Summer 17′ and Self Growth, the Prologue.

This will be my first trip traveling internationally since I was a child. I spent 4 years in the united states growing up as an army brat. That’s all. That’s my experience leaving the country. I’m now set to spend two months with a rather vague itinerary. Starting in Germany, exploring the surrounding areas, two weeks in Thailand and the last two based out of Germany to finish it up.

Overwhelming is by definition the word to use in a situation like this, but the severity of which I experienced was like nothing before. Population density was the largest issue I faced nearly tied for first with Language barriers. I was not prepared. This trip tore me down. This trip left me in the cold and this trip showed me I was not ready. All confidence I had gained previously on my Cross-Canada and English based adventures left me with a sense of security. It became shattered. I was lost. Anxiety had peaked and social situations out of my control had come together to form a mass of communication problems, stressors and arguments otherwise easily avoidable. I found myself acting out of character as I was so lost with no sense of independence. I couldn’t even help myself most of the time as I had to rely on those around me. I was helpless for the first time since I was a child. I couldn’t cope with it, I couldn’t de-stress and I could not digest those feelings. This showed me so much about myself I have never even known. A darker side which had never come forth. The struggle between being who I was and who I wanted to be grew far more difficult every day. I had to get it together. It came in waves and even the day I left I was still not okay. Being home in Canada for two months after the trip it has followed me. An uphill battle to return to a normal day to day life. To become as strong as I was before has been incredibly difficult and unforgiving. Doubt, lack of self confidence and insecurities have plagued my day to day life. But as a Prologue, this is the beginning of a story and my emotions shall develop alongside as I tell you of my travels.

Now it’s important to note that this trip was exactly what I needed. I was brought into communities and homes as a Guest, Friend and Partner. The loving, wild and kind hearts we all meet at home are scattered across this tragically beautiful earth. They will always find you if you let them. They will always help you if you need it and even when you can’t communicate with words they will find a way. I owe a lot to people I don’t even have a name for this summer. To those with never ending kindness and patience for all of us as we travel, those who bring us into their homes and treat us as family and especially those close to your heart and soul that bring you into their world. I must thank all of them.

So now the sappy stuff is out of the way. The emotional burden of being so lost is already mentioned and we can move on. To twisting narrow streets, High horse power sports cars, limitless highways, ancient castles, crystal blue oceans and monkeys at the trail side. Places on no map, sights on no trip advising website and corners only known by the locals. This is what this trip entailed, this is just another story as it comes full circle.

Back to the West

I’m met by the most inviting face I’ve ever seen. We’re at Calgary airport and as she drives up a sign reads “I missed your stupid face” I smile. I don’t know why it was so welcoming.

The First time I met Renée was the evening before driving across the country. We met at Tim Hortons, had coffee and got to know each other a little. It was around 7pm. We hardly noticed we chatted the night away and now its 3am and She had better head home. We decided to keep in touch and before She left I said to her “Give me a hug in case I never see you again!” Short and sweet, but it stuck with me. I would have never guessed she would offer to pick me up in Calgary. She is seriously Bad Ass.

So we made it, staying in my Grandfathers old house with Family. I’m still drunk at this point, I get us lost navigating to go home and after Dinner we’re headed right back out to go Dancing. Night 2 of non-stop binge drinking followed and a day of rest (basically drinking on the couch instead of the bar) tied up our Calgary adventure.

Her and I said our goodbyes and piled our gear into the trusty little Chevy Metro and away we went. We headed through Banff to catch some amazing views and fool around in the snow. Due to sheer boredom and being completely drained from the past months adventures I took the time to play around taking lots of pictures of anything I felt the need for as I’d been missing a real camera on my trip. We ended up being caught in a downpour. I took the wheel for the last of the 5 hour drive and brought us in.

Creston for the night, Drinking night 3. We stayed over with My Aunt and emptied her fridge of beer and cellar of wine. It was an absolute riot. Neither of us remember quite everything, except she stole my sleeping spot on the couch! We payed for it the next day (Seems to be a theme)

She’s always Smiling

Grand forks. Home finally. It’s been a month at this point. I have covered over 10000km’s, met hundreds of people and seen thousands of places. I’ve changed since I was last here. I’m more at peace now than I have ever been. I’m happier than I have ever been and I feel like I accomplished something very meaningful for the first time in a lot of years. I can sleep easy and move forward. I haven’t felt this good in years.

