Cross Canada Adventure – Amherst

July 10, 2014

Amherst, Nova Scotia – 10:00 a.m.

The town of Amherst Nova Scotia is about a half an hour east of the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border. It’s a quaint town, with no other claim to fame than that my Grandmother lived here when I was small; so I have fond memories of the area. Coming into Amherst, I made a list of things I know about Amherst. It comprised the following:

  • It’s on the Eastern Link bus route from Halifax to Moncton
  • The Circle K gas station has chocolate bar-flavoured coffee
  • My grandmother used to live there

A poor geographic summary, if I do say so myself. We got in at about nine in the morning; with plans to go up to Springhill (see next week’s article) to visit family for lunch and tea. The Canadian road trip tradition – the Tim Horton’s stop, was made; and with our bodies newly caffeinated we pressed on. As we were running early; we stopped into the shopping center and went to look around in the giant tiger store. It was a bit of a to do, as the store just  recently arrived in Amherst; and my grandmother had heard varying reviews from her cousins and wanted to form one for herself.  It’s a generic run of the mill box outlet like most giant tiger stores, but it passed the time.

Amherst is a nice place. It has enough grocery stores and outlets that you can get what you need, but it’s close to the more rural areas of Nova Scotia so that it’s not too urban. I used to really enjoy it as a quiet spot of repose on the coach route. I think a lot of people who live in the area do so for the serenity and the option of both country and urban living. Overall it’s a lovely area, close to the beach and ocean so many Nova Scotians love with all the reasonable comforts of being more inland. So while I may not have improved my geographical knowledge of Amherst, I certainly enjoyed my time there.

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Cross Canada Adventure – Prosser Brook

June 3, 2014

Prosser Brook New Brunswick – 1:17 p.m.

Well, here I am. I made it into New Brunswick in the afternoon of the 26th of May. After some meandering around Quebec (namely, Ste. Foy); and two more bus changes (Fredericton and Ste. Foy again), I was finally seeing the green grass and pothole-riddled roads of home. We arrived in New Brunswick four hours prior to my ETA in Moncton; so I had a bit of an anxious wait while we drove around the province before coming home. We pulled into Moncton around 8:00 p.m., my Dad picked me up at the bus depot; and I headed home to my Grannies’ for some much needed rest and stationary motion. Since then I’ve been eating and sleeping as much as possible and spending every spare minute in between literally swimming in the river and metaphorically swimming in King Cole tea (only available in the Maritimes). As no personal conclusions have been reached, this is largely a travel debrief, interspersed with some observations. This is a lot more about Canada and Canadians than my personal journey across Canada; but for now that’ll have to do.

It’s been a little over a week, and I’ve had enough time to sufficiently recuperate and reflect on the whole adventure, so I thought it was about time to write the prologue. It was definitely overwhelming at times; and I won’t pretend that I took the whole journey well. Day two specifically was spent submerging myself in ginger tea and promising I’d never eat chicken again. And I swear Ontario took days to cross. It was a really illustrative experience that I am very grateful for, and it gave me a new sense of Canada’s geographic and cultural landscape. And I will never do it again. Ever. You couldn’t pay me. Canada is huge.

So rant about the inconvenience of driving across the second largest country in the world aside, here comes the inspiring and soul-searching part of the article. Canada is big, and I have definitely revised my definition of the word since starting out. And vast in the sense that we have so many different kinds of landscape, crops, people, and experiences. The whole ways across no two sunsets or sunrises were even remotely similar, and high noon in Dryden is a far cry from high noon in Ste. Foy. The point is; Canada has such infinite diversity in so many ways that it really does have something for everyone. You like cowboys? We have cowboys. You like endless wheat fields? We have lots of that. Theatres, art galleries, and gastro pubs? No problem. Lobster? Boatfuls. Drumming circles? Take your pick. Farmer’s markets? More numerous than the Sobeys’s.

