Quebec, Maritimes and New England - 2008
About this blog
I called this trip "The Driving Miss Daisy Tour".
After a successful trip to Panama with Dad and Marion I considered actually doing it again. As I said in the Panama Blog, my Dad's quest for adventure is remarkable. Problem was, in his eighties, his energy levels cannot keep up with his questing levels. He told me he really wanted to return 'home' but didn't think he would be able to drive the long, multiday distance form Guelph Ontario to Stellerton Nova Scotia. That's how this one started.
I had just retired, had lots of time on my hands so.....why not drive them to the Maritimes and see and meet many of the people I had not seen since I was a child?. Time was running out because every few months there was news of somebody else dying.....we were all getting too old to put off these kinds of trips.
So, I told Dad I would give him nearly one month of my time.....I was meeting friends in New York City and then starting a consulting contract the day I got back from that trip. I told Dad he could choose the itinerary and we could go anywhere, do anything he wanted. He was in heaven!!! He decided he really wanted to see Quebec City as it was the end of that city's bicentennial celebrations, and he wanted to go 'home' to Stellerton Nova Scotia. All of the in between days we would play by ear - decide where the wind took us.
I flew down to Guelph and picked up the two eager participants for the "Driving Miss Daisy Tour".
I have to preface this by telling you that we lived in many different houses in many different cities the first few years of my life. We started out, me driving, Dad on the maps, Marion as co-pilot. First stop Kingston. We had lived in two different parts of Kingston - one in a huge Victorian House right beside Queen's University, the other in PMQ's (Military housing) out near Fort Henry Heights. It was frosh week at the Queens University and the city was filled with thousands of kids in colored jumpsuits doing goofy things all over town. We did find our big old house which now is a student apartment and then continued out to the base to find our ugly little duplex. When we searched for it they all kind of looked the same and I couldn't remember, and Dad couldn't either so we picked one and took a picture. Continuing on, I saw my first elementary school, the store my Mom and I used to walk to daily, and Dad got to see the Royal Military College where he used to teach.
Next day was through Montreal and onto Quebec City and that's when the crankiness began.......yikes! My map man was so far below par that my co-pilot and I nearly turfed him. There is not a lot of English in Quebec City and we searched and searched for the right ring road.....ahhh........
Enough about that - by the time we got to the Plains of Abraham I was exhausted and ready to do some sacrifices myself..........the day was redeemed by the amazing, incredible,(superlatives are too weak) for the night-time laser light show beamed from the Plains across the St Lawrence River onto massive storage bins on the port. It must have been a half a kilometer long and showed the history of Quebec in laser animation. That show made up for the trying times it took to get there.
We continued on through the Quebec countryside, moving along the St. Lawrence, meandering on the side roads, stopping where we liked and it is such beautiful country that it is the only way to see it - with all the time in the world and no schedule. There were so few vehicles on the road that I started a little game - calling "car" every time I saw one....about every 45 minutes or so - you want sleepy.....sleepy but oh so quaint.
Continued on to Moncton New Brunswick where I was born, looked up our old house there and joy of joy for my Dad, the people there invited us in to see how it had changed in the last 50 years (they were the third owners!) Gotta love the Maritimes - no real changes to report. The guy was patching the tongue and groove siding my Dad had installed in the basement 50 years ago!
My old police partner Dan lives in Moncton so we looked him and Nancy up and had a nice but quick visit with them before heading on up the road to Saint John New Brunswick where my niece had just moved from Fort McMurray. We stayed with her a few days and I got to visit with my really good friend Donna and her husband Brian who also lives in Saint John.
After a few days touring New Brunswick - Dad choosing the route each day, us stopping to find places he used to parachute into while training, or places he used to hang around when he was a young soldier....a real trip down memory lane for him and fun for me to watch.
Eventually we made it to Stellerton and the homestead. The hospitality and kindness we met there were heart-warming and we spent a number of days visiting Dad's friends and he even got to visit with a teacher he had in Grade 2....she is in her late nineties or early hundreds and still lives on her own and remembered Dad and where he sat in the class. I was amazed at the sharpness of the really old people - they could remember minute details, and like most Maritimers, could argue politics til the cows never came home......absolutely delightful. One morning I was out for a walk by myself and got lost....ok, I get lost everywhere but this is a community of about 200........and it is rural........coal mining country.........I came to a place where two lanes crossed and stayed there - in the middle of the intersection for about 10 minutes until the first car came by. I asked where "Aggie's" house was and yup - no problem was back on my way in no time....and I am sure the news of some foreign moron being lost in town was spreading.
We continued on the Driving Miss Daisy Tour by crossing into the states - into Maine and then through New Hampshire and Vermont and then into New York. It was early fall and the leaves were changing and the small US villages really deck themselves out with Fall and Halloween decorations. I stayed on the country roads and it was a treat to meet each day knowing there was going to be a new series of beautiful, proud towns to see. My Dad and Marion are not early risers; we only got going most days around 10 and drove only to around 4. Not the marathon days my Dad used to make us endure as kids - we usually were on the road at 6:30 and putting up the stupid tent waay after dark. Needless to say I reminded him many times on the change to his behaviour!
We came back up through New York, crossing at Niagara Falls. By the time the tour ended, both mapguy and co-pilot were pretty tired and happy to be back home in their own beds.
I dropped them off, did laundry, had a sleep and caught the train the next day for New York City. Funny coincidence was the train route followed, nearly exactly, the route I had just driven for a couple of days prior.