Young Chronicles IX: Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island

I spent three days on Cavendish Beach, PEI in early June 1983, eating nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I wrote the following at the conclusion:

Solitude is a necessary state that all should experience for some extended period of time. It must also be noted that man should not be in this state for too long lest he lose his sanity. Man is an insecure beast. So be it. Not only is he dependent on other men but also on external imaginary forces. It is man’s brooding mind that entrances him upon such a state. .

The fact that we are aware of our existence does not prove our existence; it only clarifies our insecurities. Does a bird brood upon its existence? Nay. It is because it has no reason to, as it concentrates its attention on the day-to-day. Man, in his comfortable and unnatural state, is cursed with his awareness. He cannot enjoy life as it is because he worries for the future. And so do I.

This I write to my future wife. The skies may cloud, the seas roughen, the days grow dark, but we will walk upon the crimson dunes of time (sic) together with the swallow at the glimmer of first light. Let us dig in our footholds together.

Remember: I ate nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Young Chronicles IX: Halifax to Charlottetown

June 6, 1983 Dalhousie University, Halifax

Construction worker tearing down house in Dartmouth, “God knows why the’re tearing it down. I don’t think they’ve decided anything yet.” He used a blow torch to cut through a solid beam.

Big-breasted, purple garbed woman, a typical lunch-hour secretary, fed the ducks in the public gardens. Sleazy, sultry and of an inefficient nature, full lips pouting and omnipotent (in a sexual sense), eyes watching, obviously dedicated to some rich jerk. Ducks meditate on the luxurious summer in harmony with the crude coo of pigeons.

June 7 Mileage 1172-1243

Ride One: Halifax to Bedford, brown Cadillac, middle-aged man, “Fuckin’ Toronto.”

Ride Two: Bedford to Fall River, Department of Nova Scotia Transport, big hippie with a red headband.

Ride Three: Fall River to Amherst (Al’s Camp), blue Trans Am (or Firebird), Al Smith, balding, excessively friendly. Al invited me to stay at his cabin in the woods. He talked about not wanting to work, man’s self-centered nature and the sanctity of human life As he got more comfortable, he said that he wouldn’t mind if his daughter was a lesbian or did porn. He went on to show me a giant stack of porn in the woodshed. The cabin was just one room, my bed a few feet from his. I did not sleep well that night. (Editor’s note: I now realize that I might have avoided being raped and murdered on this night.)

June 8 Mileage 1243-1320

Ride One: Al’s Camp to Amherst, blue Trans Am (or Firebird)

Ride Two: Amherst to Carleton, PEI, Custom Deluxe Truck, Dwaye with a strange mustache. “Potato farming is a bigger gamble than Las Vegas.” In 19 car crashes over his life, one where an old woman was killed.

Ride Three: Carleton to Charlottetown, red Oldsmobile, a Charlottetown resident who supplied food to eight schools.

Self-realizations in Charlottetown: a) bird chirps equal freedom b) I am an external viewer opposed to a tourist c) My photographs are artistic, not materialistic d) Hobbling is apparently our way of saying we’re sorry.

Young Chronicles VIII: “Hey You!”

Cross Canada Hitchhiking Trip, Day Two: Montreal to Halifax (Mileage 344-1116)

Ride One: West to East end of Montreal; Brown bakery van. “You’ll get murdered.”

Ride Two: Across St. Lawrence River; early 70’s car. Spoke only French.

Ride Three: To Boucherville; 2-door escort. Man with crumbs on sides of mouth.

Ride Four: To Victoriaville; forgot make of car (too tired). Belgian chef who loves Canada.

Ride Five: To Quebec City turnoff; VW Rabbit. Saw a moose.

EXIF_HDL_ID_1

Ride Six: To St. Jean Port Joli; large old car. The driver was a woman in her late 20s with her mother and grandmother, also another hitchhiker names Clairmont. No one spoke English, but all very loving and Catholic.

Ride Seven: To Riviere Du Loup; blue Chevy van. Told stories of his hitchhiking days including “being fucked by horny broads” and the tale of hitchers on bad acid in Wyoming who ate their ride.

Ride Eight: To Hwy 17; Camper van. WWII veteran who once drove border to border across Ontario in one day.

Ride Nine: To Truro, Nova Scotia; red Mack truck. All-night drive with non-unionized driver named Ed Haggerty. Married for 39 years to woman from England who “never said boo to anyone.”

