10,000 miles and 110 different rides later, I can’t say I found anything much but laziness and fear. Not to say that I didn’t try. I stayed at Cavendish Beach in Prince Edward Island, buying enough peanut butter, jam, bread and juice for three days and thinking, “Okay, I’m going to really dig into self-reflection now.”
But I didn’t. I just read, wrote nonsense and walked around, counting down until I could eat another sandwich and have another juice. I was marking time, nothing more.
I had dinner with an old friend, Ellen, and her husband on their sailboat docked at the marina and impatiently ducked under a moving train to get there. The caboose man yelled after me that I was an idiot. I have thought about that moment many time since, wondering what might have happened.
I lined up early at A&B Record store where the first 30 customers got three albums for $10 and bought 1999 (Prince), Time Fades Away (Neil Young) & Security (Peter Gabriel).
I went to the inaugural concert at BC Place with The Tubes (T&A show), Peter Gabriel (great lights) and David Bowie (Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, Space Oddity, Fashion, Stay, Scary Monsters, China Girl, Putting Out Fires, Rock and Roll Star, Young Americans, Station to Station, TVC15, Stay, Breaking Glass, Let’s Dance, Heroes, Jeanie Genie, Rebel Rebel).
Ride One: Vancouver to Winnipeg. Van. Met group at hostel, including Obbie (owner), Stephanie and two English guys. Paid $35 for gas.
Ride Two: Blue truck. Winnipeg to outskirts of town. Middle-aged man told me to open the glove box where there was a porn magazine and asked if I wanted to go to his cabin to get a blow job. “I know a lot of guys who aren’t gay but liked to be sucked off.” I declined. He asked if I just wanted a sandwich. I declined again.
Ride Three: Outskirts of Winnipeg to St. Anne. 1955 pickup truck. Dean, a Native guy who ate sunflower seeds and got me high. Offered me a place to stay. I was anxious to get home
Ride Four: St. Anne to Falcon Island Provincial Park. Two young women who were unsure of me. I confessed to them that Dean had got me high.
Ride Five: Falcon Island Provincial Park to Toronto. Brown Rabbit. Di and Wax. Listened to Def Leppard too much. Had dinner at A&W. Was asked to drive but I had never driven stick shift. Wax tended to drift into oncoming lane on winding roads and almost hit a truck. Took me right to my house. I should have invited them in but I didn’t. I was tired and being selfish.
Ride One: Saskatoon to North Battleford. Souped-up racing car. Native guy who used to be a drug dealer. Offered to put me up in North Battleford. “Fucking this and fucking that.”
Ride Two: North Battleford to Peynton. Camper. Older native guy with weathered skin. Lived on a reserve. Very friendly. Two boys work in hospital.
Ride Three: Peynton to Lloydsminster, Alberta. Air-conditioned Oldsmobile. Stuck -up singer with goatee. Prejudiced against Native Americans. Said that they put holes in the side of their houses so that the horses and cows could drink from bathtub. Jerk.
Ride Four: Lloydsminster to Vermillion. Blue Phoenix. Mild-mannered older guy. Worked at Lakeland College, only provincial college in Canada.
Ride Five: Vermillion to Edmonton. AMC Meteor station wagon. Sausage buyer. Had a water tower for sale. Son has pessimistic dreams of being stuck working at McDonald’s.
Stayed with Lori McClennan, a crush from the year before. We went to the Edmonton Fort with her younger brother. Nothing else happened.
July 19-20 Mileage 1237
Greyhound Bus: $99 one way. I was scared of the immense wilderness, especially being left on the side of the road for hours and getting mauled by a bear. Laziness had a lot to do with it as well. The rain clouds have given out, letting loose a mild lightning storm in Grand Prairie.
Time flies when you’re lost in a sleepy darkness, so I smoke my way to sleep.
July 20-23Whitehorse, Yukon. Stayed in hostel. Amazed by the late evening light, past 11pm. Forgotten old woman sleeping at railway station.
Hiked up Gray Mountain, scared again of the bears. Graffiti at top of the mountain dates bake to 1957. Moth at peak – why?
Ride Three: Brandon to Regina, Saskatchewan. Chevette with Illinois plates. Jeff Gibbs headed to Alaska. Had been stationed in Germany as a computer programmer on Pershing missiles. Went to jail for drunk driving with 1.5% blood alcohol.
July 13 Middle-aged couple. Woman said that I reminded her of the dawn. She had just won the lottery and was frying a salmon in the park. I was invited to join. Man became abusive when he was drunk and accused me of sponging. Returned to hostel, locked out.
July 15, 1983 Mileage 164 miles
Ride One: Regina to Wattrous, Saskatchewan. Old pickup truck. Wild looking man in a dirty green shirt. “No matter what you have, it always has value somewhere.”
Ride Two: Wattrous to outskirts of Saskatoon. Blue station wagon. Middle-aged woman with two kids. Drive past me but her kids insisted that she go back. “You’ve been nice company.”
