Along about the time we saw the same country inn for the third time, we knew our route through the Canadian hinterlands needed a radical adjustment. I’m not saying the place wasn’t nice; the first time by we actually made a potty stop there and picked up a present for our 80-year-old uncle’s surprise party. The second and third pass, however, began to get monotonous. It felt like we were stuck on a roundabout with Chevy Chase in that old European Vacation movie. “Look kids … Big Ben,” he said over and over and over again.
Do we dare risk the exorbitant roaming fees and switch on my phone, or should we just call it a night and stay at the by now all-too-familiar inn by the river? My uncle’s party won out and we made some calls and texts to our much wiser cousins. Although our final resting place, this motel with the secret underground entrance for mosquitoes, is a far cry from the gourmet B&B over in … well, somewhere.
But here’s the thing, that five hour excursion that swelled to eight plus hours (simply because we were warned about some supposed “construction”), was one of the best road trips I’ve had in a long time. My mother, my brother and my aunt-who’s-really-more-like-a-cousin made the trek fun, soulfully enriching and dare I say, exciting?
I think it’s partially because I just let go and went with the flow. The only agenda we had was to get to Tobermory, Ontario before sundown. And seeing as how we just passed the Summer Solstice, daylight was on our team. I drove the whole way with my three navigators offering various interpretations of what “turn right” means. We got here though, and that’s what matters.
Oh, and it was a blast. A random suggestion from my brother that we hadn’t been to a certain spot since we were kids led us to a beautiful lunch overlooking a Lake Huron sporting three or four different shades of blue just for the occasion. My bro paid for all of us so that made it even better. Meanwhile, the practical cousins got carryout Tim Hortons. They make sandwiches, eh?
My cousin/aunt filled us in on her conquering another round of cancer while my brother and I, survivors both, nodded knowingly. Lest you think the entire car was filled with bad-ass cancer killers, my mom had no war stories to share. That is until she reminded us she’s pre-leukemic and will soon be on medicine for the rest of her life. Boy, did we feel lousy for not letting her join our club originally. Well-played Mom, well-played.
I feel very close and intimate with some amazing people and good fortune has let me be related to them. Up here in faraway Canada, when the mosquitoes are thin enough to allow a wireless signal to sneak in, I notice my daughter back home has tweeted a mysterious, yet heartfelt family > everything. I don’t know what led her to tell the Twitterverse that family is greater than everything, but I agree without even knowing why.
Tomorrow is my uncle’s surprise party, then I hop in a car with the more responsible cousins and head back home. I’ll do my best to point out possible detours and maybe a long lunch somewhere along the road less traveled.
I’ll be home in either five hours, eight hours, or if I’m lucky, sometime by the Winter Solstice.
As our buddy Robert Frost said:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”