Ed Haggerty

Harassed waitress at diner because she was new. Intentionally mumbled, pretended not to understand, changed his order, complained about the service and then gave her a 25-cent tip. I saw signposts turn into cyclists. I stayed in the sleeper of the truck. Ed prepared a full breakfast and then drove me into Halifax. I wandered around and then stayed at the hostel.

Young Chronicles VII: Der Schinken Isn’t Chicken

Young Chronicles I-IV details a 1972 school trip to Northern Ontario, while Young Chronicles V-VI offers a brief account of a family car trip to Prince Edward Island in 1974. This section of Young Chronicles jumps ahead nine years to my hitchhiking trip across Canada. The adventure took 71 days, covering over 10,000 miles in 110 different cars along with two extensive bus rides. I made copious notes, much of which is embarrassingly trite, but that’s the point of this, right? Anyway, I aim to share the most interesting and amusing bits and see where that takes me.

I had just finished my first year at university and I thought I knew everything there was to know and decided to set out to discover “The Canadian Soul”. Yes, I wrote that phrase down. My aim was to ask everyone what they thought about Canada, what it meant to them, where the country was going. I think I asked a total of five people in the end. That said, I did document every ride and many of the things I saw and thought (ad nauseum) along the way.

Day One (June 3, 1983) Mileage 0-344

Ride One: Toronto to Ajax in Rally STX van (blue) with John Hulme, who told me that picking up hitchhikers was “against company policy”.

Ride Two: Ajx to Hwy 115 Turnoff in VW Rabbit (beige) with Buecklie, originally from West Germany. He gave me a Medallion cigarette and told a long anecdote about ordering what he thought was a chicken sandwich because the word “Der Schinken” sounded so much like chicken. It turned out to be ham. He and the waiter thought this was very funny and later became friends.

Ride Three: Hwy 115 Turnoff to Ottawa Turnoff in 1977 MGB with a large red-bearded man. His daughter did Pepsi commercials but hated the stuff.

Ride Four: Ottawa Turnoff to Cornwall in a 1979 Thunderbird with Eugene Bugala who was a Catholic priest. He liked Canada because it was free and nice with a European flavor. He also considered the maple leaf a satisfactory symbol for the country.

Ride Five: Ottawa Turnoff to Montreal 1977 Dart (brown) with Tim Paquette. He lit a joint, played Peter Gabriel’s San Jacinto on his car stereo and then explained his video concept for the song which involved blue spotlights and children running through the jungle. He took me around the neighborhood as he delivered pizzas and then picked up his girlfriend Cathy before heading out to The Maples Tavern. It was a low-key place that was later busted by the Quebec police who were arrogant, their thumbs in their pockets and hats tilted back. I stayed the night at Tim’s house.

Canada’s Soul: Vancouver to Toronto

August 6, Ride One: Vancouver to Winnipeg (Brown van) Shared cost of gas with Obie (van’s owner), two English guys and Steph. Left at 10 am, Wednesday, arrived in Winnipeg at 3 am, Friday, August 8. August 8, Ride Two: Outskirts of Winnipeg to highway turnoff (Pickup truck) Driver asked me to open the glove box where there was a hardcore porn magazines. He said, “You know, I like to look at the guys as much as the girls.” I tried to be witty. “That’s very open-minded of you.” He asked me if I wanted to come back to his cabin for a blow job. When I declined, he asked if I’d like to come back to his cabin for a sandwich. I declined that too. “I know a lot of guys who aren’t gay but like to be sucked off.” I nodded that I understood.

Ride Three: Highway turnoff to St. Anne (1955 pickup truck) Driver got me high and gave me sunflower seeds.

Ride Four: St. Anne to Falcon Island Park (Small blue car) Two girls, both nervous about picking me up. I told them about the hardcore porn, the offer for a blow job and a sandwich and then getting high, all of which made them more nervous.

Ride Five: Falcon Island Park to Toronto (Dodge car) Wax and Di, coming from a military base at Portage La Prairie. Overnight drive of almost 1,500 miles, right to my house. I should have invited them in but didn’t because I just wanted to go to sleep. I felt bad about it then. Still do.

Canada’s Soul: Whitehorse to Vancouver

I took a bus up to Whitehorse, Yukon. (I didn’t hitchhike because I was scared of being left in the middle of nowhere and getting eaten by a bear.)

