The Mecca Pt 4

As a usual morning dragged me through numerous busses, trains and transfers I find myself edging to the far borders of Montreal. I had to walk a lot. Off a bus a few stops early and I found myself adding near an hour aboard the shoelace express. Finally finding a suitable on-ramp only to be watched by the Police. I’ve heard stories of Montreal Police forces, I really didn’t want to push my luck. Back up the road a little and hidden behind a sign I brought myself back to it and found a ride in no time.

Fifteen minutes up the road I’m off in a parking lot and to it again. Another, short ride. Another, Short ride. Another, made it to Lavis. Not so bad now. I’m moving as I like and the pace is building. Did I mention I don’t really speak french?

An older fellow picked me up on the ramp heading East. All is well except after picking me up we’re headed west. Now I’m just slinging phrases and hoping to get through to him I’m headed east. Dropped off I break for lunch. A break for me is defined as sitting down, never building a habit of sitting while looking for a ride gave me a feeling of a higher self image and I think it helped my attitude a lot. Only sit for snacks, reading and naps.

Spicy red pepper and garlic hummus, Pita bread and some fruit. Not a bad way to go. I’m missing home cooked food by this point. Next time I’m bringing a camp stove.

Que Mario. Seemingly a big wig business man driving a mid 2000’s BMW. So back through and following a pit stop in Levis to see his wife we’re on the road. Conversation really sparked when he mentioned this is his “Winter” car. So we got to talking. He’s built numerous Japanese and European sports cars over the years and has been helping his son with a bugeye WRX. Lifted, built engine and so on. Mario is the front running founder of the Tomahawk electric car unveiling this year! The time flew by. Hoping I can be in touch and learn more from him. He left a lasting impression on me.

The car for those interested

Another Lull in the day, on ramp and my invisibility cloak in full swing. I could probably have played dead on the side of the road and not a soul would have stopped. At least I was entertained. A fluid hauler at the stop sign had a comical (for me) mishap. Air lines from the truck to trailer came to dangle and were caught up in the driveshaft. With a burst of air and dragging 8 tires I laughed. He didn’t. I offered to help to receive no recognition at all. I kicked back and watched him struggle. Way she goes.

Oliver. The first person I have ever met who believed in the “Flat Earth Society” They have members all around the globe you know, he told me himself. I prefer science. I’ve been on a boat and seen the curvature of the earth. I’ve flown in a plane and seen the lay of the land. I was a little awe struck how concepts and beliefs like this are still so active in our modern world. We talked a little about it. He wouldn’t budge. Now I had just met him, I’m not interested in having this conversation and destroying my chances of securing this ride for a long haul. I had to stop him. Explained I’m going to have to agree to disagree and we leave it at that. He agreed. Not a word was spoke as the sun dipped. Weird how that works huh? Almost like the earth is…round..and turning. I didn’t mention it.

Must have worked out. He asked where I was staying and as usual, a shrug and a laugh. He invited me to his Cabin 9km out of Reviere de Loop. That’s not axe murdery at all! I’ll take it. Beers and groceries then we hit the dirt. It was beautiful. Built by his Grandfather in the 1960’s without power, plumbing or anything aside from the necessities of heat and bedding. Cracked a beer and set out for wood from the shed we were getting settled in. I struck up a fire in the old cooking stove and beer started flowing. An AM radio from a truck was built into the wall with a car battery clipped into power. This place was a time machine. As we warmed the cabin from the low negatives we gradually were able to remove our hats, coats, sweaters and shoes. Comfort at last and we set off to bed. With my sleeping bag and a bear pelt from his father we crashed and the morning came.

Frost and a brisk walk to the spring to fill our water bottles.

Road time and the St Lawrence river followed. I was mystified by the ecosystem of the murky water. You could tell the ocean had an influence on it but it was still fresh. It was new to me and I could have stayed all day just observing it all. I greeted a dog in French. It understood and I still brag about it today. Melted my heart.

From here on it’s a little bit of a blur. The next day was sub-par. I spent 5 days in Quebec and now into New Brunswick I found nothing to report.

The french speaking population became more apparent and there was really, truly nothing to do. Small town with no more than a Tim Hortons and another chain truck stop. I started recognizing the commercial vehicles by their unit numbers and the faces of the truckers seemed the show they recognized me too. Not a single one ever offered a ride, gave me a little extra room on the side of the road or even bothered to slow a little. It’s sad how we’re headed the same way, on the same road for days at a time. Catch another ride and pass them again. Trucks labelled from Quebec to Newfoundland sure would have been a treat. Can’t blame them though.

