Oct 25

America – On the road for 30 days (Part III)





The weekend in Kenosha with all the EVE Online boys has come to an end. It was one heck of a weekend away in a massive house overlooking Lake Michigan, complete with hot tub and pool table. We cooked food, played games, mixed and mingled with a bunch of guys R has known for years but have only just met for the first time right here on this holiday … the power of the video gaming community, connecting people. After that single weekend together it has cemented the relationship from simple online gaming friends to actual personal friends in real life. This trip was amazing but now it’s time to move on.

We drove to Chicago O’Hare airport to drop off Dom and Viarr after tucking in to a wonderful deep-dish pizza lunch at Giordano’s – 





We were to spend only one night in Troy due to logistical issues ~ R had barely slept the night before, or the night before that for that matter because he and the boys were up until stupid o’clock playing board games until 5 a.m. Seriously?? A board game can’t have been that interesting, could it? Anyway, he was wrecked today and he felt he wasn’t able to complete the entire drive up to Troy in one go ~ we needed to stop overnight at a motel for safety reasons, obviously. I was kinda bummed coz I really wanted to spend more time with my cousin but oh-well. I have been enjoying our random roadside motel stays anyway so I was not too opposed to the idea and this hotel was no different. We have been lucky actually, no disaster hotel stays since we left New York. We have been staying at various Quality Inns, Comfort Inns and Super 8’s. Now, I cannot remember where this one was, possibly a Comfort Inn, and it was pretty darn NICE!

Omg, I just literally found the receipt of this very hotel I was looking for in a pile of junk papers I had been meaning to throw out. I can confidently say this was the Comfort Suites – 1825 Meadowbrook, I-94, Exit 29, Benton Harbor, MI 49022, United States. Was very happy with our stay here and I slept like a baby.





Eventually, we made it to Troy bringing a couple of fluffy friends with us. My cousin Fiona has a little girl and a Canadian friend of R’s has a new baby … didn’t want to turn up empty handed. It’s always for the kiddies. These two were very good passengers. And little Mia loved her new toy.





We did not stay over at Fiona’s as initially planned because it seemed like too much effort on her part to prepare the spare room for us for only a single night, so we checked in at the nearby Red Roof Inn Detroit – 2350 Rochester Ct, Troy, MI 48083, USA. Comfy and cheap. We all went out to dinner as a family to a nearby restaurant then R went directly to the hotel to sleep while I went home with Fiona and her Mum to chill and to catch up for a bit. It was nice but too short a time.





The following day we were on the road again – this time crossing an international border, passports at the ready – Canada, here we come!!

The weather had definitely cooled significantly since we were last this far north. It was now the end of September and we were hopeful that the leaves have had a chance to turn colour while we were busy driving about the southern states.

Our first stop was to meet Cichlid – gamer friend hence, gamer name. As far as I know there are only three Canadian guys who play EVE with Team Pizza and this guy lives in Ontario. Manila also lives in Ontario. The last guy lives in the middle of nowhere in Saskatchewan … probably why no one has ever met him.

The drive seemed unremarkable at first but as we neared the border crossing signs started showing up asking drivers to pick a lane because the road splits in two: the left lands you in Canada while the right sends you back to Detroit. We found ourselves following a long trail of goods vehicles all heading to Canada and soon the traffic piled up. Border checks were smooth and easy and just like that we were on Canadian soil. Yaaaaaaaaay! I thought it was going to be expensive but the bridge crossing was pretty reasonable, under USD 5.00 per vehicle at Blue Water Bridge crossing. There are a total of 21 border crossings in and out of Canada with varying toll rates. For more information you can just check the Toll Bridge Chart Along the U.S – Canada Border chart.





The plan was to drive over to Cichlid’s in Stratford then meet Manila at a restaurant he’d picked out for dinner.

