I’ve driven across Canada the equivalent of three times in my life so far.
I use the word equivalent because I’ve never gone coast to coast in one trip. Toronto has been the departure point for all of my drives but one.
The first time was in July 1993. It was the end of my first year of teaching. Teaching jobs were scarce, but I had just finished a maternity contract at an elementary school in the west end of Toronto. It had been a challenging, but rewarding year. I had made a friend on the teaching staff. Once school was out, we hit the road for the eastern Maritime provinces of Canada.
With visions of LL Bean* dancing in our heads, we chose a route that took us through Vermont and Maine before crossing back over the Canadian border into New Brunswick. I had no idea the prominent role the province of New Brunswick would play in my life over a decade later. On that trip we raced through for where we really wanted to explore – Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.
It was my first time traveling Canada beyond the borders of Ontario and Quebec. It whet my appetite for more. By the end of the ten days or so we traveled, my friend and I were weary of each other, but I was not weary of being on the road.
My mind was filled with all the beauty I had seen. It was a high I was unfamiliar with. The sensory overload of beauty, some of which I had captured with my Fuji FZ-3000 Zoom.
I couldn’t wait to get home and have my rolls of film developed. But as we arrived back on the busy 401 between Montreal and Toronto, I felt an unfamiliar heaviness come over me.
I turned to my friend from the passenger seat and said, “I don’t think want to be here.”
“Don’ t be silly. Everyone says that on the way home from vacation.”
I went quiet, unable to express how I was feeling. It was a feeling that never completely went away.
*For the record, the LL Bean fascination is obviously before I discovered REI.
Want to read more stories like this? Here’s a link to a collection of Memoir & Stories.