Tag Archives: car

Snow on the mountain

Ye gods! It’s snow! I never thought the rain would ever turn into big ol’ flakes but tonight it happened at last. I immediately tried to take photos – not so easy in the pitch black, but I finally got some I liked. (Rather unexpected effect from the flash on snowflakes…)

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Can’t get much more flippin’ Christmassy than that!

And here the trusty Volvo has a chilly night.

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It’s a good thing I grabbed my camera. As I post this I can hear the rain pitter pattering down and I expect the whiteness will disappear before the dawn.

Step 90: Readjust Your Entire Sense of Time

I find my time here is both expanding and contracting. On one hand, it is refreshing to have to allocate far less “travel time” to get around. I keep forgetting that we can drive to most places we need to go in five minutes or less, with the result that we’re early for everything, a most un-Saltspringian trait. In the city things were different. We walked everywhere and I had to allow extra time for the Boss’s extremely variable speed. The 3 blocks to school could take 20 minutes or it could take 45. To travel downtown, it was a 15+ minute walk to the subway station, then add ride time, rush hour delays, etc etc etc.

For me, city living fed into my obsessive nature beautifully. I spent an awful lot of time just calculating walking and transit times and planning my day so that every activity dovetailed perfectly. (That was the plan, anyway. My agendas were often enough foiled by my own idiocy.) I calculated every trip, scheduled every errand. I walked fast, and got into the habit of reading while I walked, when the Boss wasn’t with me, just to get more done.

Zipping about in a car here has turned all this upside down. In Toronto I would never have signed the Boss up for a dance class that starts a mere 15 minutes after school lets out, a couple of miles away, but here we can make it… and still have time to change!

The time I’ve gained however, is lost again extremely quickly, since everyone operates in slow motion around here.

(And yet Saltspringers can also drive idiotically fast on these tricky winding roads. I am surrounded by paradox!)

slug logo by the Rabson family, local entrepreneurs

We are living on “island time” now. Good news: nobody expects you to be on time. Bad news: They won’t be on time either.

But stop-and-smell-the-roses islanders still have their own time anxieties. Interaction with the outside world requires adherence to strict ferry schedules. Nobody is cursed more bitterly than BC Ferries, when a sluggish islander makes the effort to hurry and be on time, and then the dagnabbed ferry runs late!

BC Ferries loading ramp

Road to Nowhere

So where does that leave me, the transplanted city neurotic? The ease of driving everywhere is definitely softening my head as well as my muscle tone. I’ve got to have a book to read in my car for every time I’m too early for school pickup. I have to take a deep breath in restaurants and not let the tortoise-paced service drive me nutty. And I’ve got to take up knitting or something for those damn ferry wait times!

I don’t know. Can I slow down? Should I slow down? I’ve got a lot to do, y’know, what with scheduling in the rose-smelling along with all the wood-chopping, bird-watching, monkey-bars-playing and general horsing around that needs to be done around here.

Step 89: Drive a B.C.-esque car

Which I do!!

In Toronto, when I told people that I was buying a twenty-year-old Volvo with the intent to drive it to B.C. they looked at me like I was nuts. Driving it around the city I noticed a few other similar models, but I still felt fairly unique for not buying the ubiquitous black or silver mini-van that line the streets of my old neighbourhood..

Out here in Lotus Land, driving an ancient Volvo wagon is akin to camouflage! I feel absolutely invisible, especially since I jettisoned the Ontario plates in favour of B.C. ones. I’ve gone deep undercover now.

Step 81: Arrive Safe and Sound

Check! Weary and addled, but WE MADE IT!

Fresh off the ferry, on Salt Spring Island at last…

The boss was getting seriously fed up with posing for photos – I was getting more scowls than smiles recently – so this pic really shows how she felt about arriving and being with her beloved cousins, aunts, uncle, grandma and grandpa…

Epic road trip at an end… but still lots to do…

 

Step 78: Drive Across Canada

That’s all. Just drive across Canada.

Pack snacks. Stay hydrated. Take pictures. Look and look and look.

Don’t be in a hurry. Don’t speed. Drive safe.

Take as circuitous route as possible. Toronto to Vancouver can be as short as

2718 miles.

We took 23 days and drove

4173 miles!*

* hooray for the Volvo!

