Summertime. Its my favorite time of year for no other reason than ROADTRIPS.
Since I was a child, the family roadtrip was the thing that I most looked forward to each year. There was so much build-up. It started with the pre-trip shopping excursion where we would stock up on colouring and activity books and crayons; strips of colourful lollipops for Mom to bribe us with when we got antsy; jugs of juice and bags of ice to keep in the cooler. Then came the loading and inevitable unloading and reloading of the car. Finally, when the excitement was at a fever-pitch, it would be time for us kids to tumble into the backseat and buckle up for safety. With a turn of a key and a slide of the gear, we were off. "By house, see ya in a couple weeks!" As we pulled out of the driveway, Mom invariably would warble off-key, "Hit the dusty trail; hit the dusty trail; all the way to PEI; hit the dusty trail." Funny, isn't it, how the corniest things can become a family tradition.
Countless, breathless games of the license plate game,
"I see an "A"; I see a "B", oh, oh "C" and "D"."
"I saw "C" first!"
"No, you didn't".
"Hey, that car's from MAINE!"
"I-Spy with my little eye..."
"Is it a cow?"
"Yes, it is. There's nothing else around but cows."
"Maybe it was grass... it was grass. You didn't guess right. pffftt!"
Eventually, we would grow tired and restless. That was when we were promised that we would stop soon to eat and stretch our legs. Back in the day, travelling along the Trans-Canada highway, that meant stopping at a Frontier or any 1867 rest-stop. I can't remember which one had the giant, skinny, red spike that jutted up into the sky, but you could see it for miles, and it was always a welcome sight, a beacon for kids with short-attention spans.
Fueled by french fries and pop, a rare treat for us indeed, we would continue on the way. Some of the excitement would have worn off by this point, and the realisation that it would be another two days of a backseat crammed with pointy-elbowed siblings would have set in. Time to pull out the colouring books and bravely confront the challenge of colouring within the lines while travelling over pot-holed highways at 100 kms/hr.
Dusk would set, and the car would roll to a stop outside of a campsite or motel. The car would be unloaded to find the stuff that was needed for the night. Conveniently, it had been packed first which meant that it was buried, and for the third time that day, the car would be unpacked and then packed again. Tussle-headed and sleepy-eyed, we would accept a grilled hot dog, and cozy up around the fire if camping. If staying at a motel, we would jump briefly on the bed, and then ask if we could find some pizza.
Day two would unfold much the same way.
On day three, the excitement would again crest as we knew that in a mere few hours we would hit the end of land. Standing between us and the hugs and fresh baked biscuits of "far-far Nana" was an expanse of water, which before the construction of the Confederation Bridge seemed endless. We would eagerly watch for the Abegweit, dear Abby, the ferry that would bring us on the final leg of our journey. As we watched it pull into port, we were giddy with excitement, and Mom would be fretting that surely one of us would end up overboard.
As our brief visit would draw to a close, I would again feel the excitement building within. The journey would be reversed, the antics and games the same, and it would end with a "Hi House, we're back!" and a "Home again, home again, jiggety-jig."
The arrival on the Island, fabulous as it was too see too-rarely seen relatives, was anticlimactic. For me, it was all about the journey.
When finally I was able to drive, the comforting whoosh of rubber on asphalt continued to be my siren song. I have a complete inability to stop, turn around and go back, when I know that there is roadway still to explore. I contine to love those tempting words "the Trans-Canada Highway". The very name of our great Canadian highway smacks of a monumental trek waiting to be embarked upon.