My mom would haul us to the bus stop and we would ride into Detroit, then make our way into Canada. Sometimes we would go over the Ambassador Bridge and sometimes we would go in the tunnel under the Detroit River.
Either way it always was a great trip for me, my two brothers and my grandpa. The view was great from the bridge; if you looked hard enough you could see the boat for Boblo Island. That was another fun trip we would take in the summer. When you were in the tunnel you just prayed nothing would happen until you got out of the other side.
Back then you didn’t have to worry about a passport. There were no terrorists to worry about and there certainly was no problem getting back and forth.
The best part was the money exchange. The dollar always was worth more in Canada, so it was fun buying something, getting your change back and then a little extra. The only problem was you came home with your pockets filled with that “funny money,” as we liked to call it.
It has been years since Jody and I made our way to Canada. We started in Windsor, and then headed east to Niagara Falls. Again, there was no problem getting in and out of the country.
Then came 9-11 and the rules changed.
Now it isn’t so easy getting back and forth. We paid our $5 and went over the bridge heading to Windsor. When we got on the other side, there were five lines waiting to go through the gates. It took about 15 minutes to get to the front of the line.
I handed the man my passport. My dad has an enhanced Michigan driver’s license, which also works.
“Where are you guys from?” the man asked.
“I’m from Ohio. My dad lives in Livonia,” I responded.
“Where are you guys going ?” he asked.
“We are just going for a drive,” I said.
“What do you mean?” he said. “Nobody just drives around. You have to be doing something.”
“We’re going to the casino,” I said.
“OK, have a good day.”
And we were off.
We had no intentions of going to the casino, but the guy wanted an answer, so I gave him one.
We drove around Windsor and the area for a couple of hours. It brought back a lot of memories and it was a great day — the best part was spending it with my dad.
The man at the border said we have to do something, and I guess he was right. For a couple of hours things were a little different. Gas is sold by the liter and when the speed limit says 60, be careful because that’s in kilometers. We were heading back to town and the sign said Windsor 27. Now how far is that? The two of us tried to figure it out and weren’t really sure until I did a little math.
I know a 5K race is 3.1 miles and a 10K race is 6.2 miles. So 20 kilometers would be 12.4 miles; add 7 more kilometers (about 4 1/2 miles), so we were about 17 miles away.
That’s too much thinking when you are looking around and trying to take everything in.
For doing nothing, we really did have a great day.
About the writer: Joe Centers is managing editor of the Norwalk (Ohio) Reflector. He can be reached at [email protected]