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 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: Reflections on the Trip

I wrote copiously, much of it drivel, during and after my cross-country hitchhiking trip in 1983. The only bits worth anything were my notes on what happened – car types, driver descriptions – as scant as they might be, and my expenses:

June 21: Joe Louis & Pepsi ($1.05), 2 milks & water ($0.70), Quarter pounder w/cheese & root beer ($3.50), Auberge des Jeunesse ($5.50), Bottle/red wine ($6.50), Smokes ($1.90) July 16: Donut & OJ ($1.60), Smokes ($2.00), Big cookie ($1.00), Apple ($0.18) , The Return of the Jedi ($5.50), Alphagetti ($1.00)

I met a hippie who everyone called The General. “So I came home last night and there was smoke everywhere, even out in the fucking hallway. So I went into the bedroom and kicked the bed and yelled, ‘Wake up, bitch!’ I asked her where the smoke came from and she said, ‘Out of my camera! Out of the fucking camera!’ Turned out she was cooking bacon and fell asleep. When she left for work the next morning, I yelled after her, “Goodbye, bacon burner!'”
I found three commonalities throughout Canada: 1) War memorials 2) Globe & Mail Newspapers 3) An abundance of pornography. (Bus driver: “You writin’ a dirty letter?”)

And finally this…Contemplation of how extremely solid the earth is. Just try hitting it.

Canada’s Soul (1983): Toronto to Truro

I spent the summer of 1983 “in search of Canada’s Soul”, or as my parents saw it, hitchhiking around the country. I set out to keep a journal, documenting every ride, idea and expenditure…and I actually did that.

The trip began June 3, 1983, a rainy morning, at the eastern outskirts of Toronto:

Ride One: Toronto to Ajax (Blue Rally STX Van). Driver told me that “Hitchhiking is against company policy.”

Ride Two: Ajax-Highway 11 (Beige VW Rabbit). Driver gave me a Medallion cigarette.

Ride Three: Highway 115 to Ottawa Turnoff (Red 1977 MGB) Driver’s daughter does Pepsi commercials although she hates the stuff.

Ride Four: Ottawa Turnoff to Cornwall (1979 Thunderbird) Driver, a Catholic priest from Poland, said that Canada is “free and nice”. He doesn’t want anything more in life. 20161203_175412Ride Five: Ottawa Turnoff to Montreal (Brown 1977 Dodge Dart) Tim Paquette smoked me up. “My fingers tingle and life goes on.” He offered a night on the town and a place to sleep. I accepted.

June 4, 1983:

Ride One : West End to East End of Montreal (Brown bakery van): Driver told me, “You’ll get murdered.”

Rides Two, Three & Four: (Forgot makes of cars, too tired)

Ride Five: Victoriaville Turnoff to Quebec City Turnoff (VW Rabbit) Nice French couple who spoke no English at all. Saw a moose.

Ride Six: Quebec City Turnoff to St. Jean Port Joli Turnoff (Large old car)  All loving and Catholic. “We learn from what we see, not hear.”

Ride Seven: St. John Turnoff to Riviere Du Loup Turnoff (Blue Chevy Van) Driver going to Gaspe to his boat and Greenland. Told hitchhiking stories from his youth, being “fucked by horny broads” in Nova Scotia, bad acid in Wyoming for hitchers who then ate their ride.

Ride Eight: Riviere Du Loup Turnoff to Highway 17 (Camper Van) Nice old WWII veteran full of war stories.

Ride Nine: Highway 17 to Truro, Nova Scotia (Mack truck cab) Ed Haggerty, a non-unionized driver who had logged over four million miles. I saw the signposts turn into cyclists due to exhaustion.20161203_175615