Planning for this trip started months ago, it was planned as the best available excuse to visit Brampton Civic Hospital to determine what was real and what was not. I had already sacrificed a day from this mini-vacation for my day visiting the Anthem of the Seas and had Friday to Tuesday for a road trip to Brampton. “Coincidence” (with air quotes) would prevail that it was also during Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest.
As the weekend approached, I was starting to have second thoughts about this trip and a feeling that it was not the most financially planned decision to make. It was literally the Friday morning that I was going to go. The plan was Montreal on Friday, Brampton/Kitchener on Saturday, Niagara Falls on Sunday, back to Kitchener on Monday for the parade and then drive home.
As I was leaving Saint John and just passing Spruce Lake. Out of nowhere, a sheet of drywall flew in the air just metres in front of me and luckily there was none beside me and I switched lanes to avoid disaster. As soon as that happened, I had this dreadful feeling that this trip was a mistake. I continued on anyway. I crossed the border, with fairly little trouble and for once wasn’t searched.
I drove the airline to Bangor and stopped for lunch at Dysart’s just outside Bangor. I grabbed a sandwich, dessert, and a bottle of juice. The sit-down area was really busy. Since I knew that I could go just over 625km on a tank of gas, I went as far as Newport ME to fill up. It was after this fill up that you experience one of the most amazing drives. The road towards Lac Magantic that follows a river and passes the mountains with the changing leaves of fall is breathtaking. It was taking this route that I came across another broken sheet of drywall in the middle of the road.
As I passed through Sherbrooke, QC I needed to get some cash to go out that night in Montreal and while there, I had a rest stop at Tim Hortons. One of the things I absolutely love about the Tim Hortons mobile ordering is that I no longer need to know enough French to order coffee and a donut.
As I arrived in Montreal, I shut off the GPS telling me where to go. Mainly because it made no sense. I circled a whole lot of blocks and there was a parking lot but it was $30 and I thought that that was stupid crazy expensive. I eventually found a free on-street spot on Rue de Bullion. Although there was a mentally disturbed person pacing the street that scared me a little so I waited for him to go down the street and I got out, placed my stuff in the trunk and walked quickly to dinner.
My main goal was to get the La Belle Province for smoked meat poutine. I have to say that it was the best poutine I had in as long as since the last time I was in Montreal on my way back from Oktoberfest in 2015. As with all things nostalgia, it was disappointing from my memory of it. The meat was more fried and smaller bits than before. After dinner, I strolled the streets a bit and settled on going to Ste. Elisabeth, which is still my favourite little pub. The crowd was good and listening to other people’s conversations or at least the few that were in English was a great evening. I spent a good two hours there before heading back to the car to find a truck stop.
As I left Montreal I quickly ended up in Ontario. As you cost the border there is an excessive number of law signs, one after the other for almost 2 kilometres. I spent the night at the ONroute in Bainsville. It was a rough night and I didn’t sleep very well but I tried anyway. My plan was to get to Brampton by 1 pm.
After waking up I went to go to the Irving to refuel but ended up not finding it and went to a Petro-Canada followed by Tim’s and off to Toronto I go. Along the way, I saw a sign advertising the first railway tunnel in the country in Brockville and detours to see it. It was closed so I took a photo and moved on.
Until I saw the sign for the Big Apple, and I thought it would be a cool place to get a photo in front of the sign and move on. Oh boy! was I mistaken, as I drove by I saw that it was packed and thought that it was just a rural market type thing. As I got out of the car the first thing I noticed was the petting zoo and dog park. When inside the building centres around a giant glass-walled bakery that was rapidly making apple and pumpkin pies. It was so cute to see the little children knocking on the glass and waving to the cooks and the smiles as the cooks waved back. To the left, there was a craft brewery and cider house that made a wide variety of tasty beverages and a gift shop the sold local goods mixed amongst the typical gift shop wares. Notable amongst the locally made items was wine and hundreds of types of chewy candies.
To the right was a large bakery shop that is typical to a farmer’s market with more baked goods than you could possibly ever eat. In the “by the slice” case, there were over 20 types of apple pie and tarts to choose from. Also, there was a smokehouse to get the freshest ribs, chickens and, brisket. Outside there were rides, a Beavertails mini golf, and an activities area.
After I left there I was on the road again, it was lightly raining and overcast. As I approached Toronto the 401 gradually split into a stupid number of lanes and unnoticed until too late a stupid number of cars going very slow. Magically swiping lanes and the merging nightmare of going back and forth between the 401 and 401 Express. My anxiety was also at a stupid level of stress that if I could have figured out how to change nine-plus lanes I would have taken the side roads. Also, it was getting close to 2 pm at this point and I didn’t want to get to Brampton too late. Thus not getting to Kitchener too late.
As I first glanced at the hospital, I noticed the white church that my mother talked about. The inside of the building didn’t at all look as so had imagined and seemed quite advanced at parts. Hearing the announcement voices was far more terrifying than the 401. In my mind, there would be a person at the desk that I could tell my story to and complete the quest. What I ended up with was a desk with two options, “Pod 1” or “Pod 2” and on the wall above it, was a red clock of terror.
I had frozen and broke down completely, I don’t like calling people, let alone to a pod that I had no idea what was the right one. I just stood there for almost 20 minutes trying to come up with what to say. Also what to say and not sound crazy. I ultimately walked out and went back out to the front doors. I was so devastated that the quest was a disaster.
As I was starting there, there was a doctor giving bad news to a woman who was in reality more devastated than I was about how their loved one was progressing and had not much longer. Not because I didn’t make it but because I couldn’t hold myself together. As I got to the door, I pulled myself together and convinced myself that I have to go back and try.
As I get back to the phone, I pull together and dial to “Pod 1” then a voice answers and asks what I wanted. I came up with “Hi I was here 2 years ago on my way back from Rome, and I wanted to see what the Pod I was in looked like.” They then buzzed me in and I took 5 steps and had no idea where to go, then alarms started going off around the corner and I couldn’t breathe and had to get out of there.
As I reached the elevator the woman from earlier also got in. I decided to attempt to say something and I told her that 2 years ago they said I was going to probably dead, and I will never forget her response. “You look pretty not dead”.
As I went to pay for my parking, I paid on the terminal, as another woman who was having difficulty paying let me go first. So I offered to help her with the machine and paid her $6 parking pass. She didn’t expect it and was shocked and didn’t want to accept it and tried to pay me back but I told her to help someone else.
After, I took the back way to Kitchener, avoiding all the highways and pumped up the music. Trying to reflect on the calamity of the day that just happened. It was at this point that I had no motivation to go see anything else and I just wanted to be home and not stuck with a 20-hour drive back.
This is getting 1600 words long so the smashing and booming finale will have to wait for the next post.