It Maybe Long, But its Never Boring! After four long days of driving and traveling 2586 KM’s from Woodview, Ontario, to New Chelsea, Newfoundland, the Button clan arrived in one piece. Near the end we came close to a little insanity; but we got it done, safe and sound.
On Saturday July 11th, we finalized packing our trailers, and loading the trucks. My parents travelled in their V8 Dodge Truck, pulling a 6 Feet by 12 Foot trailer traveling with Ghandi; our loyal and loving Boston Terrier/English Bulldog mix. I drove the Ridgeline Honda towing a 6 by 10 Foot trailer, with two teenage boys in the cab, and my goats; Holly and Ivy. We secured them safely in the cargo cab, from moving, and the weather elements. All safety checks done, one last family photo, and voila, we where ready to move to the east coast.
Overall, the first day was the longest for me. We travelled 823km to our first night stop, in La Pocatiere Quebec. I like to drive. I have been driving since I was four years old. Yet, I have never driven across country; let alone pulling a trailer full of items. This was a whole new challenge for me. Even at lunch, with a stretch, and mini workout, the first day was long. My gas peddle leg and everything attached to it, kept trying to cramp near the end. Add to this, my fathers impatience. He had a hard time understanding, that due to the pandemic, most places require you to pay at the pump, for gas. It was up to me to try and teach him, (keep in mind he is almost clinically deaf) how to use a pay at pump system. First he refused to enter his pin number into the touch pad. “You do it” he says, as he looks at me and jabs the card into my hand. I go, “I don’t know your pin number” he then proceeds to say the pin number really fast. When it comes to information, I don’t retain verbal info well. I am a visual person. Not able to remember the pin the first time, I go “Say it again” exasperated, my Dad repeats the pin number. Then! Then!! He picks up the pump and tries pumping gas, before the transaction was approved. Ugh. I go “NO, put it back. Be patient please. It has to be approved before you can pump gas.” Boy oh boy, the frustration. Finally the gas was paid and pumped. Apparently, he learned. There was lots of opportunities to practice over the 2586 KM’s of travel. I never had to do it again for him.
Back into our separate vehicles we went. Finally arriving, at night to La Pocatiere, Que. Once there, the first priority, the goats! We took them out to graze, have fresh water and run a little bit.
Then we all settled in for the night. Well, thats what I thought anyways. Being a light sleeper, I easily wake up to alarm clocks. At 330am, I swore an alarm went off!! I jumped UP! W T F!?! Why would there be an alarm this early? However, I quickly found the culprit, interrupting precious travel sleep; an electric tooth brush malfunctioning!!!! Ugh. I got it turned it off. Back to sleep, which slowly happened, I went.
630am came too fast. Up and at it; goats out of their cage, water, “walked” and grazed. The teenage boys where the last ones out of the hotel. Then off, we where, to travel 663 Kms to Sackville, New Brunkswick.
Before getting into New Brunswick, there was a very secure check point to screen us for COVID. I was quiet impressed. Even though it was inconvenient, there is a definite difference in how Ontario and Quebec was handling cross province travel. Essentially anyone can travel freely in and out of Quebec and Ontario. Then we hit New Brunswick. Everyone had to wait in their vehicles for a drive through COVID screening.
To be honest, the second day seemed the hardest out of all four days. I was not sure I would survive. However, like everything else in life, its all in the mental game. I made the mistake of not communicating effectively with my parents about stops and whatnot. Unlike the first day, we did not have a longer lunch time stretch and mini workout break. BIG MISTAKE! Near the end of our second day destination, I had to stop on the side of the road to take 5 mins to stretch. My right hip was screaming. After that, it was a game to engage the boys in distracting me from being uncomfortable. Finally we got to Sackville. Once in Sackville first things first; out came the goats to graze, have fresh water and run a little bit. Because we had arrived during daylight, Holly and Ivy had a lot more outdoor time before we settled in for the night.
The Monday, our third day of travel, was the easiest and most enjoyable. It was only 415 kms to North Sydney Nova Scotia from Sackville. We where scheduled to load the nighttime Marine Atlantic Ferry in North Sydney. We would then cross overnight to Port Aux Basque Newfoundland. We therefore had lots of time to stop outside of North Sydney and explore a little bit. We took extra time at the beautiful provincial park, Whycocomagh. Holly and Ivy really got to check everything out. I made sure to give them lots grazing and running time. They needed it, especially with the ocean Ferry ride coming up. I did this for myself as well, minus the grazing of course.
After not doing any training for 4 days, it felt so good to feel my heart pumping, sweat dripping and lactic acid building in my legs as I ran/hiked up the steep mountain trail. I had to hustle to get to the top. In order to make the deadline in getting back down to leave to the ferry on time, I had to keep a tight deadline for hiking. At the top of the hill a view appeared; one that when seen in person, takes your breath away. The view overlooks the local bay and town. At the bottom, there was a bonus waiting for me. During my hike, the boys had found the local spring, my parents pointed out to them. We filled our water bottles and extra containers, with the most crisp spring water I have tasted. You see my parents had been traveling back and forth to Ontario and Newfoundland for years and often stopped at this beautiful park.
Finally the evening was upon us. We ate and made our way to check in for our Ferry reservations. Making sure to have all the appropriate paper work ready. Due to the pandemic, only essential workers (like import trucks) and residents are allowed in to Newfoundland. We had to apply for a special exemption as residents to get in. This process is definitely working for them. According to the current news, only 1 active, non symptomatic case of COVID, is present throughout the province. And, this is also only after a 42 days of no COVID 19 cases.
