I like driving. Not enough to be a professional truck driver, because I probably couldn’t stay awake that long, but there’s a certain kind of freedom to hopping into your car and driving out into the world to explore it from behind the wheel.
Which was exactly what we did when we decided to drive east to Prince Edward Island. Along the way, we got to see some pretty impressive scenery, made several ‘driving discoveries’ and even came home with a few bragging rights.
Bragging Right Number #1: I drove across the Confederation Bridge
Ever since I saw a documentary about this how this bridge was built, I knew I wanted to drive across it. Partly because it was a Canadian feat of super-engineering, partly because it symbolically links what had been a pretty isolated piece of the country to the rest of us. And partly just to say I did it (not that this achievement requires any particular type of ability or courage, like, say, climbing Mt. Everest, or bungee jumping – which for me isn’t going to happen, and another reason why I liked the bridge idea.)
Bragging Right Number #2: I can now say I’ve visited 8 of our provinces and territories
So much to see, so little time!
I realize I’ve got a ways to go yet, but at least I could include New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island on my list of having visited them, albeit briefly. And the route there provided some pretty interesting views, and introduced me to a small part of our east coast Maritime culture, something this landlubber had only experienced in Newfoundland, which as everyone knows, is a world of its own.
Driving Discovery #1: High and Lo-Tech Car ferries
Maybe I’m just easily impressed, but there’s something cool about driving a vehicle onto a boat and having it transported to another shore. Whether it’s the slick, high speed operation that we took from the port in Quebec City to the south shore, that gave us great views of the Chateau Frontenac and the city skyline, or the cable affair that took us across the Saint John River in New Brunswick, that seemed more like a Huckleberry Finn type of arrangement.
Probably the only thing cooler than putting a car on a boat and floating it across a river, is putting a train on one and crossing an ocean, which I’ve only experienced once in crossing from mainland Italy to Sicily. That was something that I still find impressive, even though it was many years ago, and did not exactly mirror the Orient Express in terms of luxury or comfort.
Driving Discovery #2: You can drive on the ocean floor!
Never mind walking on the ocean floor (the Bay of Fundy’s big tourism selling point), how about driving on it? Minister’s Island in New Brunswick was the summer estate of Sir William Van Horne, the first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway. A seasonal residence only, it also happens to be located on a piece of property you can only reach by driving a kilometer or so on the ‘ocean floor’ when the tide is out. (you’d think as president of a railway he would have had a train?) For both Van Horne and his ocean-driving visitors, pretty impressive bragging rights.
Driving Discovery #3: Roadside Oddities
This was just one of those odd things that you would only see when you are driving, in this case, through Maine, when we drove by a pretty rundown house on the side of the road and a unique and somewhat creepy window display caught my eye. In fact, I backtracked to make sure I had seen what I thought I’d seen, and sure enough, there it was: a collection of oversized dolls standing in the windows of the house, all facing out towards the road like prisoners in some kind of life-sized doll house. Except this dollhouse needed some serious TLC. I guess all the effort goes towards dusting off the dolls, instead. yeeesh.
TIP: If you like driving, you’ll like driving in eastern Canada. The speed limit on most of the large highways in New Brunswick is 110 km/hr, and the traffic volume in PEI is nonexistent compared to the highways in southern Ontario near Toronto. Just watch out for moose if you drive after dark on the mainland – it can be a serious hazard, so if you can, time your drives to avoid nighttime travel.
Jane Canapini is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada and the North American Travel Journalists Association. She established GrownupTravels.com in 2014 to share information and tips based on personal experience so her readers could get the most out of their travels.