Step 77: Escape the Funnel

As we drove away, away, ever away from Toronto, I couldn’t help but notice that for days and days Toronto kept popping up on freeway signs. Like it was lurking about, waiting for a chance to reel me back in. Just a moment’s inattention at an interchange and BAM! I’d find myself looping back towards the Big TOe.

One of my biggest complaints with Toronto has always been that it’s so hard to escape from! It takes hours just to get out of the place, through butt-ugly industrial wastelands, jostling elbow to elbow with crazed drivers weaving wildly from lane to lane. It’s gruesome. And if you ever do manage to get away for a relaxing weekend, you always have ahead of you the drive back into Toronto, which obliterates all the effects of the previous relaxation.

And yet, even when we were eight or nine hours north of the city, I still felt like, one wrong turn later, we could be right smack back in rush hour at Yonge and Bloor in just half an hour’s time.

This is what southern Ontario feels like:

Or more precisely:

I am that spinning quarter, drawn inexorably down, down into the vortex that is Toronto.

Step 76: Always Appreciate Good Fortune

The day before our moving truck came I blithely drove over to my storage space to bring home the last item. All by myself. I got it this far on a hot Sunday afternoon with not a soul in sight to ask for a hand. I always appreciate an impossible situation so I paused for a moment just to laugh at myself and take photos. (I wanted photographic evidence of my amazing strength and fortitude.)

As I was putting the camera away and rolling up my sleeves I heard a voice behind me…

“Would you like a hand with that?”

I’d like to think that I would have manhandled that couch into the car if I’d had to, but when it came right down to it, on another scorching hot afternoon in the big city, I was glad to accept a little help.

Many thanks to a kind stranger!

Step 75: … but be sure to end the day with some Awesome

Have I gone on and on about our last day in Toronto enough? I still managed to stagger out of the wreckage of that day patting myself on the back and the Boss exclaiming “This is awesome!”

Reason? After a couple hours in a blistering hot car with no AC, I brought her to this vision of paradise…

Our goal upon leaving Toronto was simply to get to the hotel before the pool was closed for the night, and we made it! Ahhhhhhh!

Believe me, many a bad day on the road can be transformed into a happy one with this secret weapon: a hotel with a pool!

Step 74: Drive off into the sunset…

Good idea, hit the highway right during the evening rush hour with the sun in your eyes. D’oh!

Fill up the tank and be sure to leave the gas cap sitting on the top of the pump. D’oh!

Miss an exit and get thoroughly lost.* Will we ever get out of this city?? (shaking fist at sky) Torontooooooo!

*(Only briefly. Thanks Google maps!)

Step 71: Handle Last-Minute Disasters

I’m breezin’ my way through the last day’s chores, drop the key off at the lawyer’s, take a box of non-perishables to the food bank, return library books… we’re busy, but accomplishing things more or less on schedule.

Then we drop a load of stuff off at the Goodwill, and the car won’t restart. I sit there totally stunned. In a bizarre stroke of luck, I hear a familiar voice – behind me in the Goodwill lot is one of our neighbours. He recommends a garage that’s just across the street! Okay, so maybe my luck isn’t so bad.

The Volvo needs a new alternator. But I wanted to leave town in about two hours! The Boss and I leave the car behind and walk home. Oh wait, did I mention it is hot? Brutally, blazingly, scorchingly, brain-sizzlingly hot?

We stop along the way for lunch. The Boss is ecstatic at the prospect of food from the 7-11. (No sarcasm here. She is 6, eminently capable of excitement over such a thing.) As we sit on the curb with our hot dogs (oorg) I had to reflect that this whole episode might be considered more of an adventure than a disaster. Well, you have to think so on a day like that, really, just to stay sane.

And, after all, my car broke down in town, mere yards from an excellent garage, instead of somewhere in the barrens of northern Ontario. That ain’t so unlucky.

Anyway, in a mere two hours I’m back at Dublin Motors and Mack-with-the-real-Irish-accent hands me back my keys. The car is fixed.

“I hear you’re leavin’ town today,” says he.

“Yeah. We’re driving to B.C.” says I.

“Wha? In the Volvo?” he asks, incredulous.

“Yup.”

“Ah geez. (sympathetic pause) Well, good luck to yeh then.”

(The automotive snafu, painless as it was, was just another reason for our last day going off the rails, time-wise.)

(And, by the by, our 20-year-old car operated flawlessly for, oh, the next two thousand miles or so!)