Friday, 14 March 2008

The Freedom to Find Each Other

It was early July in 1980. Our 1973, silver grey, Dodge Polara, my 'Smokey and the Bandit' mobile, was packed and ready to go.
We had quit our jobs, given up our apartment and put our few possessions into storage. We knew we were taking a risk, it virtually assured an uncertain future. Yet an uncertain future seemed favourable in comparison to the tragic past my future wife had endured.
We sat in our car and prepared for a two month adventure on the open road. We left Vancouver to drive on the Trans Canada Highway to the wonderful city of Montreal, a distance of almost 3400 miles. Before us lay countryside, more diverse, more awe-inspiring that I had imagined. Once leaving the urban sprawl of Greater Vancouver, we reached the Fraser Valley. Onwards we drove through the splendour of British Columbia, through the Okanagan Valley, heading further east to the majesty of the Rockies.
Surrounded by the magnificent backdrop of the Rockies, Veronica and I found an ideal location to stay for the night. The sun was setting behind enormous mountains, the swirling river beside us produced sounds that reached into my inner tranquility. It was a night to remember, we both drifted of into a deep, peaceful sleep. Alone in the wilds, alone with the lady I loved so much.
Our adventure continued. Through the Rockies, through the foothills of Alberta and into Calgary. Calgary, affectionately known as 'Cowtown', and home of the world famous Calgary Stampede. Our stop in this city was a brief but an interesting experience. We had to keep going, Canada is a very large country.
The landscape began to change dramatically. No longer was the terrain a mountainous or even a hilly splendour. For now we had reached Medicine Hat, Alberta and beyond that was a vast, flat expanse. We had reached the Prairies. As far as the eye could could see, was a panorama of overwheming flatness. The contrast in scenery was truly staggering.
Hundreds upon hundreds of miles of prairie lay before us. As our adventure moved on we arrived in the Province of Saskatchewan. Veronica and I visited the towns of Swift Current and Moose Jaw (how Canadian does the town of 'Moose Jaw' sound eh?). I have fond memories of Moose Jaw. We went and watched 'Close Encounters of Third Kind'..(yeah and we also went to the cinema there!).
Soon our travels would take us to Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan. A grand old city, right in the heart of the Prairies. Yet we did not stay long. Our curiosity led us to a destination about thirty miles north east of Regina. We had got some information of a town that had landscape very different to what we had seen during the last week or so. Upon reaching Fort Qu'Appelle, the information we had been given was no exaggeration. From the incredibly flat land that we had grown accustomed too was this town with hills that could be best described as very large bumps. A bizarre extreme to the terrain that we had been experiencing. There are even facilities for downhill skiing. Hard to believe what we observed , such a short distance away from the flattest darn land I had ever seen.
Yet, it gets even better. Not only were these hills standing proudly in the heart of the Prairies, we found a beach! Yes that's right, a beach smack dab in the middle of Canada. The beach was by a lake named Echo. You guessed it..before our eyes was Echo Beach. ("Echo Beach..far away in time"..hmmm..).
Quite the memory but it was time to move on. Onwards to Manitoba, onwards to Winnipeg (also known fondly, well during the cold season, as 'Winterpeg'). Winnipeg, capital of Manitoba and home to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. I like Winnipeg, however, there is one street corner you best avoid. The intersection of Portage and Main is evidently the windiest corner in all of North America. Beat that Chicago!
We moved onwards, ever further east, to the Province of Ontario. The land was no longer flat, we were now amongst the forested wilderness of north western Ontario. We came upon lake, a beautiful, pristine lake. Yet something was wrong. The water was clear, the fish floated on the surface, the fish were dead. We were sad, the tears streamed downed our faces. Had we witnessed the devastating consequences of industrial pollution?
We started heading south. Our southward route took us through Thunder Bay and past Lake Superior. Our next major destination would be Canada's largest city. Toronto, a huge cosmopolitan city. A 'melting pot' of humanity from all corners of the world. We went up to the top of the C.N. tower where the views were spectacular. One day, I hope to spend more time in this great Canadian city.
We had to move on, a month had nearly gone by and we were halfway through our money. Time to reach our final destination. Ah Montreal! Canada's second largest city and one of the biggest French speaking cities in the world. I loved Montreal. There is a quaint, 'old world' feel to this wonderful city. I recall, how we strolled through the grounds of the world's fair. I remember as a lad, seeing Expo 67 on the television. Expo 67 was a celebration of mankind. It also marked the centenary of the great nation of Canada. Montreal, a proud French-Canadian city in a proud, blessed country.
It was time return, to head west, to retrace the 3400 miles back to our home, back to Vancouver. I think back on those eventful two months in the summer of 1980. I smile as I remember those occasions that stay so fixed in my thoughts. The beer parlour in Pincher Creek, Alberta where all night long this one guy kept saying: "well I'll be a hound dog!" The night we slept in our car by a farm near Niagara Falls, only to be startled by a police officer, who shone a light on us. The time we slept in our tent by the shores of Lake Ontario, only to be woken up and virtually blown away, by an almighty hurricane.
It was an awesome experience. Our 1973, silver grey, Dodge Polara got us back to Vancouver. The journey had given us the chance to find each other, away from the evil that had left her so deeply traumatised. At last, without negative distractions, we began to discover the true love we had for each other. We had the freedom to find each other. If only that freedom had been lasting. For the 'ghosts' of her horrendous past continued to haunt her.
In a future blog, I will tell you about the disgraceful events that lead us to make a fresh start. I thank you for your time.


  1. Hi Klahanie,

    What a wonderful picture you paint of that far away (in more ways than one) land. I wonder how much it has changed, I know that time can lay waste to the places of youth. Perhaps you could earn a good living writing for the canadian tourist board, because you have left me wanting to go there.

    I know there is a sting, a cliffhanger ending, but somehow to me the setting sounds like heaven; fortunatly for me your wifes tragedies, are hers (and I do know yours); I have the luxury of your writing, to transport me.

    Thank you for reminding me that the world can be a wonderful place.

    Your friend

    Small ands Nappy

  2. Wow! That was beautiful (and despite it being me, I'm not actually being sarcastic). Well, maybe just a little...

    But I'm serious when I say you've really made hanker after those snowy mountains and the rough terrain that stretches as far as the eye can see. For a moment I was transported. Then I realised I was still sitting behind my desk in Stoke.

    It sounds beautiful and its a shame that your fond memories are punctuated by the 'sting' that Small and Snappy mentions.

    All the same, you've obviously remembered the good stuff too. So keep dreaming - and I hope you've booked your holiday by now.

  3. Well once again you’ve done it…created a masterpiece!! I felt like I was reading the introduction to a great summer novel. Reading your words I could hear a narrator’s voice, as in the start of an epic adventure film. One where a boy becomes a man and learns of the unfortunate woes that life can offer. I guess they are like a free gift with purchase; it’s like you have been granted this great thing ‘a life’ so you have to take the free gift ‘pain’. Your story was not only beautiful, but also thought provoking; I have this theory, the trick to life is to not get too attached to it. Sorry!! But remember, we are born and then we die, the bit in the middle is called life and that’s the bit to not miss out on.


  4. Klahanie: Thank you for the willingness, the courage to bare your feelings and give a glimpse into how the trip affected your life. Your descriptiveness does leave us longing to travel the land path. In peace, dcrelief


I do try to comment back to each commenter individually. However, I might have to shorten my replies or give a group thank you. That way, I can spend more time commenting on your blogs. Thank you and peace, my friend.