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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

A Canadian Hitchhiking Journey

CANADA | Friday, 2 June 2017 | Views [210]

A young lady I met in St. John's hitchiked there from Vancouver, and she said hitchhiking in Canada is a breeze. After the other day I can say it hasn't been easy to start, but sometimes journeys aren't meant to be easy. From the ferry port in Fortune I could say I'll really miss Saint-Pierre. There I was, underneath the maple leaf and in the former Dominion of Newfoundland. The day was absolutely gorgeous and I'd see some spectacular bits of the Newfoundland coastline. 

From there hitchhiking would be difficult for awhile. Two lifts would get me to Marystown and then one more lift would get me about 30 km ahead. Out in the middle of nowhere, I'd have a break at this cute food cart where I indulged in some greasy fish & chips to go with deep-fried scallops.

Patrick told me how Newfoundlanders have all sorts of health problems due to the largely meat-based diet of pork fat, etc. The chips were excellent!

As I walked enjoying the scenery of pine trees and the occasional lake, I had my thumb out every time a car passed by. Canada has more lakes than all the other countries in the world combined! During the last ice age, Canada was completely covered by an ice cap so the lakes are the resulting meltwater. With the sun setting quickly, I had my thumb out until I was picked up by a man named Paul driving to Halifax. My original plan was to overnight in Gander but I never heard back from the CS host who agreed to host me. I agreed to go with Paul to Nova Scotia since I was planning to hitch down through Maine.

Kangaroos are a problem whilst driving in Australia, but moose are a problem whilst driving in Canada. Moose are a top-heavy animal, so it's easy to take out the legs and then the body goes straight through your windscreen. Paul is retired as an instructor but works part-time delivering recently-purchased vehicles to their new owners. He originally planned to sleep part of the way but instead drove overnight to Port-aux-Basques, missing the ferry by only about five minutes. That meant we had to wait another five hours for the next ferry. Getting the early ferry would have been a huge advantage time-wise because I could have made it all the way across Nova Scotia by nightfall. Unfortunately this ferry charges each individual passenger for a ticket and I was unaware of that until about 20 minutes before we boarded. Paul booked a cabin, which had two beds, so I was able to get little bit of sleep and have a hot shower. In these cold climates you don't have to shower as often but a hot shower does feel great! Since food is pricey on the ferry, we opted to get some chicken & chips as we disembarked for my first taste of Nova Scotia. As we crossed the causeway from Cape Breton Island to the mainland, I snapped yet another majestic sunset photo. 

From here it's possible to travel all the way to Vancouver without crossing any ocean. Paul would eventually drop me in Truro, Nova Scotia for what would be my longest single lift in North America.

Although I made great progress in one day, Truro is not the best place to be stranded in if you get dropped hitchhiking late at night. Safety isn't an issue, but there are no backpacker hostels and nowhere cheap to stay. I comtemplated getting back out to the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) but the road leading to it is very dark with vehicles going 100 kph and no shoulder or footpath. This is one of those rare journeys that I didn't bring my tent but wish I had. Ultimately I'd end up staying at the homeless shelter at the church. It was after 3 AM and I was told I'd have to be up and out by 7 AM. At first I was feeling frustrated but felt that a few hours of sleep is better than none at all. If only everyday people fully understood the trials and tribulations many of us travellers have to go through, as I've had several sleepless nights on this journey.

The pastor and his wife were really nice and staying at the shelter was an interesting, albeit unique experience. The taxi driver last night told me to watch my belongs but I stored my bag in the back office, kept my phone under my pillow, and my pounamu necklace around my neck. For brekkie I had a coffee and some toast with jam, and the pastor's wife would give me some fruit and a $5 Tim Horton's gift card. When I was told the option last night of staying at the homeless shelter I objected to it, but I'm glad I stayed there. On my way to the TCH I collected a few geocaches even though I was still bleary-eyed. One cache in particular is very funny.

Where would I end up tonight? I hoped to visit a friend in Maine but she's too busy at the moment, and I wouldn't mind spending a few days in New Brunswick or PEI.

Hitchhiking is (officially) illegal in Nova Scotia but walking on the TCH isn't. Six police cars passed as I had my thumb out and none of them stopped me. I figured as long as I'm not doing anything to put myself or anyone else in danger, the cops aren't gonna bother me. There was a Tim Horton's at the next exit, so my alternate option would be to stop for a coffee if I didn't get a lift. A French Canadian bloke named Phil would stop for me. He showed me his marijuana plants and I told him "smoke as much dope as you want, I'm not gonna have any." With a Quebec licence plate, he was driving all the way to Saint-Hyacinthe, more than 1000 km away.

Toward Montreal I was heading, and I must work more on my "bonjour" and "si'l vous plait." That meant the only place I'd be stopping in New Brunswick is the petrol station, but I got a photo of a campground with a comical Yogi Bear theme.

New Brunswick is Canada's only official bilingual province; apparent as you'll see road signs with both English and French.

As I was so close to the US border I was able to make a quick phone call to my mother, letting her know I was alright. Once we crossed into Quebec, most signs are in French only. A hearse with a rather comical licence plate would pass by.

"Bead" would be a portmanteau of "bed" and "dead" therefore it could be the "dead bed."

When I asked Phil whether I should go to Quebec City or Montreal, he replied the latter. As we called in at the petrol station I was greeted with "bonjour" as I picked up some chips and a coffee. Phil was practically out of money, so his brother had to meet him to put some petrol in his car. From there I was less than 50 km away from Montreal. A young couple with their baby daughter would get me a bit closer and they'd fill me up with some "Tim Bits," which are donut holes from Tim Horton's. One final lift from a French Canadian man named Pierre would land me slap bang in front of an auberge (hostel), where Pierre would help me get checked in.

I'd say my first big Canadian hitchhiking journey was a success, as I received two lifts of more than 1,000 km and then a destination unplanned: Montreal.

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