No tolls? No problem!

When someone you have watched grow up decides to get married, and his mother is someone you really like and respect, you go to the wedding. You want to go to the wedding. Even if it is in another country. Preferably a country that is attached to the country you live in now. That country would be our neighbors to the north. Canada. Two years ago, Son #4, who really is Son #1’s good friend, got married in this same country, and we were all in.

We hopped in the car, drove all day, celebrated a beautiful wedding, hopped back in the car (after a few hours of sleep), and drove back. We couldn’t believe how easy it was — and no tolls! A miracle!

And then, a few weeks later, Husband #1 gets a letter in the mail saying that he illegally drove on some toll road without the proper E-ZPass needed to pay the tolls. The bill and fine were not pretty. And since we always knew that one day we would be back in O! Canada, Husband #1 bit the bullet and paid the fine. This brings us to the current wedding we were going to attend. We were not going to be victim to the tricky Canadian toll system again. Nope, not us. So Husband #1 pressed the “No Toll” option on Waze, and the adventure began.

Well, whoever wrote the song “The Long and Winding Road” definitely took the back roads to Toronto. Because saving $100 in tolls is totally worth driving 30 miles an hour for 300 miles. Totally worth it. Apparently this is the route you take when you want to sneak people over the border. I am pretty sure that the minivan in front of us, the one that was going 26 miles an hour in the 30-mile-an-hour zone, was jam packed with cleaning ladies going to work for some nice people in Canada, and no one wanted to draw any suspicion. As we slowly crept our way through Warsaw…no, not Warsaw, Poland (though we probably could have gotten there faster) Warsaw, New York…and then through Moscow — you guessed it, not Moscow, Russia, but Moscow, New York — I turned to Husband #1 and said, “Really? We are really driving hours out of our way just to avoid a toll??”

My husband of 23 years looked at me and said, “If I was going to pay almost $100 in tolls, I would have just flown there!”

Yes, folks, because a flight to Toronto only costs $100.

Delightful bickering/bantering aside, it was a lovely journey. We were kept company by Son #1, who basically slept the whole ride, and his friend who is our “other” Son #4 (not the married one. Sorry if this gets confusing). Son #4 kept us entertained and tried to defuse the whole “why are we driving the cheap way to Canada” discussion. We hadn’t been on a road trip in a while, so I got to stare out the window looking for cows and horses and I was not disappointed. Flashbacks to driving though Indiana without stopping to go to the bathroom because we had to get to batting practice in some baseball stadium entered my mind.

I turned to the back seat to see my three little boys playing their game boys or psps (not to be confused with pcp, which they have never played with). Sharing their snacks and their baseball cards. Discussing their plans for how they were going to meet the players…Then I realized that my boys are now 21, 20, and 18 and we were back to driving to the wedding of one of their friends.

Even if we were going the very long way, it is hard to fathom where all of that time has gone. And another summer is gone. And my baby is going to be a senior in high school.

Perhaps that is why it is best to always stay present. You don’t want to realize how much time has passed, or how much time there is left. So, for now I will continue to make fun of Husband #1 shuffling off to Buffalo the slowest way possible, enjoy the ride that we are on, and celebrate my friend’s wedding with a full heart. It’s the very best we can do….

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year, filled with only good things…

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck would like to thank the couple who accompanied them on the ride back, which was even longer, but felt shorter because of the delightful conversation.

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