On the road…again (Part 1: Evolution of a travelling family)
September 2, 2010
Whether you’re fitting in one last trip over Labour Day weekend, or anticipating some travel for Thanksgiving or Christmas, here’s a look inside the minivan of road warrior and Mono mom Jennifer Payne. (Parts 2 and 3 from our newest Kids in the Hills writer will help smooth some of the bumps out of your road.)
I’ve always enjoyed road trips.
I was 17 when I got my first car, a baby blue Honda Civic hatchback financed by my parents to get me to work. During summer work terms in Moncton, New Brunswick, I’d zip up TCH #1 from my home in Saint John every week. I fondly remember having the windows cranked down, U2 cranked up, the booming bass bubbling up from my chest through my hands onto my 1987 Honda drum kit/steering wheel. The juicy sweetness of the strawberries accompanying me in the passenger seat was as telling of the season as the warm air whipping in windows. I’d make friends with other drivers on the road by waving as we took turns passing each other. I’d check off the landmark little towns as I went: Quispamsis, Nauwigewauk, Apohaqui, Sussex, Petitcodiac. On the way back on weekends, I knew I was getting close when I detected the change from the warmer, drier inland to the cooler, foggier, saltier air of home.
It was my first taste of the freedom of hitting the highway.
Back there and back then, you took the highway when you were “going somewhere” – to the camp for the weekend, to visit friends out of town, or away for a shopping trip. I worked my way up to the three-hour trip to Bangor, four to Charlottetown, five to Halifax, six to Portland Maine, ten to Montreal, twenty-two to Sault Ste. Marie.
Now that I live in the Hills of Headwaters with my husband and twin 4-yr-old daughters, I take a highway just about everywhere – to the preschool, to pick up the babysitter, even to get milk. Our band’s practice space is as far a drive as my weekend commute was back in NB. This is where the great expanse of our country can really be appreciated and why so many of us love a good road trip – we kind of have to!
A true road trip is a bit different now. The hatchback is now a minivan.
It’s a 17-hour drive to Saint John. The pint of strawberries doesn’t go as far and there are more entertainment preferences to juggle (astoundingly, not everyone will listen to U2 indefinitely!) There are more bags to pack, meals to plan, stops to make and people to please, but there are also more drivers to share, singers to sing, laughs to echo and things to learn.
The landmarks are different too, as the rolling hills of Ontario morph into mountain-flecked river beds of Quebec and finally the jagged granite and striated sandstone of New Brunswick.
This trip, we left Ontario in a heat wave that accompanied us through Quebec. We happily abandoned the air conditioning in NB as the air freshened, almost as though there was an invisible force field at the Quebec/NB border that had kept the heat out of NB.
The bank of fog that welcomed us to the southern shore was a forgotten but refreshing feature of my beloved hometown – a familiar embrace after a long journey. The absence of a cell phone ban and presence of 110Km/h speed limit zones were added conveniences.
Car travel may not win us any points in our quest to live green, but air travel is no gentler on the environment. Besides, traveling by car allows the kids to get to know and appreciate our beautiful Canadian landscape and all its kitschy roadside wonders.
In the next part of this series, I’ll share, from my personal experience, advice and tips for long road trips with your kids. In a nutshell – and perhaps to state the obvious – planning and patience are key.
And the next person you pass on the road, give them a wave!
We’re thankful to Jennifer Payne, entrepreneur, mom to four-year-old twins, band member and all-around super mom for filling us in on her road trip. Jennifer also manages our valued advertiser relationships here at Kids in the Hills. Watch for guest columns from her this fall and winter. ~BL