The Trip: Chapter 4 – How Sweet it is

One of the worst things a person can be, according to my wife, is “rude”.

The way she says it: “That was rude.” It makes one want to crawl into a little ball and disappear. Especially when it’s directed at you…

So it’s a pleasure to say that she almost never said this word during our six-plus weeks travelling across Canada and the States. We found Canadians, generally speaking, extremely sweet people. In just the first days of the trip alone – ­at Killarney Mountain Lodge, at a Sault Ste. Marie grocery store, at Lake Superior Provincial Park and in the nearby town, Wawa, Ontario – ­we only met lovely, helpful individuals.

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Like the employee at the IGA in Sault Ste. Marie who directed us up the road to the competition – ­ another big box grocery store – ­because it had a better place than they to sit down and have lunch. And once there, we were directed by a man who walked around the store with us looking for skewers for a planned chicken meal that night at our first planned campsite.

At breakfast at Killarney Mountain Lodge on the morning of Day 2, Naomi remarked to the server’s usual question about the meal that she thought her portion of scrambled eggs was a bit small (breakfast was included in the price of our stay). The lady smiled, took Naomi’s plate and returned with a more generous portion.

In Wawa, just north of Lake Superior Provincial Park, we asked an employee at a Canadian Tire store if they sold a replacement for the tent pole bag we thought we had lost. The man, obviously First Nations, laughed and said, “Oh, I wouldn’t do that. Just put them in a plastic bag, tie them up with an elastic, and you’ll be OK.”

I enjoyed the open, frank and simple manner of the people we met, a feeling reaffirmed the following week in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Even Naomi remarked on how friendly I was becoming. I explained that deep down I am a gregarious person – it just takes the right situation to bring this quality out in me.

Montreal, for example, is a city where strangers won’t necessarily greet each other. Not being certain of a person’s language, English or French, can often be offsetting and can result in people being less overtly friendly.

In Seattle, I don’t know what it was, but complete strangers nodded and said “HI, how are you?” as we walked by their beautiful residential streets. This friendliness happened over and over – in Victoria, B.C., on Salt Spring Island, in Edmonton – the list goes on and on.

So, while we can confirm that the natural beauty of much of Canada and the United States is there for the enjoying, a lot of natural hidden beauty also exists in the hearts and minds of thousands of people “out there”. I can personally attest to this.

Has this experience changed me? Well, now I am much more ready to look a stranger in the eye and nod or say “Hi” when I walk by. I would never have done that before.

It’s a good feeling.

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