It’s been 4 years and 5 months since I drove across Canada and back – long past due for me to finish documenting that trip here. Time flies by so quickly and things happen so spontaneously it’s difficult to keep track of everything in the detail that I’d like to on here.
A lot has happened in the intervening years. Since that first trip, I’ve lived and worked all over New Zealand, camped under the stars in the Australian Outback, motorcycled around Thailand, and climbed gigantic sand dunes in China. I’m now living in Vancouver and have hiked all along the west coast of the US, and I’ve started my latest adventure of medical school.
The one common thing throughout these adventures though is how humbling it’s all been. I look back to my first post about this Canada trip, and still feel very much the same way – a gratitude for everything that’s happened that’s brought me to where I am, and the seemingly random and arbitrary nature of life. Always, that mad and spontaneous spark of inspiration that leads to adventure and friends and fun and just the most ridiculous laughs that I wouldn’t and couldn’t have wanted to happen any other way.
Looking back with greater wisdom, I can say that this first big trip was just a seed, one that has only sprouted and grown more fervently since returning home that first time.
So without further ado, here’s the wrap-up:
Total Kilometers Driven: 22 626km (my odometer looped more than twice for the entire trip)
Provinces Visited: 10
Favourite Province: Alberta (mainly for the Rockies)
Favourite City: Montreal – no other city can compete with just how vibrant and lively it is
Favourite thing that happened: Northern lights!!! I still can’t believe how lucky I was to see them in Banff, and with such an amazing backdrop too.
Best food: Chinese food in Vancouver! Seriously going through withdrawal at that point
Worst food: smoked tinned oysters from Costco. In fact, I got pretty tired of most of the food I ate in the car. Lots of canned fish too. Blegh.
Favourite Hike: Sentinel Pass, Banff National Park. Very difficult question. Gros Morne in Newfoundland is still a very close second, and the Berg Lake trail in Mt. Robson was AMAZING too, BUT it was too much for a day hike, and perhaps the winner if we consider it’s multi-day potential.
Wildlife Encounters: Bison! Snakes, deer (white-tailed and mule), elk, moose, marmots, bighorn sheep and mountain goats, octopus!, black bears, pine marten, stellar jays, magpies, SO MANY ANIMALS
I still feel so fortunate, making this my first major trip. To have seen so much of Canada, which is such a vast country, before visiting other places in the world gives me a better perspective to approach other cultures. And it’s a great springboard for conversation when meeting my fellow Canadians abroad! Whether it’s the Mellotones in Halifax or the Grind in North Van, it feels good to be able to relate to other Canadians no matter where they’re from. But my Canada trip isn’t done by any means. I still long for the Rockies, for the rugged coast of Newfoundland, and for the wilds up north in the Territories. There will always be more adventures to look forward to, I suppose!
One final word: I wanted to dedicate this blog to my parents. I remember very vividly the trips that we took when I was little. Sometimes they were long, like a previous road trip through the Atlantic provinces, and sometimes they were short, like going to watch the local salmon run, or visiting a local cranberry festival. They taught me that life is what you make of it, and that adventure, however big or small, is out there. When I first told them about this idea of mine, to drive across the country, they were definitely taken aback. I had planned to buy an ex-police cruiser from an impound lot for the trip, and to ride it out as far as it’ll go. But it’s only a testament to their love and support for me when they quickly decided to let me borrow the family SUV instead. And I think they’ve since become the biggest supporters of my crazy trips. They may not have understood my madness but they supported me nonetheless, and I think without that kind of love, this trip, and by extension my life would have turned out very differently. So thank you. With all my heart, I love you both so much.