Alright, so I know I said I would start on the Mecca of crossing Canada next. I’m far too excited to share something that is seemingly so trivial. Signage. Signage will make you or break you. On more than one occasion I’ve been cooking in the sun or freezing in the rain with a sign in hand and hours pass. What’s wrong? Why won’t people stop? Why can’t I score a ride? I have no idea.
There isn’t a particular tried and true science to sign making, nor is there a specific way to always secure positive repertoire from the public. Your best bet is to just wing it. Be yourself and be ready to adapt to the area. A simple direction works awesome most days, others it acts as an invisibility cloak. Specifics? That’s great too if you’re on a single highway but as soon as you find yourself in a weaving spider web of trans-Canada, side highways, byways and detours you’re going to have a long day. Or are you?
This is such an ever changing matter, I can’t promise you a damn thing and that’s okay. You’ll figure it out.
So for those of you who know me, I don’t really speak French. I put forward a serious effort during my days leading up to Quebec. I spent 4 days in Montreal (It’s unreal, you gotta go!) and 7 days in Quebec entirely. I had no idea how to be funny when it came to the Canadien culture. I guess I made out all right.
I met some great people too! From crazy stoners who drove 40km/h over the speed limit all day, a successful Entrepreneur and inventor of the 100% Canadian Tomahawk Electric Super car named Mario and a very honest and welcoming friend Oliver who invited me to stay in his Grandfathers cabin built in the sixties. Thanks Oliver, it was cold that night.
Find the Super Car here:
So that’s not even about the sign. You can’t Hitch on main Highways in Quebec. On-ramps are as far as you can go. The police can and will remove you and ticket you. I was lucky and got through without a problem. That’s still not about the sign. I guess what I’m trying to say is this time the sign didn’t even matter. Everyone who stopped told me they didn’t even read it. Kinda weird Quebec, kinda weird.
So yeah, this is pretty self explanatory, GP or Grande Prairie. I stayed with my sister the night before in Edmonton and since Albertans are very straight to the point and just need a quick answer GP was sufficient. There isn’t a lot to say here. I ended up far off course on Highway 2. Some random dude felt the need to tell me “Dude you’re lost! You aren’t on the highway to GP!” I know. Thanks dude, I know I have to take a range road south for forty minutes. I looked at a map this morning. Take what you can get. Don’t expect to go straight to your destination every time, that’s half the fun.
This one was pretty funny. Not funny because of the sign. Funny because I texted me friend Brent in GP while I was in Nova Scotia and asked if he could hook me up with a place to stay in Antigonish. His parents took me in. I texted him all night telling him about how silly he looked in his family pictures and joked that I was sleeping in his sisters bed. I actually was, she wasn’t around that night so they set me up there instead of on the couch. Thanks!
Arts and Crafts are awesome. Even if you’re just scribbling with a permanent marker on a sheet of Styrofoam you found in the Garage. North, great direction. Sydney, destination. Straight forward again. No problems here. Another easy day where people knew where I was headed. Rides weren’t terribly hard to come by and there were a lot of friendly faces. Great people out here but I’d suggest coming earlier in the year. As you can tell by the background no matter how welcoming you try to look the fog still paints you as an axe murderer straight from a 70’s B rated movie. Leave your axe at home kids, especially when you hit the road at 6:30Am.
My all time favorite sign. I’m doing this again. This was one of those times where the sign really, really came through. I made it to Fredrickton NB by mid day and lacking a new sign I sifted some recycling bins behind a fast food joint and sat myself by the drive through scribbling as I do. You get funny looks when you do that, I do it on purpose now because I think its funny. Easy way to get some folks to buy you food without asking too. Thanks again, the world is amazing.
So I’ll say my ears were ringing by the end of the day. I have never been honked at, hollered to and waved at so much in my life. Everyone loved this sign. It’s a part of Canada I’d like to go back to. I was picked up by such a vast array of people who all said something along the lines of “I stopped to pick you up because your sign is great, I’m always worried I’m going to pick up someone who has a bad attitude and no sense of humour.” I felt great.
My first ride was actually two Brothers and the Girlfriend. Super cool people, both covered in Tattoo’s, drinking beer in the back seat and smoking like a chimney. They offered me beers, gladly accepted. Then I learned the older brother in the front seat just got out of Jail. I congratulated him on making it back out to the real world. It was awkward.
Silence for a few minutes. I had to know.. I asked if he was going to change now. He said yes. He’s never going back. He’s going to live a true and honest life. Good on you man, you got this. I just wish prison was about rehabilitation instead of punishment. Maybe one day.
Summing all of this up; it doesn’t matter what your sign says, how its written or what it’s made of. People will read You, not the sign. Exude positivity and keep that smile on. Be kind, be welcoming and don’t ever let the road knock your spirits down. There are people everywhere who will and won’t give you a ride. The ones who will usually don’t even care what you have written or even if you have a sign. So knowing that just go have fun with it. Enjoy yourself. Don’t take life too seriously, nobody gets out alive anyways.