I’m set on giving this German girl the absolute best Canadian adventure I can and I want to make the best of our time. We explored the area around Grand Forks, Greenwood, our property and more. From walks, to four wheeling, quadding, hiking, farm chores and being complete idiots fooling around. We were having so much fun.

I’m not sure what it was about this time we had together but it was just so amazing. Initially we intended on spending a few days together. Days turned into 3 weeks. Something was really special. Something was different here. We both started to see it. This grew from an amazing friendship into more. She came back to visit in between plans she had in Vancouver. We spent new years together and she came back one more time.

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That last time was the best time I’ve had in my entire life. First off she came to visit early. I have never been so excited to see anyone. My heart was so full, my soul so happy and the smile on my face could never be taken away. I’m smiling right now as I write this. I asked her out. We had two amazing dates. The best dates of my entire life. Day one, Red mountain, skiing and snow boarding, Coffee in Rossland, Indian food and a movie in Castlegar. Absolutely perfect.

Red Mountain

Date two, Well..This was something I never ever thought I’d do in my life. I can still see the smile on her face. I’m still smiling right now just thinking about it. A 4:30Am start led us to Big white. A few weeks prior I’d booked us to go Dog sledding. Renée came to Canada to work with Dogs on a sled team so I knew this was the icing on the cake. The team of Dogs was amazing, given a new lease on life being rescued and adopted from many different walks of life and now working their winters as a pulling team. I Let Renée take point and harness all the dogs as I stood around holding the harnesses like some weird and bearded walking coat rack. I didn’t mind in the slightest seeing her work. The familiarity of the work and the ease in which her hands prepared each dog was bliss. I was in the company of the most confident and amazing woman I’ve ever known.

She was to leave the next day. This was the last time I thought I’d ever spend an evening in her company. The sad reality of fighting depression for so many years is you always think the worst. I thought I wasn’t worth it, I couldn’t have left any impression on a woman like her. I thought it was the end. My entire life has been plagued with such negative thoughts and feelings for so long and only recently have I come around. I’m not faking a smile any more and I owe a lot of it to her.

She wrote me a letter. I’m not telling any of you what was in that letter, as it’s just for Her, and I. That’s a sacred bond and trust never broken.

I’m proud to say I was wrong. You’re more amazing than you know and no matter the doubts in your mind you are worth it, you are amazing and you can do anything.

Including calling Renée your Girlfriend.

This entry is an ode to Her.

In Fourteen days I fly to Germany. She’s picking me up at the Airport. All or Nothing.

 

 

I’d like to add a note down here, I touched on the topic of depression in this entry and I’m going to be honest. In my Family we have been ridden with a Serotonin deficiency for generations. Basically, this means that your feelings of self worth, fulfillment, happiness and motivation are severely impaired. So here we are, Mental health. It’s the reason behind this entire trip. For lack of a better word, after losing my Job and starting to travel I was Fucked Up.

I had to start over. No matter what I tried for the last ten years I’d been met with a brick wall of depression and nothing helped. Not a damn thing in the world. Exercise, Food, Money, Work, Friends, Activities, Sex, Violence, Self Abuse or Travel. Not a damn thing helped. The moment I’d walk in the front door after and amazing adventure and sit down, Boom. All gone. Nothing mattered. Nothing made me happy and I couldn’t handle it anymore. Travel was me last resort. After my initial short trip I realized something was seriously wrong. I couldn’t put on my fake face of happiness anymore. I fooled everyone around me that I was happy but that was so, so wrong. I’m lucky, I know I am. I know not everyone will be so lucky and I understand that. For me, I saw a Doctor. I have a prescription. I can live again. I’m free from the haunting darkness of my mind. I can wake up in the morning and I can keep on keeping on. It still takes work, a lot of fucking work. Every day isn’t easy but I can do it.

So I guess in a runaround way the message I’m trying to get across is that if any of you are going through this, if any of you are fighting this dark and looming cloud that never leaves I want you to know you’re worth finding help. You’re worth trying to help yourself. You’re worth asking for a helping hand when you’re down. Somebody will always help you stand back up. I know how hard it is to break the mold and admit it’s time. Ten years was enough for me. I nearly lost everything because of it. I nearly lost myself. Days on this trip I never wanted to come home, never wanted to wake up and never wanted to exist but I did it. I can do it and so can you.

