Road Trip Report: Day 17, July 28

Wow.

So I’m in Vancouver, having arrived at approximately 3:20pm this afternoon, and I guess it’s time for some concluding thoughts.

But first thing’s first.

Since you’re probably wondering, everything fit into the car perfectly this morning, and the baby stroller was an easy fit on the luggage rack, secured with a locking strap, two bungee cords, and two compression straps. Probably a little overkill, but I figured that I have them, so I might as well use them. It certainly looked funny to have the giant stroller perched on my luggage rack, and that just made things more amusing while driving back.

The morning was overcast, so it was definitely a top-up driving day. As well, the plastic bag that the stroller was in flapped around and made a lot of noise in the wind, which would have been annoying for the entire five-hour drive.

The drive was uneventful, and I’ve decided that Interstate 5 is my least favourite highway. Seriously, it sucks. There are huge sections where it’s two lanes, and slow drivers who don’t know to use the right lane (even though there are signs everywhere reminding them to do so). As a result, there was a higher percentage of impatient and crazy drivers on the road. Ugh. That started pretty much as soon as I left Redding, California, and continued until I departed from the I5 at Bellingham.

I stopped for gas just before crossing, since it’s WAY cheaper in the US. The sun had also come out, so I dropped the roof in order to enter Canada and close out the trip properly.

The border crossing was also uneventful, and I breezed through. Then it was on to Vancouver.

The first thing I noticed is that it’s hard to get back to kilometres after two weeks of counting miles, but I really do prefer kilometres. Metric is better than Imperial, but some things are just ingrained in me. Height, weight, and paper sizes are the main things. Room measurements, as well. Oh, and swimming pool temperatures. I talk about weather and room temperature in Celsius, but anyone who’s maintained a pool knows that 80 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect.

The second thing I noticed is that I was legitimately excited. While I was in San Francisco, I chatted online with a friend who asked if I was excited to be near BC. I replied that I wasn’t yet, because I never get excited up until something’s right upon me. There are reasons for that, but I won’t go into them now.

The point is, that’s what happened today. For the very first time ever, I drove into Vancouver with my own car, with the intention of sticking around and calling this place home. And I was excited.

As I got closer to Vancouver, I started to recognize things. Street names. Skyline. It was a place that I had been before, unlike everywhere I’ve been over the past 17 days. It was familiar, and it felt like coming home.

I’m not a crier, but you know how sometimes you get that feeling of overwhelming emotion, and you just want to tear up? Well, that’s how I felt. I wanted to cry.

And that’s when I realized just how much of a good idea this trip was. Putting aside the journey and the experience, what this trip gave me was emotional distance. And I suspect that that’s the very most important thing of all.

It was hard to leave Waterloo. In the weeks and months leading up to the move, I constantly asked myself why I was doing it. And if I had gone straight to BC, I would have continued to feel conflicted. Sure, it would have gone away eventually, but that’s no way to start the next chapter of my life.

Instead, I put 17 days between myself and Waterloo. I miss my friends already–I’ve missed them since I left–but by travelling for so long, I avoided the feeling of displacement that usually comes with relocating. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that I embraced it. And while doing so, I put distance between myself and my emotional ties to Waterloo.

I loved being in Waterloo, and I would love it still if I were to continue living there. But after feeling like I have no home for the better part of a month, I was ready to have one again. So, you can imagine that the familiar sights and sounds of Vancouver were just what I needed.

My goal is still to set up shop in Victoria, and part of me won’t feel really at home until I’m reunited with my cats. I’ll head to the island on the weekend, and it’ll be almost a full month since I last saw them.

And then I’ll have to figure out what to do with myself until I find a job.

There are going to be at least a couple more Road Trip Reports. One will be about the stuff I brought with me, and whether or not it was useful. The other will be a reflection on the virtues of planned versus unplanned travel, or something like that. Spoiler alert: there are good and bad points on both sides. Somewhere in there I’ll reflect on what I would do exactly the same, and what I would have done differently.

So, here’s my final thought on my last day of travel.

Early on, I wrote that I was looking forward to the big thing that would go wrong. My theory was that nothing ever goes according to plan, and I am a person who thrives on that sort of adversity. I love damage control, and was eager for the experience. Well, nothing happened, as far as I can tell. I suppose maxing out my credit card might have been it, but big deal. I paid it off and switched to my backup card.

Was it the night that I slept in my car, because I couldn’t find a hotel room anywhere near Denver? Maybe.

Or, is it just that nothing disastrous could really happen since I was going with the flow? I don’t buy that. If anything, my conscious decision not to plan too far in advance invited more opportunity for things to go badly.

No, I think it’s more likely to do with perspective. I’ve always believed that there are no problems I can’t handle, and that I’ll deal with whatever comes along. As a result, things that are stressful to other people don’t really bother me–particularly when I’m the only one affected.

I once read about a study where people were asked to walk through a room. I don’t entirely remember the details, but if I recall correctly, the study showed that people who identified themselves as lucky were more likely to notice the $20 bill laying on the floor, while people who were not lucky walked right by. The point being that some people see opportunities that others ignore. In that sense, people make their own luck.

And I tend to think that I’m pretty lucky.

Thanks to everyone who’s read through these lengthy updates over the past 17 days. It was nice being able to share this experience with others, and I hope you got something out of it–even if it was just the knowledge that I was safe and well.

With that said, my trip comes to an official close. All good things must come to an end, if only to make way for new good things to begin.

Russ