At 9:30 this morning, I cleared the mileage, left Newmarket, and headed up 95.
And most of the ride looked like this:
I ate cookies my boss baked for me, sang along with the iPod on shuffle (KellyFM), and once in a while laughed out loud while remembering a conversation or some random silliness in my life. I let all the tension and annoyance melt away, tucked somewhere in the back seat. And the further north I went, one word kept coming to me: Joy.
The first time it came to me was when I saw a sign for a pull off to view Mount Katahdin. Sure, why not?
But it was no ordinary view. Up a steep hill, there is a small, quaint parking lot featuring this:
Better in person, of course. But I just felt incredible joy looking out at this.
It more than made up for the depressing fact that Maine gives up on naming towns after a while.
|"Where did you say your parents live again? T1-R6?"|
I felt it again at the border crossing in Houlton, ME. Mr. Oo-la-la sexy Frenchie border patrol guy wished me a happy birthday as he handed back my passport. It was unexpected, and that brought me joy. I smiled for the next few kilometers.
The drive along rt 2 in New Brunswick is beautiful--sweeping landscape, views for days. It reminds me of Vermont. And rt 102, along the Saint John River valley, is stunning.
And here, in the middle of nowhere, is a town named Nackawic (population 1,049). A very sweet little town of well maintained ranch homes and a cute little park, Nackawic is known for something. Something big. It's home to The World's Largest Axe.
The guy in the picture was setting up for a town concert. As soon as he heard me speak, he asked where I was from. When I said New Hampshire, he said, "Oh yeah. I've been to Port's Mouth." How cute is that? We bastardize it by pronouncing it "Pohtsmuth." We talked for a little bit and then I was on my way. And I realized how different that exchange would have been in New England--it never would have happened. We would have awkwardly pretended each other wasn't there. But Canadians are nice like that. Joy.
My plan was to go to Woolastook Campground, where Blaine (yes!) promised via email that I could just show up and get a spot. And be still my little heart when I pulled up to this fine view.
|I purposely left all 7 billion RVs behind me out of the picture.|
But then be still it more when I learn it's cash only and no ATMs in the area will accept my debit card. As I walked back to my car, the woman said, "Even if you can't find money, just come back. We'll figure something out." And as tempting as it is to think I might wake in the morning and start chopping wood to earn my keep, I took it as a sign and got back on the highway. Maybe on the way back, Woolastook.
I ended up getting a room at a dive-y HoJo's (as opposed to all of those upper crust HoJo's establishments) in Fredericton. Personally, I think my tent is probably cleaner. But I don't care. A comfy chair from which to write Musings, free wifi, free breakfast, and riiiight on the highway. I can start out nice and early tomorrow.
Downtown Fredericton is small and has a few cute spots. I hung out in the Historic Garrison District, which, according to one of my guide books, was "built in 1784 as headquarters for the British army." It was quaint. I got to watch a march procession and listen to bagpipes, so I was happy.
Then it was time for food. The guidebook suggested a place called Lunar Rouge. When I got there, all I saw was cramped outdoor seating with a lot of people taking themselves too seriously. No thanks.
After wandering a block or so, I chose this little pub:
|Not snooty at all. Just pretty fantastic.|
The first thing I noticed when I looked at the menu was this:
|Class, can anyone tell me what's wrong with this? |
Yes, Mark, that's correct. There's bacon on the veggie burger.
People make fun of those of us who post pictures of food online. If you're one of the former, a) I don't understand the horrible wrong I'm doing and b) I don't fucking care.
Look at this little number after a long day of driving:
|Mixed greens with roasted red peppers, goat cheese, cranberries, and steak that |
had a marinade that tasted Thai or Indian. Fracking delicious. Joy!
Here at the bar, I listened to the Canadians speak Canadian. It's so cute when they do that. "I popped out the boombox, and it uses D batteries, yeah? I replaced them, and I'm all set for the summer, ya know." If you can't hear that sentence with the accent intact, you're missing out. Go to Canada immediately.
One thing I didn't realize is that the time change starts in New Brunswick, not Nova Scotia, as I'd thought. So it's actually quite a bit later than I'd wanted to sign off, but I knew that if I waited for morning, this blogging thing would fall way off track. So it's off to this scary bed for me. Tomorrow I intend to break ground in Nova Scotia and be-bop along the Northumberland Strait. I think my sense of joy will continue to emerge as we go.