I’m not sure who to thank in particular, so I’m sending out a general thanks to everyone who sent out positive thoughts about my car predicament. After a frustrating Monday spent phoning the Canadian Ministry of Transport to check the licence issue (the insurance guy was right, no joy), I called a number of well known and not so well known car rental companies, and had pretty similar and discouraging responses from all of them.
You choose, from “we don’t let our cars out of Ontario”, to “If you got to the US you’ll have to arrange separate insurance for that time,” to “we’ll only give you 2500km free for 84 days, then its 20c a kilometre after that,”to “by all means take the car, but every month you’ll have to visit one of our distributors and get the car sited before signing a new contract…and we’ll charge you about $1 for every kilometre you are away from our office as we have to swap cars and we’ll have to get that one back here somehow.” All very depressing, until I was put on to Carter’s Car and Truck Rental.
They came good at the last and let me have a brand new (well, 2010 model with 30,000km on the clock) Dodge Caravan – actually a minivan with seats that disappear into the floor leaving a huge sleeping space – with 5333km free each month and I was able to pre-sign 2 extra contracts before I left, so that all I’d have to do every 28 days was phone in a mileage reading. The only down side was that my credit card does not provide automatic insurance on rental cars, so I have to pay an extra $500 odd per month, but even still, the final cost will be just less than if I’d bought a car at the top of my $5k budget and had to fork out for insurance anyway. With a rental I don’t get to recoup anything by selling it at the end…..unlesssss…no, that would be illegal and, besides, they have my credit card number. I’d better give it back.
Incidentally, they had offered a Toyota Sienna minivan first, which I preferred due to Toyota's reputation for reliability, but this vehicle’s alternator caught fire on its way to the service shop just before I picked it up. So, lucky for me, then.
To sum up then: I am now the proud (temporary) owner of a 2010 reddish-coloured Dodge Caravan and I am about to let rip across Canada. It is a far flasher car than I would have bought for myself (hence its temporary name: Flash Harriette), and I can plug my ipod straight into the radio. Perfect. This is where the fun begins. Tomorrow: North Bay and a visit with Mike and Janelle for a few days.