Today was the much-anticipated company outing that my boss from London and I have been plotting and scheming about for the past month. We left the office bright and early to head north to our first scheduled stop, some two and a half hours north of Dayton - the IHOP Restaurant in Perrysburg, OH. I was actually upset, because I had my heart set on some cheese blintzes, but about 5 minutes after I ordered, the waitress came back and told me they were out. I ended up selecting the Pumpkin Pancakes (I initially misread the table stand for them and thought it said “Pumpin' Pancakes”) and they were damn tasty.

From there, we proceeded on to our main destination, a tour of the Ford Rouge factory in Dearborn Michigan, about an hour and a half further north. Just after crossing the border into Michigan, I was quite pleased to see 70 MPH speed limits on the highway. A nice break from the monotony of 65. Our exit for the Henry Ford was closed, so we ended up having to take a detour and getting pretty much lost. By the time we actually arrived and got tickets, it was about 3 minutes before our buses left, definitely cutting it close. The tour itself was very well done. There were two video presentations in two different auditoriums, the second of which was definitely the most fun. Unfortunately, though, we arrived to late to see actual production work, so everything was standing still. Regardless, Rouge is still quite an impressive facility.

After Ford, we jumped across the border into Windsor, Ontario, only to be heavily questioned by a French customs officer. Apparently, all of the official government Web sites I had checked out beforehand had lied, and they wanted us to have birth certificates to be able to enter the country. The officer told me that he wasn’t even supposed to let us in, so I just asked him what I needed to do to head back across the border. He told me to just go on through, and be sure to bring documentation next time. That’s security for you.

We had dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Three - A Tasting Bar. I can honestly say it was the single most amazing meal I have had in ages. I found the place on a site with some information about Windsor, and couldn’t decide if it would be really good or really bad. The concept sounded nice, but I was a bit worried, since the prices were quite reasonable. It turned out to be a great gamble. I had a sesame chicken that was great, an absolutely delicious salmon dish, some grilled tofu, blackened asparagus, a very tasty spring roll, some divine spinach cheese dip on very tasty bread, and I don’t even remember what else. To top it all off, I had an espresso hazelnut cheesecake that was nothing short of rich. Absolutely incredible. It is definitely going to be worth a repeat trip.

On the way back to the US, the Windsor tunnel was closed off or backed up or something, so we drove around looking for the bridge. My gut instinct turned out to be right, and we found it quite readily. Back on US soil, we were subject to another interrogation, this time from a US customs officer. Again, he contended that we needed proper documentation (again, my Web searches tell me otherwise). He was far more pleasant, though, and actually made some very friendly conversation, talking to us about our visit, and our meal and whatnot. While he seemed very interested and genuine (and he may have been), he was definitely grilling us to determine if we were suspicious. He just handed me back all of our IDs and reminded me to bring proper documentation the next time, and to have a safe trip home. Very polite and pleasant indeed.

Naturally, we had to stop at another IHOP on the way home, this time in Lima, Ohio. While sitting at a stoplight on the way to the IHOP, this old Ford Probe pulled up alongside us with some NOS stickers on it. We had a fun time making fun of the kid. Then the light turned green. He floored his little Probe trying to act all cool. I knew he would, so I had my reaction planned, and floored the Vic. Even with all four of us weighing her down, I managed to beat the kid off the line and pull out very far ahead of him, all without even trying. As we sailed past him, Brian noticed that he had a girl in the passenger seat with him. Sounds like I managed to ruin some lame high school kid’s Friday night date! Nothing could have made me happier, and we all had quite a few laughs at his expense after that.

The Lima IHOP did indeed have my cheese blintzes, which I ordered with a cinnamon apple topping. Very delicious, although nothing in comparison to the massive dinner we had just eaten a few hours beforehand. On the way out of Lima, we stopped to take pictures of some very amusing signs, which probably ate up a good half hour. After dropping everyone off in Dayton, I finally arrived back in Cinci at 2:15 AM on Saturday, having been gone since 7 AM on Friday. Quite a long day. All-in-all, the Crown Vic racked up close to 600 miles, and even with 4 adults, and a little bit of inefficient speeding, she managed to turn in a very respectable average economy of around 26.5 MPG. And as an added bonus, my Check Engine Light turned off somewhere between Dayton and Cinci on the way home. Yay!