We met up at Ennio’s Pasta House – 655 Fairway Rd S, Kitchener, ON N2C 1X4, Canada. This place is a family run trattoria and pizza place serving up traditional Italian fare since 1994. This place came highly recommended by Manila and it definitely did not disappoint. From the moment you walked in you can literally smell the good food with herbs and garlic wafting thru the air. It had a good family vibe, it was busy but not unpleasant. Service was friendly and warm, the menu looked good. There always comes a time where one doubts just how good can one plate of pasta really be. Me, for starters, rarely orders pasta dishes when I am out at a restaurant because often times they are simply ‘meh’ … and I have now blown $15 on a plate of food I could have made myself at home. Ennio’s is not that place.

The starters we ordered to share and they were very very good, which set the stage for things to come. We ordered the fried calamari, arrancini and the meatballs in tomato sauce. Excellent stuff. The meatball sauce was just out of this world. When the mains arrived they were just as good … but better. The flavours were simply outstanding … I guess this is what you’d call pasta done right. We ate very well that night. It was a refreshing change to our diet of supermarket sandwiches while out on the road and lots of meat and steaks for dinner. This was simple food cooked to perfection.





Now, after dinner a new “incident” took place, this time involving our accommodation. We dropped Manila back at his place and mentioned that we had not yet booked any accommodation. We initially thought of driving a bit further out of Kitchener but now R seemed to have other thoughts and asked Manila if he had any recommendations for places that were not overly priced … nothing too fancy. He suggested we stay at the Mayflower Motel – which was not too far away. It would be an easy drive and we wouldn’t have to get on the motorway. So we took his advice and headed off in the direction of the Mayflower – R was tired anyway and did not fancy driving for much longer.

When we got there we soon realized this place was probably a mistake. It looked run down and just like the motels I feared we would wind up in like the movies. The price was about $70 regardless, so it was not as tho it was a cheap option. We parked our SUV in the car space directly in front of our room door and unloaded EVERYTHING should the car get broken into during the night. We got into the room and discovered we could not properly lock the front door because the locks had been kicked in several times already and now there was only a single flimsy latch that held it shut. Oh dear God. Usually I am the first to over react and get all stressed over this situation but R was a bit on edge too. He felt so insecure at this place that he slept fully dressed (just in case we needed to make a run for it. Lol).

Next to the dresser we noticed a curtain hanging on the wall, which we thought was rather odd as there was no window there. R pulled aside the curtain to reveal a thin ply wood sheet covering a doorway that leads to the room next door. Great … so now there is access to our room without having to break the flimsy latch on the front door at all now. So not only did we sleep with all our clothes on, we slept with the lamps on too.





Needless to say, neither of us slept very well. Everytime we heard noises outside the door R was sure someone was attempting to break into our car and went to check at the window. Me, I kept an eye on that wooden plank, being all paranoid that it could be opened from the other side and that we were intentionally placed in this very room for sinister reasons. Were we going to get robbed in our sleep???

The next morning we could not have gotten out of there quicker. No breakfast, nothing. We were just gone!

Once on the road we had reason to cheer up tho … today was the day we were going to Niagara Falls, another big highlight on our trip. Never thought I would see this place, and now here we are … Niagara Falls is the main reason we are even in Canada.





But first we needed to stop and fill our bellies. The day was cold-ish and a bit gloomy with very little sunshine so when we passed a Vietnamese restaurant that sold traditional beef noodle soup we just had to go in. We hadn’t had Asian food since we arrived in America, now that’s a long time for me to go without eating rice or noodles. It seemed like a very good time to top up on some of that authentic Asian homecooking, so we ordered shrimp summer rolls and two large bowls of Phở noodles. Omg, they tasted so good, they really hit the spot for us … we felt so warmed and nourished from within. Ahhh … good ‘ol beef broth with simple herbs and plenty of braised beef slices.





After lunch it was onward to Niagara Falls and we could not wait to get there already. Once you near the town of Niagara Falls things get a bit more chaotic … tons of cars and tour buses everywhere and parking is a nightmare. We managed to find one lucky spot not far from the falls but it cost a bomb – worth it tho.

