Winter Weekend Trips

Since the mechnanics aren’t open on the weekends, it’s very difficult for me to get the car in the shop. Monday was James Bay day, a local holiday, so I made an appointment at the Honda dealership in Val D’Or. 

It took the whole business day to get everything done. We had to:

1) Replace the windshield* ($475)
2) Get an oil change and minor adjustments ($48)
3) Purchase and install snow tires ($777)**

Since we dropped off the vehicle at 9 am and didn’t get it back until 4:30 pm, it meant that we kept the hotel room an extra half day to nap and didn’t leave town until 5:30 pm. It was difficult to run errands without a vehicle. You don’t want to wander around town hauling a large car battery starter kit and an ax after leaving Canadian Tire.

In the summer, this drive would take 6.5 hours; that is, if the roads were clear and I could fly around 125 km/hour. With the winter conditions, we estimated that it was going to be a 10-hour drive. Last night, the flurries were getting stronger and long, isolated roads mean that it doesn’t stay plowed and you often even can’t see the centre line. With the reduced visibility and the realization that we were slowing down to 40 km/hour, we made a call just a few kilometers outside Matagami and checked into the nearest hotel.

That was 10:45 pm.

We left messages at work and emailed the principal to say we would not make it in Tuesday morning, breaking J.’s 2-year streak of perfect attendance.

Traveling in the winter means going with the flow, especially when you live up north***. There is no cellular service during the last 300 km we travel on, which means you need to be damn sure you can make it home before you start driving on the James Bay highway.

And if you decide to err on the side of caution, it means that your trip can become more expensive when you’re spending more on hotels than you had planned.

Cost of gas: $200
Projected cost of hotel: $140 (1 night)
Actual cost of hotel: $340 (2 nights and one half-day stay)

*The windshield acquired a nasty crack back in October. 
**My mom had offered to pay for the tires as a gift.
***We’re not even at Nunavik, so technically, it’s still central Quebec.

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