I am 2/3 of the way through the three-day trip from Toronto to Albert Bridge. I can’t say that I’m enthusiastic about getting back into the car. I do love these long drives. If only my SI joint agreed, my ability to perform the solo road trip would be supreme. I could do this for a living, if I didn’t always want to get back home so badly. I am the only person I know who regularly travels long distances without music or talk radio. I find myself lost in thought as I travel across the country, and an hour or more can pass before I realize that I turned off the radio at the last difficult section of traffic.
Today was the section from Quebec City to Saint John, a relatively short section of easy driving. I have a fondness for the Bas St. Laurent, the flatness of the south side of the St. Lawrence irregularly interrupted by large mounds of rock left by retreating glaciers. I have made this trip so many times that it is part of my own map of the world. GPS? Don’t need it. Turn right coming up Kennedy and follow the signs until you get to Saint John.(This is essentially how my parents told me to get to Fredericton when I was leaving St. John’s to go to university two provinces and a ferry-ride away, so I come by it honestly.)
For several years when I lived in Guelph, I used to come up Kennedy Rd to the 401, (the major east-west highway through southern Ontario) and I would look at my husband: “Want to go to Montreal this time?” The answer was always no. Something about work, Monday, and the kids needing to go to school. But the friends on Kennedy are still the eastern limit of my chosen family in Ontario, and these days I start my trips heading east from their house, having sold the western place in Guelph nearly 5 years ago. It feels like a blip in my life, even though it is more than 1/8th of it.
Life is short. Road trips are part of the markers on my path. My mother brought me to Ontario over these same roads nearly 21 years ago. I was on my way to Chalk River for a summer job as a research student. Chalk River is a town of 800 halfway between Ottawa and North Bay. It takes about 15 seconds to drive through it on the highway. When we got there, and drove back out the other side, I looked at my mother and (semi) jokingly said, “Don’t leave me here.” Everything in my life follows from that road trip.
There’s a metaphor there, I think.