Posts Tagged With: road trip

Day 3 (final day!) of my Halifax Road Trip

Sunday

The gentle patter of rain in the shower awakens me at an ungodly hour. Mother emerges from the washroom at 9:45. Our scheduled departure is 10:00. Defeat is already inevitable.

I shower and dress and gather my things and before I know it, the time is 10:40. Damn it all. I rush down the stairs and out to the parking lot, where everyone is waiting for me. They have the decency not to call me on my lateness, but we all know the truth. Once on the highway, mother breaks our sacred vow of silence and tells me I was late, and that the others weren’t. I brood for a few minutes, and then drown my sorrows in local radio babble.

Lunch falls at a far more opportune time today for my poor growling stomach, and we break for gas and tasty A&W root beer and burgers. I apologize to my companions for my lateness. The lead car driver agrees that I was late, and points out that I am notorious for being late. I agree with this assessment, apologize again, and all is forgiven.

We’re nearing Nova Scotia now, and our lead car driver professes her desire to sit in the truck with her husband as we cross the border and enter our new homeland. I am agreeable to this, so mother takes over driving the lead car (soon to be the last car, as the truck will now go first in our caravan). The truck driver’s companion abandons her post and joins me in my ancient Mazda. I can only pray that the poor little thing makes it all the way to Halifax with all parts intact.

We speed along the highway, and as the road curves and twists, a new form of entertainment emerges. As the last car in our caravan now, it is mother’s duty to defend us from filthy tailgaters and their evil ways. A challenger approaches: a white car who disapproves of the slow pace we’ve set on this one-lane road. He gets up close to mother. Mother, accepting this unspoken challenge, slows down slightly to warn him off. Irate at her challenge to his vehicular supremacy, the white car draws closer. She of infinite patience slows further. This continues for some time. I am amused.

A two-lane segment of road approaches! My travelling companion and I are thrilled, for this will surely break the stalemate. But such reprieve is not to be, for the white car and mother are now locked in a duel that only death itself can end. The white car refuses to pass in the new lane, hugging mother’s bumper like my roommate’s cats when they cuddle. Mother refuses to move into the new lane to get out of his way, and slows even more. We can barely see her in the mirrors now. Soon she will vanish from the world entirely. We cheer her on.

At some point the white car turns off, and mother emerges victorious. We have little time to celebrate, though — the border to Nova Scotia approaches. It’s magnificent, with huge windmills and gardens and a welcome center and a cheery sign. We are impressed, partially by the beautiful welcoming to our new home, and partially because we actually noticed that we’d entered the province (unlike the New Brunswick/Quebec border, which is just pathetic).

Onwards and upwards into Nova Scotia we fly, and the road signs count down the kilometres to Halifax. Closer and closer, faster and faster … and then … VICTORY! We turn off, we drive, we turn again, and a cozy red brick townhouse looms up on the left: our new home. Our landlord greets us and takes us inside. Plush carpeting, a cute kitchen, an expansive deck, and an unnecessary amount of stairs are ours to explore and claim.

We haul the truck door open and carry in our mattresses. The true unloading will take place tomorrow, but for now a place to sleep is our only thought. We wrestle a king-sized mattress up the twisting staircase, cursing and sweating and bonding over our shared physical exertion and exhaustion.

Once all mattresses are in place, we head down to the waterfront for dinner, drinks, and good company. My uncle joins us, and regales us with stories as we consume assorted seafood. After dinner, we walk along the boardwalk eating icecream and taking in the sights. We stop at the end of a dock and admire the dark, sparkling waters of our new home. And then we return to the townhouse to sleep and recharge and refresh, ready and excited to face the days ahead.

 

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Day 2 of my Halifax Road Trip!

Saturday

I awaken to the smell of dog and the sound of my best friend talking to her newly-wed husband in the hall outside my door. A quick check of the clock reveals the time — 9:00 AM. With an estimated departure time of 11:00 AM, I have all the time in the world.

Two hours later, I no longer have all the time in the world. Everyone is ready to go, and I am still in the shower. Curses and damnation! I wring the last dredges of conditioner out of my hair and jump out of the shower. I know I have a reputation for being late, but dammit, I’m not going to be that late.

I get to the car, ready to go, but there’s a hitch — my mother is joining us as an extra driver on our trip to Halifax, and she needs tea. How could I forget such a fundamental fact of existence? Where my mother goes, tea follows. No move can be taken unless accompanied by hot, sugary leaf juice. We mill about beside our cars while we wait for her to return from her trip to Tim Hortons.

Once tea is acquired, onwards and upwards! Slowly, though. Oh so slowly. Montreal traffic is inexplicably horrible, and we navigate through a series of incomprehensible street signs and narrow on-ramps in our desperate attempt to escape the city. A GPS malfunction takes us off the highway and onto narrow country roads. Mother panics, but the lead car assures us we’re headed the right way. A beautiful mountain appears on our left, and the highway appears on our right. We return to our rightful path, and peace is restored.

As we drive, we discover that New Brunswick is really frickin’ far from Montreal. Like, stupid far. We drive and drive and drive. Then we stop and get tea. Then we drive and drive and drive. Mother is amused by how close our truck drives to our lead car. Our truck driver is not so amused — other drivers seem hell-bent on slipping in between the vehicles in our caravan. Suddenly my suggestion to stick signs on our back windows saying “I’m in a caravan, don’t get in between us” doesn’t seem so ridiculous after all.