Slept in Tim Hortons. That sucked.

It’s fucking cold. This sucks. I want to give up.

I want to quit.

I get another coffee every chance I can. I’m so tired.

Grand Falls. Beer. They only had Budweiser, coors and Canadian. It’ll do. Their taps were a lie.

It’s 3am and I’m walking to another 24hr Tim Hortons. People left me food while I was sleeping. Thank you. That’s the little support I needed to keep going.

Grabbed a shower in Fredericton at a Gym. They really didn’t want to let me use their shower. I made them get their Manager. He had a beard. Instant best friends. We haggled back and forth and I dropped five bucks. It was 5 days since my last shower. I really, really needed this. I ran it for an hour. Best five bucks ever.

I’m making the break for PEI, Potato Island. It’s a beautiful way with amazing views. The Acadians are crazy. They’re a group of French Canadians known to be a little bit different. You’d have to meet one to really understand what I mean but they’re a riot. Brutally honest and very intense people. Every one that stopped on the Highway has no sense of road safety. They all found it entirely necessary to slam it to reverse and scream down the middle of the highway backwards. I laughed every time. They’re a bunch of idiots and I loved every second of it.

Scored myself some road beers from some folks you normally wouldn’t accept road beers from. A pair of Brothers and one of their girlfriends. Hard people, all towering over me in size and tattoos to match. The brother up front just got out of Prison. He ain’t ever going back. Relaxed me to hear that. I learned a lot from these guys. Don’t tell my Mom. She would smack me for getting in the car with them. Thanks for the Beers, you guys made my day.

Tom Maclean. I have his business card, only reason I remember his name. Another genuis. The past 25 years he has spent self learning about the underlying causes of mineral deposit formation and where you’re likely to find them. He struck it big. Deep in the woods of New Brunswick he found himself 70 Billion (This number is probably wrong I was a little buzzed after road beers) Dollars of deposited ores. He’s struck a claim and working with investors currently in order to get it out of the ground. He had a few Core samples and rocks taken from the surface. They were beautiful. The copper had corroded and oxidized in such a strange way as to nearly glow a vibrant green. Another big influence on me and our conversations still resonate with me to this day. He helped me come to terms with a lot of problems I had been facing in life recently. He kinda offered me a Job too, should get in touch.

Here’s Tom’s site, basic but effective.

I was beginning to heal.

I think I’m going to be alright after all.

Oh yeah, and some old hippies picked me up. We found a really big bridge! I caught the sunset as it fell over the Atlantic ocean while driving across. What a fucking treat! Welcome to PEI.

Oh and for the record, Locals think its funny to call it Potato Island. People on the internet don’t. Suck it Reddit, it’s a joke!

More coming, Three provinces to go, a flight back to Calgary and a whole new book all to be written in future entries. Three weeks to finish this up and I’m on another adventure this summer. Hang in there!

 

The Mecca Pt 3

      I love Canada.

I took the Go train from Hamilton early in the morning. Chris dropped me off and sort of showed me around. I took a lot of transit this year. More than I have in my entire life. You end up taking things for granted like; Signage, automatically updating signs, painted lines on the floor to lead you and tickets that have any indication of the rail line you should be taking.

I’m not sure who designed the Go train system. They really like green double decker train cars which are awesome but they seem to have never traveled before. There’s absolutely no signage. No markings on the railways, no ETA for arrivals and departures and not a single gate. What the hell? The only reason I made it to where I was going is an old man hustling for change.

He whispers to me through the crowd

“Follow the group”

Eerie. How do you hear an old man whisper in a group of one thousand? The thousand march with rubber soled shoes withholding any and all conversation. The entirety of the Go train was silent. A pin could drop and everyone would hear it but not a soul would move. This became so unnerving so quickly I felt an uneasiness growing in my stomach. My mind began to twist and turn and my eyes scanned the crowd on the unmarked platform.

To this day I still have no explanation as to why it was so quiet.

I asked someone if I was at the right platform. I was. I then asked why it was so quiet.

“It’s always this quiet”

“You know this isn’t normal right?”

I still wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or not. We began conversation. I felt alienated. Backpack, beard and out of place. I asked if we could sit together and we set off. We started as per a normal traveler to commuter would. Names, jobs, what we do and whatnot. As always the question came though and I was explaining what I was doing, where I was going and where I have been. I noticed people started listening. Pausing their music without removing their headphones. Positioning themselves with just a little interest shown in their body language. I noticed it all. Flattering really even as this had become a nearly mundane experience for me.

