A Pox on Epic Road Trips

Just reading the words “epic road trip” makes me shudder because all I can think of is hours and hours and hours of driving. Have you ever driven all the way across Canada? From the North to the South, or from the East to the West? With my dear spouse, W? Don’t, is all I can tell you.

I dread long drives on my own because I alternate between being nervous about the traffic to being so bored I want to fall asleep. And I’m not a good passenger, I’m a whiny child. Are we almost there? I need a bathroom. I’m hungry. Close that window! Could we get some AIR in here please?

(Well maybe that’s just with W. who thinks trips are supposed to be non-stop marathons driven at the exact speed limit on cruise control. I kind of admire his steady determination, while at the same time I could cheerfully strangle him at the next gas station.)

Strangely enough, I think the best trip I ever took was a bus tour through Great Britain with my sister. Bus tour guide people know they’re dealing with a bunch of potential whiners with short attention spans who were too lazy to make up their own itinerary, and they cater to that kind of spoiled mentality. It was lovely.

So – after all this meandering preamble – I’ll finally answer the question. What was it again? Oh yeah. An epic road trip I’d love to take. Well, love is a pretty strong word to associate with ‘road trip’, but I’d LIKE to take a tour of Europe; by bus, and train and ferry and riverboat and gondola and whatever else it takes to see it all. Preferably with my sister, who is a delightful travel companion and likes to take just as many bathroom breaks as I do.

Or if someone else takes that trip, I’d be just as content to watch their slide show when they get back, and skip the actual ‘travel’ part of it completely.

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Setting the Scene

Broadmoor Lake and Festival Place

Where I live is a family friendly place, there’s no doubt in the world about that. Schools and parks and playgrounds abound. There are pristine wilderness areas and a gazillion speed bumps and a violent crime rate that’s close to zero.

It’s okay to call this place a bedroom community. Locals will shrug and ignore that comment. But don’t be so foolish as to suggest it’s a suburb of Edmonton or even worse than that a “CITY” on its own. Big mistake. You will be put in your place and run out of town. This is a hamlet. No one here cares that it’s the provinces seventh largest municipality and has been designated as an urban service area and is primarily a huge overgrown residential community. It will remain a hamlet, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter to us that it’s earned a spot in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest. This is a place which fiercely refuses to grow up and take on any other status.

We have all the amenities typically found in a big city while we stubbornly refuse to admit that we might actually be one. Shops, malls, restaurants, fitness and recreation facilities, movie theatres and golf courses. Festival Place for concerts and events and performances by the famous. Refinery Row to the west and Elk Island to the east and the Junior A Crusaders smack in the middle where NHL’ers are often produced. There are neighborhoods with storybook names. I live in the “G” streets (where every street name begins with the letter G, and yes I’ve walked on Garfield and Galaxy Way), but I know people from the “M”s (Moneypenny and Main) and the birds (Wren and Lark) and the trees (Tamarack, Hawthorne and Conifer.)

On the surface we’re all picturesque and charming, but there is no place on earth without its stories to tell. No one here who lived through it will ever forget the day the tornado touched down way back in ’87. Weather watches and warnings are never passively ignored. And for all it’s idyllic atmosphere there are always sirens; police and ambulance and fire. Sometimes in such whimsical places where you least expect anything significant to happen, the most riveting stories of all can begin, right in your own backyard.

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