Please find help if you need it.

http://suicideprevention.ca/need-help/

Canadian Crisis Line: 1-888-353-2273

Alberta Mental Health Hotline: 1-877-303-2642

http://www.distresscentre.com/

Of course, Your best option is always to reach out to a Family Member, Friend, Spouse, Doctor, Councillor or anyone. Even Me.

You’re worth it. Keep on Keeping on.

 

 

The Mecca Pt 7

The last I’ve seen of Nova Scotia

A little known fact in Newfoundland, everyone is named Kyle. I scored two rides for the final 700Km stretch to St Johns. Kyle and Kyle brought me to where I needed to be. The first Kyle was such a great guy. Everyone on the rock has a heart of gold. This island is something else. It’s another country you won’t find except for right here. So I stole Kyle’s joke.

Kyle: So I picked up this Hitch hiker out of Port Aux Basques last summer. We be cruising along and a little while in my wife and I were a curious. He was a strange guy and after finding his way to the rock with just his coat and a box we wanted to know what he was up to. So my wife starts up and they’re back and forth for a few until she’s asking him what’s in the box?

HH: None of your fucking business!

Kyle: So I spin around in my seat and lay into this fella, he ain’t allowed to be speaking to my wife like that so you there had best be changing your tone with her. Tell me boy, what’s in the box?

HH: None of your fucking business!

So naturally Kyle’s pissed and stabs to brakes as he brings the car to the shoulder.

The Hitch hiker jumps out of the car and takes off into the woods leaving the box behind.

Me: Okay….

Silence for a minute

Me: Wait, he left the box. What was in it?

Kyle: None of your fucking business!

Booming laughter rings through the car as we continue our cruise. I’ve told this a few times in between and it seems to always get an excellent return.

Halfway through our few hundred together we needed fuel and I was gifted with a bag of snacks, drinks and junk food. Well received Kyle. You’re proving again the beauty we find in every corner of the land. I’m off again and it’s a beautiful day. The rain has let off and the high cloud cover is welcomed.

Kyle 2. He’s on his way to see his Daughter in St Johns. We’re in it for 500km, a few tanks of fuel and a six pack. I drink the most of it to ensure we’re getting there safely. Buzzed now I’m dropped of in the midst of downtown. We shake hands and as I step away from the truck I have to stop. I’m on the water, surrounded by Ships, fishing vessels and massive coast guard monsters. It’s beautiful. Every dream of a fishing town, a life on the water and the beauty of the sea is right in front of me. I’ve found another place I just wished existed. Years have passed dreaming of something I thought I’d never find and it’s right in front of me.

I walk the water for hours in awe. It’s stunning.

Checking into the hostel I’m met with warm and friendly faces. I settle in, grab a shower and head off for a cup of coffee and a snack to explore the surroudnings without burden. There’s no place like St Johns. I think about it lots now and again. At least a few times a week. The pictures don’t do this community justice.

“Afghan Restaurant” A hole in the wall and it’s what I’ve been craving. The walk from the Hostel to the hole is beautiful. I’m straining for words right now to describe how much this place meant to me. It really felt like home here. I know why people live here, I know why they chose here and I know why they stay here. Through to a Pub for a beer on George Street and I’ve hit it off with locals. Everyone is just so friendly. I’m coming back some time.

So we make a list and I’m off to check em’ all. Sadly I didn’t get every single one but I definitely hit every place that really mattered. I spent a crazy, crazy night at the Hostel and with pictures to prove it. I don’t remember much from my stay. It was a riot. Invited out to play some pool we left as Two Canadians, An Irishman and two Aussies. Met with a pair of Brits and beers started flowing. I’m not sure how, but I drank them all under the table. I still remember the looks on their faces when I finished their beers every time we left another bar. I payed for it the next day but I left as a legend.

I don’t remember this.

I had a friend from way back in Middle School. Philicia. Haven’t seen her since I was 13. We reconnected the next afternoon and settled in at home. We caught up with an evening of Coffee, food, beer and video games. Her and Zack were exceptional hosts. I swear its like her and I had seen each other a week ago and Zack and I bonded like brothers. Nothing but amazing experiences, adventures, tours and teachings followed. We explored all of the peninsula and crossed items from the list one after another.

So we’re tying it all up. I’m getting screeched in tonight and I’m on a plane at 5am. I’m shitfaced, I’m in Newfoundland and I’m kissing the Cod. I couldn’t have ended this any better. I’m surrounded with my new family and my heart is full. I’ve done it. I’ve achieved a life goal and I’m feeling so, so good about it.  I really can do anything.

