This final update delayed, rather fittingly, by work.
Monday, October 22, was the last day of the Work Avoidance Tour. I started the day in Imlay City, getting up about 90 minutes later than planned as the past nine days (and the adventure’s imminent end) finally caught up with me. My first stop was the nearest gas station (because Canadian gas prices yo), then I went to Boat Nerds (better but less entertainingly known as the Great Lakes Maritime Center) in Port Huron to watch a few freighters. The Maritime Center is located on the St Clair River right by where the river comes off Lake Huron. The Center is a great place to watch the ships, complete with a cafe, a gallery exhibit on the history of the Lakes (and in particular the St Clair River), a spotter’s guide to some of the River’s most frequent and iconic travelers, and an attendant who will get on the PA every time a ship goes by, giving the detailed stats of the vessel.
I hung around long enough to see three ships, then headed north to see two local “lighthouses,” the Huron lightship (basically a floating, mobile lighthouse, though now retired) and the Fort Gatriot Lighthouse, the lighthouse that marks the entrance of the St Clair. Then it was across the bridge and into Canada.
I only had time for one stop while crossing Canada and that was my traditional stop at the highway service plaza for Timbits. While there I tried butter chicken french fries from the fry kiosk. These will now also be tradition.
When I got to the Niagara area I had time for just one local stop. Since I’d already seen the falls in June coming back from a wedding in Michigan I decided to angle slightly north for the often forgotten Niagara Whirlpool. This was a great call. The fall colors showing on the cliffside trees added a vibrant beauty one can only find this time of year and beyond what my old potato camera could capture.
Now late in the day and with six hours left to drive across New York I had to abandon my final couple stops (no big deal since they’re the ones that are easiest for me to hit in the future). I headed to the Rainbow Bridge by the falls to cross into the states, planning to get a quick look at the falls from the bridge in the process. The scenic view plan backfired, as the falls were blocked by bridge construction, but it was still a good call as there was zero line at the border post. I was officially back in the States in under a minute.
While I don’t have any more scenic stops to share, the story isn’t quite over. I’d been doing this trip on 60-day temporary Texas tags. Depending on where you live you’ve probably seen tags like these before, they’re paper plates that dealers acquire from the state DMV so the buyer can drive their recent purchase home. The plate includes an individual tag number, the expiration date, the vehicle year/make, and the vehicle vin. Very thorough, very reasonable. There’s just one problem. Massachusetts.
Massachusetts doesn’t offer temporary plates like these when you’re buying a car. If you’ve bought a new car in Mass you need to get plates in advance (either new plates or transfer over your old plates), get the previous owner to let you use their plates to get it home, or tow/trailer it. But it doesn’t stop there. It turns out if you buy a car in a state that does offer these temporary plates Massachusetts won’t recognize them, even though they’re legal plates officially registered with the DMV of the state they come from. This means the moment I crossed the border into MA I would be driving a car that, according to the state, wasn’t legally plated. Massachusetts is dumb sometimes.
I made this annoying discovery on the third day of the trip, while driving from Oklahoma to Iowa. I could have said fuck it and just chanced the 50 mile night run to the safety of my garage, but I decided to take the legal, complicated route. Fortunately I have a strong family network back home.
While I was in northwest Missouri I found a FedEx ship center and overnighted all the paperwork (bill of sale, title, etc) home. While I was at the rally my mom went to the Mass RMV, waited in the endless line, registered the car, and got my plates. On that final day of my Tour she drove out to a truck stop on the state line to meet me and give me my new plates. Bonus, she was able to get the Blackstone Valley plates, which donates to the Massachusetts Environmental Trust every time I renew my registration. The Trust helps fund projects that protect and improve the state’s rivers, lakes, ponds, and coastline and the Preserve The Trust plates have generated over $20 million to date. They also look cooler than the standard all white plates.
And so ends the journey. I’ve been driving the BRZ to work since getting her home, and this weekend I did my first oil change on her, along with the other items involved in the 30,000 mile service. For the most part I’m thrilled with her, though I’ve discovered some quirks and issues during the long drive home and in the days since. I’ll be doing a full review of the car soon. Meanwhile planning for Dusty’s Work Avoidance Tour 2019 is already underway. Missouri, Minnesota, Maine, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire, prepare yoselves.
Until next time.