Conquering the Trans-Canada Trail
Plane tickets are expensive. And by September of 2012 I had bought my fair share for that year, or perhaps a lifetime?? Regardless of all that time and money spent on elong.net or travelocity.com I was out of cash and needed to get to Montreal. I checked for prices on Greyhound.ca. Advance bus tickets were pretty cheap, and for economic reasons, I had no other choice. Also, how could I live with myself, having spent so much time traveling around China and other parts of Asia without even giving my own country a chance? I’d seen all kinds of Chinese, Korean, Malaysian and Indonesian countryside through the window of a train or bus. Canada at least deserved similar treatment. As a traveler it wouldn’t have been moral of me to hop a plane on one side of a country and land on the other a mere five hours later, stuffed with a Quiznos sub and being none the wiser about the beautiful country that issues me a passport every five years. We travellers have a code, you know. It’s like a religion. And being religious myself, I couldn’t pass up the challenge of taking the road less traveled.
“Thou shalt take the longest, most gruelling route possible. Thou shalt speaketh to strangers, meet new mates of the soul and eateth the grubbiest grub thy terrain provides for you. And thou shalt be inspired.”
So, bus it was. Three days long and honestly, I could have kept going all the way to Newfoundland, but maybe next time. Best $127 dollars I’ve ever spent.
A long and teary-eyed goodbye from my best friend at the Vancouver bus terminal I boarded the sleepy bus to Calgary. That was my first big stop. We were scheduled to arrive in Harper’s Canada around 10 a.m. It was six at night by the time we left Vancouver and most passengers were already passed out, equipped and huddled in their sleeping bags, taking up two seats. Lucky for me there was a pair of seats left at the back, and I didn’t have to wake up a groggy student traveler and let them know our long night wasn’t gonna be as comfortable as we hoped. The sun had set by the time we were out of the city and I started to nap, taking one last look out the window and said goodbye to B.C, sad that I’d be missing the view of bountiful western Canada. Next time.
I was going “home” for a visit. This made the long haul back “home” not so long…I saw it merely as a part of the adventure I was still in the middle of. It wasn’t a last gasp type thing, one last grope before settling in to the get a job, get a man, get a marriage, get some kids thing that apparently must be part of every one’s reality.
I’m not saying I don’t want to eventually “settle down”, just not now, and don’t tell me what to do, loser.
That was the biggest question when I returned home. “Was that your last trip?” “Are you done for now?” I don’t even know what “done” means. I shouldn’t vent though. I have lovely friends and co-workers who support whatever adventure I choose to go on. So what I’m saying is if I thought the Trans-Canada bus trip was the “end” for me, I would have grown increasingly nauseous and crazy with every mile (sorry, kilometre) and probably would have gotten off and never looked back somewhere in Saskatchewan.
I thought I was gonna be the only crazy for my three days on the road. The Trans-Canada road, to be exact. This was the only thing that made me nervous when I was in Vancouver munching on gluten-free organic whatever, and my thoughts drifted to my upcoming cross-country trip. People would be hopping on and off and I’d be alone. I was getting tired of alone. But thank you Canada, you’re filled with many crazies. You’re filled with gentle, yet eclectic creatures and I’ve never been more proud to carry around your passport. (No, I don’t put a Canadian flag on my backpack. Who does that?)
When I boarded the second bus from Calgary, Alberta, most passengers were headed to Toronto, and a few to Montreal or Ottawa. I’d never been to that part of Canada. I’d just seen the Rockies. We drove by them and I wanted more, but we were headed east, and I guess I’ll return one day. Serge, my seat buddy for day number two was headed to my city of Montreal. We shared our stories and Lays potato chips. I was often distracted by the blue sky and yellow ground before my eyes. Serge had seen it a few times, he said. Lots of people who work out west do the bus trip a few times a year. And most of the time it isn’t just the economic factor. “Why would I just fly across and not see anything?” Asked my seat buddy for day number three, Chris. He’d just come from four months picking fruit in B.C. We talked as the sun rose over western Ontario and passing one of the great lakes. “Look around, how could I miss this?”
He was right. Sigh. I was home.