Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Road Trip

Dewey and Corky, my little white truck and I took a road trip in late April, 3534 kilometres round trip, and an estimated driving time of 19 hours and 30 minutes one way, according to Google Maps.  It was an exciting venture, because although I've driven from Ontario to PEI and back, never by myself and never with two dogs.
Because I'm exceptionally directionally challenged, I printed off the Google directions according to my estimated stops:  from PEI to Edmunstun, NB, from there to the home of my dear friend Rose in Lanoraie, QC, and the third day to my father's house north of Toronto.  And for insurance, I programmed my GPS for the same route.
The first day was a mix of feelings; I was excited to get on the road, excited to go over the Confederation Bridge (13 kilometres long and being in a truck, I could see over the guardrails!) and then pleased to find a 110 km/hr speed limit on the divided Trans Canada but bored with several hundred km. of trees.  Once we got closer to Edmunstun, the St John River peeked in and out to keep me happy.
This picture is courtesy of the Friends of the St John River; St John River Society.
Unfortunately I couldn't take pictures and drive at the same time, so there aren't any scenic pictures except this borrowed one.
The Days Inn in Edmunstun was our first stop after 6 hours driving and it wasn't a great choice.  It was convenient to the highway but out in the middle of nowhere, so there were no food places nearby.  I had packed a cooler with cheese, grapes, sweet potato nachos and a dip tray, so that was supper.
The second day took us into Quebec and the highway immediately went from the beautifully surfaced divided highway to a 90 km/hr one-lane bumpy mess, for 45 long kilometres.  The end of that stretch made it worthwhile, because coming into Riviere Du Loup, you get into the edge of the Appalachians and the St. Lawrence River, absolutely stunning scenery.  Then it was a divided highway through hundreds of miles of trees again.  It was going past Riviere Du Loup that my GPS kept nattering at me and I was yelling at it, saying, "What?  What?  I can't HEAR you!"  Then it shut up and it was several hundred km down the road that I realized I was on Highway 20, south of the St Lawrence, and Rose lived off of Highway 40, north of the St Lawrence.  Luckily for me, the only bridge across the river was in Trois Rivieres and I hadn't got that far.  Rose told me afterwards that had I listened to the GPS, it would have involved a ferry to cross the river, so I changed my preferences for the trip home to eliminate ferries from the mix.  (Actually, I had to get Jamie to show me how to change the preferences.)  The bridge at Trois Rivieres was a little scary; really high and old, so I stared resolutely at the road. 
Highway 40 is the oldest highway in North America and Lanoraie has to be one of the oldest towns.  I thought a great roofing salesman had blitzed the town and sold just about everyone a new steel roof but found out that these were the originals and were all hundreds of years old.  Apparently the town is famous for them.  Amazingly enough, they look just like the new lifetime steel roofs.  Pretty little town and Rose's 175-year-old house is lovely, full of orchids and light.  Luckily, Rose loves to walk because the dogs and I really needed to stretch our legs.
The next day was the longest drive.  Montreal wasn't too bad because it was Saturday but it seemed to be all construction to the border of Ontario.  Highway 401 got interesting once we got into the Canadian Shield and the road dove through miles of blasted rock.  Naturally, traffic slowed down as we approached Toronto.  It doesn't matter what day it is around Toronto - traffic is either slow, slower or stopped.
This is going to be a book if I don't cut it a little!  A little pictorial relief, here:
My father was thrilled to see me and the dogs.  He doesn't look bad for an octogenarian!

All dogs love my parent's back yard.  It's fenced but the attraction seems to be all the separate areas - behind the house, pond, arbor, veggie garden, apple trees behind the garden - whatever it is, dogs love it.  Corky made friends with Dad's dog Rosie and they played long enough to wear themselves out.

Dog beds don't get a lot of use in this house.

Dad babysat the dogs while I made a trip to my son's house for a long-awaited visit with my grandchildren.

This picture of Cian makes me laugh, because he was waiting for his father to look at him so he could cross his eyes.  This makes Jamie crazy and of course, his reaction makes Cian do it even more.

Jamie made us a lovely chicken supper.
I wish I had more time to visit with them.
 The trip home came all too soon and we did it in two days this time, instead of three.  Montreal was not fun on a Thursday afternoon and it was a two hour ordeal getting through the city.  I've never seen anything like it:  six lanes of traffic with two lanes coming in from the left and two lanes coming in from the right and the road splitting in three directions in front.  Of course, everybody on the left has to get right and vice versa.  So it's like a mad dance of zig-zag, very slowly.  All this with my stupid GPS giving me instructions that I couldn't hear.  Good thing I had memorized the Google instructions this time.
One thing that was interesting to me and probably only a rockhound was the difference in the hills the roads cut through.  In Ontario, the cuts were through monstrous rock.  In Quebec, through the tail-end of the Appalachians, the rock was really old looking and smaller.  On the outside of the mountains in New Brunswick, the rock was almost pebbly, and really, really old looking, the dregs of the glaciers.  Quebec is beautiful, I'm sure, if you're off the highway, but one of the really interesting highway features is the occasional lump of a mountain, in the middle of nowhere.  All flat farmland, and in the middle of that flatness is a...well, a tall lump, for lack of the imagination to come up with any other word.  They're quite unique. 
And I did manage to get lost.  Stupid GPS told me to take an exit past Moncton but somehow I missed it.  I was so anxious to get home and within 20 miles of the bridge, I managed to add an extra 15 minutes onto my trip.  And that was when I got behind the car full of old people who were going just under the speed limit and slowing even further when they got to a turn.  I thought about passing them and then decided I didn't want to get killed for the sake of 10 minutes.  Sure was frustrating though.
My doggies were absolutely wonderful throughout the whole trip and now that I've done it, I might just do it again.  This time I'll know where to stop to get the good pictures.
Back to reality!


  1. Wow! Quite the trip! You are brave...I would do it, but no doggies to keep me company, and no relatives to put up with me, so it would be much more expensive...glad you got to see everyone..Cian is a cutie pie!

    1. Hey, I forgot about the moose! Hundreds of miles of moose warning signs and I just about went blind trying to see a moose but not a moose in sight! What do they do in the daytime, disguise themselves as trees? I really wanted to see a moose, just not in the road ahead of me, but my whole trip was disappointingly mooseless.