Up until about two weeks ago, I didnâ€™t know my road trip partners in the slightest. Well, I knew their names, and after some stealthy Internet stalking I felt like they wouldn’t be the kind of people to hand me a Roofie Colada and then steal my kidneys. Seattle, Ryan, and Zak showed up at my house in St. Johnâ€™s and then we terrorized the city for three nights. I subjected them to strenuous hikes up Signal Hill and forced them to kiss a cod during a Screech-In.
And thus began our road trip. The highlights, you ask?
1. Driving through a freak snowstorm on Victoria Day Weekend, on our route to Gros Morne National Park. There was rain and slush and hydroplaning, and as a result, I spent a great deal of time panicking and whining. Zak handled it very well, although he might have slipped some tranquilizers into my water.
2. Peace and quiet in Rocky Harbour, while staying at Gros Morne Cabins. I donâ€™t know what it is about a log cabin, but even if itâ€™s in the middle of a busy city, I think Iâ€™d feel like it were the quietest place on earth. The cabins at Rocky Harbour faced the ocean, and we were privy to blinding sunsets and restful nights. Itâ€™s a rare occasion when Candice Walsh sleeps soundly through a night.
3. Crossing the Gulf of St. Lawrence with Marine Atlantic. The ferry crossing to Sydney, Nova Scotia, is a route that most of my friends have taken on various family vacations. Hearing about these vacations growing up suggested that places like Magnetic Hill in Moncton or the beaches of PEI were the most exotic destinations in the world, and so I was a bit overly thrilled to be on a giant ferry. We booked a four-person berth, and it was totally worth it. We had a few (expensive) beers and hit the sack, sleeping right through the crossing and waking up in a new province.
4. The Cabot Trail. When I lost my job back in 2010, I sought solitude in Cape Breton. Cape Breton heals. We hiked the Skyline and drove The Cabot Trail, and yetâ€¦no moose. Just winding coastlines and green highlands and lots and lots of coffee breaks.
5. Monctonâ€™s Pump House Brewery. We randomly showed up here for flights of beer. They were CHEAP â€“ just over $6 for fair-sized samples. And the place got character. The wooden booths have thousands of signatures/graffiti etched into them, and the vibe is friendly. The shenanigans were unexpected. As was Ryan’s admittance to an ungodly fear of mustard.
6. The nightlife in Quebec City. On my first visit to Quebec, I hadnâ€™t really touched on the club and pub scene, but itâ€™s rockinâ€™. Go to Grand-Allee, do a personal pub crawl, and hit on as many French men as you can. Learn some pick-up lines en francais.
The stairs, however, were not so much a time. Thanks to Zak Erving for this photo.
7. Ordering a grand mega ultra pizza in Montreal. We quickly made friends with an American duo at our hostel, and so we all headed out on the town on Saturday night. Somehow we ended up at Hurleyâ€™s Irish Pub, because I had a hankering for some Guinness (and because my friend Blair forced us). We danced a few jigs, I downed a few Guinness, and by the time we got back to Central M, we wanted pizza.
For some reason, the other group of travellers in the hostel lobby felt like they had to outdo us in the pizza department, and so we had a war over whose pizza was bigger. Finally, our new friend Frank declared, â€œYeah, well, we ordered TWELVE PIZZAS! TWELVE!â€â€¦for six of us. The other groupâ€™s eyes grew wide and thy backed away slowly. Nailed it.
8. Montreal. I just love this city. I could just sit in an apartment in Montreal and be content just to BE there. Montreal. Montreal. Montreal. Poutine. Poutine poutine poutine. Sometimes I donâ€™t know why I left.
9. Staying in a treehouse at Les Toits du Monde in Nominique, Quebec. Like, a legit treehouse in the forest, with a bathroom and amenities and electricity. We cooked up an epic barbecue feast, drank some beers, told some ghost stories, and passed out with the woodstove blasting heat. There was a lot of boob sweat.
10. Crashing at my uncleâ€™s place in Ottawa. Totally random, last-minute decision to spend the night at my uncleâ€™s house rather than in another hostel. We barbecued, had beers, and then passed out in various locations around the house. On the downside, we didnâ€™t see much of Ottawa. On the upside, we we didnâ€™t spend any money.
11. TORONTO! We made it! Haggard and sick of each other and annoyed by the slightest provocation. Just kidding. We rocked TBEX so hard, I now have to go into TBEX rehab.