I didn’t mind this morning. The sun came rising and cruising along the lake into the heart of Toronto was thrilling for me. A few times I had to stop conversation and just observe. With a quick apology we continued. I then asked when we got into Toronto if Lisa could point me in the right direction and she agreed. We ground to a halt stories underground and before the doors open the fellow sitting to the right of her with headphones in turned and said

“I really enjoyed hearing your stories today. I hope the rest of your trip goes well and it’s really nice to hear things that most would never do in their life. Good luck”

I think it was this day I realized that I was a little…weird. I came into this so gradually and softly that It never really crossed my mind what I was actually doing. This isn’t normal. You don’t just Hitch across Canada. Well, I guess you do. I do. None the less, I’m happy I could touch so many and help them along their own journey. Thanks For the Directions Lisa.

It was around an hour and a half to catch the next train. I got kinda lost in the station. I get lost everywhere. Not lost to the point where I’ll find myself 20 feet down a well without any chance of ever being found, but just lost enough that I kind of know where I am, I’m not worried that I’ll miss my train but I really have no idea how I got to where I am. Make the best of it, there’s always help to be found. Google maps pulled through again. Step by step navigation inside of the station gave me all the help I could ever need. In the future a trip based solely off of hard copy maps, guides and local direction is in order. No electrical help, it’s too easy.

Train No. 2

Toronto to Montreal, 5 hours.

Settled in, Economy class like always. Bag stowed above, phone charging and a nap in order. Shared my Aisle with a Medical professional specializing Laser treatments. The entire time I could only imagine attack Sharks with Lasers on their head. Or having a Lab Cat constantly driven crazy by the excessive opportunities to be scorched all the while its just “Playtime” for Mr. Kitty. Comical.

Shannon and I learned lots from one another. Initially the Class division and learned caution kept one another from even risking a conversation starter but some time into the ride we found peace in anothers company and we shared the differences in our lives and I learned she actually doesn’t strap Laser beams to Sharks, nor are Cats allowed in the lab.

Back to the views. Anyone who has grown up and schooled in western Canada has seen in their Social studies (History) books the geographical differences in the west compared to east. You don’t think much of it until you’re hurtling through the country on a multi-wheeled human filled steel skinned diesel torpedo wondering how much of the history of this country is passing you by. The fall colours were in full swing and autumn has such a sincere beauty conveyed through the deciduous trees I haven’t seen since I was a child living in Virginia. This brought back a lot of memories for me from my childhood. I don’t think much of the past but I couldn’t stop myself.

We arrived in Montreal. I don’t really speak french. Shannon offered to grab a cab together. I obliged and away we went. It didn’t matter where it took me as it was early in the day and I had no plans. We headed downtown to her hotel. Exchanged goodbyes and I started to walk away. She stopped me and asked if I’d be alright. Of course I admitted. She asked where I was staying and I shrugged in return and kind of laughed. It didn’t matter to me, I’d figure it out. Shannon rolled her eyes just a little, we laughed. Off I went.

This little Cafe helped me lots after I left the hostel.

Coffee. Go to Montreal, Food and Coffee. Enough said. That’s my only advice.

Hostel for the night, pack up and regroup my things, clean up. Make friend.

Adventure. Find an Rx7

La Banquise. Poutine. The line stretched a block. We waited an hour. Worth it. Time to go back to the hostel and head to bed.

The next morning my glass was empty and I had zero interest in any goodbyes or social interaction. Checked out without a word and spent my day on transit exploring Montreal. It was amazing. I love this City. I can’t wait to return. The food, the people, the culture, le Francais, the god damn coffee! Montreal ruined me for Coffee.

Montreal Smoked meat Sandwich from a Jewish Deli with Mustard to die for? Check.

Get inside me!

Cafe Venosa with Kitty Cats? Check.

Mont Royal? Check.

Montreal? Check.

Make Friends with Red and Miranda? Check.

Time to go.

I’m going back to Montreal some time. I’d like to spend a week or so in the future. It was truly amazing.

Mecca Pt 2

 

It’s been a while. My apologies for such a long span of time between. Since the last entry I have Moved back to Alberta, started a new job at a High Performance and Offroad Fabrication shop and brought the Dually back to life. Those will all be explained in full detail in around 3 or 4 posts down the line. Hang tight, Things are about to get crazy.

So let’s just think about this for a minute.. You’re Canadian. What does that mean? Means you’re that really nice Maple syrup sucking, beer drinking, door holding friend from up north without a single complaint of -40 or worse. That’s right. We’re basically a relaxed hermit enjoying the vast expanse of America’s hat. Vancouver? No big deal. Canada Texas Aka: Alberta? Been there done that. But you have to think, where’s the history? East. Far, far east. So why haven’t I seen it? I was born in Halifax for God’s sake! What have I been doing all these years?