July 20: A 24-hour delay seems possible due to the massive bridge washouts – sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Throughout the journey, women – making up the majority of the population – sleep, smoke and drink without complaint. So I’ll smoke my way to sleep.

The silhouettes of the great mountains dominate the scenery. A dark black storm cloud approaches; hell is bound to break loose. The trees await in silence as the silver bus rushes on.July 22: I hiked alone up Grey Mountain, on the outskirts of Whitehorse, and wrote at the top: Humanity – a definition. Impossible. It is so assorted. There are some with no legs, some with no eyes – mentally and physically – and some with no heart. Some cloud their eyes with darkened glasses and some wear not what they need but what others say. (It goes on.)

July 24: I took a 26-hour bus ride down to Vancouver. Graffiti on Pink Mountain Inn: #1: Why did God give seagulls wings? So that they’d be able to beat the Indians to the dump. #2 Toking is like working here. The harder you suck, the higher you get.

Arrived in Vancouver where I stayed at the hostel for five days and saw Peter Gabriel and David Bowie and the newly-opened BC Place Stadium.

Canada’s Soul: Saskatoon to Edmonton

July 15, Ride One: Saskatoon to North Battlefield (Souped-up Trans Am) Nice Indian guy who used to be a dealer; into motorcycles and Van Morrison.

Ride Two: North Battlefield to Peynton (Camper Pick-up) Old Indian man with weathered skin; lived on the reserve, very friendly. Ride Three: Peynton to Lloydsminster (Air-conditioned Oldsmobile) Singer with a thin half-beard. Doesn’t like Indians because they “cut holes in the side of the house so their horse can drink from the bath tub.”

Ride Four: Lloydsminster to Vermillion (Blue Phoenix) Mild-mannered driver who has worked and lived all over the country.

Ride Five: Vermillion to Edmonton (AMC Meteor station wagon) Quite political, doesn’t like sports,sausage buyer, has a water tower for sale.

Canada’s Soul: Winnipeg to Saskatoon

After a visit to the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg and writing of “the gatherings of self-made gods separated by a golden rail and velvet curtain”, I continued west.

July 11, Ride Two: Winnipeg to Highway 16 Turnoff (Red pick-up truck) Part of a small convoy of Indians headed north. “Hey, back there, you want a smoke?”

Ride Three: Highway 16 to Regina (Blue Chevette) Jeff Gibbs on his way to Alaska. Was with the military in Germany, worked as computer programmer for Pershing missiles. Did acid on Check Duty. Derided quality of commercial gasoline as – ‘ass gas.” I spent two days in Regina where I met a couple in the park who had won a radio station contest and shared their fresh-caught salmon and case of beer, the man telling the story of almost being captured by a zombie witch cult.

July 13, Ride One: Regina to Wattrous (Old pick-up truck) Driver looked like a maniac – wild hair, stubble, weird look, dirty green shirt. “If you run out of money, you’ll just have to get some more.”

Ride Two: Wattrous to Saskatoon (Blue Meteor station wagon) Middle-aged woman with two small kids who made her turn around and pick me up. “You should write me to show me how well you’ve done.”

Canada’s Soul: Ahmic Harbour To Winnipeg

July 3, Ride Three: Parry Sound to Sudbury (Brown VW Rabbit) Driver was moving to Portland to study herbal medicine.

July 4, Ride One: Sault Saint Marie to Wawa (Custom Chevy Van) Driver wore fancy track pants. Loved the country and understand “its power”.

I waited in Wawa for three hours and considered the graffiti underneath the giant goose. Wawa sucks! Fuck Wawa! Jerky Fuckwell, I Slept Here.

Ride Two: Wawa to Thunder Bay (Silver VW Rabbit) Alison and Jane Wright. Got stoned with them. “Electric knives are fine but freedom is incredible. God, I’m happy to be alive.”

Climbed on top of a train in Thunder Bay depot to take a picture; almost fell off when it began to move.

July 6, Ride Three: Terry Fox Monument to Sunshine (Brown VW Rabbit) “You have to like sitting at the side of the road.”

July 7: Ride One: Sunshine to Winnipeg (Blue Colt, pictured below) Dave and his nephew Sean, Indians from Winnipeg. Dave enjoys the silence of the forest, forest fire trivia and is obsessed with sex. Lots of “Bloody Red Baron Beaver” jokes. Had dinner at their house – salad, chicken, baked potatoes and beer; wife joked that I had dinner with Indians and wasn’t eaten.