We check in at the drive through gate. No issues for my parents. They are given a lane number to park and wait to load onto the Ferry. I pull up next, a little bit nervous, as I have never done this before. With anything new, there is always a potential for challenges, which usually means nerves. This time was no different. I have the mindset to always expect the best and everything will work out. This time, that definitely was the case. The staff of Marine Atlantic where amused (and yes, that meant they where laughing at us) for traveling with goats. We where under the policy of livestock for boarding. Which meant, we where under the commercial section to get onto the Ferry. What I did not know, until they directed us to the lane for parking and loading onto the Ferry; we would be with all the Trucks driving onto and off the Ferry. Not just that, but we where at the very front of the lane, waiting to be loaded. An hour later, they started loading commercial vehicles, waving us on first. We parked on the top commercial deck, with the exit gate directly in front of us. Essentially, we did get the best we could get. We where the first ones on the Ferry (my parents had to wait with all the residential vehicles for over another hour plus, to load their vehicle on), which the next morning, also meant we where the first ones off.
Safely parked, masked up for safety and walked onto the Ferry we went. We found our reserved sleeping cabin. The small cabin, had 2 sets of bunks for sleeping,
while we crossed the Atlantic. Thank gosh it also had a shower. When traveling long days, a shower feels like a piece of heaven! Showered and ready for bed, and my parents where still not in the cabin. I laughed to myself and said, “watch my Dad will have something to say about this”. He did. He got into the cabin, and jokingly said, “now we know how to get special treatment, TRAVEL with GOATS” then laughed and said “hey Goat lady” as he nodded his head in my direction. The boys laughed!
The night on the ocean was fairly calm. The ocean rolled a little bit, but my son, my Mom and myself, took gravol before bed, (You never know). My nephew, however, did not. We asked the next day if he felt nauseous due to the rolling waves. “No”, he said. There you go. You never know how a persons equilibrium will respond. We where not allowed to leave the cabins, unless we where directed to over the PA system. Traveling during COVID is so weird. Nothing is like it was, AT ALL!
As a kid I remember riding the Ferry with fondness during the summer. It was always a free roaming social time; with gambling slots (yes my Dad let me gamble a little for fun), live music and entertainment in pubs, restaurants alive with people drinking and eating. Now, everywhere was a dead zone. Only the bare minimum of people traveling. The staff, just like other public places, had face masks and/or face shields on, to protect themselves and passengers. Also, like many other places (even though the east coast staff was just a friendly as always) you could tell everyone is under stressful times.
The next morning, they called commercial vehicle drivers to get down to the decks first. The boys and myself knew we had to go. However, the staff member at the end of the hall directing passengers, had other ideas. He goes “unless you’re a commercial driver, stay in your room until residential drivers are called” we tried explaining that we where parked down with the truck drivers. He would not hear it, but only shooed us back into our room. 10 mins later they called residential drivers, parked on decks 3-5. We went out and go to the guy “can we go now?” he goes “yes”. We booked it down to the commercial deck. We stayed focused through the loud trucks, and rushed to the truck and trailer, while squeezing through all the lanes (its a tight fit for parking on a ferry). The staff and drivers in the trucks, are almost glaring at us. “We are waiting for you!” Ha. “Sorry everyone! Honestly not our fault!!” I quickly checked to see if Holly and Ivy where ok (they where). I quickly started the car and shifted into towing gear. The exit gate came down directly in front of us, and we where the first ones off!
We had to go through a screening check point first before being let onto the island. Essentially they double checked our paper work, along with the rules that we have to self isolate for 14 days. Self Isolation, also includes not being allowed to leave our property for those 14 days. They asked if we have a plan to have food delivered (we do) and to call the health line, if COVID symptoms develop. Again, we where off for the final day of travel. From Port Aux Basque to New Chelsea, we would be driving the longest stretch out of the four days, 905km’s across the island. Maybe your asking, is there not a Ferry that travels all the way around the Island? Why yes, yes there is! Its called the long Ferry. Which instead of a 7 hr Ferry ride we took, its more like 17hrs, sailing around the very eastern tip of Newfoundland. Yet due to COVID, it was cancelled until further notice. The long Ferry, I can only assume was cancelled because it is tourism based.
Even though it was a longer day for driving. I had gotten a good handle on: how to stop, look after the goats, have a deep stretch, eat or not eat, and then drive again. However, the last 3 hr stretch, everyones nerves where starting to frazzle a little. I love my son, but as all of you who have children know, they can get on YOUR NERVES. Especially days, in tight spaces. I think he may have gotten on my nephew’s nerves too. My nephew’s personality is almost opposite of my son’s, quite and reserved. However, he made a couple loud comments to my son. This really made me laugh.
Finally on the fourth day of 905 km’s, and 13hrs of traveling, we arrived safely at night to our home in New Chelsea, Newfoundland. We where greeted with true Newfoundland hospitality. Our friends and neighbours, “The Campbell’s and Green’s” had left us a large welcome/quarantine care package. Attached was a note welcoming us home and to let them know if we needed anything during quarantine. Ahh Newfoundland! My heart knows its home. Even if its raining, cold, and a pandemic happening, the people are always the warmest.