In February 2010, my best friend and I embarked on an 11 day train trip and Cross Canada Adventure in which we had covered the entirety of Central and Western Canada, and back again. In August of 2010, we decided that it was time to complete the journey by heading to the East Coast, this time, by car.
After shockingly fleeting amount of planning (none, really) we set off on a random Wednesday afternoon, with a back-seat full of pillows, blankets and food. We had heads full of hope and proclaimed that it would be the best road trip of all time. Or something like that.
We gassed up the car and hit the highway from Toronto to Montreal.
We arrived in Montreal later that night, and had ourselves a typical Montreal-evening, wandering around town with some other travelers that we met and getting into all kinds of mischief. We spent the night in a hostel in old-town Montreal, having a few drinks on the fire escape stairwell that hung over a late-night Poutinerie Courtyard before hitting the Latin Quarter.
The next morning, we woke up early, enjoyed a satanic (see image below) breakfast to French accordion music on a café patio, and were once again on our way.
We got ourselves lost a couple of times on the way out of town, but finally made it on past Quebec City, and eventually up to the North Eastern countryside of the St. Lawrence South side. We drove along the St. Lawrence River for hours, navigating by the sights of the light blue waters.
Anglophone establishments were sparse, and I ordered many “Salade du Poulet’s” from Tim Hortons (Chicken-salad sandwiches).
By late evening, we had made it up around the hump of Maine, and into New Brunswick.. and thus began.. the crazy-time-of-the-moose.
The light faded from dim to black, and our eyes faded from bad to worse. The road spun and rose over hills and mountains, and there were no towns or lights for miles on end. We were aiming to make it to Fredericton by 8pm, but it was already 11pm (and the fact that we forgot about the new time zone meant it was 12am).
Our eyes started playing tricks on us, and with the added paranoia of “Watch for Moose” sigsn every few kilometers, we were seeing imaginary animals in every dark corner. Every shadow that loomed in front of the headlights became a moose, and every flicker of light in the darkness became a leaping deer. Needless to say, we were spooked, and devised a plan of action on the event of running into a moose. This grand plan involved me screaming and Kathleen pulling the emergency break.
Eventually we made it (safely) to Fredericton. As we were late for an arranged couch-surf, we simply checked into a random hotel. It was an immediate pass-out, but it was a good night’s sleep and we were rejuvenated for the following mornings drive.
Between Fredericton and Moncton, we made a day-trip to the Hopewell Rocks. We spent a few hours hiking through the park, and slopping through the mud of the low tide.
We had a picnic lunch, and drove to a town called Shediac for some lobster dinner. We ended up calling it an early night at our comfy hostel back in Moncton.
The next day and night were spent in Charlottetown, and we stayed in a student residence and spent the next morning driving around the Edwardian countryside.
It came as a surprise to us, on our way off the island, that we were required to pay approximately $40.00 to cross back over to New Brunswick. Who knew?
Clearly, we were excited to be in Prince Edward Island.
The next days were a confusing blunder of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick-driving, and a severe lack of sleep. Eventually we ended up spending a night with a friend in Saint John, NB, and the next morning exploring the towns and markets.
Luckily Kathleen got to eat some tasty East Coast muscles before we hit another gas station, and left town.
The landscape surrounding Saint John was beautiful and somehow reminded me of the West Coast. The lush green islands poking out of the dark ocean, met by the bright blue skies, looked like the islands of the Georgia Straight.
The mountainous hills and sweeping seaside views of Atlantic Canada, mirrored those of the Pacific Northwest, that I had seen only 6 months earlier. As we neared the border, I sighed, thinking back on our Cross-Canada adventure. We had seen a great deal, and done many things along the way. Technically we had seen the expanse of Canada in a span of only 18 days. It was an adventure, and I can’t say I’d hesitate to do it all again.
The next part of our journey consisted of a sanity-questioning road trip through the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. It involved creepy old flea markets in the back-country mountain towns of New Hampshire, and a very intimate encounter with boarder patrol… but I’ll save that story for another day.