Down Canadian Roads, Part 5-Movin’ On with B.C. On My Mind

That big eight wheeler rollin’ down the track

Means your true lovin’ daddy ain’t comin’ back

And I’m a movin’ on

(Hank Snow)

***

Westward Ho! We hit the road in July 1969. The tail lights of our covered wagon were visible  as we rolled away from Lachine, Quebec to  Dorval, to Pointe-Claire, to Kirkland, to Beaconsfield, Baie d’Urfé, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, on to Ottawa where we stayed  the night. Having spent the  first five years of our married life and a with a child to commemorate our Ottawa years, it was a necessary sentimental stop on our Canadian Odyssey.

Leaving Ottawa, July 1969, Deanne and Allison at Cafe Champlain, beside the Champlain Bridge

Adventure was indeed in the air.  The next day  we left Ottawa heading west from Renfrew to Egansville on Highway #60. A mere two weeks later, July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were taking giant leaps for mankind in the non-existent atmosphere of the moon. We stopped for lunch at a picnic spot east of Algonquin Park where the highway runs between Trout Lake on the South and Carson Lake on the North side. Over the past 4 years this had become our favourite camp ground and fishing destination. A little off the beaten path at that time, it virtually guaranteed fish for supper whenever we went there.  No time this time to stop to fish, we had bigger fish to fry. This was simply a pit stop ‘cuz we were movin’ on, right on down the line.

We resumed our northwestward bearing. Ontario with its wide expanse would be hard to leave on many accounts: the Trans Canada highway from the Quebec border to the Manitoba border is close to 2000 kms, the most westerly part of the Ontario section of the highway was narrow and circuitous in those days. Deanne also had some emotional investments: all her roots were there. As a couple we had also invested over six years in each other, with Allison, the modest return for our investment rolling around behind us in the back seat of our ’64 Rambler in a most luxurious if dangerous modification of the back seat. We had ingeniously lay a 2 inch air foam mattress in the back seat covering the space in the well between the back of the front seats. This created a little cabin for Allison from the top of the back seat to the top of the front seat. In her mobile nest she could read her books, play with her toys, have her snack, and reaching from the front seat one of her parents could insert her soother at nap time. While the miles rolled by we were happily cocooned, movin’ on from one truck stop to the next one or to the next Provincial Park  to have lunch or supper or to evacuate the bladder when the need announced itself.

Ontario’s wild beauty also slowed us considerably, keeping us enthralled, presenting new vistas at every turn, sparkling lakes, frothing rivers, rumbling waterfalls, tumbling cascades punctuating the forest.

Kakabeka Falls, the Niagara of the North, 1969

Kakabeka Falls, the Niagara of the North, 1969

***

As we moved through the landscape in relative quiescence, we sometimes had an intimation of transcendence from the purely physical to a quasi mystical state as our motion through space over time induced an imax effect blurring the borders of space. Through the majesty of the moment and the hypnotic effect of motion at a constant speed, we sometimes emerged psychically from our role as observers moving through the landscape and became merged with the elements of the passing landscape:a happy abandonment of a consciousness separate from the landscape. I would be granted this gift of extraordinary perception on a few more occasions. The sensation returned more graphically 40 years later, in May 2009 on a trip between Cache Creek and Kamloops, B.C. At this stage in my life I had the wisdom to welcome and explore the sensation. I attempted to describe this altered state borrowing a starting point from Tennyson:

I am a part of all that I have met;

Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’

Gleams that untravell’d world, whose margin fades

For ever and for ever when I move

(Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ulysses)

***

An Ephemeral Transcendence

(A psychic trip within a road trip-A poem within a poem)

Leaving the limits of my terrestrial community,

I penetrate the diaphanous membrane

Separating here and now from my unknown psychic destination

I pass effortlessly through the veils of my previous ignorance

Into a new landscape.

Old geography gives way seamlessly as I uncover

Layer after layer

Of deeper understanding of a one familiar terrain

And perceive,

Through my many psychic senses,

What was formerly only a visual  experience.

The transparent cosmic tube through which my new found perception is revealed

Becomes increasingly expansive,

Framed

By the vaulted arch of an immense sky and a verdant valley,

Bounded peripherally by the limits of my imagination.

My eyes are full with a mobile panorama.

Through my doppler mind,

I perceive a unity of time.

I smile a delicious, long-lasting smile

As I become more deeply integrated into the many textures

Of here,

And now,

And always

***

 

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