17 August 1974

HoneymOOners : Our FIRST Road Trip

FORTY-ONE Years Ago ... 

While watching some cooking competitions on TV last evening, we were reminded of how young and stupid we once were. Of course, the jury is out on whether we are still stupid or not, but we are definitely no longer young. One of the contestants on the show was asked what they would do if they won the $10,000 prize and their response was "take my new wife on a honeymoon". Crusty & I looked at each other and laughed. Wouldn't that have been nice to have $10,000 for a Honeymoon! We were immediately reminded of our so-called honeymoon and our very first road trip, taken almost 41 years ago.

A month before our wedding, Crusty madly juggled his time between working as a Canoe Ranger in the bush in Algonquin Provincial Park, attending 'marriage preparation courses' (I didn't have to since I wasn't Catholic - I guess only Catholic husbands have to be prepared) and doing the road test to obtain his drivers license.  Yes - neither of us were licensed to drive, why would we bother, we lived in the city and couldn't afford a car, so it never seemed to be a priority.  Everything worked out, we had our wedding (at my parents cottage - complete with big campfire, fiddles, guitars and banjos).  

We even rented an "almost new" 1972-3 Chevy Vega for our honeymoon.  What more could we want to start off our new life.  

A very "rare" Crusty photo - sans beard.

A glimpse into our future, perhaps? ... it seems Crusty kept meticulous records of our travels even back then (a blogger well before his time and the Internet)! As I dusted off our journal, I chuckled and remembered more of that first big road trip. 

We spent the first night in our Ottawa apartment, packed up a bag (literally a bag since we didn't own and couldn't afford a 'real' suitcase), threw it in our rented Vega and hit the road. First stop, Algonquin Park (why not, Crusty has only spent the last four summers there working as a canoe ranger).  We found a lovely cabin to rent at Silver Birch Housekeeping Cottages on Lake St. Peter (believe it or not they are still in business).  There were two options to rent - with/without linens. Of course, since we were both young and stupid, it never occurred to us to bring linens.  The cost for linens was an extra $2 a night, so we opted for 'no linens' so that we could save the $2.  I have no idea what we thought we would do for sheets, blankets, towels - but hey, $2 is $2. Somehow later in the afternoon, the owner discovered that we were on 'night 2' of our honeymoon and threw in the linens for nothing. Thank you so much!  All of that for a grand total of $12.84 a night! We celebrated by going to the Oasis Tavern in Bancroft for dinner (cocktails, steak dinner, liqueurs) followed by a live band - $13.75.  Hmmm.... could that be our rented Vega parked in front.

After hanging around familiar territory for a few days, we decide to risk it all and head to the "HONEYMOON CAPITAL" - where else but Niagara Falls.  Driving through Algonquin Park early the next morning, we test the Vega's brake system by almost hitting a black bear. Whew, escaped unharmed.  OOPS - oil light flashing.  What does that mean (remember we are new/non drivers, non car owners and young and stupid)?  We coast into a gas station, guess what it means - You Have NO oil!  Go figure!  We later found out that the Vega was notorious for burning oil. We had a friend back then who owned one and always carried a case (yep, a case) of oil in the trunk.  Every 150-200 km, he would stop and throw in a quart (Canada wasn't metric back then).  Bob G - smile if you're reading this!

OK - oil topped up, some extra in the trunk, we are good to go.  We take the scenic route to Niagara Falls (following Lake Ontario and avoiding the terrifying Highway 401).  We eventually land at the Capri Motor Inn in Niagara Falls, Ontario (Crusty's journal notes that it is the cheapest so far at $11).  We head out to dinner and celebrate by ordering some wine (how daring), Crusty had steak and I ordered shrimp.  BIG MISTAKE!!!  I awaken with horrible stomach pains, I spent the entire night in the bathroom. I was so ill that even the next day we didn't go to see the falls (and wouldn't until nearly 20 years later). 

On our way back home, we stopped to see Crusty's parents.  After greetings, hugs etc, Crusty's Dad says "how long have you been driving with those tires"?  Of course we have a 'stupid' look on our faces (remember the 'oil light thing') - duh, what do you mean?  Well, it seems that you are actually supposed to check tire pressure (which of course we didn't).  All four tires were 'almost' flat!  Go figure!

Were we ever really that young and stupid!  Were you?  Suffice it to say, we have been fortunate to have had many road trips since, and hope to have many, many more.  Safe journeys everyone. 

                                                                                              Wry ... remembering

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TEAM: LOAF, Crumby, Wry & Crusty