Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ian's version of hell on earth

We went from Boyd's Lake in Quebec to Hwy. 401 in Ontario

Ian swore he wasn’t going to drive that four-oh-one through Toronto.
He’d cross into the States at Cornwall, take the southern scenic route around Lake Ontario on the U.S. side.
That was before our trip started, before we knew we’d be heading out from Dunany, Que. on the Sunday of a long weekend. How bad could Toronto be?
At one point, Ian looked at the roadway stretching ahead of him and said, “I can see more cars from here that there are on Pender Island at any one time.”
It was a day where we went from the sublime to the ridiculous. Leaving Dunany at 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning, there was no one else on the twisting, winding country road. That meant we could crawl along at 40 kilometres an hour to ensure Sidney, the cat, didn’t spill his breakfast. That road had done him in on Friday night about a mile before we arrived at Vicki’s cousin’s place.
It was a sunny, very crisp fall morning, with leaves showing all their brilliant colours as we left near freezing temperatures for the warmer climes of southern Ontario. The cats basked in bright sunshine in their cat carrier, sleeping contentedly until we reached the asphalt jungle of Toronto.
The vast expanse of pavement is unimaginable to a Westerner. There isn’t anything like it in Vancouver or Calgary. There are up to 18 lanes of traffic, and even on a holiday long weekend, they’re full as vehicles tear along at 120 kilometres an hour or more, weaving in and out of various lanes.
There we were, permanently in the slow lane, tugging Harley along behind us.
We didn’t fit in.
Nor do we want to, ever.
The highrise office towers and residences that line the highway are impressive, especially when you realize this isn’t downtown Toronto you can see. It’s just part of the apparently never-ending sprawl that is now urban Toronto.
Since we were headed out the other side, beyond Hamilton, we also got a feel for just how far Toronto reaches. There was a time, in Vicki’s memory, when there was farmland between Toronto and Oakville, and again between Oakville and Hamilton.
Not any more.
We know people live happily in their neighbourhoods in the Toronto area, but to get away from home, to go anywhere, they have to tackle the asphalt jungle.
We’d rather live in the wilds than take on the city.

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