Off to a good start?

I have just added a link to our trip itinerary to the header of this blog.

Since they’re reflected in that itinerary, I might as well discuss some of the recent preparations I’ve made, because if getting there is half the fun, then preparing for the trip is the other half…

Places to stay: With the assistance of the AAA web site, I made reservations at relatively inexpensive hotels in Toronto, Montreal, Boston, and Pittsburgh (and the Canadian dollar better not get any stronger, so that the hotels in Toronto and Montreal stay inexpensive). Yes, the AAA web site doesn’t list every possible place to stay, but I like the assurance that a AAA inspector didn’t have a room infested with bedbugs, or however they decide on their “diamond” ratings. Anyway, the Toronto, Montreal, and Boston hotels seem to be a quick rapid transit ride away from each city’s respective stadium, and the Pittsburgh hotel is within walking distance, thanks to Hilton’s weekend specials. (I assume in this case, the AAA inspector didn’t have a room infested with the Hilton sisters.)

Unfortunately for Levi, the Skydome hotel in Toronto didn’t qualify as “relatively inexpensive,” especially the “field view” rooms. But maybe if I make it onto “Super Millionaire” in May…

Anyway, I haven’t made reservations for the Quad Cities or Detroit yet because I guess we’re not exactly sure how many hangers-on there are going to be. I have a place in mind for Detroit which looks like it’s in walking distance of Comerica Park. There seem to be plenty of choices in the Quad Cities, and I may end up deciding that perhaps we should stay in Galesburg, which is about 45 minutes south (since we have to make it to St. Louis for an afternoon game).

Driving directions: Speaking of making it to St. Louis, it turns out that the AAA web site is ill-equipped for making very complicated requests for their Triptik map packages. Each request can only have one starting point and eight destinations, and this trip is about twice that long. (Also, the request form doesn’t include the town in Pennsylvania where my aunt and uncle live.) Nevertheless, I tried making two separate requests, one starting in Chicago and going until I ran out of destinations in Philadelphia, then one starting in Philadelphia and going back to Chicago. I only ended up getting the second one, probably because the AAA computer wanted to be helpful and cancel one of my Chicago-Philadelphia routings, assuming I had quickly changed my mind about which cities I wanted to pass through on the way.

So one of these days, I’m going to show up in person at the local AAA office to challenge them and their route-highlighting skills.

Rental car: Obviously, it will be important to get unlimited mileage and be sure it’s okay to take the car into Canada. I am under the impression that the lowest car rental rates can be found at airports if you’re coming in on a flight, as I will be…but since Levi, I believe, rents cars more often than I do, perhaps he knows more than I do.

My flight: Right now, the cheapest L.A.-Chicago fare is on Spirit Airlines, but their one flight a day is a red-eye eastbound, and I hate red-eyes because I can’t sleep on planes; more importantly, a flight I took on Spirit in the summer of 1999 left me with no confidence in their ability to run an airline.

(By the way: “AAA” above is a reference to the American Automobile Association, not to minor-league baseball.)