Knock Knock.

Opportunity is at the door. Chris is moving back to Ontario, it’s 3900Kms. He wants a Co-Pilot.

Next chapter

That’s right. I’m on it. Caught a Ride to Edmonton with my Uncle Ken in the Big ole’ 389 Long nose Pete hauling ourselves 53,000Lbs of beer (Smokey and the Bandit anyone?) to the land of the Oilers (Eww, Oilers) A swift visit with my Sister and I was on the road around 9Am the following morning. You have seen my beautifully hand drawn sign previously and you knew well where I was headed. The dreaded GP. The place has a lot of history and I’m really oh so glad that I’ve written over it with so much positivity.

You had autta know Rob. No mentions to date but my long time Room mate and adventure friend from Vancouver island. He moved to GP in 2012 and I followed in 2013. Three and a bit years of shenanigans, Adventure, heartbreak and learning followed us and to this day we’re still inseparable. I’ll toss a few good photos from the good old days in here just because I can. He picked me up after a few rides from some very different folks and we got on just like always. Beer started flowing and things were like I’d never had a day apart from him.

A weeks worth of packing, catching up with friends, some self inflicted drama and tying up of loose ends ended the week on a note nobody could have predicted.

I met someone. Someone I never thought I’d meet. Someone who makes everything move just a little slower, the days seem brighter and the moon seems closer. My heart rate drops when She’s around. Everything is Okay. I smile. I never knew when I left GP She would be who she is Today. More later. She knows where this is headed.

Chris and I had decided to hit the road in the evening due to a really late night and missing rush hour through Edmonchuck. That went out the window in a hurry. We had both woke up and restless as a summers worth of traveling makes you and we hit the road. Snow, not a lot but enough to worry of lake effect storms 3 provinces over. A full tank of fuel, tunes out the wazoo and a years worth of chit chat and catching up. This drive was EPIC. 5-6 hours per driver shift, 5-700km per tank at change out. Split it 50/50. Worth every dreary, road warped mind numbing second. Never in my life have I ever driven 3200Km in a single sitting. I doubt I will again for any reason other than emergency. Snapped awake again and again by a twitchy lane change or shocked back to it by an animal daring to run at the last second. Cruise control is godsend if you can stay awake.

Prairies? Yeah, there’s not much to see. Next Chapter.

More Praries? Like, Manitoba? I guess they have a big city. We got road snacks and fuel. Not much to see. Next Chapter.

Ontario? Well shit Chris! We’re almost there! He laughed. We were only halfway. Sleep.

“Hey, Calen, wake up.”

“Yeah, what’s up dude?”

“See that lake over there?” As he points right

“Yeah.”

“It’s the same lake as when you fell asleep three hours ago”

“What the fuck dude, the great lakes are huge!” I yawned as enthusiastically as someone could being worn from the road and expansion joints for 28 hours straight. I feel asleep as soon as I realized he was just messing with me. But really, It was the same lake.

DETOUR! Damnit Apple maps. So let’s just drive 2 hours out of our way. Initially we were a little upset with this but in the end it was all smiles. 🙂 Never in my life have I ever ridden a Red Dirt Road and now I can say I have. What a riot, we ended up by the end of the way amassing a total of 150km on the dirt and painted the car a beautiful pink. Jokes from the locals as we stopped for coffee followed and we all laughed.

Apple maps will declare a detour necessary due to a road closure for four entire minutes a week prior to using the road destined “Impassible.” Yeah, I’m an android person. There’s a few reasons for that.

So we caught 8 hours in Sault St. Marie and had 700km’s to finish up in the morning. We ordered a Pizza. Pizza has never tasted so good. Beds have never felt so nice (I had yet to learn a few things at this point in the trip) and a shower was needed.

Toronto! Damn. The 401 is INSANE. 12 lanes (Don’t quote me on that) of mass blundering chaotic traffic. Fun fact: That’s the busiest highway in the world. Chris made me drive. I was initially a little worried but things turned out great and I’m really happy I took him up on the offer. It will be more than a few years before I get to drive that again and we ended the evening in time for dinner with his Parents.

Now the thing is here, I thought I was going home at this point. I didn’t bring my tent, nor the outdoor gear I usually carry so I was under prepared for the next stint. But we’re not quite there yet so there’s a whole shebang of film from the Greater Toronto Area!

Guess I’m headed to Montreal. Does anyone speak french?