Zack helped me steal my shot glass. Thanks buddy. What a fucking legendary ending for such a massive adventure. I can still hear the fog horns putting me to sleep, the lap of the sea at the shores of this tragically beautiful rock. The smiles of everyone along the way are with me every time I need a little more. It’s all so surreal to look back on to. Thinking of the hours at the side of the road hopelessly waiting for a ride through to the near misses and sleepless nights. The food I’ll never eat again and the beers that I’ll never be able to share with anyone. Success and failure, struggle and ease. I’d do it all again if I needed it. I haven’t even seen the sun in a week, Fog city as they call it and I’m still shining.

Before the sun had even risen that morning Philicia and I did what needed to be done. We’re on to Cape Spear to watch the sunrise. Her and I are the first to watch the sun rise upon the continent of North America. The fog never let up. There were no colours, no sparkle nor a break of light across the Atlantic ocean and I didn’t even care. I pinned that point on google maps months prior to this day as another distant and unreachable dream. Yeah right, sure you’re going to Cape Spear dude. That’s on the other side of the country!

Well, here I am.

 

I’m flying to Calgary. It’s 5am and I almost missed my flight. I’m still drunk. In 24 hours I’ve stood on the edge of the Continent, been screeched in and now I’m flying 2/3rds across the country to meet someone I never thought existed. I’m crossing four time zones and She’s right there waiting for me. I never expected what happens next.

Mecca Complete. Thank you world. You are Amazing.

The Mecca Pt 6

It keeps raining, but not on my parade

The fog is hanging low today, temperature is dipping a little more every night as the onset of winter rolls a little closer every day. I have 8 days left before I fly to Calgary and 1300km to go. I have learned a lot this trip and I’m still in awe I managed to make it work. I managed to stay motivated through thick and thin and overcome every set back this far.

I remember about three weeks before this point I had posted on Facebook to ask what everyone was thinking about this whole thing, to see what they think I should do. Well, Here I am.

So its a few hours to North Sydney, I’m about to get on to Cape Breton Island. The east coast has a lot of exceptional folks, also a lot of not-so exceptional folks. After being offered a variety of hard drugs five minutes into CB Island (See what I did there?) I managed a ride and off I was again. The highway has been becoming scarcer and narrower the further I head north. The landscape is shifting again and the watershed is becoming accentuated and I’m noticing just as the St Lawrence things are vastly different than I’ve seen before.

Another ride by a friendly guy, quiet and all through the Reservation turned into a full truck with the four of us cruising. Everyone knew each other. It’s a tight knit community and they know how to stick together. This had started feeling more like a Taxi service than someone just headed their way. The others are dropped off in town and I’m brought to the edge of the Reservation and let loose to my own devices. He turned around immediately. Not until later did I ever think anything of it. I’m white, some places I’m not welcome and I understand that now. Even in Canada we’re plagued with systematic racism and it’s been tearing at the threads of our society since we decided we “Own” this land. As I learned from my time alongside Aboriginals in Canada this trip, we’re people of time and date, the 12 month Calendar, Aboriginal are people of the Sun, Moon and Stars. We can’t accept that as a society and that may very well lay at the seams of our struggles. Mind you, its far more complex than a simple comparison of time management and understanding of when is when, as I had it broken down to me during my day on CB Island it’s just an understandable comparison to ease into the understanding of things far more complex.

I just wish we could all get along. We’re all the same, we’re all from Earth, we’re all made up of one another. Division will never achieve anything.

I’m on again. I’m with the Mayor now. He is exceptional. The water shed changing? Well, I’ve been following an inland salt water lake. No shit! It’s making some more sense now. I’m absolutely unloaded on with a massive bowl full of knowledge. This ecosystem is the only one like it on the entire planet and we’re destroying it more and more every day. The local communities have been aiding in cleanup and preservation for the last few years and it’s becoming a far more mainstream trend to support the activists and environmental researchers in their works. He had spent time with David Suzuki last week during a visit (Since he’s the Mayor and all) and he shows me a basket he was gifted during that time. So now I’m cruising along an endangered ecosystem, holding a basket from DS, in the same seat he sat in for his visit talking to the Aboriginal Mayor. I want to cry. Why can we let this happen? It’s all going to be destroyed in the next hundred years. What are we going to do next?

This day has already been so emotional for me. It’s only noon. I’m not even on the ferry yet.

