penny in a castle

A digital chapbook.

Three Thousand

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Apologies to followers that Penny in a Castle has been on hiatus for the past few weeks.

For vacation this summer our family decided on the Epic Trip ™ version.

Over three thousand kilometres traveled by car in the space of a week and a half.

Four provinces spanned.  Three national parks visited.  Two camp grounds slept at. One hotel stayed at.

When you are travelling a big country though, it comes down to more than just crunching the numbers.

You begin to realize that despite the miles and though the landscape changes from ragged cliffs, to rolling hills to flat, scrubby forests, some things remain constant.

Sleeping in a tent is not comfortable.  At all.  I don’t care how flat the site is or how thick the therma rest.  It’s still going to feel like sleeping on the ground. And you are going to dream about psychotic motorcycle riding ninja serial killers all night long.  (Or maybe that is just me.) You are going to wake up feeling every one of your 42 years – and maybe a few more.

There are moose.  Everywhere. And no one seems to be able to draw one for the “Look out for moose” highway signs that actually looks like one.  They either look like they have slippers on or are dancing with their noses in the air.  Why is that?

For better or for worse, in our northern country Tim Hortons is ubiquitous.  At least, there’s coffee. And Tim Bits.

I used to laugh at the old saw that the mosquito is the national bird of Canada.  Well not anymore.   Although I will say that the salt water marsh mosquito, which I had the pleasure of experiencing this summer is the meanest edition of the b*tch I ever saw.  The flocks breeding this year after unseasonal rains even kept the locals in doors.

Every town has some kind of strange claim to fame – that will be used as a tourist trap.  It may be the Chateau de Noel, a giant head, or a statue of a perplexed looking beaver or it may be the world’s biggest axe.  Or it may be Anne of Green Gables (Seriously. Hordes of tourists show up every day to see the house of the little red headed girl that didn’t actually exist.  Sadly, the actual farm where Montgomery lived as child, which is a five minute walk away, gets to see little action or revenue).  No matter what form the trap takes, the town fathers live in the hope that if they build it, you will come. And spend.

Most towns will have a play structure, somewhere. This can be used to blow off a bit of steam while having lunch in the midst of a five to ten hour drive.  My husband taught me a neat trick – you can usually find one near the information centre close to whatever constitutes down town.  And with any luck, the tourist centre will be the old railway station for the town and include a caboose, which your three year old will go crazy over.

Our northern country is starting to be buried in spectacularly boring highway. Never mind the effect on the environment. Sure, it will get you from point A to point B really quickly.  But you won’t see much of anything.  The rocks have been blasted through and the guard rails are so high that you don’t need to pass through small towns (and find a play structure) or travel along the coasts where it’s really interesting.  It’s a loss that I am not sure is always felt in our need to get there quicker – although I know the owners of businesses in those small towns are feeling it more keenly.

People, for the most part, are friendly.  Even if you don’t speak the language (very fluently). Or they give you the hairy eyeball at first.  If they are wary  it’s because they are looking out for their neighbours – which is something I respect.  Usually if you are pleasant to them, and engage them in conversation, they will be nice back.  They may even give you the low down on what’s interesting locally.  We had one particularly lovely person who said “Here’s what you should do if you have three hours to spend in our part of the country…” She gave us the perfect advice.

Friends and relatives will always take care of you.  They will open their doors and share a meal (or two. Or four).   They may even put up with the outrageous behaviour of your children who have a tendency to want to try out the bounce factor of strange new couches.

I have to admit, I haven’t travelled far out of the big country.  But I haven’t seen anything yet that can rival it.  I don’t need to go that far before I can see forests and hills that will more than match anything that I have spent thousands of dollars in air fare to go see.  Sure, it may be a bit colder, but I believe that’s a good thing.

But no matter where you do it, travelling expands the mind.  Even if it isn’t always easy, it provides a new perspective.

And if nothing else, three thousand miles travelled can make you realize there’s no place like home.

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Written by pennyinacastle

September 4, 2013 at 3:58 am

Posted in Random thoughts

Tagged with ,

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