RTW: Road Trip Wednesday!

This week for Road Trip Wednesday, we’re actually talking about road trips! Here’s the question posed by the YA Highway team:

In celebration of the release of Kristin Halbrook’s NOBODY BUT US (hooray!!) we’re asking: Zoe and Will set off on the road to seek a better life and encounter loads of drama on the way. What’s the most dramatic road trip you’ve ever been on?

Probably not the most dramatic in terms of life-and-death scares, but certainly one of the longest trips that featured nail-biting moments was the time we went to Canada.

It was sometime in May, 1993. A friend from church was getting married to his Canadian fiancée in her homeland. My wife had known this friend for years, so she, her sister, and her aunt all wanted to go. We were childless at this time (well, almost–FirstBorn was in the womb), and work schedules permitted, so we rented a car and planned the road trip from North Carolina to Kitchener, Ontario. The wedding was actually about three hours away from Kitchener, but my wife and I had a friend whose family lived there, and he had invited us to stay.

Not only did we decided to make a road trip out of it, but we decided to drive straight up–no stop overs. That’s about a 15 hour trip (approximately 800 miles) according to MapQuest (I just checked). I don’t remember when we left that May morning, but I do recall we got to our friend’s place in the small hours of the following day (maybe one or two o’clock). Thankfully they were up and at least didn’t appear to be too displeased.

My wife, her sister, and her aunt were all able to drive, and willingly split the driving duties between them. I had only recently passed my test (I didn’t learn to drive in the UK–it was not a skill I needed there), so I was given minimal wheel-time. We traversed Virginia, West Virginia (where I had my first experience of driving through a mountain), Pennsylvania, and New York. As you might expect, we stopped to visit Niagara Falls: both sides (i.e., the US and the Canadian sides). A truly awesome sight, from both vantage points.

Since I hadn’t had a turn driving for a while, my fellow drivers said I could take the next shift, which, for some reason, went through Toronto. I don’t know what kind of insanity possessed them to allow the newbie driver behind the wheel, navigating the large highways, fast cars, and giant trucks of the big city… at night! I remember concentrating very hard the whole time, praying that we would make it through alive. I don’t think I’ve ever been as nervous driving as I was then. Looking at a map now, I’m not sure why we went that way–but my memory of driving the highways of Toronto is… um… fairly vivid!

I could talk more about our short visit to Canada, the day we spent in Ontario, our quick trip to Quebec, etc. But maybe another time. Whenever I think of road trips, though, that Canada trip is the one that comes to mind first. Perhaps wifey will comment and add her perspective on the journey…?

Do you have any dramatic road trip tales? Share them here, or join in the virtual Road Trip! (See the YA Highway blog for details on how to participate.)

26 Responses to RTW: Road Trip Wednesday!

  1. Ugh, Toronto? That’s awful! Toronto driving is terrible under the best conditions (says the gal with no license who’s watched her husband the excellent driver struggle through it)–I can’t believe they made you do that! Well, at least you came out of it knowing you could drive ANYWHERE!

    • Well, to be fair, they didn’t make me drive. I wanted to drive, and they let me–perhaps even apprehensively (perhaps my wife can comment on that). Though I don’t think any of us anticipated how bad it would be. :)

  2. Ah! City driving is terrifying the first couple times you try. I remember in high school riding with a friend to one of the parks in Orlando. @_@ She missed the sign for our exit, so she cut across five lanes of traffic to make the off ramp. I think I screamed a little bit.

    But you got to see Niagara, so I guess that makes up for the terrifying moments.

    • Eeek! I don’t think I’ve ever cut across traffic like that to make an exit… that’s pretty scary!

      Niagara was well worth seeing. Incredible.

  3. I’ve never been to Canada (strangely, considering I live in Michigan and, therefore, it’s not all that far away). I love the tunnels through the mountains in Virginia and West Virginia. So jealous that you’ve seen Niagara Falls!

    • I can’t really say anything about your not visiting Canada. I grew up in the UK, and there are loads of places I’ve not been to that visitors to the country always make a point of visiting. But Niagara is certainly worth the trip if you get the opportunity.

