July 11, 2011

Day 1 – Bourgeois Bus

I had everything in order the afternoon before last. My laundry was done. My fish was at a friend's home. My plants were well-watered. I had a comprehensive packing list. All I had to do was pack.

Packing is hard for me. Yesterday was no exception. Somehow it took me from 5 in the afternoon until 3 in the morning to get a few measly possessions into a suitcase. I still can't tell if the 15 episodes of 30 Rock helped or hurt. When I finished packing at 3am, I was so glad to be done that I was too jubilant to go right to sleep. I checked Twitter. I read email. I listened to clips of the 10 most popular songs on iTunes. I finally passed out around 3:45am. My ride to the airport called me at 6:11am to let me know she was outside waiting. I threw on my clothes and ran out of the house with my bags.

I flew from Saint Louis to Chicago (where I met up with my mom), Chicago to Toronto, and then Toronto to Halifax. We arrived in Halifax just after 7pm and rented a car to drive to Prince Edward Island. It's a three hour drive. ("A three hour tour, a three hour tour.")

There are two options for getting from Nova Scotia to PEI—the Caribou Ferry and the Confederation Bridge. Both are a little over an hour from the airport. Both are free on the way over and costly on the way back. They are located on opposite ends of the northern Nova Scotia coast. We decided to go for the ferry. More interesting. More relaxing.

We sped down the highway in our little rented Kia Soul. We pulled up to the ferry launch just in time to see the last ferry of the day floating away, already 20 meters off the shore. We had no choice but to turn around and head for the bridge. We typed our destination into the gps and set off.

50 minutes later, the sun had set and we were in the middle of nowhere. We were on the Unintentional Nighttime Wildlife Tour of Nova Scotia (which included a black bear with cub, a fox, a cat, a skunk, and somethign unidentifiable), or possibly participating in the Travel On As Many Uneven Dirt Roads As You Can Without Breaking An Axle competition.

Each new direction from the GPS seemed like it must be the one that would take us to a highway, or at least a paved road. No dice. We spent another hour and a half meandering the Nova Scotian wilderness.

Finally—FINALLY—we made it to the bridge. We got to Prince Edward Island and found our bed & breakfast. Which was locked. And completely dark. We called the number. Answering machine. We called the second number. Answering machine. We knocked. We walked around the building. We rang the bell. We waited. We called again. We rang the bell again. Nothing. No light. No movement. By now it was nearly 1am.

What to do? Sleep in the car? Mother was pretty opposed to that. She wanted to go to Charlottetown, the only city on Prince Edward Island that's sizable. Unfortunately, it's also 50 minutes from our b&b. I was not up for another hour (at least) of driving. I looked through the sleeping options on the gps until I came to a hotel and conference center 8 miles away. The presence of a conference center sounded unlikely, but we called the number and, sure enough, they were open. The clerk also knocked $30 off the price because it was so late (and maybe also because he could hear the overwhelming exhaustion and burgeoning desperation in my mother's voice).

We set out. The gps attempted to take us on a gravel road running parallel to the paved road we were on. We ignored it. When we got to the hotel, it had a completely different name than came up on the gps, but apparently the clerk had informed my mother of this. (If this clerk campaigned for "Nicest Person in an Already Nice Country," I'd vote for him hands down.)

This was parked outside our hotel:

By now I was completely slap happy. I told my mother that maybe this would all work out because we'd meet somebody famous. "Like that Amish girl?" she queried, gesturing to the bus. I just laughed and laughed and got out my camera. When we got inside, there was a packet on the front counter with dates and times for the local festival, apparently going on this week—Lobster Carnival! "Bring your camera and take a photo of yourself in our giant lobster trap!" the sheet crowed. There are tons of events. Later today there's an Anne of Green Gables musical. At this very moment, I'm missing the dog agility show. And the only thing that costs anything seems to be the mini-concert presented by the College of Piping.

We thanked the clerk and headed for the elevator. The buttons looked like this:

This almost defeated me. Did I want to go left or right!?

We got up to the room and collapsed. There were two large beds and fluffy white guest robes that damn near made me cry.

Today promises to be better, if less noteworthy.

1 comment:

  1. A. I'm so glad I'm not there. I don't think I would have lasted that trip.

    B. The Amish thing made me laugh too.

    C. Miss you!