When I was about nineteen, I read a book by John Steinbeck called Travels With Charley. Charley was Steinbeck’s standard French poodle. In the book, Steinbeck travels about 10,000 miles throughout America attempting to find more about the people he had been writing about. According to his son, Steinbeck knew he was dying at the time and wanted one last look at America. One other interesting tidbit is that he had a specially built camper van built for the trip that he called Rocinante, after the horse in Don Quixote.
I live on Vancouver Island with Linda Spenard and my dog Cooper. I grew up in Montreal but have spent most of my adult life in BC. I haven’t been back east for about 18 years. I recently turned 65 and I am not dying. At least I don’t think I am. I have been in the mood for a very long road trip for some time. I’ve always liked driving.
So I devised a plan. Like Steinbeck I will be bringing my dog with me. Cooper is an 8 year old golden retriever. In a few weeks we will be driving across the country together. Once we get to Ontario we will be staying at my older brother’s place near Guelph, Ontario and then picking Linda up at the Toronto airport. Unlike me, she still has a job. Actually, I still own a business that takes up about 2 days of the month.
On the way back east I won’t be stopping in Banff having been there twice in the past few years. The last time was about a month ago when Linda, my son Dean, and I went to Calgary to see my daughter Leah in a production of the musical Cats.
I expect to make a stop in Gull Lake, Saskatchewan where I married my first wife back in 1981, the same weekend as Chuck and Di. I’ll probably take a few pics of the grain elevator, the Lucky Café, The Lazy D Motel, and the house my ex grew up in that was sold years ago.
Cooper will most likely be running around some wheat fields. I’m bringing a tent with me so I expect to do a bit of camping along the way. I fully expect the drive across northern Ontario to be as boring as it ever was. When I was young I hitchiked across Canada a number of times. I’ll be looking for the giant goose at Wawa.
I expect to spend about 5 days on the road before getting to my brother’s. I’ll hang around for a few days before picking Linda up at the airport in Toronto. My brother and his wife Barbara also have a golden retriever. I guess we’ll see which dog teaches the other some bad habits.
After I pick Linda up the plan is to spend a few more days at my brother’s before heading off to Quebec. We are going to leave Cooper behind for this part of our trip. I’m not sure how much time we will spend in Montreal. Probably 4 or 5 days. I will try and not bore Linda too much with old war stories. I will try but it won't happen.
We also plan on spending a bit of time up in the Laurentians and in the Eastern Townships. Seeing Lake Memphramagog again is a must. We might sneak across the border for a few hours in Vermont.
After sating my appetite for visiting old haunts we will head back to Ontario and pick up Cooper. From there we will head down to the US, probably crossing the border at Sarnia. We are going to be travelling exclusively in the US on our way back to BC.
We plan on seeing Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone on the way home.
All in all I plan to be away for a month. I don’t expect it to be my last trip to Montreal. But who knows?