So I make it. I’m dropped somewhere in a town I don’t know with no time for a Beer run. I get a sandwich and hop on the boat. I’m shuttled on a 30 passenger bus and I’m the only one there. The driver isn’t talkative. It’s seven hours to NL. It’s looking a little scarce as I make my way to the passenger decks. Compared to the hustle and bustle of BC ferries in the dead of summer it’s a ghost town. 30 people scattered across a ship built for thousands. We take on average seas at an average pace and split the Atlantic with the bow. Here’s another first. First 7 hour Ferry and Biggest ship to date. Not much to say about it, did a big Poo and had my sandwich. Sleep.

Port Aus Basques wasn’t so welcoming. It’s late at night and I’m the only walk on. There’s only a few cars to hope for a ride and I look like an axe murderer. I can’t even find a damn walking path to leave the stupid terminal. Hopping fences and dipping security is my only real way to leave. What a nightmare. So all the cars have passed before I’m even gone.

I know why it’s called the rock. Everything is rock. I’m captain obvious. It’s actually beautiful but its pouring rain and the middle of the night. I can’t find shelter for the life of me and I’ve already been given the cold shoulder at the local Tim hortons. Roll with it. I’m still smiling as the sunshine pours out my ass because I’m living my dream. I was sixteen when I watched “Into the wild” I read the book this summer. It’s been six years and I’m doing it. I’m as far away as possible from home I can be in my own country and it’s exactly where I want to be no matter how hard it rains. It rains harder. I smile more. This is a good day. I have so much to think about and so much to live for right now. It’s hard right now and I’m being pushed a little further and a little further every day. It’s bliss. I’m stronger than I know.

I scour for a place to hold up. No bueno. There’s an 80 dollar hotel. I can’t say no tonight. It’s miserable outside and I took too long to get my rain gear on. I run a bath. The water smells salty and flows just a little brown. Still smiling. Welcome to Newfoundland. Sleep

It’s on. Here’s some photos. I make it to Corner brook for the night and sleep in the ditch. I had some great beers, met some neat folks and someone bought me lunch today. Way she goes.

Can’t wait for St Johns, Friends await.

The Mecca Pt 5

It’s been a long road so far and I’m doing all I can. I’m stepping foot on the smallest province in all of Canada. It’s a picturesque little island, the sorts that post cards are made from. Light houses, bright colours, cute little streets and red dirt. I reached out to a friend from middle school and ended up with a place to stay in Charlottetown. It was an interesting visit to say the least. I’m not sure exactly what I had expected but it was a little sub par. I have been learning a lot about myself on this trip and trusting your gut is really, really important. We as humans have developed such a complex array of emotions, reasoning and instinct that without a doubt, is completely ridiculous and makes no sense at all. Even if we don’t fully understand it you’re better off trusting it. This time I should have. I should have just listened to my gut and avoided this interaction. In a way, I had to do it no matter what. It helped me break free from a few more chains holding me down. Showed me how to say no, showed me how to make the best of it.

So I’ll be straight up, I stayed in a shitty apartment with three stoners for 3 days. It was miserable. They were horribly boring, had no drive and we did not connect on any level. We hardly did a damn thing until I offered to pay for gas and then only then would they decide to adventure. I don’t know why I stayed, why I thought it was a good enough place to hold up for a while but I did. Maybe I thought I could help them find a little bit more of their potential, maybe I could help them a little bit. Maybe my friend from middle school would see how much of their life was being wasted?

I don’t know. I’m bitter about it still. I haven’t reached out to them since and I don’t intend to. That’s life. Some times no matter how much you try, people don’t want to get better. Maybe they don’t want to be helped and they’re just going to loathe in their own self misery until their demise. I just wish I could change the world. I just wish I could help everyone and make everything okay.

So that’s a hard start. I knew how vividly beautiful Prince Edward Island could be, I just had to find it. So here’s to our little adventure. You’ve gotta find the sunshine no matter how hard it rains.

These are the only two pictures that turned out. We split into two groups, two of them hopped in the car to grab coffee for the group as I stayed behind with another. I wanted to hike the coast line and so we did. Now that the group was broken up and I was with someone I had hardly known more than a day I opened up to him. I told him a bit of what I was feeling and we talked more about the situation the three of them were in. I had to learn from this and I did. I came to understand a little more behind why things were like this and that not everyone has it inside them to break out and grow so quickly. So we had the tide closing in. Shelf upon shelf of deep burgundy soap stone being lapped at by the sea. It was an absolutely beautiful yet horrifically slippery walk. It’s been raining a week straight and as we walk further we trigger small mud slides swallowed by the sea. Teamwork was necessary to continue as any hopes of securing a solid line became scarcer. Ten and twelve foot shelves stood before us as we boosted and pulled one another over the next.

