Day 4: Going International

Okay, I’ll admit it. It got a bit cold last night. The low was in the upper 30s, but thankfully I brought my insulated sleeping bag which kept me from freezing. My dad and I packed up our gear, and around 8 in the morning we set out northward.

Our first stop was Bangor, about an hour north of Acadia. We had a big breakfast at a local diner, and since it was my 25th birthday, my dad bought me a slice of Apple pie and ice cream. Once we finished up, I dropped my dad off at the airport for his flight back home. Afterwards, I went to the Bangor public library to print out a few documents I might need for the border crossing. I gotta say, the library is a very useful public resource, even if you don’t use it to check out books. Eventually, I got my luggage sorted, my passport in my front seat, and I was ready to continue on.

After some time going south on I-95, I turned off onto a series of state highways. At first, there were towns every dozen or so miles, bit as I got further away from the interstate, their frequency diminished. I kept going down a series of two-lane roads, sometimes going miles without seeing another car. Once I got past the last town of significance in Maine, I got to see the state’s natural beauty in full. The trees were all assortment of green and red and yellow, and the forest stretched for miles over the hills and mountains. It was one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever done, to the point where I’d occasionally have to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road.

Eventually, I made it to the border. The crossing guard took a look at my passport, asked me the usual questions, and let me into the country without a fuss. I will admit, I’m kinda disappointed I didn’t get a stamp. Regardless, I made it to Quebec. I went through a couple of rural villages before hitting the first real city in Sherbrooke. It was there that I discovered that my phone didn’t get a signal unless I called Sprint and told them to activate my international data plan. Why they don’t do that automatically when it’s free is beyond me. After I spent some time on the phone, I got going again onto the autoroute to Montreal.

I learned a few things about Canadan driving along the way. It turns out that the joke of there only being two seasons, winter and construction, is completely true. Additionally, the speed limit signs are very loudly interpreted. Cars regularly go 130 in a 100 (80 in a 60 for those used to imperial units). That made me look kind of silly the first several miles, as in my caution, I initially kept to the exact speed limit in case they were strictly enforced. Finally, I was pleased to learn that Canadian drivers generally did a really good job of staying in the right lane except to pass. Maybe I was just lucky, but it was a really refreshing sight to see.

I got to Montreal about sundown. After trying to simultaneously recall high school French, drive on city streets, make a note of which roads were closed for construction, remember that making a right on red is illegal, and trying to read the parking signs, I finally managed to find a place to put my car where it wouldn’t be towed. I checked into a youth hostel right in the center of town. By the way, hostels are an amazing place to stay. It only cost $30, the staff was very friendly, they have social outings planned every night of the week, and you get to meet people from all over the world. The only downside is that it’s dorm-style accommodations with about six to a room. I settled in, had some fun socialising with some people from France, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand, and eventually enjoyed a night’s sleep in a bed.

Making the westward turn
Making the westward turn

An old-fashioned gas pump.

A photo posted by Harry White (@goldenkumquat) on

Maine is such a beautiful state.

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A photo posted by Harry White (@goldenkumquat) on

I bet you those windmills are Canadian.

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Bienvenue à Canada!

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