Driving across the country is something I always hoped I would do, but never thought I’d get around to.
It takes a great deal of time, let alone patience. Who really has five extra days to spend in a car? Well, apparently I did.
My journey started bright and early on a Monday morning, from Ottawa. I stopped in Toronto at my childhood home to pick up more of my belongings (like I didn’t have enough in the back of my car already) and a passenger, before beginning the trip in earnest.
The crux of driving cross-country is that you will be both inspired and bored by Canada. Seeing the mountains pop up from the prairie skyline is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. But on the other, I would avoid driving across Saskatchewan again as if my life depended on it.
You’ll meet some characters, but there are also the seven consecutive hours you’ll spend driving a straight line across the Prairies, trying not to speed (but doing it anyways because it breaks up the monotony).
There was the first night, when I stumbled into a hotel in suburban Illinois to find that the entire hotel was tiki-themed—you never would have guessed from the outside, or even the website. I had a pina colada and called it a night.
The next day I began counting fake animals as I drove through the northeastern United States. After seeing approximately 15 plastic deer, I decided to start keeping count. Over the course of the next four days, I saw a couple kinds of fake bears (polar and black) as well as a bigger-than-life-size plastic camel, an elephant and some mock vultures. And of course, piles more fake deer. And that’s just what I saw from the highway. Now, I have been assured I will see more than my fair share of real deer here in Greenwood. I’ve already seen four (I don’t even think there are four real deer in all of Ontario) but told that’s nothing. Bring it on.
Other notable sights include the world’s largest paddle. Had no idea such a thing existed? Me neither. A quick stop off the highway later and I can cross that off my bucket list (“Things I didn’t think I’d ever see but have now”).
Finally, when I was hitting the home stretch, could almost taste the freedom from my car, there was my first mountain pass. Everyone stuck behind me can attest to my Ontario roots, probably frustrated as I drove a recklessly fast 50 kilometres per hour. I’m really sorry, guys.
And on to Greenwood, here to stay. I can admit that I’m a city person—Ottawa felt a little too small for me. I fulfilled a dream of driving across country, and another of living close to the mountains. I’m in a job I love, in a community that cares about its paper. And really, that’s all a journalist can ask for.