Ride Three: Outskirts to Saskatoon hostel. Early ’70s car. Long-haired smoker. “You do your thing, and I’ll do mine.”
The Young Chronicles details my 1983 hitchhiking trip across Canada. Having completed the Toronto-Newfoundland leg, I continue west through Ontario into Manitoba.
July 3, 1983 Mileage 335 miles
Ride One: Ahmic Harbour to Parry Sound. Buick Electra (with dad and Sue). Listened to Bach and Vangelis. Pleasantries.
Ride Two: Parry Sound to Sudbury Turnoff. Rabbit. Twerp of a driver who irritated another hitchhiker in the car from El Salvador and stayed quiet throughout.
Ride Three: Sudbury Turnoff to Sault Saint Marie. Sal driving from a wedding in Toronto, despondent about splitting up with wife. Picked up his brother Paul at a marina. Listened to Stravinsky’s The Right of Spring.
July 4 Mileage: 435 miles
Ride One: Thunder Bay to Wawa. Blue Custom Chevy Van. Married guy with mustache and fancy track pants. Loves Canada and understands the power of the weather.
Long wait by Wawa sign. Graffiti underneath sign included: Wawa sucks! Fuck Wawa! Jerky Fuckwell, I slept here. Truck pulled over and then took off when I approached
Ride Two: Wawa to Thunder Bay. Silver Rabbit. Alison and Jane. Very nice and happy people. “I am so happy to be alive!” Strong belief in Socialism. Big collection of pillows in the back seat with me. Stayed at same hostel in Thunder Bay.
July 6 Mileage: 29 miles
Ride One: Thunder Bay to four miles up the road. Pickup truck. Kirk Douglas lookalike.
Ride Two: Six miles up the road. VW Bug. Blonde guy going to Lakehead University.
Ride Three: Three miles up the road. Brown Rabbit. Jesus lookalike. “You have to like sitting on the side of the road.”
Ride Four: Ten miles up the road to Sunshine. Old car with California plates. Mike. “You can stay the night, if you need to.” (I did.)
July 7 Mileage: 385 miles
Ride One: Sunshine to Winnipeg. Blue Colt junker. Dave and his nephew Sean. Dealer in native art. Enjoys silence and forest fire trivia. Obsessed with sex. “You never know. Maybe I’ll get lucky.”
Took me to his house for dinner (chicken, salad, baked potatoes and beer) with his wife and sister-in-law. “Now you can tell people you had dinner with Indians and they didn’t eat you!”
The Young Chronicles details my 1983 hitchhiking trip across Canada. Having completed the Toronto-Newfoundland leg, I continue west into Ontario.
June 26, 1983 Mileage 226 miles
Ride One: Metis Beach to Levi, PQ. Beige Subaru with a dashboard like a cockpit. Jane (forceful, elitist), Daphne (said little) and their dog Rocky (stunk of sea water).
Walked a few kilometers and took ferry into Quebec City. Sat on the boardwalk and watched a juggler get all of the attention while the flautist was ignored.
June 27, 1983 Mileage 268 miles
Ride One: Quebec City to Pont du Quebec (just across the damn bridge). Blue Rabbit.
Ride Two: Pont du Quebec to St. Georges. Beige Subaru (same as Jane’s). French anesthetist. Colt cigarettes, moose hunter. “The separation meant nothing.”
Ride Three: St. Georges to East Montreal. Brown Honda. Young Quebecois.
Ride Four: East Montreal to West Montreal. White Fury. Wore sunglasses, was stopped for speeding and played “Judge’s Card”. Gave me a pack of smokes. “We’re on this earth to help each other, man.” Gave me a soul shake.
Ride Five: East Montreal to Hawkesbury. Brown Rabbit. Old guy with sideburns and woman. Misdirected them so that I could get closer to Ottawa. (They were going to Lachute.)
Ride Six: Hawkesbury to Ottawa, Ontario. Fancy sports car. French guy with bushy mustache. Smoked a spliff. “All right, all right.”
Stayed with Tara (friend from Queen’s University) and George.
June 29, 1983 Mileage 268 miles
Ride One: Ottawa to Carleton Place Turnoff. White Cadillac with digital read-outs. Clean-shaven, curly haired guy. Took scenic route along the river. From a small German village.
Ride Two: Carleton Place Turnoff to Pembroke. Dark red Rabbit. Liked The Who, The Dead and David Bowie, but not a fan of “peace and love shit”. Owns a VCR and apartment.
Stayed two night with Rene Zwiegle (friend from 1982 Europe Bike Trip) and her family. Her mother (Japanese) taught in Africa and broke her family ties temporarily to marry Rene who is German. He encouraged Rene and I to go on ‘midnight walks’. Mouse turd on my desk.
July 1, 1983 Mileage 181 miles
Waited for 3 1/2 hours.