“I haven’t done this since I was a kid.”

“Neither have I”

We smiled.

Near an hour later we were on the next beach as the tide closed off our path. We made it to the road and found the others. Coffee was welcomed with cold hands and a big smile. I hope he’s doing better now.

I decided to leave the next morning. It’s raining a little. 3 Degrees. I need some food and socks. I’m alienated at the grocery store as I pass strangers of Potato island. The population doubles in the summer and dwindles in winter, tourism is the heart of PEI (And potatoes) so a backpack in November is a little out of place. Play it up. Be an idiot. See how many people you can get to leave the aisle as you’re in it. Why not? I have nothing better to do so I may as well entertain myself.

So I’m at it again. I’m ready to leave this godforsaken island for good. Even with that little bit I’m still left with a bad taste in my mouth. The company can really make the meal. Hitched out of Charlotte town. I have less than 60Km to get to the ferry today and I’m headed to Nova Scotia. As a small town goes the rides are small and the hearts big. I’m feeling good and making friends. Kicking Potatoes down the ditch as I whistle and sing. Detour on purpose and walk longer than I care to just because I can. I want to dye a T-shirt in the red dirt. Next time.

There’s a lot of “Firsts” throughout life. Never have I caught a ride with someone only to an hour later have their brother pick me up. Cameron and Matt were around my age and schooling in Antigonish. One called the other and as a lazy Sunday would have it nothing happening at all. So away we went and made it to the ferry. I hopped out and thanked him for the ride. Two hours to kill I’m ahead of schedule.

“Go get your ticket and let’s get lunch, I’ll show you around. I grew up just up the street.”

I’m numb by now, I hate Pei and it’s awful but this is amazing. Every single disappointment has been turned around instantly. This complete stranger and I had an amazing afternoon. Beach after Beach, road after road, byways, highways, alleys and fishing shacks. Come out to western Canada you two, You’re more than welcome.

Another Ferry, naps, oceans, swells and birds. I love leaving. I don’t know why. No matter where I am I need to go. Get away, go explore and see something new, follow a road never found and push into the next county. It feels right to keep moving and keep exploring.

Signage par usual I’m offered a ride from an older Fellow to Halifax, Score! We’re off and on the road. There’s not much to see in Nova Scotia, some rocks, some trees, more trees and more rocks. We find the City and it’s beautiful. Bridges, the bay, downtown and the sea. Ships line the port and I find the hostel for the night. Make a few friends and hunt down food. Another fairly average night but I love it. Just keep moving.

I spent the day exploring Halifax. It’s been 20 years since I’ve been here. I was born here. Not having returned since far before I could remember I felt different here than I have anywhere else. My Father was in the Army 25 years. We never stayed anywhere long. I didn’t know who I was or where I was from or where I belonged for my entire life. I still don’t, but at least I figured out where I came from. Finally.

One piece at a time we all can get a little better.

Ferry to Dartmouth, just across the water. Naps in the park and I’m off to stay with a family friend. Laundry and a bed, home cooked food and 3 fat little dogs lay on top of me as I fall asleep. Tomorrow I hope for Antigonish. I’m done with the Trans-Canada for now. I need some scenery.

I follow the Atlantic ocean on my way.

I’m so out there. It’s a half hour between cars. I keep seeing evidence of Bears and Moose, I have no cell service and I wont see a house for an hour in between walking. There’s nothing out here and I love it. Everyone is so friendly.

I made it safely to Antigonish and stayed with a friend’s parents. 6:30am and I’m headed north again. Next Province; Newfoundland

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?

The Mecca, Pt. 1

This has been something I dreamed about for years. I dreamed of crossing entire continents entirely by hitch hiking. It’s always been in the back of my mind creeping in during days of boredom while going about my day to day life. Such vast stretches cover this entire planet just waiting to be explored. You never know when you will get the chance to see them so when I had the chance I took it. To be honest with you, I was so nervous I almost dropped the idea entirely before I had even left and numerous times on the way. This was daunting. Never before in my life have I been entirely alone left completely to my own devices. It really showed me a lot about myself and I would do it again in an instant.

