Hey, Get off the Freakin’ Road!

Nothing is more frustrating that finding yourself behind a slow-moving camper-trailer, RV, call-it-what-you-will.

Which is ironic because I can easily see myself travelling in one of the smaller versions, much more than Naomi can, which is absolutely zero. I like the comfy feel of having your home “on your back” as it were, like an affluent cross-country-travelling tortoise.

The genesis of this trip began with the fantasy of going on a “Nowhere Drive” west or south and pulling a camper behind us.

This idea is obviously shared by an awful lot of people, judging by the proliferation of these types of vehicles. When I mentioned this idea to Naomi she said, “Get rid of the camper and you’re on.”

But these things sure move slowly and must also guzzle gas like nothing else out there. On some highways there’s simply nowhere to pass.

Take a deep breath, Ron, don’t be so impatient! (If it were only that easy!)

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Can you imagine a tent pitched close to these monsters?

Also, since times have changed, campers and RV’s are usually permitted to reserve a space along with people camping in tents, so campsites now lack the visual charm they used to have.

The sizes of RV’s have also grown dramatically in the past 20 years. At one campsite, in Mount Robson Provincial Park, there was an enormous bus parked in the campsite space. Maneuvering one of these babies is obviously no easy feat. Campers now outnumber tents in many campgrounds.

Vroom Vroom

One thing that we didn’t notice while on the road were the large groups of motorcyclists that you see hogging the highways in Quebec. It’s not rare to see 50 or more “weekend warriors” at a time on the roads around Sutton but we only noticed a few motorcyclists in the dry desert-like area of southern British Columbia east of Kelowna and, surprisingly, on Salt Spring Island off Vancouver Island.

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A rare scene west of the Quebec border.

I mentioned this to a relative in Ottawa on our way home. Sandy works at a Harley Davidson franchise and likes to get away to Maine and other places in the summer. “Quebec’s the biggest motorcycling market in North America,” he said.

It’s another way we’re distinct.

At Home

No hike evoked more emotions or memories than the one in the upper reaches of Mt. Revelstoke, British Columbia. Since you have to drive 20 kilometers once within Mt. Revelstoke National Park before reaching the trail head, you are starting your hike at a pretty high elevation to begin with.

The hike, through sparsely treed hilltop and alpine meadows, reminded me vividly of Switzerland where Naomi and I once hiked almost 20 years ago. There’s nothing quite like the pure vibe of a hike at a high altitude.

With Naomi’s bear bell ringing away, and with me walking behind her, I sank into a reverie. It didn’t hurt that we continued to enjoy the beautifully perfect weather that followed us through the trip.

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Take a deep breath. Hmmmm.

Things I Never Expected

If you had asked me prior to the trip what I thought the cost per litre of gas west of the Quebec border I would have said, “It’s cheaper everywhere.”

Wrong.

The oil companies are gouging Canadians in every province, it seems, with the city of Edmonton, Alberta the only exception.

Speaking of Edmonton, If you had asked me where it was located, I would have placed it at least 200 kilometers further west, almost in the foothills of the Rockies.

Another mistake.

If you had asked me if driving through the Prairies would be boring because they’re so flat, I might have said, “For sure.”

Au contraire, I found the Prairies refreshing and stimulating, more so, improbably, than driving through the Rockies.

Not that the Rockies were boring, but it was special to gaze over the limitless prairie horizon or try to make out a discernible form out of the countless clouds floating motionless above the car.

If you had asked me if I thought I would be swimming in Lake Superior, I would have said “No way.” For some reason I envisioned a wild, unfriendly coastline by choppy, unswimmable waters. Not so.

If you had asked me if I would be body surfing in the Pacific, I would also have said, “Ain’t going to happen.” The coastline of Vancouver Island near Tofino wasn’t a wild, wavy and unfriendly place as I imagined but peaceful and calm. Mind you, it was incredibly cold, numbingly so, which explains why all the surfers were wearing wetsuits, while all the non-surfers like myself froze their tushes off.

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OMG, that’s cold! (Still, quite refreshing.)

If you had asked me if Tim Horton’s could be such a friendly and inviting pit stop for us during the trip I would never have believed it. But it was. Naomi and I preferred their strong high-caffeine blend to Starbucks, particularly when starting a day on the road. I would order either coffee, black tea or green tea and fire up the IPad for the free Internet connection.

Tim Horton’s is incredibly popular in small-town Canada. People hog the tables, relax and talk in loud, familiar voices, and seem to be immensely enjoying themselves in the process. Even waiting in line to order didn’t feel too oppressive.

I also never expected to swim as often as I did on the trip. Including lakes, rivers, oceans, spas and hotels, I swam more than 15 times.

This was a big surprise.

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