Actually getting this trip underway proved to be surprisingly difficult; I’m not talking about organising it - that was reasonably straightforward if a little time consuming - but actually leaving behind everything that I knew along with quite a lot that I had discovered in the two weeks previous.* I wasn’t doing too badly with all the goodbyes to friends - and I did just fine with shutting down the services to the house and moving my stuff into storage - but what made it all hit home?* Walking out the front door and leaving my cat behind.* I never used to understand how people get so attached to animals but, as I was driven out of my road, I realised how much I do understand now.* My neighbour is going to be looking after her - huge thanks if you’re reading this - but, well, you know..?
Having been dropped to the airport I sat there, in a bit of a daze, not wanting to go through the security check.* Now, just in case you were wondering what I was hiding, don’t worry, I wasn’t hiding anything bar a few tears shed when I opened a really lovely card from a very dear friend.* I guess I just felt I wouldn’t have to confront the situation if I stayed out in the check in area but, as the card said, it was time to confront my fears and get on with it.* Encouraged by the words in the card - which were absolutely spot on - I went through and went and sat quietly at the gate.
Having made it as far as the plane I was reasonably happy that I wasn’t gonna back out of the trip and, with a sudden burst of enthusiasm, I strode down the ramp and headed towards the bulkhead seat that I’d requested when checking in.* I was greeted by two screaming kids and their rather angry looking mum who, it turned out, thought I’d stolen the seat that - in her mind at least - belonged to her husband.* Prepared to do anything for an easy life I agreed to swap seats with her husband but what is it with these people; why all the attitude?* All they had to do was ask nicely and I would have moved anyway. *Maybe it was my state of mind at the time but those two really were the two most objectionable people that I’ve had the mispleasure to encounter for quite a while and I was reminded of one of the prime reasons for wanting out of the county in the first place; stupid bloody Brits.
There was a delay of an hour or so due to the weather - another reason I wanted out - and, by the time we finally got off the ground, I was so wound up that I was ready to scream.* I was only leaving for eight months - I have no idea how people who are emigrating must feel knowing they’ll never return to the place where they grew up.
We arrived in Montreal remarkably quickly and deplaned in no time at all.** Preparing myself for the usual hour long wait for immigration I was delighted to discover there was precisely three people in front of me but the guy I spoke to took a dislike to me, scribbled something on my immigration card, and sent me to join a long line of people who looked to be asylum seekers rather than tourists.*
Later that evening I decided to go and find some food so I took off on foot and ended up sat in a McDonalds around the corner from my downtown motel reflecting on what a strange and tiring day it had been.* And with that I knew I needed to sleep.
The next morning I woke, still in a bit of a daze, so I ate breakfast early and went off to explore the city.* Unable to get any grasp on it on foot I decided to get up high and look down on it so I headed off to the Parc du Mont-Royal which offered a good viewpoint over the city.* I decided then to head to Ile Notre Dame to check out the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve but I missed the turn and wasn’t prepared to double back through the big traffic jam so I ended up at the old Olympic site instead.* I took a long walk round the site, taking photos from all angles, before coughing up 14 bucks to go up to the top of the stadium tower in a cable car.* I realised as I looked out over the city that my mind really was several thousand miles away and, nice as Montreal appeared to be (even with the appallingly bad roads which make ours in the UK seem like endless ribbons to bowling green) I was never gonna enjoy my exploration of it.* So I hopped back in the car and headed out.
I passed Quebec City and pressed on until I finally spotted a Walmart where I stocked up on provisions and then continued onwards until I turned south onto TC-2 down through the St Johns River valley where things started to look a little more, I don’t know, Canadian?* Snow, ice… just, erm, Canadian.* Shortly after crossing into New Brunswick the snow stopped and was replaced by flood water.* Everywhere you looked the St John River had burst its banks and the effect on the properties along the river was pretty devastating.
I stopped at the Grand Falls Gorge, as planned, but the raging torrent that you would usually witness there had been replaced by something rather more fearsome and, as a result, all the trails had been closed to prevent people being swept from the banks.* As it was still daylight I continued on, checking out the huge Hartland Covered Bridge, before finally calling it a night in the town of Woodstock.
I had a good nights sleep and woke this morning feeling a little more relaxed but I still wasn’t quite there.* My spirits weren’t really lifted when I arrived in Fredericton to be greeted by the damage that the flood waters had caused.* Once again everywhere that I had planned to visit had been closed due to the floods so I had to make do with a quick walk around the town and a chat with a few of the locals who had come out en masse to revel in the spectacle.