Posted by: James Shannon | October 23, 2010

The Home Stretch: Arriving Home in the Canadian Maritimes

It’s been a while since my last dispatch, but that’s because I have been doing some major league decompressing after an exciting, entertaining, but tiring road trip.  Now that I have rested, relaxed and have caught up sufficiently with my family, I am ready to start blogging up a storm again!  In the days to come, expect some photo/video blogs from various stages of the Cross-Canada road trip, and some missives from my three weeks here @ home in Havre Boucher, Nova Scotia.

But first things first.

I have one more gap left to fill with regards to my jaunt across my fine nation, and that is the Atlantic Canadian portion of the trip.  I left Quebec on a fine fall morning, and made for Nouveau-Brunswick.  At Grand Falls, I made the first stop at a venerable Maritime culinary institution: An Irving Big Stop.  Irving Big Stops are truck stops that are renowned throughout Eastern Canada for serving up home-cooked style meals with huge portions at a reasonable price.  After ordering the Chicken Finger Platter (and only finishing 2/3 of it), I got back in the Blue Rocket and made my way to my college home, Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Before I checked in at my place for the night however, I made sure to drop in on my second family, the male residence of Aitken House.  As an alumnus, every time I pass through Freddy Beach, I make sure to see what the current members of the house are up to, the mood in the place, any current issues, etc.  It’s always great to hang out with these men that share a common bond with you, and I firmly believe its one of many things I can do as I grow older to keep feeling young.  I also decided to do something nice for the boys, as I had a surplus of beer I had bought in Quebec; 11 of them got distributed among the guys, as I wandered the halls of Aitken (I had three myself, as I recalled the tales of rowdier days in my previous home). I also sampled the food at McConnell Hall … fancy new design, same old mediocre Beaver food (if you don’t get this, you didn’t go to UNB circa <2000)

Good times.

I then wandered around in the dark for about an hour and a half, mistaking the address of the Fredericton International Hostel as 621 Waterloo Row, when it was in fact 621 Churchill Row.  Lol. It was during this unplanned walk that I noticed how dreamlike Fredericton can be in the Autumn; the red, orange and golden leaves, rustled gently in the breeze. As for my digs for the night, it was another beautiful hostel located in an old Victorian house, just like the one in Riviere-Du-Loup. After checking in though, I made my way hurriedly down to another Atlantic Canadian landmark before it closed: Greco Pizza. I thought on a Sunday that it closed at 11pm or something, being used to the West rolling up the sidewalks at about that time or earlier. Not in Freddy, the student that (almost) doesn’t sleep … the restaurant was open ’til 1 AM, 3AM on Friday and Saturday nights. Had a 6″ works as a late evening treat, savoured the sweet sauce that I haven’t tasted in years!

The next morning, I visited more old friends. First up was Ian, who had moved recently from Alberta, and had purchased a cute new house on the Northside of the St. John River. We discussed more going-ons in our respective lives, as I quaffed a delicious chai fresh from Ian and Sherry’s kitchen.

In the afternoon, I changed the oil after 8000 punishing kilometres (I changed the oil well before I left from Jasper) of driving. Following this, I went down the moose-infested highway 7 to Saint John, my shortest driving day of the trip. After contacting my good buddy Matt, we had dinner downtown @ Rocky’s Sports Bar, and then I watched him play some rec league hockey; the quality was surprisingly good, as the division they were in contained many former AAA players (and probably some former junior players as well).

Like all of my other friends along the way, Matt hooked me up with a couch to sleep on, and the next day, I set out for home. Mostly uneventful, but man was the wind blowing across the Nova Scotia / New Brunswick border, home to the Prairie-like Tantramar Marshes. The land was so flat, but the air bit through me, with a humidity that gave the air a chilly quality unlike anything I had experienced in years.

As I mentioned, tons of photos and videos from the trip are forthcoming in the days to come, which should give a better idea of what went on, then the week-old thoughts that I have been trying to conjure up on this rainy, deary afternoon in NS (made more deary by the channel my Dad is watching presently, the Dusk channel; very depressing 😛 )

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