Boy, did I get lost!
My wife and I had a great time in Toronto and Montreal.
At least she did. I spent most of the week either driving or watching her shop. Actually, I had a good time too.
Next time, I will invest in a GPS unit.
I figure, I would have saved about 8 hours of our vacation not being lost if I had a GPS system to guide me. AAA maps are really not very useful anymore. A slight misunderstanding had me thinking my wife wanted me to get direction maps at AAA. Using Google Maps or any of the online maps is much better if you are looking for maps to follow on the highway.
What I do not like about AAA maps.
They do not warn you about which exit to take. They do not show all roads (some pages have fold out maps with details though). They do not stay oriented to north, but always stay vertical for the highway (this can be really annoying). Also, St Catherines (where we stayed near Toronto) was not on the AAA map to Toronto as well as Niagara Falls. I admit I did not ask for a map to St. Catherines, but it is really close. I did notice this before we left and made a Google map and directions of that section of our trip.
The AAA maps were right about the construction zones.
Yep, there was construction in Chicago. Not much you could really do about that anyways, but it was good to know it was coming. Chicago on the way out (we hit it about 7:00pm on a Friday night) was about the worst traffic we had due to construction. We had a few backups during the week on the way to Montreal where the construction was also. All right where AAA marked them.
In all, I got lost 6 times.
The first was somewhere in Indiana or Michigan. I misread a sign and got off I-94 on a tollway. We had to pay the toll twice at the same booth as we turned around at an exit. This was my fault for not reading the map closer. What was really annoying is there was no exit to get back on I-94 in the direction we were going. I am not sure why you can only get off in one direction and not get back on going in the same direction from the same highway.
The second time I got lost was just before the bridge to Canada.
We wanted to get gas before crossing the border. We stopped one exit too late and were unable to get back on the highway before the ramp to the bridge. Even worse, the gas station did not have a rest room open. It took me about 15 minutes to find a ramp going back on I-94 so we could then get another ramp going in the right direction.
The third time I got lost was just after the bridge to Canada.
Our map did not have directions for getting on the main highway to Toronto. It was just not easy to read this part of the map (and the detail section did not help). There were no good road signs pointing to the highways either. I got on the wrong highway. It was a good hour before the road got smaller and the number of stoplights made it clear we made mistake. We went all the way back to the border and still could not find directions to the highway we needed (401 East). We finally found a sign leading from the tunnel into Canada. We had a similar experience coming back to the USA through the tunnel. I either missed the sign or there was none telling the way to I-94 from the tunnel. Next time, tunnel to Canada, bridge to USA.
The other time I was lost was on one of our day trips to one of the Chinatowns in Toronto.
We could not remember the right exit to get off and got off a few exits early to get to the Pacific Mall. We did find it eventually, it just took a lot longer. The way back was where I really got lost. I got 401 East and West mixed up in my head (they all look like North and South on my AAA maps) and it was overcast so I did not have the sun to go by and I took 401 West. We were a good way towards Montreal (I recognized a service center we had stopped at on the way back from Montreal) before I had a clue we were going in the wrong direction. I was wondering why there was no sign for Hamilton or Niagara.
Finally, as far as I can tell there is not sign for 401 East from Niagara on QEW.
I did not miss this by much, but it did add a bit of time to leaving. This was the part I had Google Map directions for the trip coming, I did not think I was going to have a problem leaving.
I can see why GPS is a great time saver.
Had this been a business trip, it would have been even more important. I also wasted a lot of gas, which was $1.06 a liter most of the time in Canada. I’m moving a GPS unit to the top of my list of things to buy for myself.
We had a great time in Canada.
Ontario is very beautiful and we are already looking forward to going back sometime and spending more time in Montreal.
I’ll be making some more (hopefully shorter) posts about the trip. I hope to make them a bit more on topic with this blog look at some business aspects I thought about during the trip. Especially in Chinatown.