Road Trips

I had three days out of time last week. The kids continued. The family went on. School was attended, all without me. I was Away. (Then, unfortunately, I was Sick, thus delaying the update.)

I’m partial to road trips. I prefer them to vacations, I think. There is an essential freedom in going for a drive with only the vaguest of notions about where you are going to wind up, and what you might do when you get there. This time, we had the idea of a ferry ride to Newfoundland “sometime in the next few days”. When I checked the schedule, that turned into “in four hours”, a much more energizing concept. It also meant that we were spontaneously leaving home for a 3-day trip at 11 p.m. and starting with a night sleeping sitting up. Very road-trippy.

The Ferry in Question

(The ferry was much nicer than the ones we took when I was a kid. I recommend the MV Atlantic Vision if you go to Newfoundland and have a choice of boat.)

I have some rules regarding road trips that separate them from my everyday life. First, abundant junk food is allowed, nay, encouraged. Second, you can’t make reservations. That’s not a road trip; that’s a vacation. Third, I don’t think it really counts unless you wind up sleeping in the car at least once.

So, I totally cheated this time. If you show up without a reservation they don’t technically HAVE to let you on the ferry… but we called in the last two hours, so I think that it is true to the spirit, if not the letter. Also, we removed the bench seats from the van and replaced them with laid out bedrolls, poofy pillows and comfortable bedding, thus being prepared to sleep comfortably. We also bought a tray of veggies and dip about 14 hours into the trip – I guess I’m getting too old to run on Oreos and Doritos. [side note: my spell checker recognizes one of those but not the other. I think I know what the software developers were eating.] But the main character of the trip was the wander, the happy accident, and the fact of going slightly further than we intended to, making the return trip more difficult than expected.

We saw Vikings! (This is not my photo, but I did meet the woman in it. She was weaving. Her loom took her a month to set up and featured round rocks tied to the end of each bundle of warps. The longhouse in the background is super comfortable, and I would go live in it. For a few days, anyway.)

And the earth’s mantle (which pushes through the crust due to a massive plate collision some… um… millions of years ago)! (This is a picture off wikipedia. It is reused under the Creative Commons license. The other one is just scraped.)

And moose. And a fabulous sunset. And a deep fresh water fjord that demands a return trip.

We also found a Frommer’s 3-star restaurant at the far northern tip of Newfoundland, in a village of 28 people.

We stopped at a campground in the national park that had pit toilets and no electricity, but still had wireless internet access. We slept in the van. We ate Jigg’s dinner at the Irving. * We resisted the temptation to slip across to Labrador. We barely made it back to the ferry in time. I discovered that there are free showers available at the Marine Atlantic ferry terminal when the ferry was loading late and that you can wash your hair with hand soap. We talked for three days straight and barely dipped into our collection of CD’s. We pushed each other’s buttons, and made each other think deep thinky-thoughts in our brain things.

In short, it was a road trip! I will go back, next time on vacation, and see the things I missed. But for the moment, it was what I needed.


* Jigg’s dinner is a traditional Newfoundland food, and one of my guilty comfort foods. It is essentially a corned-beef boil, but with naval (salt) beef instead. It has lots of fat, mediocre meat, and an abundance of root veggies, ideally not overcooked. Irving is a gas station chain. They almost all have restaurants, and almost all serve a decent Jigg’s dinner.

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