Thursday, November 15, 2018

Thursday's Story: Oh Canada!

When I was 14 we went to the World's Fair in Montreal. Then we drove as far north as we could - until the road ended. We camped for a week among the chipmunks, beaver and moose... caught sturgeons, cooked on the fire. We didn't see anyone else for a week. Then we traveled around up-province Quebec - so long we started to speak French. 

Eventually it was time to decide how to head home - school was starting in a few days. My Dad: "We could get up at 4 am to catch a ferry - in Sorel, Quebec - and have one day to explore New England. Or. We could drive to Niagara Falls and spend our last free day there...". My dad justified the westerly route: "We'll be able to see the Erie Canal on the way home - it's an important part of this country's history. Besides a fellow never want to go home the same way he came - that's backtracking." We all agreed! Niagara Falls!! New England deserved it's own trip, but we mourned missing that ferry ride more than just a little. 

We packed up that night and drove most of the next day. Before finding the campground we went by the Falls to see them lit up and glowing in the twilight. 

We woke up excited! In full tourist mode! There is a space needle, a botanical garden, the FALLS, the Maid o'Mist, a power plant Thomas Edison designed (this country's first!) ...so ...it took two days. 

On the fourth day my dad called the school principal collect and said "We'll be home soon." And we pulled out. 900 miles. A station wagon. 6 kids, Mom. And a 23 1/2 foot camper. Buffalo. Cleveland. Columbus. A few hours sleep in a rest area mid-Ohio. Cincinnati. Lexington. The cornfields of Kentucky. (Tamera Moman got bored and stuck the Super 8 camera out the car window and made movies so we'd remember them.) About nightfall, finally, Tennessee. About 2 am, on the other side of the mountains, we made it home. My white Tom cat, Frosty, met us on the porch and actually cried. 

Six hours later I started high school on the third day of school.
© Bill Dutfield

This year on my Dad's birthday my sister Lydia said, "I again remember how thankful I am to have had a dad with an adventurous spirit, a Rand McNally and a camper." Thanks for reminding me too, Lydia. 

I love gardening because of that botanical garden. I can still read a map. I understand DC vs. AC electricity. I remember the beautiful blue mosaic tile on the Iran exhibit. I remember the beautiful flowers of Ottawa and the St. Lawrence River in Montreal. If I am scared I think about the roar of Niagara Falls and how powerful it is - and so am I.

I don't remember hardly anything from 9th grade. And. Funny enough, I don't remember the Erie Canal. But I do remember it's an important part of this country's history.