Sights, Sounds and Smells of the 401


John Anderson suggested that an appropriate title for tonight’s blog might be “Sights and Sounds and Smells of the 401.” This comment came in the midst of a return drive from London to Windsor in Scott’s Jeep with the top all down.  That’s right – I drove from London to Windsor with the top down! Many thanks Scott (The Magellan of the Highway) for the safe delivery to London and for our safe arrival home – especially in such a fun way!


Now John may have been onto something. With the top down in a vehicle, at 120 KM/HR on a Highway filled with loud trucks and cars, conversation is not easy and it affords one an opportunity to think, as speaking is kind of futile. So I gave some thought to the sights and sounds and smells of the ride today.



Corn, soy beans. Wheat, hay, straw, asphalt, gravel, blue skies, trucks, trucks and more trucks. I don’t know if you have noticed but the drive from here to London is really kind of boring. Not a lot to see but more flat fields and more crops.  One can easily get become entranced and unaware of the surroundings. It is so mesmerizing that I nearly missed seeing the waving hair of the “Silver Fox” or the nodding head of my darling wife! And yet, there is that odd moment where another driver stupefies you and you realize that if you look closely, you can see many interesting things. Today the prize goes to the driver of the Red Ford Windstar who passed us as he ate Ice cream, from a container, with a spoon – NO HANDS ON THE WHEEL! I once read an anonymous quote – “It takes 8,460 bolts to assemble an automobile, and one nut to scatter it all over the road.” That comes to mind sometimes when you look for sights of the 401. Then later today on Tecumseh Rd in Windsor I witnessed a couple lovingly kissing each other as they travelled east towards Tecumseh. Wow – Albert Einstein said, “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” I agree! The sights were mostly wonderful. Somehow or another, the whole thing seemed more crisp, more real and less distant with the barriers of steel and glass removed.



There are so many sounds on the 401? Who would have known?  When you drive most of the time in a car with the windows rolled up and radio and air-conditioner running you do not hear the sounds of the road. Let me say clearly and unequivocally – The 401 is LOUD! The roar of rubber against pavement is wild. The unbelievable roar of trucks, seemingly non-stop filled the air. Air brakes hissed and moaned with a determined sonority. The amplitude of the wind whipping around the jeep is surprisingly loud. I was just taken by surprise with all of the sounds.  The sounds are indeed a reminder of the busy society that we live in. Satirist Ambrose Bierce defined noise like this.  “Noise: a stench in the ear. The chief product and authenticating sign of civilization.” There was no doubt on the highway today, of the authentic signs of civilization.



There is of course of the obvious smells. On a hot day with the top down, the first smell is diesel. There are so many tucks on the road and indeed each one leaves its toxic bouquet. Collectively they leave an acerbic aroma that lingers for quite a while.  It is really little wonder that we have pollution issues.  Then there is the variety of manures that fragrance the flat farmlands of Chatham, Kent, Essex, Middlesex and Elgin Counties.  There was chicken manure, pig manure and even cattle manure. Yes, I know what you are thinking. How can he tell the difference? I tell the difference with a well trained nose.  The hen manure I know very well as I worked in it for a few weeks in 1988. Now all of that manure got me thinking again tonight about the fuel issues. Billy Holiday (great jazz musician said that “They think they can make fuel from horse manure – Now, I don’t know if your car will be able to get 30 miles to the gallon, but it’s sure gonna put a stop to siphoning”  Who can argue with that? But there was the softer gentler smells of fresh cut grass, bailed hay and a soft fragrance of Mary Kaye Sun Screen, a necessary accessory to a Jeep with the top down.


All of these great sensations offered to me as we journeyed for a visit with the bishop to get him up to speed on Raising the Roof. It was a good meeting and we continue to work towards cementing our relationship with our partner the Diocese of Huron. Bishop Bennett continues to offer his support and his encouragement. Stay tunes for more information as time goes on!  I enjoyed my trip to London Today – the only drawback was the mess the open air made of my expensive hairdo. So I have to go and try and get my hair back in shape!


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