We finally break for lunch around 4:00 PM. Praise the highway gods! Mother and I adjourn to a grocery store, where an elated cashier practices his English on us. I munch on fries and chicken as we proceed back onto the highway and continue on into New Brunswick. The only indication of the changing provinces is the signs switching from French-only to French and English. I declare my final impression of Quebec as we cross into New Brunswick — I am not impressed.

Night falls, and out come the moose. Well, that’s what the myriad of giant flashing signs indicate. Moose everywhere! Beware of moose! They will destroy you if you don’t keep constant vigilance! AHHHHH!

There were no moose.

That being said, caution is the key to survival, and our lead driver took that to heart. We proceeded slowly and cautiously along the twisting highways, going up hills that had our truck struggling to push past 60 km/hour, and then zooming down hills that had our truck braking frantically so as not to smash into the bumper of our lead car. Mother and I started a game in which we guessed how many times the truck would break in a 10 minute period. I am pleased to announce I won both rounds.

We pull into Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick and our destination for the night, at around 11:00 PM. Our chosen resting place — the imaginatively-named City Motel — is simple but nice. Competence is not, however, their forte — mother and I are given a room with a single bed, whereas our single companion is given a room with two beds. Were it not for my fear of my companion’s cat suffocating me in my sleep, I would have gladly taken the second bed.

After a quick takeout dinner from Boston Pizza, we prepared for bed. Next stop, Halifax!

 

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21 Analogies used by High School Students

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Day 1 of My Halifax Road Trip!

Early morning. Birds chirp, garbage trucks squeal as they labor to lift huge metal bins and disgorge the smelly contents into their innermost parts. A knock at the door. Father has arrived.

“Hello, Michelle. We only have 3 hours to move your brother out and he hasn’t finished packing. You’ll help us, right?”

Guilt and conflicting emotions swirl within. Do I help, or do I shower and head out on the road? My friends are waiting for me at the Port Hope service station, ready to begin our epic trek to Halifax. Should I stay or should I go? Should I accidentally quote The Clash? The answer is clear.

“Okay, Dad. Just a few boxes, then I have to go.”

One hour later, a few boxes are packed. Dishes are unexpectedly heavy, and my plastic mat under my desk chair keeps sticking me with its pointy bits. A tiny little hummingbird is trapped in my head, and keeps smacking my skull as it tries to escape. I wait until Dad and Jesse are down at the moving truck and then make a break for the shower.

Clean and significantly more alive, I emerge. One more hour later, I have wrestled all my belongings into my car. Tetris masters have nothing on me. There’s even room for two boxes of alcohol, courtesy of my new roommate — fun times will be had when we reach the coast.

Off I go down the road, sniffling and wiping away a few errant tears. I’ll miss my family, especially my brother. He may wake up at 4pm every day and lecture me on military history, but he’s awesome and I love him. He’s not much for emotional displays, so it’s a good thing the tears hit me once I’m in my car.

A few traffic jams and muttered curses later, I’m on the highway. It’s moving swiftly, and I turn on the radio and try not to swerve wildly off the road as I consume my breakfast sandwich. Brief stop at Cambridge for gas. Then I hit Toronto. Traffic, traffic, traffic, and not the good kind. The troll kind, where you’re stop and go for half an hour, then up to 100, finally think Hermes has blessed you with boots of flight to get you out of the quagmire, and then back to stop and go when you realize it’s all a cruel lie.

Finally, I reach the Port Hope service station. My travelling companions are finished lunch and about to continue onward. I was late, and the caravan waits for no one. Don’t worry, they say. I can catch up easily — just look for the UHaul truck lumbering along in the slow lane. I scarf down a slice of pepperoni and hurry after them. For two hours I speed along, eyes peeled for a glimpse of the elusive truck. It’s gone.

Panic sets in. What service station are we stopping at next, again? Port Mallory? No, that was Port Hope. But Mallory something … or was it Melissa? Don’t be ridiculous, there’s no town called Melissa. Mallory … ville? Mallorytown? Yes! I see the sign, coming up on my right.

But I also see the blinking fuel gauge light — I’m almost out. 38 kilometers left. Will I make it? The needle sinks lower … and lower … and then the turn off! Sweet relief! The tank greedily gobbles up gas, and I force my shoulders to un-tense.

Finally our caravan is in the same spot at the same time. After a brief bathroom break, we’re away. I’m the rear guard, cruising along behind the UHaul truck while my friend leads in her car. I feel a curious sense of unity — like I’m part of something greater, something with a purpose. Is this what it feels like to join a religion? I may be thinking too much into this. I focus on driving, and on ignoring the cars tailgating me.

We reach Quebec. It looks exactly like Ontario, except all the signs are in French. This is awkward, as we do not speak French. It is surprising to me that a province of the English-speaking Canada would not at the very least have bilingual signs. I’m torn between irritation and resignation. 

Onward into Montreal. As we hit the off ramp, an eighteen-wheeler swerves wildly toward us, then hauls itself back onto the highway at the last second. Not sure if it’s just lost, or was trying to play an extremely ineffective game of chicken.

A few more turns, and my mother’s home appears on the left. We stumble out of our cars, guide the truck into the driveway, and then let out a hoarse cheer — we’ve successfully survived day 1 of our three day trek. Mother furnishes us with smoked meat and coleslaw, red wine and chocolate. We are satiated, and ready for Day 2.

 

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