One of the great joys of travelling alone is you only have yourself to make happy. I know that sounds a little selfish, and I suppose it is, but it’s also true. For years I travelled with a posse. Every trip meant being aware of every available washroom, and making sure that the hotel had a pool and was within a short distance of an ice cream store. And every nook and cranny in the car was filled with stuff!!
This time the car was filled with just a couple of bags, and a few empty Tim Horton’s coffee cups. So, to celebrate my unencumbered adventure, I did the most amazing thing. I drove all the way from Quebec City to Fredericton and I didn’t stop once. NOT ONCE!! It was a distance of nearly 600 kms and took me just over five hours. It was exhilarating!! I can’t tell you what it was like to pass someone knowing they wouldn’t pass me later on while I sat outside of a rest stop after a chorus of “Daddy, I need to pee”.
Okay, so that was fun, but to be honest, I missed the gang a little bit. There was something to be said for hours spent in the Hotel pool or standing in line at Dairy Queen after a long day of driving. Kids bring a different element to a vacation. They help you to see things through their eyes. And often their eyes are brightened with wonder and curiosity. They see the things that we miss, because we are so focused on getting somewhere at a certain time. Kids force you to stop on the journey, and that’s not a bad thing. Because when you stop, you see things.
When I got to Fredericton it was mid-afternoon, so I wandered around the streets of the city. I stopped to read a few plaques, and I ventured into the New Brunswick provincial museum. It was a good museum that highlighted facts about the province that I never knew. For example, Willy O’Ree the first black player to play in the NHL came from Fredericton. I had no idea. He played for the Boston Bruins (no comment on that). I also learned about the Coleman frog. It’s a long story, google it if you are interested. Basically, a guy from Fredericton was out fishing one day when a frog jumped in his boat. He kept it and trained it to be his pet, and it grew to be over three feet tall. It had certain human characteristics. While there is little evidence to prove this ever happened, the myth and story about it outgrew itself. It is one of New Brunswick’s more interesting folk tales. In the museum was a giant model of the frog. When I saw it, I instinctively turned to share what I was looking at. There was no one there.
Travelling alone is an interesting thing to do. It gives you the freedom to do what you want to do, but there is something missing when you can’t share it. Today was a nostalgic day for me. New Brunswick was my home for five great years. As I drove through the Saint John River valley, my mind was filled with memories. I have made this trip dozens of times. This was the first time I made it alone. I marvelled at the beauty, enjoyed the freedom of driving without distraction, and felt the simple loveliness of this province fill me.
I loved it! But every so often I would look in the rear-view mirror kind of hoping there would be a face looking back at me.
It was a good day. But also a challenging day.