Ride One: Pembroke to North Bay. Grey sports car. Guy in his 50s who had just retired and had worked on the Trans Canada Pipeline. Daughter going to Western University.
Ride Two: North Bay to Ahmic Habour. Brown Rabbit. Tanned guy with mustache, very well travelled because of his work in telecommunications. Constantly talked about all of “the twats he had snatched.” Hung around while I waited for my father to pick me up in the boat.
The Young Chronicles details my 1983 hitchhiking trip across Canada. Having completed the Toronto-Newfoundland leg, I continue west through New Brunswick into Quebec.
June 21, 1983 Mileage 174 miles
Ride One: Kouchibouguac National Park to 20 miles down the road. Pick-up Camper. Middle-aged couple who gave me Jiff Peanut Butter.
Ride Two: 2 miles down the road to gas station (after one hour wait). Pickup truck. In the back with some kind of acid in barrels. Old squat guy with younger guy and two girls.
Ride Three: To Chatham. Car n/a. 43-year-old guy with mustache named Murphy. Considered himself a philosopher, believes in ESP and living life by moving around. Owner of a chain of furniture stores. Loved Pavarotti.
Ride Four: To Bathurst. Beige Phoenix. Old couple. Man said that hitchhiking today is a picnic compared to his days as a ‘hobo’ when he couldn’t find anything to eat for 5 days.
Ride Five: To Nigadoo. Car n/a. Radio station promotional guy. Offered to take me to an Acadian Fishing Village tomorrow morning.
Ride Six: To Quebec border. Pickup truck with dirt in back. Middle-aged guy with mustache. Worked hard and loved beer.
Ride Seven: To Chateau Hostel (outside Carleton Sur Mer). Pickup truck. Army guy. Very quiet. Bought lunch at McDonald’s. Recommended Elie Wiesel.
June 22: Worked for the day (construction of addition to Chateau Hostel) for food and lodging. Owned by Jean, an ardent separatist, his word is law. Had an annoying tendency to talk about me to others in French. Jean’s father worked non-stop, deep tan, called me “Herc”. Sven, a carpenter from Norway, very good-natured; told story of running through field of oats on acid.
Sylvie, the cook and Jean’s daughter, very nice, smoked hash. Dominic, petite, gorgeous, no English, always reading. Went to the lake with her. Nothing happened.
June 23, 1983 Mileage 120 miles
Ride One: Chateau Auberge to Saint Fleure. 1969 Mercedes. Excessively nice man named Michel Valley. Apologized for his poor English. Cameraman for Radio Canada and electrician for Rimouski radio station. Very proud of his car – 250 safety features – although there was a hole in the floor.
Ride Two: Saint Fleure to Metis. Custom Deluxe Camper. French guy in his 50s, missing a tooth. Little English.
Ride Three: Metis to Metis Sur Mer. White pickup truck. Local guy with a big white furry dog. Staying with my Aunt Margery in her house on the St. Lawrence.
The Young Chronicles detail my 1983 hitchhiking trip across Canada. Having completed the initial eastward bound leg, I now head west from Newfoundland through the Maritime provinces.
June 19, 1983 Mileage 292 miles
Ride One: Sydney to Kelley’s Mountain, Nova Scotia. Red pick up. Drivers works for CN Marines, dives on wrecks and has seen many sharks, whales and trout.
Ride Two: To Baddeck, Nova Scotia. Green car. Red cap, beard, knives. (Wait: 3 1/2 hours.)
Ride Three: To Truro Turnoff. Car n/a. Boring history teacher, sweaty chin and shorts.
Ride Four: To Moncton, New Brunswick. Car n/a. Beers and quarter pound of cheese. Former Mountie, works as a bartender now. Has driven Sydney to Edmonton straight.
Overnight in Moncton. No hostel. YMCA closed. Only have $15. Walked around, followed by a silver Mazda camper pickup truck. Went to the A&W and left my bags there and ran after the camper as it sped away.
No one at the A&W was willing to put me up for the night. Went to the police station to report the stalker but didn’t have the license plate. Policeman: “I don’t know what to tell you.” Asked to sleep in a jail. He called The Sunset Inn and guaranteed that I would pay the next day. Front desk clerk told me of a guy who left a gold chain as collateral and then skipped.
June 20, 1983 Mileage 61 miles
Waited outside of Moncton for a long time, looking at their signs of community pride: Moncton, You’re Okay! Hey, Moncton, Picture This! 4H Thinks Greater Moncton Is Great! Welcome One And All From Moncton With Love.
A truck side-swiped a car just past me. The sideview mirror skittered twenty feet ahead. A bystander picked up for the driver. “Sir, are you all right?”
Ride One: Moncton to Shediac. Family car. Shared Moosehead beer and cigarettes. A painter by trade.
Ride Two: To Kouchibouguac National Park. Silver Honda sports car. Comical laugh. Loved Bach’s Variations. Anti-Wagner. Teaches education at University of Maine.