From the main road into the town you can already see the spray of the falls rising high above all the buildings and I was screaming in excitement. Once we parked it was just a short walk to the falls and omg, that first glimpse sent shivers right through me. I just stood there staring in silent amazement at just how massive the falls were and the force of all that water tumbling over the edge sounded like a thundering roar. I was beside myself with excitement, I forgot to pick up the camera for a second. When I finally came to my senses I ran to the railing and leaned over – oh my gosh, it was everything I wanted it to be and more! I no longer cared that it was a rainy, overcast day, I didn’t care the parking fees were criminally high … I was just so happy to be there.





In the water below boats were busy ferrying tourists to the falls – one was red and the other blue – I think reds are the boats from the Canadian side and Blue from America. We did not take a trip aboard one of these boats ourselves, we were just happy to be there taking pictures and walking along the pavement, getting soaked by the spray nonetheless. Thank goodness we wore layers of clothing because the wetter we got, the colder we got. If you do want to take the Maid of the Mist boat ride, tickets are very reasonably priced at $20 per adult.

After a considerable time outdoors we headed in to the visitor center to warm up and look at all the tacky souvenirs that I love so much. Mom wanted a new Canadian tea towel and I perused the postcard rack – they always have such gorgeous photos of the local wildlife and scenery.





After a full day out at the falls and getting soaked thru the bone we headed back to the car and drove in search for the evenings accommodation. If I am not mistaken we stayed at Monte Carlo Inn Airport Suites –  7035 Edwards Blvd, Mississauga, ON L5T 2H8, Canada near Pearson’s International Airport. When we got there we were too tired to go back out in search of dinner so we simply ordered room service. I ordered a salad, R ordered the pasta bolognese and between us we ordered POUTINE to share. Haha. What else? We were honestly very very worn out and tired this night … I even woke up the next morning and fixed me a cup of coffee (something I rarely do in hotels) and I legit forgot to unwrap the cup first.





We didn’t grab breakfast, we just wanted to sleep in as much as we could. We just packed up the car and drove off towards Montreal, Quebec, taking the scenic route along lake Ontario. The wonderful thing was there were signs the trees were definitely starting to turn colour and the drive along the lake was pretty enjoyable albeit there was still no sunshine. Out of nowhere we saw a giant APPLE structure and a billboard advertising farm fresh produce + petting zoo, mini golf and train rides for kids. We love local markets and farms that sell local produce. We parked and took a look around to see if anything was worth buying. The Big Apple – 





This place did everything apparently. They baked fruit pies, cookies, made their own chocolates, smoked their own meats … the works. When we entered all we would smell were the pies baking. Heavenly! And you can see directly into the kitchen via the big glass windows. So we sat down to indulge in a late morning snack of apple pie and a couple beverages. This should tide us over until we could find a place for a proper lunch. Good stopover this, but since we were road tripping I couldn’t buy anything coz then I would have to carry all of them back in my suitcase anyway. Bag was heavy enough.





Two and a half hours later hunger set in so we pulled into Kingston and simply drove about looking for a suitable place to eat at. Funnily enough we settled on Asian again – Sima Sushi – 

The place was not big but food was very good. I enjoyed pretty much everything we ordered and everything tasted authentic. The sushi was made to order, the rice was not clagy and it came at a nice temperature. I also noticed they served takoyaki (octopus balls), something I have not had in YEARS. I think the last time I ate takoyaki I was still living in Singapore.The pork gyozas were so good, I think they were R’s favourite dish of the day.





By the time we left Kingston we were losing daylight rapidly and we still had to make it to Montreal for the night. The city was a mad house since we arrived smack bang in the middle of rush hour. Also, there was no available room in any hotel we checked … omg! How?! The Marriott had one last room and they wanted C$ 280 for the night. Well, at least we got to see the city a lot as we drove round and round looking for a hotel. We finally found a boutique hotel who charged exorbitant amounts of money but at that point we were done negotiating. We took it coz all we wanted to do was dump the bags and take a break.

Later that evening we walked about the city to take in the vibe and find food. And we had Shanghai dumplings and black fungus salad in vinegar. So many Chinese restaurants all over the place, we could not help but want to visit them all … oooh hand-pulled noodles in beef broth!





