ROAD STO­RIES

elle ed­i­tors’ most mem­o­rable tales. #throw­back

Elle (Canada) - - Escape -

Walk the line: Mis­sis­sauga to Tofino

The sum­mer I was 11 years old, my fam­ily hit the road for a cross-Canada ad­ven­ture. I had not yet grown to love camp­ing, so I wasn’t par­tic­u­larly thrilled about this trip. Even less thrilling was be­ing stuck in the mid­dle seat be­tween my two older broth­ers, who when bored en­ter­tained them­selves by tor­ment­ing me. It was pre-cell­phones, pre-In­ter­net and pre-in-car-en­ter­tain­ment, so bore­dom was pretty much our con­stant state—bro­ken up by their bad be­hav­iour and me pe­ri­od­i­cally ask­ing “Are we there yet?” A trip high­light was when my par­ents fi­nally made good on their threat to make the boys walk as pun­ish­ment and we dropped them off on the side of the Trans-Canada High­way and drove away. About 500 me­tres later, we pulled over and waited for them to catch up while my mom pan­icked that it had been a bad idea and some­thing might hap­pen to them. (They were fine. And still be­haved badly af­ter­wards.) Sib­ling tor­ture aside, I ended up lov­ing the trip. Mak­ing a few stops en route, we drove all the way to Tofino, where we camped on the beach and I played with drift­wood and strange-look­ing sea­weed, be­yond de­lighted to be out of the car. We were fi­nally there. Road-trip tip: Bring a ca­noe. It’s a PITA to get it on and off the car ev­ery day but worth it to be able to glide onto what­ever body of wa­ter you hap­pen to be near. – Ciara Rickard

The white­out: Lake Louise to the Okana­gan Val­ley

Af­ter spend­ing Christ­mas in Banff—dogsled­ding, cross-coun­try ski­ing, stay­ing at Chateau Lake Louise and gen­er­ally hav­ing the most Cana­dian hol­i­day my new-im­mi­grant fam­ily could come up with—we set off in our rental car to­ward the Okana­gan Val­ley. It was just our sec­ond Cana­dian win­ter since mov­ing from South Africa—and our first moun­tain-high­wayin-win­ter ex­pe­ri­ence. I re­mem­ber that drive through the snowy night as ut­terly mag­i­cal—we were the only car on the road, fol­low­ing a sin­gle set of tire tracks, and the only other living crea­ture we en­coun­tered was a lone wolf on the side of the road. I vaguely re­mem­ber over­hear­ing on the ra­dio that the road be­hind us was closed as avalanche af­ter avalanche fell, but I was mostly too busy jerry-rig­ging a string of licorice from ceil­ing hook to ceil­ing hook in the back­seat with my broth­ers to be overly con­cerned. In hind­sight, that must have been some ma­jorly white-knuckle driv­ing on my dad’s part, but for Grade 3 me, it was just a bliss­fully ig­no­rant trip through a win­ter won­der­land. Road-trip tip: Par­ents, never let your kids see you sweat the sheer drops off the side of the high­way. – Sarah Laing

The night bus: Toronto to Van­cou­ver

One sum­mer, when I was eight and my brother was five, my fam­ily took a Grey­hound bus from Toronto to Van­cou­ver and back. Money was tight, and this was a rare—and ex­cit­ing—va­ca­tion. When my brother and I weren’t fight­ing over who got the bet­ter seat by the win­dow, we saw some great scenes of Cana­di­ana: the out­line of the Sleep­ing Gi­ant in the foggy air of Thun­der Bay; the gi­ant steel Canada goose mon­u­ment in Wawa; the end­less fields of wheat in Al­berta. We ate re­ally greasy French fries in the Win­nipeg bus sta­tion and chased prairie dogs at a stop in Saskatchewan. On the night we en­tered Bri­tish Columbia, a gi­ant owl crashed into the bus win­dow, leav­ing a crack along the side of it. To cel­e­brate our ar­rival in Van­cou­ver, we had din­ner at a fancy ho­tel—I can’t re­mem­ber which one, but I was daz­zled by the sparkling sil­ver­ware and well-dressed wait­ers. My dad or­dered car­rot soup. He blew on it to cool it off be­fore tast­ing it and then laughed out loud in sur­prise. He passed the bowl to my mom, who did the same. None of us had ever heard of chilled soup be­fore. I re­mem­ber him laugh­ing un­til he cried. “Cold soup!” my dad kept say­ing as he wiped his eyes with the stiff white nap­kins. Who knew that this was how they ate their soup in Van­cou­ver? Road-trip tip: Let some­one else do the driv­ing. You can sleep, take in all the scenery and cover more dis­tance in a short amount of time. But I’d rec­om­mend the train or a very well-ap­pointed town car. – Vanessa Craft

Get me to the church on time: Toronto to Wash­ing­ton, D. C.

Six years ago, my brother and I de­cided to drive to my sis­ter’s wed­ding. We planned it so that we would ar­rive right on time. The route took us through beau­ti­ful ravines, and we chilled out, lis­ten­ing to cheesy mu­sic along the way. We knew we’d be cut­ting it close, but we had good di­rec­tions—so we thought. We took the last exit to the church and then kept driv­ing and driv­ing—as the clock on the dash­board kept creep­ing forward. When it was past the time my sis­ter was sup­posed to be walk­ing down the aisle, we fi­nally stopped and called friends who were at the wed­ding; they ex­plained that there was a sec­ond exit we were sup­posed to take. Some­how, ev­ery­one at the wed­ding seemed to know this—ex­cept for us. We de­cided that we’d be too late for the church ser­vice, so, on our friends’ ad­vice, we headed to the ho­tel. But once we checked in, my mother called with the ul­ti­mate “Where are you?” query—not only had we missed the wed­ding, we were now miss­ing the fam­ily pic­tures. We did make it to the re­cep­tion, and we took lots of (sheep­ish) pho­tos there. (I’m the one on the left.) But I will never for­get the look on my mom’s face when we walked in—she was so mad at us. Road-trip tip: Give your­self more than the ex­act num­ber of hours you need to get to the church. Or, just fly! – Brian Flem­ing

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