After the big move was over I knew I absolutely had to return to Vancouver island. I left with haste and met friends along the way. One of which being Amy. Long time best friend from way back in middle school. Her and I always find some awesome stuff to do, new places to explore and sights to see. I always try and make special efforts to see her on my way through the lower mainland. Her Cat is pretty okay too, even if he’s a bit of a jerk.

Ferries. Beautiful day to sail, excellent conditions and next to no plan. Just how things should be on a beautiful summer day in the Georgia straight. Spent some time topside with a few others traveling to the island. I’m always amazed with how welcoming other travelers are when you’re on transit. Backpacks are the universal sign of a new friend to be made. Countless times sitting and waiting a small group of other backpackers joined together not knowing one another for more than an instant. Food was shared, stories told, advice given and each one of us walked away friends. This was new to me, I learned a lot from it. The Kiwi’s, Mira (And the Magic School bus), The homeless and many other unnamed unknown people. I can’t remember the names but their faces and lessons will stick with me forever.

Annaleesa. I haven’t seen her for four years. Five years prior she picked me up in Nanaimo and gave me a place to live, food in my mouth and all the resources to start my life 3 weeks out of high school. I have given her countless thanks and I’ll never forget the help she has given me over the years. We’ve been great friends since we met in Grade 7. She lives in a tiny fishing and logging town on Vancouver island now. 300 people, no Cell service and a vast array of natural beauties. This was needed. Hikes, Caving, Coffees, late nights and productive days.

If you didn’t know there’s a series of caves located just outside of Gold River, its worth checking out and getting her out of her comfort zone really paid off. The more you work as a team the more of these caves you can explore. No spelunking gear is needed. Expect bugs and lots of them. There’s a very specific species of cricket that breeds in one of these caves and they’re everywhere.

Corbin. This dude is Crazy. I’m talking seriously nuts. From Mountain biking trails you wouldn’t want to walk, working triple 12 hour shifts, driving JDM legends, shattering bones on the BMX and all around shenanigans. We have gotten into so much trouble through the years and I’d do it all again. One of my closest friends since High school.

Enough of that. We know how this all turned out.

I mentioned Tofino didn’t I?

Beautiful, great to look at but too many tourists. If you like to spend money and make plans by all means, go right ahead and visit. She left a bad taste in my mouth this time around. Mind you my own fault. I came unprepared. But that’s learning right? So I spent an entire 24 hours there. Hiked, Drank coffee, Read, Made friends, Explored every nook and cranny, Watched a softball Tournament, Slept behind a dumpster, Drank more Coffee, Hitched out. The Three Spaniards gave me a ride out. I wasn’t enjoying Tofino at all. As I sad, my fault. We stopped at a little lake along the way and I was quizzed by a barrage of questions about the Canadian wilderness, flora and fauna. I’m pretty sure in the half hour we explored that beach I emptied every corner of outdoor knowledge I had into these three. I grew up in this, this is all normal to know and it was hard to wrap my head around the fact they had no idea about so many things that are on a day to day have to know basis for the average Canadian.

I started to think about the interactions I had with the three of them and Ali earlier in the summer, how so many people I know look down on people who aren’t from here. How they label them as “Stupid, Ignorant, Dumb, Green to life” or worse, solely because they haven’t experienced what we do every day. They aren’t from here, they aren’t Canadian. But you know what? They already made that leap to come here. They’re already further ahead of you. They’re already traveling and exploring and opening their hearts, heads and eyes to this wonderful world around us. Each and every person you meet every day has such a vast amount of knowledge and experience in them. Just because you can’t see this doesn’t make it okay to think less of them. It’s going to make me think less of you. I’m thankful early on I opened my heart and my soul to those from other places, to people I had never thought I would meet, to a point of view I never knew existed. Thanks for picking me up and letting me in to your corner of the world.

I stopped in to see my friend Scott in Victoria as well, recent mentions of course, So here’s a few shots from our adventures together. Can’t wait to hang out again my Friend.

Home time. I had to take a one month hiatus from traveling after filling my boots with Vancouver island. My parents went on a Vacation of their own and asked me to watch the acreage. My Mom needed surgery as well. Tough times but we pulled through. I made sure to keep busy on a vast array of projects, visits from old friends and adventures with new ones. Here’s a few shots from the Hiatus.

 

Third Entry, There’s signs for you everywhere.

Get lost on Purpose

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:

http://dubucmotors.com/

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.