Eastern Canada

1 July to 15 July 2013

For the summer of 2013, I planned to embark on a longer and more far reaching trip through eastern Canada. I had previously spent eight days back in 2010 visiting Acadia National Park in Maine and then the Maritime provinces of Canada in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. During that vacation, I had wanted to travel even further north and see places like Newfoundland and Labrador, especially the breathtaking natural scenery at Gros Morne National Park in western Newfoundland. These are out of the way destinations that are seldom visited by Americans while also being close enough to my home that I could save money by driving to them. The big spark of inspiration for this trip was to combine a week's worth of travel up the Saint Lawrence river valley, hitting the major cities of Ontario and Quebec, and then extend that trip with a second week of travel up into the hinterlands of Labrador, then returning back via ferry through Newfoundland and back down into Nova Scotia on the mainland. This was going to be an epic road trip with thousands upon thousands of miles of driving.

This was another point in my personal life where a vacation was seriously overdue. I had spent the previous year editing and revising and doing yet more editing of my Ph.D dissertation in preparation for a final defense. That defense date had been scheduled for early September 2013 and I was at a point where further revisions were starting to drive me insane. I needed a break from writing and this was just the cure for my dissertation ailment. As with many of the other trips that I undertook while in graduate school, this was travel carried out on a shoestring budget. I would be driving myself from place to place in a rental car while staying in hostels each night. In many of the places on this trip I was paying less than $20 per day for lodging, which was an absurdly low rate for 2013. I was purchasing half my food in supermarkets and typically eating on the go. The only major expenses were the cost of transportation (rental car, gas, ferries, etc.) and the entrance fees for the attractions themselves. This trip was far from glamorous but I was able to cover a lot of ground in a hurry.

The pace of this trip was somewhere between "frenetic" and "murderous". I would end up cover 5000 miles of driving in 15 days, all of that solo with no one else along to split the time behind the wheel. In a typical day, I woke up around 6:00 am and spent three or four hours driving to my next destination, then eight to ten hours of sightseeing before retiring for the night. Then I would get up and do it again the next day, and the next, and so on. Although I enjoy long roadtrips, there were times when I was starting to go a little bit crazy in the car during all of that driving. Still, the scenery was amazing as I traveled further and further away from civilization, and the prospect of waking up in strange new places each day helped to carry me along. This was the kind of adventure that everyone should have the chance to experience and unfortunately only a lucky few ever do. I know very well that I've been blessed to be able to take as many trips as I have.

This is the story of two weeks on the road traveling through the heart of eastern Canada and then off into the wilderness beyond. Thanks for reading!

Niagara Falls, New York and Ontario

Toronto, Ontario

Ottawa, Ontario

Montreal, Quebec

Quebec City, Quebec

Saguenay Fjord, Quebec

Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland

The Labrador Coast, Labrador

Western and Central Newfoundland

St. John's and the Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland