It took us over 11 hours to cover a distance that, when we had fewer kids and better traffic, we have done in under 7. It took us this long because kids will be kids. Here are some snippets:
- We stopped at the Big Apple in Colborne, Ontario. Actually, our youngest calls it "The Big Red Apple," and I'm inclined to go with his nomenclature. It is what you would imagine: a giant red apple. To add to its kitschy, tourist-trapping potential, they have built a petting zoo, duck pond, games area, and restaurant/pie factory around the apple. So congested is the commercial activity that it's often difficult to see the huge faux-fruit that started it all. Still, the kids had a great time, we snapped tons of pictures (God bless digital cameras, because you just don't care about film!) and I'm sure this will stick in their mind just as the wacky things our parents did when we were young remain to this day in ours.
- The Big Apple is not the same as the Apple Route. On a previous trip, this subtle difference seemed to evade my brain. Our lovely and unplanned tour of apple orchards eventually came to an end when we saw Lake Ontario straight ahead, and a kindly lady gave us directions to get us back on our way.
- Children have to pee at the very moment the minivan passes the point at which you can no longer safely take the exit off the highway. This inevitably kicks off an exploratory journey through the regional highways immediately north and/or south of the main highway. You see a lot of stuff you wouldn't otherwise see, and as long as the little people don't piddle, it's actually a pretty cool experience to get off the superhighway and get a close-up look at the amazing country you so clearly miss when you whizz by it at 120 km/h. Time pales next to the richness of a low sun scattering golden light off a farmer's field perfectly cropped with hay bales at precise intervals. You tend to remember the image longer than the precise time you pulled into the driveway.
- Songs that you really loved when you first heard them - read Shrek and Shrek 2 soundtracks - will invade your nightmares by the time your children have listened to them for the 542nd time. But it makes them happy, so you continue to hit the repeat button, hoping it doesn't wear out from overuse.
- Time matters little when your little people are enjoying the ride. They won't be little forever.