There we were, atop the green brushed highlands speckled with grey jagged rocks. Standing un-wisely close to the edge looking out over the precipice which cut through the landscape into the ocean, we had sweeping views of the snaking road of the Cabot Trail which takes you around the ravishing Cape Breton National Park.Read More
I awoke in a sweat. My heart was racing and palms clammy. Where was I? I was confused. The laptop was beside me on the homemade quilt I was laying on; I must have fallen asleep editing photos.
I was still trying to pry my tired eyes open and adjust to the light in that orange glossy cabin room when I glanced to my left. Suddenly my heart jumped and my stomach sank as I saw a man standing beside my bed.Read More
And so the tale begins. A tale of four travel-hearted individuals from different reaches of the North Americas. Four travel-hearted bloggers on an epic two-week road trip from the jagged coastlines of Newfoundland in the east, to the 2013 Travel Blog Expo in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
I hope you are ready for the shenanigans that will ensue…
First thing is first – let me give you a quick rundown. This will be a multi-part series, retelling the adventures of Candice of Candice Does The World, Seattle of Seattle’s Travels, Zak of Sparkpunk, and I as we drive, hike, wander, and frolic through Canada.
And what ever else we do to get there…
TBEX is being held in the first weekend of June. A conference bringing together veteran and noob travel bloggers, writers, and travel companies from near and far.
The prospect of getting to meet tons of travel writers at TBEX that have inspired has me crazy excited!
It is bound to be filled with good times, pow-wows, enlightening conference speakers, and the clanging of pint glasses. Just think Lord of the Rings when the fellowship gathered; all the different faces, races, sexes (I didn’t say sexy time…), egos, personalities, and beards that might not mesh at first, but are sure to get along in the end!
The drinking will help with that as well.
And so the tale begins. A tale of — oh wait. I already said that. Okay. Fast forward to the morning of the road trip.
It began like most trips with travelers do. With a hangover…
In a town like St. John’s, which touts a world record for most bars in a certain square footage, we couldn’t not go out on the infamous George Street on a hoppin’ Friday night. Even IF we planned to leave bright and early the next day.
What happened? Well, we were a tad slow to start moving and began the trip two hours later than we wanted. No matter, because an amazing road trip was beginning and a late start wouldn’t set us back too much.
Little did we know it was only set back number one…
Our chariot was dropped off sometime in the morning. Our ride through Canada? An itty-bitty blue Kia Forte provided by Hit The Road. This company has a gnarly program allowing travelers to transport other individuals cars across the country for them if they don’t want the hassle of driving the distance themselves.
After trying to figure out how the hell we were going to get all the way to Toronto when none of us own a car, Hit The Road was rad enough to sponsor our transport for this road trip!
Things seemed to be coming together oh so well.
Everything was packed up and ready to go, but the next challenge presented itself. How to fit all our crap in the trunk.
When I said itty-bitty, it just seemed that way because we had four backpackers with massive bags containing their entire lives in them. There was a lot of shoving, crunching, and smushing, but we managed to squeeze in like sardines.
It was gloomy and overcast. Rain sprinkled on and off as we said our farewells to St. John’s and hit the freeway. Though St. John’s is a smaller city than most I’ve lived in, there was just something I came to love about it.
Maybe it was the night-life.
Maybe starting a road trip with the first travel bloggers I ever met.
Maybe just the euphoria of another adventure and never believing my life would be like this.
Either way, I was sad to leave.
The moment we left St. John’s, the pace was set for our road-trip…
Set back number two — there was only one turn at the start we had to worry about making for 500km to Gros Morne. We missed it.
There was a collective, “Oh shit” said by all four bloggers when we realized we blew past the exit. You would think four people who live a travel lifestyle would be pretty damn good at navigation.
It seems like travelers aren’t always experts at finding their way around…
This trip was starting off as you’d imagine with any ragtag group of rebel travel bloggers.
It was a little rough around the edges and laughably un-orthodox, but we were still having a damn good time.
And better yet, after the mess at the start of the trip, I got a sign that things would be turning around. A sign in my coffee.
We took a rest break at a Tim Horton’s, beloved coffee joint of Canadians, to grab a snack before driving for another 7 hours. When I opened my coffee lid to add sweetener, there was a smiley face staring back at me. I took that as a good sign.
Except it was probably laughing at us. Little did we know set back three fast approached.
First came the fog and spitting rain.
The further we drove, the more the grey consumed us. It felt as though we drove into nothing-ness.
The white-washed sky gave way to no sunlight. The fog thickened so much it was hard to see the car 25 meters ahead.
The spitting rain turned to sleet, then snow.
To lighten the mood, we made blogger jokes about Canada, tried to sing songs, and talked extensively about starting a blogger fight-club at TBEX.
Rule #1 of Blogger Fight Club: You don’t talk about Blogger Fight Club.
Though our little Kia that could fought on, the roads had become puddled and slick, causing us to hydroplane constantly.
Scary as hell thinking you are going to crash every second.
I’ve been in a car accident that nearly killed me, and so had Candice quite recently, so we were all on the edge every time the car began to slip n’ slide around.
Zak grew up in Anchorage Alaska and was a pro at driving in these conditions, but it is still hard to fight the fear as the weather worsened.
I just prayed to gods I don’t believe in and tried to distract myself by staring at the snow-capped trees that whizzed by. Oddly enough, it is what I always pictured Alaska being like, and what always fascinated me about it.