And I really like that. As I got older and went to University; there was a point in time when I was worried that maybe Canada just wasn’t for me, that perhaps it didn’t have what I liked or needed. And it’s a wonderful relief to see that is does have that, and a lot more. I’ll be one of the first to say that Canada’s funding and willingness to respect the arts as a viable profession is a little behind the times; but we are ahead in many other ways. And while I can’t foresee being able to pursue a lucrative career in big time acting under the red and white any time soon, I can reliably inform you that I’ll be back in the land of the maple leaf any chance I get. We have so much to be proud of as Canadians. I think we get so used the high standard of life here that we pick out the small (er) things. This isn’t to say Canada couldn’t be improved-I know we can come up with some amazing solutions to the housing difficulties faced by our lower income citizens, and the environmental threats that are posed – but we have the resources, the man power, and the heart to be better. And I believe all Canadians want the opportunity to make Canada the greatest it can be.

I love being Canadian; and one of the things I am most proud of is our ability as a people to help one another in times of need and our love for the land we live on. We are proud of our hockey, Olympic mischief (unintended as it was), our musical and theatrical artists, our crops, culture, and international relations (peace keeping and military missions included). And I could say all that before. But now I can say that I am proud of how connected we all are; of how much fun it can be when we get together for a common cause, and of how every Canadian I talked to along my way wanted a better Canada. Not necessarily a more profitable Canada (though I don’t think anyone would complain); but a Canada where all Canadians are comfortable being themselves (religiously, sexually, politically, etc.), feel connected to their fellow country persons, have access to the services they need, and feel that they can grow personally and professionally in whatever way they want to with the support of their country behind them. And you know, even if it’s years in coming, I’m proud to be part of a country that wants that future.

In traveling across the land, I learned far more about the people than I expected to. From bus friends who bought me water when I wasn’t feeling well, to drivers as tired as I was offering to help me with my luggage; be it midnight in Manitoba, or five a.m. in Montreal the Canadian spirit doesn’t take a break. I talked to people who were lost, and people who were very certain of their future; as well as a four year old learning to walk her fully-grown Rottweiler; and I never felt like I wasn’t welcome into the conversation or barking up the wrong tree (pardon the pun). Canada can be ruthless; as we experience every winter, and we’re not immune to other disasters, as illustrated by the floods in Calgary and on the East Coast.  Nor are we exempt from other misfortunes such as homelessness, disease, and bereavement. But through it all, we would still pull together to help when a friends’ mother is in the hospital, or give a stranger directions. And despite how many thousand kilometres separate us, or how different our lives may be, Canadians are Canadians; and that spirit and pride is what connects us, what makes us the great country that we are.

The biggest change for me that was brought about by traveling (mostly) across Canada was this;

I no longer say I am proud to be from Canada, I say I am proud to be a part of Canada.

Cross Canada Adventure – Ste. Foy.

May 26, 2014

Ste. Foy, Quebec – 10:01 a.m.

As it turns out my ticket fix from last night did two things; firstly it took off both eleven hour layovers, and secondly it took off a day. This means that I’ll be arriving in Moncton on the evening of the 26th, rather than the originally planned afternoon of the 27th. Rather exciting for me, to be honest.

From Montreal to Ste. Foy there is mostly just highway. There was a wheat field, but just one. On the way out of Montreal you have to drive past “La Ronde”. La Ronde is an amusment island; like an amusement park, but on its own island (in case you couldn’t tell, that’s a personally coined term). So I took some photographs of an empty roller coaster in a sun rise. Though, I find it worth mentioning, that on our way out of Montreal we passed the church where my cousin was married. I won’t name names, but let’s just say a certain female genius photographer.

Unfortunately, as I’m taking the photos with my phone and writing and publishing the articles on my laptop, I’m not able to add any photos at the moment. But I’ll put up a separate album on the site once I get home that has all the ‘Cross Canada Adventure’ photos in order. I feel I should warn you all in advance that I have a penchant for taking pictures of old buildings and fields.

I am, in fact, really feeling better. Now I can focus on what I’m doing instead of falling asleep on luggage trolleys. I get in to New Brunswick at about 5:40 this evening, and it’s 10:15 now – so I wager I have somewhere between five and seven hours of Quebec left. Which is fine with me, I like Quebec. It’s cute, lots of helpful people (I don’t think I’m actually capable of moving my bags on my own), and good coffee.

