Farewell to Canada


Last glimpse of Newfoundland from the ferry

Last glimpse of Newfoundland

September was half over. Days in Newfoundland were becoming short and wet. Like migrating birds, we were drawn toward home.

From the back of the ferry, I watched the misty lump of Newfoundland disappear with a bitter-not-sweet sense of loss. The place had romanced us with its warmth and quirkiness, and unlike Julia, I knew I would not be coming back. Unlike Julia, I don’t have enough lifetime left to return to such far-off places.

As with every trip I’ve ever taken, this one was more unexpected, more beautiful, better, different, and more surprising than I could have imagined.  Also sometimes more difficult. Aren’t all trips like this? Aren’t yours ?

By now, Julia and I had been sharing 66 square feet (the interior of my trailer) for three months. We had traveled along almost the entire coast of eastern Canada. We’d rounded Quebec’s Gaspe peninsula, tracked the coastline of New Brunswick, dipped into Prince Edward Island for a quick taste of red dirt, blue sea, traditional music, and lobster. We had circumnavigated Cape Breton Island on the Cabot Trail and, finally, sailed to Newfoundland where we had wandered about for the past month.

The trip had been expensive. (More on this in the next post.) So “this is the trip of a lifetime” became a mantra that I’d mutter when a tank of gas cost $90 or a night in a campground $30+. I was seized with fits of frugality during which I’d clamp down on the purse strings like a convulsive sphincter.

For her part, Julia was in one of those awkward times of transition, having just graduated from college and not sure what to do next. During the trip, she explored several leads, but, what with intermittent internet and no strong sense of direction, she was floundering like a codfish on the beach.

Then, suddenly, an opportunity opened for her. A perfect opportunity. She knew someone who could all but guarantee her a job as a recreation specialist at a lodge in Yosemite National Park.

Not only would she be providing the same services that we’d been taking advantage of all through Canada–asking the folks at the tourist and information centers where to go and what to do–but she’d be doing it in one of God’s most glorious places. Her job would be to hike the trails and experience the activities in the park so she could advise visitors.

The immediate result, however, was that we had to shift from an open-ended, carefree romp to suddenly being on a schedule. A tight schedule.

She started her job in October. We would spend a week with a friend on the Bay of Fundy. (More on the Bay of Fundy in a Huffington Post blog for which I’ll give you the link when I get it done. I’m a little behind my own summer schedule, in case you hadn’t noticed). Then we’d blast back to Michigan in time for Julia to drive to California to begin work.

Raven and Goldilocks clowning in the restaurant.

Last days on the road–Julia and friend Anne clowning in a restaurant.

And I would, once again, drag out all the stuff I’d put in storage two years earlier and move into my new home base in time for a good old Michigan winter.

Both of us would experience, perhaps without being totally conscious of it, the way fate and grace had gently taken us in hand, opening doors and laying paving stones along our path. The way the voyage through life sometimes happens when we let it.

But–we still had to get back to Michigan.

If you’ve gathered anything about my travel MO, you know that I am allergic to long driving days of so-many-hundreds-of-miles-per-day. Now, we had to beeline almost 1400 miles (2200 km.) in five days, traversing three border crossings and an unknown number of construction zones and natural barriers, the most significant of which, as far as I could tell, was Lake Champlain in New York State. That one required a ferry crossing.

Waiting for the ferry across Lake Champlain

Waiting for the ferry across Lake Champlain

Not to mention driving the dreaded 401 through Toronto.

Julia driving through Toronto on  the dreaded 401.

Julia behind the wheel through Toronto on the 401.


Homocidal bulldozer driver in Lake Placid, New York. Yes, it was that close.

Homocidal bulldozer driver in Lake Placid, New York. Yes, it was that close.

We made it home on time and without mishap or incident after almost 6,000 miles through five Canadian provinces and several US states. No breakdowns; no meltdowns; no injuries; only a few wrong turns and missed opportunities. No end of sea-and-mountain vistas. Forest romps. Friendly people. Fresh seafood enough to gladden the heart of any landlocked Midwesterner.

It had been, in every sense of the word, the trip of a lifetime.



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11 Responses to Farewell to Canada

  1. Ainlay Dixon 5 July, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    Ahhh, can’t wait to follow along with you to Mexico but hope you let us know a bit about what you have been doing since last October!

    • Kate Convissor 6 July, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

      Aaaaggghh. Nothing. Moving into my little cabin and hunkering down for a woodsy Michigan winter. Visiting kin.

      It’s been good (especially time with the grandkids), but I’m getting restless! Mexico should do the trick. Then…I’ll be picking your brain about South America.

  2. Lois 29 June, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    Sigh. I’m not sure I’m ready for this to be over.

    • Kate Convissor 1 July, 2013 at 11:46 am #

      Oh, Lois, only the chapter, not the walkabout. The wandering isn’t over at ALL.
      In fact, I’m getting really excited about the upcoming Mexican chapter.

      Please–stay tuned!

  3. Dan Pierson 29 June, 2013 at 7:35 pm #


    I forgot to past the sentence.

    Both of us would experience, perhaps without being totally conscious of it, the way fate and grace had gently taken us in hand, opening doors and laying paving stones along our path. The way the voyage through life sometimes happens when we let it.

    • Kate Convissor 1 July, 2013 at 11:49 am #

      What! You didn’t like the “convulsive sphincter?”

      You know I’m not going all literary and gushy on you for long.

      (But thanks anyway. ‘Preciates it.)

  4. Dan Pierson 29 June, 2013 at 7:33 pm #


    I love these lines. So beautiful and meaningful.

  5. Joe Todd 29 June, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    Thanks for the post Just love Toronto on the 401. LOL ☺

    • Kate Convissor 1 July, 2013 at 11:54 am #

      Yeah, don’t you love it when your life flashes before your eyes, your palms get all sweaty, and you get a headache from glare and raw, naked fear.

      For some reason, I let Julia drive that day, so her third experience of driving the trailer was through Toronto. The high point was when we were sandwiched between an oversized-load truck and a semi passing on either side. We were like a cartoon leaf blown around in a gale. Unforgettable!

  6. Joanne Kuszaj 29 June, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    Kate, I have so enjoyed reading about this trip and your adventures. Can’t wait for the next one! I hope you survived the winter in Michigan and you are now enjoying the Michigan summer or are you off again?


    • Kate Convissor 1 July, 2013 at 11:58 am #

      Thanks so much for reading along. It’s been great to reconnect. I love thinking of you in the back seat.

      Michigan in the winter is the BEST!

      I’m really looking forward to my Mexico trip. I’ve found some very cool stuff I’m anxious to do/see, so keep following!