Neil Gaiman says:

Neil Gaiman says:
pic by Allan Amato

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Mangoes in Miramichi

Well, it's morning #2 in New Brunswick, and I am thankfully well rested, happily full of yogurt, raisin toast, Bridgehead "Monkey" coffee.. ;-) and a chopped up mango. Slept well on the pull-out couch/ air mattress combo in Robbie & Bobbie's living room in their new house.

Headed off Tuesday morning after a relaxing stay up at Anders & Vicki's place on the Big Rideau (pics to come!) Needless to say that although I got up at 5:30am July 31st, by the time I was done packing, making lunches, checking the animals and generally getting my crap together.. it was about 9:45am before I finally rolled out. It still felt good though; exciting and exilarating to leave the burbs and plunge the red Echo on the hwy.

Listened to Imani Coppola, a few mixes and, as I pulled closer to Montreal, put Leonard Cohen's "The Future" in the tapedeck. Oh, glorious tapedeck! The one thing my lovely white Mustang never possessed. There was a stalled car in the tunnel of the Hippolyte, which caused back ups, but after that, it was clear sailing.

The weather was staggeringly beautiful; intense blue sky, puffy clouds that look like they'd been painted on and the changing Canadian landscape that made me almost crash as I snapped a few pictures along the way... Cruising up past Quebec City is when the St. Laurence is visible and the lovely hills beyond, shrouded in mist quite inspiring.

What was less inspiring was the interminable road-work in La Belle Province. I guess that's what you get for traveling on a weekday :-P The worst was just outside Joly, where everyone just sat there looking glum. I had an old 1987 live recording of Spirit of the West at Massey Hall in TO to groove to, so as John Mann, Geoff Kelly and Hugh Mcmillan sang Homelands, we finally rolled forward.

The Echo cruised easily, barely using gas. Including the top-up near Rigaud, then just outside Riviere-de-Loup, I spent $58 on gas. I nibbled on fruit, PB & J sandwiches and blueberries, as well as demolishing an entire bag of red licorice... too good! I finally made it to the NB and kept my eyes peeled for the turn-off to Grand Falls and the "108" which turns into the Renous, a mythical logging road that twists like an epileptic octopus through the NB highlands. I didn't have to worry; all the roads were clearly marked and soon I was on my way. During this leg of the drive, I had a "Taste of the Maritimes" mix tape with Stan Rogers on one side and a variety of folks on the other..all singable and setting the mood. When it got too dark to see, I just flipped the tape over and listened to it again, instead of rooting through the bag for a new one.

Everywhere I looked it was pure beauty; the hills rising and falling before me, the thick shaggy spruce, and the coming sunset bathing everything in pink/orange. Oh yes.. the coming sunset.. twilight.. and finally. Night. Night on the Renous. :-O Dark as pitch, not a streetlight in sight on the old logging road..which went from paved to, paved & bumpy, to crumbly bumpy (including the humourful sign: Bumpy Road, next 10k!) to gravel.. And long! It was the longest gravel road on which I've ever driven. A deer flicked her ear in the shadows of the road & a rabbit did a zig-zag jig in front of the car before darting off the road and into the shadows. During one of the bumpiest parts of the road, I remember singing "Farewell to Nova Scotia" sounding like I was sitting on a spastic washing machine..very vibrato!

Finally, the moon slid like a dusky orange peach from between the black branches. She glided skyward, brightening, buttery; a freshly risen loaf, a golden cheese! I felt amazing...on the cusp of Lughnassa, caught up in the beauty of the moon & feeling connected to the drive, the land, the movement. Some otherworldly power kept watch on me as I sped through the night and finally, exited the Renous on the other side, grateful and sighing, unclenching white knuckled hands from the wheel.

I got a little turned around trying to get to Rob & Bobbie's... inadvertently crossing the wrong bridge. Glad I topped up my cell; a quick call, a few directions and I was making my way to the final leg of the 12 hour drive. There was Rob on the lawn waving and at last the Echo ceased.. the odometer read 1038 km. Whew...

A Pump House Ale was presented, along with many delighted hugs! We sank into comfy couches and I related my tale.... More posts & some pictures to come.

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