Friday, 14 October 2022

Great Canadian Road Trip: Debriefing

After 9 weeks and 3 days on the road, 18,000+ km., 30 different beds, 9 provinces coast to coast, we are home again!

In my last post almost a month ago, I was wondering what the future of this journey would look like. Could we maintain it? Would it be the zesty adventure we’d been hoping for? We were tired.

But we got our second wind! 


Sunset at Cheticamp, location of my last post.

I posted lots of photos on FB about our journey. (For those of you not on FB, I've posted photos down below the rest of this posting.)

Yes, we’d do it all over again. (But I don’t think we will.) On our last evening on the road, the RS said to me, “It’s kind of too bad that it’s over,” and those words were music to my ears. It’s no secret that I’m the one that has the itchy feet, and he’s the one that is content at home. He won’t say, “Wow, wow, wow! What a trip!” but he’s glad we did it, and so am I. Driving coast to coast we watched the country unfold from one region, one landscape, into another, and we saw it as a whole. We live in the midst of beauty all around, if we but have eyes to see it.

I thought immediately of writing a blog post to answer the question we get most often these days: “What were the highlights of your trip?” There are many that I’ll probably share over time, but this photo is a favourite, and makes me smile. It seems to capture the spirit of our adventure.


 Yes, that’s me behind the wheel of a U-Force 1000 side-by-side (I call it a 4x4 or dune buggy, but what do I know?) It’s advertised as having “mind-blowing power and heart-stopping speed.” This granny’s gonna go, ho boy!  Here’s the story behind that photo.

We were visiting my cousin’s daughter’s family who live on a pig farm east of Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island. Amy and Joel invited us to join their family for a traditional boiled lobster dinner. We were pumped! 


 But before we could get started on the eats, they took us on a tour of their farm, their truck bumping over fields recently cleared, showing us the huge eagle’s nest, visiting the pens where the young pigs were kept, admiring the small abbatoir for which they have big plans, checking out their amazing garden full of flowers and vegies. 

Their 5th grade son was riding around on the U-Force doing some chores for his parents. I was intrigued. A 5th grader driving a motorized brute? Amy saw me looking at it, and she said, “You want to try it out?”

Who, me? Nah. Too many “what if’s” attached to that adventure. What if I make a fool of myself by showing I can’t do what a kid can do? What if I tip it and end up in hospital? And honestly? I’ve often disparaged those noisy buggies driven by yahoos messing up pristine woods and pastures. Taking one for a ride is kind of against my core beliefs ... isn’t it? And besides, I’m a 74-year-old granny who should be acting her age. Shouldn’t I?  I turn down the offer.

Amy grins. “Aww, come on, you know you want to do it! It’s easy. Try it.”

She’s right. In spite of my doubts and objections, I’d really like to try it. And I do! It is easy, just not perfect. The initial slow crawl escalates into a jerky ride down the gravel road and into another field where I screech to a stop and inspect Rose’s Roadside Boutique, where her 12-year old daughter sells lemonade and flowers during the summer. She uses the U-Force to get there.

(unfortunately, the hurricane knocked over the "bouitique", but knowing Rose, it'll soon be on its feet again.)

That was fun! And doesn’t life need to have fun moments to spice up what can easily become hum-drum, same-old, same-old? Don’t we sometimes have to ditch the “what-ifs” and try something new? (Like a coast-to-coast trip with the resident sweetie? Or, more low key, buy that bright red dress, or add a streak of purple to your grey hair, or jump into the river fully clothed on a hot, hot day... ) You know you want to do it, so why not?

Fast forward to this weekend. We accompanied kids and grandkids on a walk around Courtenay’s Air Park, a paved trail circling a landing strip for small airplanes. It’s perfect for scooters, and widely used. Grace and Mitchell were having fun racing against Uncle Jonny. 


We took a quick break and sat on a bench for a photo op. 


"Uncle Jonny" caught me eyeing the adult scooter and asked, “You want to try it, mom?”

You know you want to do it, so why not? And I did. They made me wear a helmet, and I couldn’t keep up with the grandies, but ... hey, that was fun

To find out more about the U-Force: 

And here are the rest of the photos of our trip:

PEI seashore -- note the sandy red water. We camped in Amy and Joel's 5th Wheel, visited Green Gables, had supper with nephew Mike and his family. Great times!

We whipped through New Brunswick on 4-laners, but did get off the beaten track to visit the longest covered bridge in the world at Hartland.   

Our stay in Quebec included 2 nights at B&Bs, where we met lovely Quebecois folk who advised us to take the route through Kamouraska. Beautiful! Also stopped in Magog in the Eastern Townships.

Our stay in Ontario included a visit with family near Ottawa -- so good to catch up! And we stayed four nights with my sister and husband at their cottage near Peterbrough, gearing up for the long push home.

In Northern Ontario, our first stop was Sault Ste. Marie, visiting the locks and International Bridge. 

North of Superior was spectacular, even though the maples were not quite turned yet. This is Chippewa Falls, inspiration for the Group of 7 Painters. 

We hardly stopped for photos on our drive through Manitoba, but it was beautiful too, especially the river valleys brushed with early morning fog. This is Happy Rock in Gladstone, Manitoba. Get it? I'm thinking a dad came up with that one. 

We spent two nights in Saskatoon after four long days of driving. We visited the Western Development Centre, a marvelous museum. Bucky, Parka and Chippy liked it too.

The South Saskatchewan River Valley was clad in glowing gold. We could hear the chattering and clacking of a flock of Sandhill Cranes somewhere out of sight. Afterwards we had supper at the neighbourhood pub. It took us about 2 minutes to figure we were the wrong demographic...everyone was about 40 years younger than us. But the waitress reassured us that they regularly have a 96 year old man come in, so I guess that puts things in perspective. 

We had amazing weather throughout. This is the Edmonton River Valley from one of its many bridges. 

It had been 14 years since we visited the Rockies together. This is Athabasca Falls south of Jasper. Mountains, we missed you and we're determined to return and spend more time there, hopefully next year. Perhaps you've noticed that we seem to be wearing the same clothes in most of our pictures! We found out that you really don't need much, and that we had packed an awful lot of unnecessary stuff.   

There are no superlatives good enough to describe the glowing aspens in the mountain regions. I took bzillions of photos of them, but the photos don't do them justice. 

Last picnic as we take the last leg of our journey through Rogers Pass and down to Abbotsford to have a visit with friends and family there. Lunch picnics on the road are the best!

And this is how it's done! A cooler, a picnic basket, a bin for food, a bin for shoes, a bin for cooking stuff (which we didn't use at all), some games for evenings, two lawn chairs, and two suitcases. Our picnic basket consists of an old computer case that holds two of everything plus place mats, a tea towel, dishcloth and soap. Hey, it works! The Beavers were stuffed wherever there was room, and were very happy to be delivered to their new owners, our grandies.  

Our final "cruise" to Vancouver Island. We're already feeling nostalgic! What kinds of adventures can we dream up next?