But I won’t lie; I’ll be happy to see New Brunswick. Canada has surprised me the whole way here; from helpful strangers making sure I got my bags on the coach, and surprisingly polite teenagers working at fast food restaurants, to a terrain as varied and infused with personality as the people who inhabit it. I keep catching myself putting off writing these articles until I finish watching the sunset, or after we pass this lake, and ever until a new passenger on the bus is finished telling the story of their fishing trip. I thought I would have a lot of time on this trip to catch up on some reading, finish a season of one of my favourite television shows, or maybe get some adequate sleep; but I never expected the view out my window to be so captivating, or to change so dramatically. And as I’m looking out my window now, distracted again by my first sight of the St. Lawrence in far too long, it’s still surprising me. The power of the landscape, the way I can see it has affected the people, and the way even the familiar things, especially the familiar things, bring a sense of wonder I was worried wouldn’t show up on this trip. It makes me begin to think that I’ll get that sense of tireless adventure back. It certainly isn’t going to be taking over any time soon, but I can tell that it’s there; nowhere near a flame but a steady spark that has no intention of going out.

Cross Canada Adventure – Montreal

May 26, 2014

Montreal, Quebec – 5:54 a.m.

It took until the terminal at Montreal for someone to suggest to me I get a luggage cart for my three bags, violin, and carry-on. All I could think standing there at five in the morning was ‘damn, that’s a good idea’. I just sort of wish it had occurred to me (or someone else) earlier. But, better late than never, and it was a wonderful pick-me-up to not have to bodily haul my luggage about everywhere. And here I was concerned about missing my work out!

Montreal continues to be one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been in. I heard someone say once that Montreal was Canada’s answer to Paris; and if that’s the case, then it’s an apt reply. Montreal never makes me miss Paris – it just makes me excited to be in Montreal. Now if I could just manage to wake up enough to speak some coherent French.

Cross Canada Adventure – Ottawa

May 26, 2014

Ottawa, Ontario – 12:12 a.m.

The Ottawa bus depot plays dance part music, and the staff talk to me about my Star Trek book. So I put on my ‘Emergency Dance Party’ playlist, and figured I’d write in an update. There isn’t any wifi at this terminal, so I’ll probably end up posting all the updates at once when I get back on the bus.

I ordered a sandwich from the Mr. Sub (my first time at any Mr. Sub restaurant) and accidentally distracted the poor kid working so badly that he poured boiling water on himself when I asked for some for my tea.

I ate half of my sandwich, read three chapters of my Star Trek book, and now I’m trying to decipher my ticket. It seems I have two back to back eleven hour layovers. I’d really rather not. I’m going to go ask the service attendant if they can make anything of this.

Cross Canada Adventure – Kanata

May 25, 2014

Kanata – 8:05 p.m.

Kanata, for anyone wondering, is a suburb-type-thing outside of Ottawa. It’s close enough to be on the Ottawa public transit system, but far enough away to warrant its’ own Gray Hound stop.

Ontario has beautiful sunsets too. More lichen still, but the sky is wide with sunsets like the East Coast. I never understood that about out west – they call it ‘big sky country’ but I never felt like the sky was any bigger than it is back home.

No moose yet; but I don’t expect there to be – it’s been a bit chilly. No wifi on this coach, either. It’s an older one. This means I’ll be three updates behind by the time we hit Ottawa.

The ginger tea did work and not only did the nausea die down, but I had a really nice nap as well. So I’ve had some donuts, two chocolate bars, and a package of fruit gushers. I checked in on the internet this morning at a rest stop in Petawawa, so everyone knows I’m alive. We’re coming into the township now, so I’ll sign off.

Cross Canada Adventure – Sudbury

May 25, 2014

Sudbury, Ontario – 11:30 a.m.

We stopped somewhere for breakfast around 9:00 a.m., but I was still tired and a little ill off the coconut, so I just stayed in the bus and went back to sleep. I actually slept last night and Dave bought me a bottle of water, bless his pointed little head, so I feel markedly better today.

I’m at the bus depot here for two hours before I catch my connection to Ottawa. So I washed my face, changed my clothes, ate my pineapple chunks, and had three carrot muffins. With two hours out of motion they shouldn’t cause too much trouble. I’m also going to make my “Super Ginger” tea from David’s Tea that I brought with me. I can’t find any Gravol; but ginger is supposed to help – hopefully it will. It’s rather difficult to focus on adventuring when all you want to do is curl up in a ball.