Where did I leave off? Wisconsin?
Our trek across ‘Murica was a first for me, going so long without working or having a home base. 4 weeks is past the threshold — at two I wanted to stop, we moved camp every night, only staying in Yellowstone two nights, but then you’re like Oh, we still have another 5,600km to go, guess we better re-pack the car.
The second half of the trip is almost void of photographic evidence. Staring at the world wiz by through the windshield started to lose its excitement before Elko, Nevada, and became downright exhausting by Idaho, where, thankfully, the speed limit rose from 70mph to 80mph (that’s 128km, so 140km was the average) because people do not want to hang around in Idaho. Flash-forward to Wisconsin.
Milwaukee was not a place I’d ever expected to go, so having done no research I pulled up some info on my phone only to discover that Milwaukee is quite stabby — and since we’d had to spend $300 we didn’t really have to cross Lake Michigan at 6am the next day, a hotel was out of the question. I located the safest neighbourhood, which happened to be a 5 min drive from the ferry, we had a long, delicious but not too expensive dinner at a bustling hipsteraunt, then had a horribly uncomfortable sleep in the front seat of the car. And by sleep I mean the Canadian snoozed lightly and I remained awake fearing we’d be arrested or shot.
The next morning we crossed Lake Michigan, which was sadly the waters were incredibly choppy, so 50% of those on board (like 30 people, it was a small ferry) vomited the whole time. My sea legs were not up to the ferocity of this great lake.
Once back in Ontario, we went up to Parry Sound for the weekend to visit friends, then over to Ottawa for a couple of days, then started up again, going to Montreal to eat bread and croissants.
We crossed into Vermont. The boarder guard sounded like he only peaked into the car because he’d spent time in Germany and knew our model MINI had a suicide door and he wanted to see it in action. Smallest border crossing ever?
Originally we’d planned to make it to Massachusetts, I’ve wanted to go since I was a witch and ghost story-loving kid and to visit Berkshire Mountain Bakery, but then we checked our bank accounts and decided we didn’t have the gas money to get there.
Zipped through New England to get out to Nova Scotia via the Saint John ferry, a much smoother ride than the Lake Michigan vomit-fest from the previous week. Saint John looked the same as every time I’ve been there.
Lunenburg, NS is impossibly cute.
We’d driven around like mad people trying to find fire wood in Bangor, apparently no one uses it there. The kids who work at the grocery store don’t even understand (“Why don’t you just cut down a tree?”). We had to buy a pre-fab xmas log from Walmart. So we picked up fire wood as soon as we could, excited to set up camp on the hill in the centre of the town.
Silly us, NO FIRES AT THE UNESCO Heritage Site. Pub it is.
The view of the Back Harbour at sunrise was worth the wind storm that kept us awake all night.
Halifax was as charming as ever.
We stayed in Glace Bay for 5 days picking berries, hiking, and searching for ocean treasure with the Canadian’s sister and her family.
On the way back we drove a bit of the Cabot Trail, a wonderful time of year for driving through the East Coast.
We slugged through New Brunswick, which in all honesty, I admit I don’t go to the East very often because you have to traverse this intensely boring province to reap the rewards of fresh fish and fiddlers. It was his first trip through, and he’s agreed we will somehow avoid New Brunswick in the future.
In an effort to avoid Quebec driving (let’s face it, the roads are horrible) and because New England is the happiest place on American soil, the plan was to cross into Maine.
Except the US Border guard did not want to let us in.
We’d met with some concerned faces at border crossings when we declared having bear bangers (I have an intense fear of bears), which are flare-like noise makers many people outside Canada (and bear country) have heard of. This time, however, it seemed the combination of the bear bangers and the lack of employment or home triggered their radar and they hastily proceeded to strip the car.
The border guard proudly waltzed back inside holding up a baggy, booming “AND WHAT ARE THESE?”
We’d taken to seed saving, I’d forgotten the Canadian had collected wine grape seeds from a vine in Glace Bay.
“Those are grape seeds.”
“OH WE’LL SEE.” He consulted with another guard, who assured him it wasn’t a bag of pot seeds. “ALRIGHT WELL, THESE WILL NOT BE GOING BACK WITH YOU.”
He proceeded to accuse use of attempting to become illegal aliens, “YOU HAVE NO JOBS AND NO HOME, WHAT IS TO KEEP YOU FROM ACCEPTING A JOB IF YOU ARE OFFERED ONE?”
This is where we both wanted to say aside from the minimum wage in this country? Instead the Canadian says “No offence, I’m half-American and I have never wanted to live here.” Admittedly we were scared of being declined entry, we didn’t want to go back to New Brunswick.
“YOU CAN BE HALF-AMERICAN ALL DAY I DON’T CARE. WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO GO HOME TO?”
“Family?” NO “Friends?” NO “Our things?” NO.
“WHERE IS THE MAJORITY OF YOUR POSSESSIONS?”
“Wh-WHAT? WHY ARE YOU OVER HERE GOING THIS WAY AND YOUR POSSESSIONS ALL THE WAY OVER THERE?” He demanded, gesturing over an invisible map.
“We are moving. So we started in Calgary, drove to Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, through the Redwoods to Chico, across Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, then — what’s the one next to Minnesota? The double-u one –” Mid sentence the guard is shaking his head, eyes closed. He grabs our car keys from behind the counter and before I can finish listing off all the states, pushes them desperately towards us, begging
“JUST GO, LEAVE.”
I’ll give him credit, he re-packed our car perfectly.