Have you ever been so bored that you decided to go on an impromptu coffee run to Niagara Falls at 10 o’clock at night?
Well I have.
Welcome to life in boring southern Ontario. It’s not uncommon for myself, and my friends Sam and Devon to go and get coffee late at night. In fact, it had become a daily tradition ever since the beginning of our grade 12 year of high school. Just old enough to drive, yet still too young to drink. That meant the bar was out of the question, so off to Tim Horton’s we went.
The order of choice? Well an extra-large double-double of course, and occasionally a sour cream glazed donut. We would sit in the booth and talk among ourselves whilst browsing Reddit for hours. At about midnight, we would head out, cram into the back of a mid 2000’s Toyota Highlander, and drive 5 minutes down the road to the next Tim Horton’s where we would hangout until either our mothers got worried, or we got kicked out because the 24 hour restaurant was “closing”; whichever came first.
As you can imagine, over the course of 8 months this began to resemble something like Groundhog Day. The solution: visit neighbouring cities and see what their Tim Horton’s were like! Night by night, coffee by coffee we managed to drink our way through pretty much every location in the region. When we realized we had nowhere new left to go, we realized we had reached a defining moment. Would we simply admit defeat, go home, and play video games like a normal group of teenage boys? No! We had to persevere! Surely there were more Tim Horton’s to discover!
Now, here is where I will admit that this expedition to Niagara Falls was not of my planning. It had been mentioned in passing on several coffee runs as a joke, but it was my friend Sam who decided to actually put it all together. (Mainly because he was the only one with a car) I got a text from him at around 9 o’clock on a late August night, reading the ever so familiar question: “Tim’s?”. I agreed but knew something was up when after picking up our buddy Devon from work, and upon arriving at the Tim Horton’s closest to our houses, we did something completely unheard of: we went through the drive thru.
I questioned the night’s plan but received no answer. We got our drinks, headed for the highway, and pulled onto the Q.E.W. This wasn’t too unusual as there are plenty of coffee spots on this route, but with drinks already in hand I watched as we took an exit and passed under the road sign that confirmed my suspicions. We were headed to Niagara Falls. My first instinct was to panic. By this time I was getting ready to move away to university. The last thing I needed was for my parents to find a reason to cut me off, forcing me to live in a cardboard box in Dundas square. On top of that, the very next day Sam was due to come up to the cottage with me and my parents for the weekend. If his, or my parents found out we were headed to the falls, you could throw those plans right out the window.
Did I mention that we didn’t tell our parents where we were going? Like, as in not just on this trip, but throughout the entire history of Tim’s runs. This whole time they thought we were just down the road safe and sound within arms reach. To venture and hour and a half down the highway without their knowledge was asking for trouble.
It was about midnight when we arrived. We parked the car and walked down to the river where we got our first glimpse of one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Niagara Falls. Millions of people from all over the world have travelled, and paid a pretty penny to see this waterfall, and here we were just on the quest for some sub-par caffeinated beverages. Of course, we took some obligatory photos, but then made our way to the gift shops and arcades where we blew all of the loose change we had to win a collection of cheap plastic toys.The ironic part in all of this was that we had actually lost track of time, and Tim Horton’s closed for the night before we could get there. So, we decided to settle for Wendy’s instead.
It was here, waiting in line for chicken nuggets at 2 in the morning when we discovered what genuine fear for our lives felt like. Out of the blue, Sam’s phone went off. It was a text from his mother that simply read:
“Get home. Now.”
Had she figured out where we were? Was she watching us? Did someone rat us out? By now did she mean now now, or like whenever it suits you now? Either way, we were screwed. We were supposed to be a 2-minute drive from his house, not a 2-minute drive from the United States of America.
We grabbed our orders, hurried back to the car, and put the pedal to metal. How we made it back home in the time we did is one of the top 10 questions science still can’t answer. Regardless, we had made it back. Sam dropped Devon and I off at our houses and headed back to his to face the wrath of God.
I crept into a quiet house, making sure not to wake the dog. I made it to my room and laid awake in bed awaiting the e-vite to Sam’s funeral. But to my surprise, it never came. Darkness turned to light, and a new day was upon us. We had all managed to successfully sneak into our homes and submit the usual cover story to our parents as to where we had gone the night before. We had all given the same, simple yet effective answer: “We were at Tim’s.”
And so concluded our first annual coffee run to Niagara Falls. Was it pointless? Yes. Was it stupid? You bet. Would we eventually decide to venture to seemingly every Tim Horton’s within a 200 km radius of our homes? Without a doubt. But for the time being we had found a way to ease our boredom, if only for the night, and came away with a story to tell. There was only one question left to ask: where to next?
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