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Canada 2004, a long road trip
Posted June 3, 2004

In three weeks, I drove 12500 km from Nelson BC to Ottawa to Bass River NS to Ottawa to Franconia New Hampshire to Ottawa to Nelson.

Horatio's tripometer wrapped around at 10000 km.

Useless statistics

Ontario and Alberta put cute girls in the tourist info places.

Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Manitoba give out maps at the tourist info places. Saskatchewan and Alberta sell them for $2. In British Columbia, they cost $4 and they have no urban area blowups.

Saskatchewan is the only quadrilateral province.

I saw only one license plate from Prince Edward Island, and none from Newfoundland. Only two Nova Scotia license plates got any further west than New Brunswick.

Fredericton doesn't cooperate

On my way from Ottawa to Nova Scotia, I spent about an hour trying to get out of Fredericton. I drove into town hoping to find a grocery store where I could buy shampoo and curry paste for my dinner. Finding a grocery store is easy in most cities the size of Fredericton. I drove through town twice (in rush hour) without seeing a grocery store, so I gave up. After a couple of attempts, I got onto the Princess Margaret Bridge. On the other side, none of the road signs mentioned either Moncton or highway 2 East. I tried to wander a bit, but I wound up crossing the Princess Margaret Bridge instead. Trying to turn around, I left town in a different direction and found Highway 7 to Saint John. That was not where I wanted to go, but the signs also said "to highway 2 East" and I thought it might be worth a try. But the signs kept saying "Saint John" which was not where I wanted to go. There was construction ahead. And a grocery store!

The bouncer at the grocery store didn't want me to come in, because I wasn't a co-op member. "You can't buy anything here unless you're a member. We're a co-op, you see." I was confused: "That's odd. I'm a member of a co-op grocery store in Nelson BC, but it's not a prerequisite to buying stuff!" I was informed: "We are not affiliated with that co-op; your membership there will not help you here." Eventually I was sent to the customer service desk, where it was easy -- after I assured Ann that I live very far away from Fredericton -- to get a complimentary visitor pass.

I drove over the Princess Margaret Bridge two more times, then gave up again and drove through the construction zone. The construction zone turned out to be very short, and the highway turned out not to be a detour at all: rather, since my map was printed, highway 2 had moved to the South side of the river.

More stories

At Riding Mountain national park in Manitoba, north of Brandon, I stayed at a "walk-in" campground where I had to park 30 metres from my campsite. There was no running water, just a huge pile of good firewood and kindling. Roughin' it, yuppie style! The place was totally deserted -- just me, some birds, and a beaver.

Sleeping Giant provincial park, near Thunder Bay, was also lovely, although not quite deserted. On my way in I passed 11 deer, two porcupines, and a bear. I liked it so much I stayed for two nights. On the second night, I met someone from Minnesota. Until then, I hadn't seen anyone else living in a tent.

At a diner in Winnipeg whose name eludes me at the moment, my waitress asked whether I wanted coffee. I asked, "do you have espresso?" She pointed to the door and said "OUT!" I stayed anyway. After breakfast, I went to the Bay to buy a Bialetti Moka Express (at the last minute, I had forgotten to pack one of the two I already own). A short sequence of cashiers and salespeople led me to the right specialist, who explained: "We used to carry those, but we don't carry them any more. A lot of people come in looking for them. Try Barnes and Castle." B&C was selling them for $14. They're so cute! The coffee machines, I mean.

The Thunder Bay Restaurant was a fun place. I had an Everything Omelette, two Giant Breakfasts, and a bannock burger.

I made coffee at the side of the road in Saskatchewan. A man pulled over to see what the trouble was, perhaps assuming that only a breakdown would cause someone to stop there. He had never seen a moka machine before, but he knew all about Toyotas; his pickup truck's odometer was over 460000.

I wondered whether, if I had a laptop computer, I would write more while on the road, or whether I would still just think about what I would write if I were writing.