Montreal was just a stopover for us … literally stayed the night to check it out. Seemed like just another big busy city for me but to be fair we did not allocate any time to really explore this city. We already had reservations booked at an Airbnb rental in Magog where we would spend a total of 5 full days doing nothing in particular. We were getting kind of tired from all the driving and mini stopovers… it was time to unwind and relax. Booked a condo from the 1st Oct – 6th Oct and it was beautiful … next to lake Magog.





The township of Magog was first settled by colonials in about 1776, but the area has ancient origins linked to a much older tribes people called the Abenaki. It has been theorized that the name Magog originated from the ancient language of these people who named the area after the lake. They called the lake “mamhlawbagak” which means large body of water. Today the lake and regional council is called Memphremagog.

It is a quaint little resort town by the water, dominated by views of the very imposing Mount Orford. You can go up there during the winter months and ski (there is a ski resort up there). The mountain sits within a national park surrounded by natural beauty and is very easy to get to from the town of Magog. So on days where we didn’t have anything to do we would either go out to the town and browse their little shops and cafes or drive about the countryside admiring the trees and the forests. Canada is so very pretty in autumn and now that we were in October the trees were really on full display of colour.

Most of the time we chilled out at our rented house, we cooked at home and kept ourselves occupied with social media or in R’s case, online gaming. I was going thru all the hundreds and thousands of photos I had taken on the trip and organized them into folders on my laptop. In the mornings we would head out to buy fresh bread and take walks by the lake or do short drives. It was literally the end of our holiday and our money reserves were running low … so we conserved as best we could.





Everywhere we went Mother Nature dazzled us with an array of colour I never thought possible. The reds, golds and ambers made the forests look like they were on fire and for each day longer that we spent in Canada the redder they got. Entire mountains were carpet bombed in a wash of colour that was so saturated my photos fail to do it any justice. I felt truly blessed to have had the opportunity to witness this process of nature with my own eyes. One feels so small and insignificant when faced with such beauty and magnificence … it’s a humbling experience that only nature can induce.

The fun did not stop there, I can assure you. After the week spent in Magog, we decided to leave a day early so we didn’t have to rush back to New York. We were so enthralled with all this natural beauty we wanted to make sure we took our time on the drive home.





We crossed back over into the United States at Stanstead border crossing … did some last minute shopping for all things Canadian (yes, I did) at the gift shop. Everything in there is either jerky, salmon or maple syrup, so I picked up a couple boxes of maple syrup cookies and some smoked salmon. Very Canadian.

From there we made our way down into beautiful Vermont and the colours of nature continued to envelope us … leaf season had finally arrived and we beat the hoards of tourists that would otherwise be cramming all the roads during this time because we got here right when leaf season started. All this driving about sure makes the driver hungry apparently so we did not get far from the border when he pulled into a steakhouse (what else?). This place looked quirky and odd but they were open for business and there was no stopping R from getting his meat. We found ourselves at the Derby Cow Palace – 3111 US-5, Derby, VT 05829, USA, where the entrance to the restaurant is an arch of antlers and the very first thing you see right after you enter the foyer is a stuffed buck.




Inside the restaurant there were various other stuffed animals and animal heads mounts on the walls. There were antler chandeliers and various other quirky animal things decorating the place. This was definitely wild game country … and it smelled like it too.

We grabbed seats in the dining area near the bar – it was pretty empty when we arrived. We looked at the menu and there were some pretty decent stuff on there. I ordered the bufflo burger and R had to have the elk sirloin … good choices both. They were both cooked to perfection as well, pink in the middle and the sirloin was so tender. But the highlight has to be the stuffed animals … this place is so wacky.





Rest of the day we continued driving, weaving in and out between Vermont and New Hampshire. Eventually we decided to hit up one last national park for the hell of it. It was a toss up between Green Mountain and Finger Lakes vs White Mountain National Forest to see Mt Washington. We went for the latter and the drive through the park was pretty spectacular but nothing prepared us for when we first laid eyes on Mt Washington … it was like WOOOOOOW!!