  4. Driving through a mountain? That sounds exciting!! Though city driving is NOT. Or at least not the kind of excitement I’d want!

    • It was a tunnel that went straight through the mountain–pretty cool! :) Driving at night is not my favorite activity at the best of times, but highway driving in a strange city–and a major city like Toronto–is no fun at all.

  5. I also would quite enjoy driving through a mountain. I have been a driver now for three years, and I still refuse to drive through the city nearest me. That’s what buses and feet are for!

    • I never appreciated public transportation when I lived in the UK. But that’s how I managed to get around without a car. There’s no way I could do that in the States. The buses aren’t reliable, and everything is spread out a lot more. Where I lived in the UK, I could get the the center of town in 30 mins if I walked, 10 if I biked. Here, it would take at least 15 mins by car.

  6. I’ve never been to Toronto but I can imagine that driving in a city would be scary for any new driver.

    • Sadly, I can’t really say I’ve *been* to Toronto. I don’t count driving white-knuckled and deer-in-headlights-eyed along wide highways as visiting. It’s possible my passengers saw some of the sites as we drove by… but I suspect they were too busy praying to notice. :)

      It would be nice to go and actually visit the place for real, though. Perhaps flying there. ;)

  7. Oh, West Virginia is SO pretty! Those mountains tunnels are craaaaazy! When my friend and I passed through it was super foggy too. Aaaah, memories!

    I need to go to both Niagara Falls and Canada. A layover in Toronto doesn’t count :P

    You’re very right about not needing to drive here in the UK. I can now but I didn’t until I was in my early twenties. Now I have a passionate hatred of public transport :P

    • I haven’t actually tried to use public transportation here in the US, but my wife tells me it’s not nearly as reliable as in the UK. That’s a pretty sorry indictment of the US public transportation system! I suppose I should qualify that and say that it probably varies from State to State, but here in NC, I wouldn’t dream of trying to get a bus to work. I’m not even sure there’s one that runs at that time, and goes near my workplace! :)

  8. I’ve been to Toronto and I know exactly what you mean, that would be scary! Horrifying!

  9. I live in a city of 230 000 and I don’t drive, so I can’t even imagine braving the streets of Toronto. I’ve been there a few times and the thought makes me queasy. Glad you picked your road trip to Canada as the one to highlight!

    • It’s certainly the one that stands out, especially since it was my first major road trip after getting my license. There were trips to the mountains of Georgia, and navigating Nantahala, and the narrow mountain roads there… those could be scary… but those were post-Toronto: I had been broken in by then. ;)

  10. Going and going with no stops always makes for a drama-filled trip. Sounds like you guys had fun, though!

    • It was fun, Crystal. Aside from the cool things like seeing Niagara Falls, and driving through mountains in WV, we picnicked in PA, and had a lot of laughs along the way. :)

  11. I absolutely love road trips. And while my family and I drove from San Diego to Vancouver very other summer, I’ve never driven in the east coast. Your drive sounded very exciting, indeed! And Niagara Falls! *sigh*

    • Oh, Niagara is definitely sigh-worthy! You should try the east coast sometime… it’s really quite nice over here: the Blue Ridge Mountains, all the historical stuff in DC, the Outer Banks, Charleston, Savannah, DisneyWorld… plenty to see and do! :D

  12. My vision sucks in the dark, so nighttime driving is a no-no for me!

    • It is kinda cool to be able to see when you drive. I wouldn’t say my vision’s bad in the dark, but the less I’m able to see where I’m going, the more uncomfortable I am. Hence I don’t like driving in the dark, and even worse when it’s raining too.

  13. I have not been to Toronto, but driving through any big city is scary, especially as a new driver. I love how beautiful the mountains are in the eastern states, but I am a nervous wreck driving through them. Especially as a passenger. My husband was trying to floor it through Pennsylvania and I was so scared! Mostly due to other drivers because they either drive too slow or not slow enough around the turns.

  14. I’ve never been to Toronto, but if it’s anything like Vancouver, that is a terrifying thing for ANY driver, let alone a newbie.

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