The empty spring fields of Manitoba and Saskatchewan are proving to be less-than entertaining so this one’s coming to you from the road. We’re four days out of Peterborough, Ontario and just about to cross the Alberta border.
Traveling long distances by car is something that you acclimatize to quickly, we’ve found. Who sits where is already well-established. The Town & Country has a “two, two, two” seat arrangement. Sam and Lara, our drivers, take turns in the two front seats. Ciaran and Dian are settled nicely in the middle. They are the car’s providers of snacks and drinks, having a cardboard box full of each under their seats. We removed one of the seats in the rear to make room for all of our gear and Robbie is tucked very cozily in the (little) remaining space back there.
Perhaps not unexpectedly for people that know us, we set off incredibly behind schedule on the first day and underestimated the time it would take to cover the 700km from Peterborough to Sault Ste. Marie. As a result, we arrived there at around 1:30am and checked into the first 24hr motel we saw.
Day two saw us start to get into the swing of things with a slightly earlier departure time of 10am, still leaving time for everyone to shower and have a leisurely breakfast in the morning. Within half an hour the first shrieks of European excitement were erupting in the car. We’d driven past a moose. Half an hour later, we saw the first bear; a young black bear, loping along the tree line that disappeared almost as soon as we’d seen it. Adrenaline levels definitely spiked.
We don’t have an adequate way of describing our reaction to Sam having to brake to avoid a second black bear as it crossed the highway in front of us but we lost it. Completely. The fact that situations like that even exist is so foreign to us, the idea that we’d ever experience one ourselves – well, we’ve not got our heads around that yet.
That’s something that has come up a lot actually. We’re actually doing this. We’ve bought a car, loaded it up and for the next two months are going to be driving it across North America. What? We haven’t even come close to getting used to this idea. For instance just earlier (after a 9am start and breakfast on the road – we’re getting better) we turned off the highway to have lunch. We drove along a gravel road for a while before finding a hill to eat our picnic on top of. We sat in the long, dry grass looking out over miles of rolling grassland. In the distance, the longest freight train any of us had ever seen was traveling slowly westwards. The sun was high in the sky, a light breeze cooled us and there was a moment when we had been sitting in silence and then all of a sudden we started smiling. Smiles quickly broke to laughter as we struggled to comprehend how this was happening to us.
We get the feeling that’s going to be happening a lot along the road. We just crossed into Alberta and are heading towards the badlands of Dinosaur Provincial Park where we’ll finally get a chance to leave the car behind and do some proper exploring on foot. We can’t wait; this has the makings of the trip of a lifetime.
Road trip. Two months. Five European friends across Canada from Toronto to Vancouver and through the States from San Francisco back to Toronto via as many cool places in between as we can find. We’ve used cities as way-markers but our interest is in the land we’ll travel through between them. Along the way we’ll pass through more National Parks than you can shake a stick at. Camp stoves, beaches, forests, mountains, waterfalls, adventures and waking up in a tent somewhere new every morning.
Keep up with us throughout our journey via the weekly blogs posted here that we’ll be writing for Osprey Packs or follow us on Instagram:
Photos by Sam.