Candice, watching the flurry outside said, “I find it so funny that no matter how much technology we have, and how many innovations are made, Mother Nature just doesn’t give a damn and keeps on doing her thing.”
You could say the fierceness of nature was frighteningly beautiful in those moments.
We just kept on driving, 7 hours into the nothingness. Kept on driving down that shiny black pavement under that white-washed sky. Kept on through the fog and the snow biting our fingernails. Hoping the weather would break soon.
And the weather did break.
“Look! The sun!” Seattle squeaked with delight. Yes, we are an odd blogger bunch, but after not seeing sunlight for 7 hours straight it was quite exciting.
Just as the weather had transitioned from rain to snow, so it retreated from snow, to sleet, to rain, then nothing.
The road snaked through the dark green pines and passed swollen rivers until we spotted Gros Morne rearing its bald head in the distance. We finally reached “The Great Somber“, the meaning behind the name of this bare rounded mountain of exposed earth mantle.
After an exhausting long day of driving, we did what all backpackers do — grabbed beer and got cozy. We checked into Gros Morne Cabins, located right on the water of the bay-side town of Rocky Harbor which would be out base for the next 2 days.
There is NOTHING like relaxing on homemade quilts in a wooden cabin by the sea. Nothing.
As we sipped our beers and unwound, we were treated to one of the most stunning sunsets I had ever seen. Luckily I happened to look up as I was unpacking.
Just above the horizon, the clouds had parted just enough to see the sunset. The fiery sun seemed to descend from the monochrome sky to fill the horizon in a colorful splendor of orange and crimson. It seemed to linger as long as it could until retreating from sight; the sky faded to light blue, then purple, then was consumed by the blackness of night.
However crazy the start of the trip was, it’s always the journey and not the destination. We survived an intense 7hr drive through some wicked weather. Plus got to know each other through the ordeal.
My first trip with other travel bloggers had begun…and it was looking to be a hilarious ride.
Are you headed to TBEX? Make sure to comment below and subscribe on the widget to the upper left to keep up with these shenanigans!
Afro of the United States.
Chilling up top the US like the Fonz saying “eh?”
Full of people who have funny accents when they say “about”.
Maple freakin’ syrup. Everywhere.
Also some French sprinkled about.
And French Fries with gravy or something of that sort. Saw it on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.
These are some things I thought I knew about Canada before my travels began. Silly notions poking fun at our northern neighbors as I grew up. Before, when I was a tad bit more ignorant.
Still, I don’t know a whole lot about the country at all besides some brief reading and travel blogs featuring Canada.
But alas, it turns out Canucks have some pretty funny notions and views about us ‘Mericans as well.
It was around a camp fire in New Zealand when I realized that both sides don’t know a helluva lot about each other. Or at least the citizens.
“Americans are assholes bro, what’s up with that?”
I remember one of our fire-side chats beginning this way as the hippie German, his peace-and-love skeptic girlfriend, and the pothead Canadian passed around a hollowed out carrot while I, the ignorant American, sat playing a harmonica.
“Why do you think we are assholes?”
Instead of getting offended, which I probably would have done if I was in ‘Merica, I posed that question.
“I donno bro, like, once I was at this party, and this big asshole dude, an American, came in and stole all our beer.”
His coughing ended the story and I sat for a minute toying with the comment. Then, as I thought about it, I began to give my opinions about why “Americans” might come off that why. I even went as far as to say that if he thinks about it, Canada and South America are in the Americas as well (I learned quick to say I was from the US, not America).
And I also posed him the question, “But isn’t stating all Americans are assholes an ignorant comment in itself?”
He sat pondering the question, then began nodding his head.
“You are totally right bro. And you are really helping my opinions about that too. You sure you’re from the US?”
I actually got that quite often. It seems traveling immediately helped break down my barriers, bringing in a better understanding of people and countries. At the same time, it helped show people I was just as vulnerable as them, and also taken aback by people’s opinions of my country.
Which brings me to my current trip!
With a fresh new pair of chucks strapped on I am taking off up north on via train to a land so close to home, yet so far away from my understanding. It’ll be a whopping 16hr train ride up to Montreal, which isn’t anything compared to my 26hr New Orleans trip and 68hr train journey across the US. But still a biggie.
After arriving at 7pm in Montreal, I will be spending the night wandering the French rooted city and absorbing as much as I can before my flight at 7am to St. John’s. Somebody told me a sweet spot to grab my first ever Poutine and about an underground city. My kind of place.
If you have been following my trusty chucks and I for a while now, you’ll now how big of a hard head I am when it involves coughing up money for a hostel. I’ll only be in the city from 7pm-7am so I might as well just pull an all-nighter!
Once I land in St. John’s Newfoundland, then the real fun begins. For almost a month I’ll be on an epic road trip with three gnarly travel bloggers — Seattle’s Travels, Candice Does The World, and Zak from Sparkpunk. We’ll be exploring all over Canada on our way to the Travel Blog Expo in Toronto.
What I am most excited about is to yet again shatter my ignorance about another country on the map, finally get to meet my neighbors up north, and get to see a country so acclaimed for its diversity and vast sprawling natural beauty.
Tons of posts will be coming about the upcoming road-trip to the Travel Blog Expo in Toronto and all the shenanigans us bloggers will get into along the way. If you want to keep up, subscribe with the widget on the left!
Have you been to Canada? Come on, cough up the hotspots and things to do in the comments below!