shops are open only on the weekends. It was our first time there on a week day and we had been unaware of this up until now. That pretty much cut short our visit there and my wife suggested since we were here, we might just as well carry on to Watertown. I agreed and we packed up and headed out along I-81 to Watertown.

As we cruised along Route 12 out of Alex Bay, we spotted 2 deer grazing on someone's front lawn, only feet from the roadway. This put us on alert and as we continued along the wonderfully divided highway that the I-81 is, we spotted several more deer along the edge of the left-hand bank. We stopped off by a field, where are situated 3 large metal statues of crows. My wife wanted to capture this sight on film, as we had often passed by there and admired this whimsical piece of artwork. So she clambered out and took a few pics from various vantage points, before hopping back in. We continued on without incident. I sent out thoughts of positive energy, as we passed the sign for the turnoff to Fort Drum, home of the US Army's 10th Mountain Division. Their unit has served with great distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan, sustaining many KIAs. The tale of S/Sgt. Jared Monti is but one instance of the bravery and sacrifice exhibited by this particular unit.

We arrived in Watertown as the sun was fading from the sky. We stopped first to have some supper at the local Red Lobster. There was no wait for a table and we were happy to sit and focus on something else besides 'deer' or 'eyeshine'. I ordered the sirloin and shrimp, while my better half opted for crabcakes on a bed of rice pilaf. And of course, there were those biscuits... I have to say I have never had them hotter or fresher, than what we were served that evening. We were good kids, stopping ourselves at just one order of them. That way we actually managed to save room for dessert, in which we decided to indulge. My steak was done to perfection and the shrimp were more than generous in size. For dessert, both of us had the apple crumble, served à la mode. Yummm!!

After waddling out, we stopped first to investigate Kohl's and then the local Target store, before calling a halt to our gallivanting and heading back home. We were on high alert for deer on the way back, but all for naught. We saw not hide nor hair of them the entire remainder of the trip. We drove the 1,000 Island Parkway all by ourselves and it was brilliant. Cutting off at Brockville, we found gas selling for $0.824 a litre and decided to fill up the tank, as in town they were selling it for $0.925. Ten cents cheaper and they were still making a profit on it. Makes you wonder...

On the way home, we stopped momentarily at Tim's in Manotick, where we exchanged drivers for the rest of the trip. We pulled into the driveway at 2245hrs. A full day by any standards and one that had provided me with a great new pair of riding boots, but still no riding vest for my new patch. Ah well... I'll have all winter to work on that one.

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