Carnage Alley

Last year at this time I wrote a post about how treacherous the driving was on the southern leg of highway 401 in Ontario.  Aptly named “Carnage Alley”, it has been the site of some pretty horrific crashes.

To make matters worse, parts of the 40l along this southern leg have been under construction.  For 20 kilometre stretches, the highway is down to one lane, bordered by concrete barriers.  This creates a bottleneck of traffic along an already busy section of highway.

Unfortunately for me, driving on this highway is a necessity in order to visit my father, who lives in a retirement home in Amherstburg, a small town some 200 kilometres away.  Not one to push my luck,  I restrict my visits to Sundays, when there’s less traffic and fewer 18-wheelers.  This past Sunday I made the trip down, leaving first thing in the morning. My father and I had a nice visit and I left by midafternoon, thankful that my drive down was uneventful and hopeful that the trip back would be similarly peaceful.

But no.

About 70 kilometres outside of Amherstburg, the traffic slowed to a stop. Shit, I thought; an accident. I and the other drivers peered anxiously in our rearview mirrors, hoping the guy behind us didn’t rear-end us before we made our way off the highway. Thankfully everyone was paying attention.  I said a quick prayer for the unlucky driver(s) and hoped they were ok.

Our caravan of vehicles followed two large 18-wheelers off the highway and into town. (During a detour, always follow a trucker.  They’re usually the only ones who know where they’re going.) We followed them about 40 kilometres to the next highway ramp, which was in the neighbouring town of Chatham.  The ramp was open for business and mercifully past the construction zone. I got back on the highway and hoped that was the worst of it.

When I got home, I googled “401 highway closure”, curious about the accident for which I and many others were diverted. Apparently it was one of three, all occuring within a few hours of the other. The first one was the one for which I was diverted, and involved several vehicles.  There were minor injuries. The second one was an hour later, 40 kilometres ahead but going west, in the opposite direction from me. The third was the worst. Apparently stopped for the second accident, drivers in the westbound lane of the SAME ramp which an hour earlier I took to get back ON the highway were rear-ended by an inattentive driver.  A woman and her son were killed.


One of several construction zones, 401 near Chatham

I ended my trip vowing I would find an alternate route home.  It might take longer, but at least I would arrive alive.


Meet Botir

One of the reasons I hate travelling is that I don’t like sleeping in hotels.  My sleep requirements are exacting (ok, anal):  I need a certain type of mattress, my own down pillows, a down duvet, and–most importantly–some form of white noise.  At home, I sleep year-round with the ceiling fan whirling above my head AND a nightly rainstorm, courtesty of this great little app on my iphone (which is attached to a small bose system.)

But when I saw this little guy while surfing one night, I decided I might give hotels another go, just to meet him.

He’s Botir, a robot which delivers things to your hotel room.  Gets on the elavator, delivers the goods, exchanges pleasantries with you, makes cute noises, and then makes its way back home. Forget your toothbrush?  Not to worry–Botir will bring you one. Have a hankering for some bottled water? Not a problem for Botir.  I think I would spend the entire evening dreaming up things for it to bring me, just because it’s so cute.

Drive At Your Own Risk

The 401 is a major highway in Ontario, Canada, starting in the city of Windsor and stretching east to Quebec.  The Toronto leg, about mid-way going east, is considered the busiest in the world, and one that I’ve driven on more than one occasion grim-faced and white-knuckled.  Fortunately for me, most of my highway driving takes me in the other direction, toward Windsor, which over the years is proving to be as crazily treacherous as its eastern counterpart. Windsor is home to one of the busiest borders in the world, with about 1 billion in trade crossing back and forth between Windsor and Detroit, Michigan. There are over 30,000 trucks crossing that border daily, and they all take the 401 to get there.   Not surprisingly, there are horrific accidents which occur on the 401. Every summer, while I commute back and forth between London and Windsor to visit family, I’m tempted to kiss the ground every time I arrive at either end safely.

I’m not going to post photos of these accidents because they involve fatalities (and besides, I’m superstitious); instead, I thought I’d provide you with some rather amusing traffic misadventures which are real head-scratchers.


I couldn’t even guess as to how a car ended up on a roof.



Not a towing company I’d recommend.



Wow.  Just…wow.



I’m starting to think that getting a tow is a really bad idea.



The driver wanted his roof safely removed from his vehicle.  Who am I to judge.



This is how NOT to do a three-point turn.



When a cobble road masquerades as quicksand.



Again with the roof. Note to car:  You cannot fly.

The Atlantic Ocean Road

Awhile back I posted a story about the insanely treacherous Yungas road in Bolivia.  Here’s another adventurous drive, albeit not near as scary or dangerous:  The Atlantic Ocean Road in Norway.



The Atlanterhavsveien, as it is known locally, is an 8-kilometer section of County Road 64 that cuts through a few archipelagos on its way to the mainland.  It is preserved as a cultural heritage site and is designated as one of 18 National Tourist Routes.  Not a road to drive if you’re sleepy or a little tipsy.

Quite the bridge.

An oft-photographed bridge on the Atlantic Road.


Not the place to be during a storm.

Not the place to be during a storm.


Otherworldly at night.



If I saw this on the route I’d scream like a ninny.


The Road has pedestrian paths for extra-close site-seeing.

Pedestrians are safe to sightsee on their own walkway.


Beautiful in the twilight.

Beautiful in the twilight.


Hot Deals During Cold Weather

In case there’s anyone out there in Bora Bora land who’s hankering for warmer climes,  I thought I would share some of the hotspots featured in Vacation Rental Pros.  

First up is Pelican’s Pass.   It’s kind of an unassuming beach house from the exterior, but it boasts a beautiful interior and it backs onto the ocean.  What more can you ask for.


Pelican Pass Beach House, exterior view


Outside Patio


great ocean view.


pretty interior.

It includes all the amenities, including free wifi.  It will cost you about $300/night or $1200 a week.

Up next is a beautiful pet-friendly beach house located in St. Augustine,.  The Island Time Beach House is cozy and perfect.  It’s available for rent this week for $1000.

Beautiful view of the ocean from the family room.

Beautiful view of the ocean from the family room.

Ocean access off the patio.

Ocean access off the patio.


For those with more extravagant tastes, I bring you Beach Belle, available from September to February (I assume the owners live in it over the spring and summer months, the lucky dogs.) If you rent it for the month of January, it will cost you $6700, which is a steal when you consider what your getting.


Three-storey home with an elevator and private pool.


Beautiful views on all levels.


Green space as well as ocean. Can’t beat that.


Gorgeous indoor pool, in case you don’t like ocean water.


Relax in your private jacuzzi after all that swimming.


Cook in a beautifully appointed kitchen….


…or in the summer kitchen in the outside Lanai.


A private and secluded beach awaits you….


…and you’ll be a stones’ throw from your rich friends.