– The Drive
This summer’s journey started with two best friends on the phone (what good story doesn’t) we wanted to do a big road trip. We decided to drive to Newfoundland from close to Toronto, Ontario. So a big trip is what we did.
It took 3 days and 2715 km one way. That includes the Marine Atlantic Ferry, a 5 to 7 hour boat trip, I’ll get back to that later.
We woke up around 4 am, got into the car dubbed “red-raspberry” got our road caffeine and gas then we were off to find our great adventure. Now you should know, I wouldn’t consider myself a morning person, it’s not that I don’t enjoy the morning I just don’t do mornings well.. at all, this being well-known to my friend, she graciously took the first morning shift… and every morning shift after that.
The first day passes uneventfully, we happily guzzled what surely must be an unhealthy amount of coffee and tea, stopping frequently to run around with my dog and make snacks, blasting music and singing along loudly as best we could. Paying special mind to sing in intricate and refined delicacy to every Disney song old and new.
Road trips are tiring. I didn’t realise how much it takes out of you. We ended up staying somewhere near Fredericton, New Brunswick. Sweet sweet coffee. We wake somewhat refreshed from our night in a morbidly overpriced sickly scented motel, to the sound of rumbling transport trucks and cigarette smoke. Yes! I almost forgot we had a free “continental” breakfast awaiting us in the lounge, oh how this inspires hunger! Finally finding this breakfast, we took full advantage of the gracious offerings of a muffin and unrefrigerated dairy. Having been blessed with the ability of thought in the morning my friend discouraged my idea of mixing the curdled milk with my coffee. Bless her and her morning brain. Both trying to choke down the stale crumbling muffin we decided to get on with the day, we went back to have a shower and get on the road.
Everything was packed up, my dog was walked, fed and happy. When a loud knock came, I opened the door not very happy with the interruption of our day, a large man with a stained plaid shirt and happy face filled the small doorway, ” hey ladies, I thought you might be missing these!” and hands me red-raspberries keys with quite a large grin. Oh the utter horror we had forgotten the keys, I still blame the curdled milk and its distracting qualities. After thanking the man profusely and thanking god that there are good people in the World we got back on the road and drove grateful to still have the car to drive.
We reached the loading port of North Sydney, Nova Scotia. Finally we were at the big ferry ship that takes you and your vehicle across the atlantic ocean to the island of Newfoundland. What a feeling, at this point we had driven for 19 hours and 30 some odd minutes, that’s about 2,015 km. Both quite avid seafood lovers we decided to get seafood chowder while we waited for the ferry to board. (we had about a 4 hour wait) We both got two big bowls of delicious fresh piping hot chowder, it was heaven. As soon as the flavour hit my tongue I breathed in the steam from the bowl the scent was clean and fresh hints of garden grown herbs on the top note. It was worth it just for this, what a beautiful taste, no potatoes just loaded with fish, clams and other bits of unidentifiable sea creatures. Both quite content we headed back to the ferry.
Having chosen to take the night crossing, I was very much hoping that we would be able to rent a cabin for the night a place to sleep and shower, have a glass of wine. So after the car was safely aboard the ship we went running up to try to secure a cabin, turns out we were lucky and got a beautiful cabin, I was in my element, quite comfortable being an occasional seafarer, I opened a bottle of wine and happily turned on the news. My friend, unbeknownst to me at the time was quite uncomfortable on any sea-faring vessel and was susceptible to seasickness. Nothing a few glasses of good red wine can’t fix I tell her. Unconvinced she took the paper cup of wine and drank.
I woke up to her “little” big snores, and was happy to see my suggestion of wine had helped to pass her unease of the ocean. I was so happy at that moment, my best friend was asleep peacefully in the bottom bunk, I surrendered to the motion of the large swells and let the ocean rock me back to sleep.
We both awoke to the ships horns, announcing that it was about to dock at port. It’s a nice sound, a ships horn, although eerie. It seemed a good start to the day, both yawning and stretching happy to have had a good night’s sleep. We were so close to my family’s cottage, so close to where i spent precious moments of my youth. so close, and so far a six-hour drive can be. Coffee.
One thing I had forgotten about my prior times on the island of Newfoundland, is the incredible slowness in which every single thing is done. Perhaps, I was too young to take notice. I live and have lived in big cities where people drive fast and badly, service is fast life is fast. it’s what we do, no time no time. Initially i was quite aggravated with the coffee shop employees. Why do they insist on talking to everybody? just give me my coffee and get on with it. Its our turn now, going up to the counter , Large two cream please. She asks me oh where you ladies from, (in a very heavy accident) have you been to Newfoundland before and an assortment of other questions. Now, if you’ve grown up in the city or experienced either side of this you’ll know what im talking about. I was truly taken aback, “um, yes?” not being a morning person it made this behaviour even harder to comprehend. It was only after I had the chance to sip my coffee and reflect on this one-sided conversation I remembered, that people here for the most part genuinely do want to know, they like to meet different people and they actually care to take the time to do so. As strange as it sounds its true. Newfies are the most solid and kind-hearted people I’ve ever met, and after that, I took the time to talk to everybody I met along the way and I took time to care.
Hours and many pot-holes later we finally came to our little town, to give some perspective, it’s about five hours away from St.Johns (Capital city of Newfoundland) three hours-ish away from Gander. We made it ! pulling into the steep driveway, laying eyes on the cottage and my family gathering outside to welcome us, I had spent so much of my youth in this place, memories came flooding in, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of love and safety and tired eyes, we all ate, we drank, we had a bonfire and then in the wee hours of the night we finally slept oh, how we slept.