We arrived at the lookout point just in the nick of time … like 4 mins of daylight left and the sun was sinking fast. R was busy trying to park the car properly while I was ready to just open to door and jump for it. Eventually he just let me out and I ran with camera in had to snap the few shots of the mountain that I could. The summit peaked out from cloud cover and the setting sun cast an amber glow over the valley and the Omni Mt Washington Hotel and Resort in the foreground. It was heaven.





So that’s is folks, the last night on our road trip has come to a close. For dinner we pulled into a New Hampshire resort town not far from where this picture was taken and settled in for dinner at Gordi’s Fish and Steak House – 260 Main St, Lincoln, NH 03251, USA. Place looked very nice and we had to wait a while for our table to be ready but the lounge and bar area was very comfortable. The place was buzzing with business … which I took to be a good omen, food must be good.

I ordered the clam chowder … needs, must, seeing as we were after all in New England. One more tick off my food list. In general, I am not a fan of clams, oysters and other types of mollusk … but I made this an exception. It wasn’t so bad since the clams were cooked into the soup. In fact, the soup was fantastic and I could not get enough of it. It was a decent sized bowl and it cost next to nothing … and it arrived with the obligatory oyster crackers. And no, it is not made with oysters. They are just called that because they look like litter oyster nuggets. The soup was filling tho so by the time my main arrived I was not very hungry anymore.

R splurged and pigged out on prime rib that also came with a 1-pound lobster. I have never seen him happier even tho that one dinner cost him $40. I could not eat another bite of my dinner and I just sat there watching him polish off every last morsel of his beef and lobster dinner. He reported that the lobster was cooked to perfection and he would have another one if he only had the space in his ever growing belly for it. Meanwhile, I simply picked at all the veggies on his plate that he was never going to eat anyway.





That was certainly a very good way to end a 4,500 mile round trip around 14 US states + Canada. With bellies full and spirits high we drove thru the night in search of our evenings accommodation somewhere in Connecticut. I insisted we spend our last night in a Comfort Suites hotel because of all the places we have stayed at I liked that one the best … so the boyfriend being who he adorably is, conceded and found me my Comfort Inn Suites. One final night out on the road and just like that our 30-days in America was coming to an end.





The next day we drove directly to my friend’s apartment back in Edge Water, NJ. But before that could even happen R made one last detour and actually drove into Manhattan and guess where we ended up?

Katz Deli – 205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002, USA. 

I was like what the hell are you thinking, driving thru Manhattan in the middle of rush hour afternoon traffic?? He said he wanted one last rendezvous with a brisket sandwich. He literally did a drive-by … pulled up in front of Katz, shoved me out with a wad of cash and took off round the block. Katz was full as usual and I waited 40 mins to finally get to the front of the line.





Later that night we had one last dinner with our wonderful hosts and friends, Bill and Sam Keithler at a local Italian restaurant in Edge Water – Robertos II Authentic Italian Cuisine – 936 River Rd, Edgewater, NJ 07020, USA. Beautiful ambiance, wonderful service and delicious Italian food. Would recommend this place to anyone looking for a good place to have a quiet meal with good quality food.

After dinner we drove to JFK airport to pick up Sid who is Sam’s brother and my buddy whom I have known since I lived in Singapore. I haven’t seen him since we were last living in Melbourne, Australia, about 6 – 7 years ago. It was good seeing him again. I literally got to see Sid for that one night and one day after … then R and I were off to the airport again feeling like it was only yesterday we were just arriving in New York. This has certainly been one hell of a trip, we wish we could do more, see more and experience more of America but we will just have to be patient and do it in sections. It was one of the longest vacations we have ever had and it was worth every minute … and hey, R and I didn’t kill each other while spending a month on the road together day in and day out.

America has been great and we look forward to our next visit. I wonder what sort of a road trip we will embark on in the future?
Only one way to find out.



~ The End ~



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