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Friday, July 15, 2005

Travel Summary: Ohio, Michigan, Ontario

Lest there be any doubt, I claim no expertise in all of the areas listed in the title. All I can write about is my own experience.

My wife and I travelled to this area, and within it, for a few days in late June and early July. (We have done this several times previously) The previous post indicates the reasons. We are grateful to God for safety, and enjoyed our travel. Near Knoxville, TN, a pickup truck lost a clothes dryer in the freeway. A larger truck swerved to avoid hitting it, and came into our lane. I was able to avoid a collision. I don't know if everyone suddenly confronted with that clothes dryer in the road was also able to. I hope so.

Four generations
This is me, my mother, holding our grandson, and his mother, taken in my mother's house in Michigan. I don't recall what he was looking at.

My only other post on travel was on a much more limited scale.

Ontario is large
A word about Ontario. Probably most of my few readers are US citizens, and from the South, and have little experience with this Canadian Province. Ontario is large. It is adjacent to much of New York State, and continues along, and above, the US border all the way West to Minnesota. Its area is not as great as that of Alaska, but it is roughly ten times as large as Ohio, for example. Ontario borders on all of the Great Lakes except Lake Michigan. Toronto, the largest Canadian city, and Ottawa, the Canadian capital, are in Ontario. It's big, and has a lot of variety.

Travelling to Canada
US residents travelling to Canada should take birth certificates or passports (within a year or so, passports may be required--they aren't now) for re-entry into the US. US customs apparently looks at documentation for all persons entering the country. Canadian customs asks questions, but, in our experience, doesn't usually require documentation. Generally, transportation of alcoholic beverages, firearms, and live plants across the border are restricted, and you may be asked about these and other items in your possession when you cross, in either direction, or about what you have purchased. Under some circumstances, you can get a refund on tax on purchases in Canada when crossing back into the US.

It's probably a good idea to have your auto insurance company give you documentation of coverage for Canada before driving there. Ours, at least, will do so, free. I don't know what happens if you need to see a doctor in Canada.

Flatness
Much of Ohio and Michigan, and the area of Toronto adjacent to the lower part of Michigan, are flat.

The Interstate highway system requires traffic exchanges, so that one road can go over or under the Interstate. In order to do this, it was necessary to create artifical hills. Often, this also resulted in the creation of artificial lakes and ponds, from which the hills were dug. You can see many of these in Michigan and Ohio (and elsewhere). I suppose that ecologists have studied these artificial bodies of water. If not, someone should. Many of them are beautiful. You can often see that they are used for fishing or swimming. The fish, if any, must have been introduced by humans on purpose.

To us, at least, flatness makes it harder to stay alert when driving.

Agriculture
The flatness of the land is advantageous to farmers, making plowing, planting, harvesting and cultivation easier. The soil in this area is usually good. There's a lot of farmland.

I was struck by the prevalence of members of the pea and grass families. We saw many fields, but only a few of these had crops other than corn, wheat (both grasses) alfalfa, and soybeans (both peas). My wife thinks she saw sugar cane growing near Findlay, Ohio, and is probably correct in her diagnosis, but sugar cane, too, is a grass. We did see a field of asparagus near Stratford, ON, but much of this area of North American is planted in grasses and peas.

Flowers
Many flowers, as well as trees and animals, are found throughout much of North America. We hear mourning doves here in South Carolina, and have heard them in California. They are found in Michigan and Ontario, too. So are flowers, such as Queen Anne's lace and trumpet vine. Biology doesn't usually follow political boundaries, and, if it does, it's becaus the boundaries follow features of the land and water.

Beauty
There are many homes that are a century or so old in towns and farms in Ohio and Michigan. Often these have character and are quite attractive.

Farmhouses and houses in towns in this section of Canada tend to be two or three stories tall, and brick veneered. Canadian homes and towns use flowers a lot. Canadian towns are, to us, more attractive than most small towns in the US. They don't seem as likely to have ugly areas.

Fast Food
Tim Horton's is apparently the most popular fast food chain in Eastern Canada. (There are nearly 1400 in Ontario, including four in Stratford, a town of about 30,000. There are some in the US) They are open around the clock, and serve coffee, muffins and doughnuts, cookies, sandwiches, salads and soup, as well as other items. They have more items than, say, McDonald's.

Thanks for reading. I expect to post about Stratford, ON, next.

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