Lost in the Vastness, Calmness and Warmheartedness
I have not even explored 5% of Canada. However, a few road trips in the Ontario and British Columbia provinces gave me a fair idea of the country’s vastness, calmness and beauty. Driving to Canada from the US was like entering a neighbor’s house after knocking at the door, knowing that this good neighbor is always welcoming. So, I decided to visit the big-hearted neighbor first time in 2012 during my MBA summer break.
4+ hour drive from Pittsburgh to Toronto looked very simple on the Google Maps. But, it unfolded in a very dramatic way. I rented a lightest, smallest possible car, which I realized was not a good option for the windy Canadian highways. Excited to cross the border, I learned at a gas station two hours into driving that I forgot my credit card and US driver’s license at the rental counter. It was the beginning of a series of events that made my first Canada trip very interesting. With a few $10 dollar bills in my wallet and a driver’s licence from India, I choose to carry on.
At the border door, an immigration officer was waiting for me to tell that entry to Canada was not a cakewalk. He asked me to produce a few more documents in addition to the passport and address in Canada where I was going. I did not have those documents, so I had to spend a good 20 minutes with the gatekeepers of this friendly neighbor. Eventually, I was cleared, but the troubles did not end here. My phone navigation stopped after 10 minutes. I was lost in the vastness. A bit panicked, I took so many wrong turns and drove for an hour without finding the direction. Finally, I stopped at a gas station to ask directions. They gave me a map, but my direction sense was not good in this new country. After an adventurous ride of more than 3 hours in Canada, I finally arrived at the destination. It was kind of fun to be lost in a totally unfamiliar, yet friendly country, having a sense that I was safe and would be rescued if needed.
My first date with Canada ended with quick visits to Toronto, Markham, Brampton, Mississauga, Hamilton and City of Niagara Falls. Sighting of Niagara Falls from the Canadian side was majestic. Words would not do justice to its beauty.
First not so smooth date with Canada helped me prepare for the second date well. The second meeting to this friendly neighbor was at the west coast city of Vancouver. A breathtaking drive from Seattle was so smooth that I fell in love with country only in second date. This short love story with Canada is still alive. I think there are more dates to come in the near future with this calm, vast country.
What next: A cross country road trip from east to west coast.