Road Trip

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Although at this stage of our lives the busyness is entirely of our own making, with so much happening just at the moment, our road trip felt like the most delicious escape. No devices, no social media, no e-mail, no phone calls; just us, some lovely music and the open road unfurling before us. Booked months in advance, our destination and timing were very specific, yet once underway that didn’t seem to matter. My joy and excitement were wholly in sitting beside my best friend and beginning a new adventure together.

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True that where we live all trips begin and end on Highway 401 which is undoubtedly the very least interesting road to travel. For most of this trip though, with the exception of a few kilometres here and there on secondary highways, our route meandered lazily along pretty rural byways, mostly through farm land and the occasional very small town. Those lovely old country roads are perfect for daydreaming, and for imagining the lives that played out along them so many years ago.

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“What good is the warmth of summer,
without the cold winter to give it sweetness?”
[J. Steinbeck]

Exactly the contrast we enjoyed on this trip! As we set out on Monday it was cold, wet, windy and dull but the weather didn’t dampen our spirits one iota; luckily we spent most of the day snug in the car. When Tuesday dawned, it was sunny and warm, the summery conditions definitely all the sweeter by comparison to Monday’s squall.

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Two of the things I most love about holidays are meeting lots of friendly, kind and helpful strangers, and discovering the many rustic, pastoral quirks and curiosities along the way. They make the time away so much more enjoyable and memorable.

Our first stop was in a small, riverside town at a very old diner, clearly popular with and loved by the locals. The food and service were superb. We noticed that many patrons were kitted out in waders/boots and had clearly come directly from fishing. What was hugely surprising was that right there – on the main street – were two fish-cleaning stations. That made us smile. Oh, and the name of the diner was “Jocko’s” which brought back funny basketball memories for me.

Even at this time of the year there is still a lot of incomplete road construction causing delays. Amid one such slow-down, I saw the strangest, funniest, most sarcastic (maybe?) lawn decor I’ve ever seen. It was near the driveway of a very ordinary home. It was a very large, well-polished, stunning stone monument, quite like a grave stone, in fact. It was very beautifully engraved: “Go Away”

On one local radio station the announcer said “Send your kids outside to play and quickly lock the doors behind them.”

Walking into a well-known chain store we saw a stand with biodegradable plastic sleeves. The sign invited customers to help themselves to a bag to hold their wet umbrellas.

Two of the restaurants we visited had tablets at all their tables. They had games/amusements, a call button for the server and an “order” option; for repeat drink orders or dessert orders. Also, the tablets could be used to request the bill.

My horizons are suitably expanded (or perhaps, living in our small town, they were previously collapsed).

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Prior to our trip we’d been wrestling with a major repair/renovation project. There were a lot of details to manage, many decisions to be made, finances to sort out, timelines to be co-ordinated, etc., etc., etc. This road trip gave us a break from the worry and stress, allowed our minds to untwist, unbend, relax and unwind – a cure we didn’t even realize we’d needed. The rhythm of a road trip is both calming and liberating and one of the reasons we love them so much.

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Tuesday was my play-day. We hiked to a beautiful waterfall. I tried out my spiffy new tripod, taking some long-exposure shots to get that beautiful silky, blurring and softening of the moving water. The walking was relatively easy, the setting sublime, and the weather glorious; perfect photography conditions. On our walk we met some interesting folk including a lady, clearly near the end of her life, striking off a bucket-list item:  A return to the place she grew up. She was struggling, even using her cane, out of breath, in obvious pain, yet euphoric at being back in the park where she spent so much time as a child. She was toting a tablet to take pictures and hoping it had enough storage space for all the shots she intended to capture. We met the most adorable pup named “Lucky” and another pup, a Spaniel, taking a break from his ball game to lie in the cold water of the chute. We drove to the top of the gorge and had a tramp around the rim and summit and then headed back to our hotel, happily tired out and replete with pleasant new memories. An entirely perfect day!

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All travels are sweet experiences, none more-so than this road trip, but as always, the true delight for me was returning to my home, to my own bed and resting my head on my familiarly-shaped, perfectly comfortable pillow.

’Til next time, y’all…

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