In 2012 Beloved and I went east for Christmas (no, no. Not that far east). His whole family lives in New Brunswick and the Offspring was still in university in Halifax, so we went to the Maritimes for the holidays. We spent a few days in Saint John and then Beloved and his best uncle drove me to Halifax. Offspring and I were going to spend a few days together in Halifax and then drive back to Saint John on Christmas Eve so we would all be together at the best aunt and uncle's house.
The Offspring is good and kind and her M.O. at Christmas and Thanksgiving is to gather up all the orphans she knows and feed them. 2012 had a real orphan, a girl in Offspring's program at school who had only the Offspring and one other friend, so the Kid decided to get a few friends together and have a Christmas Eve lunch.
By the time the leftovers were cleared up and the dishes done and we took the orphan to the other friend's house, we finally left Halifax at around 6PM. Offspring drove and I navigated the first while. It was cold, but the roads were mostly bare and dry. As we approached Truro, which is where you turn left towards New Brunswick, there was a sign for the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, and the Kid said, "while I am living out here I would like to see Cape Breton." We talked and laughed and I fiddled with her iPhone containing music and a gps. I found it confusing and it took much of my attention. (Now, this is is a curious point. I am very good at navigation. I can read a map and get myself oriented in no time at all. The first thing I do in any new place is get a map and work out where I am and I am fine. For some reason when I go east with Beloved, I do not get a map, I do not figure out where we are and I am lost from the moment we arrive until we get to the Toronto Airport.)
At some point, about a half hour past the sign for the Cabot Trail, I noticed that we were on a two lane highway. This was weird, because I was pretty sure that the highway from Saint John to Halifax had been a four lane divided highway. But, I had napped for a bit before Truro, so, maybe? Anyway, I failed to say anything. Around about 8:30 we passed a gas station, and then a sign that said Antigonish. In case that fails to mean anything to you, Antigonish is really the long way to Saint John, by which I mean, you can't really get there in the direction we were going. My grasp of Maritime geography being almost non-existant, I did not actually know this. The Kid stopped the car and said, "Mom, we are going the wrong direction!" She was kind of mad at me as we turned around, stopped to fill the car at the closing-early-for-Christmas-Eve gas station and bought snacks.
We made it back to Truro and carried on in the right direction. The Offspring eventually warmed back up and we chatted and laughed again. An hour from Truro, as you are heading west, is Sackville, New Brunswick. Before you get there, there are signs advertising Prince Edward Island and the Confederation Bridge.
When we encountered the first one, Offspring said, "I have to go to PEI, while I am out here, too."
"Not tonight," I said, "we are expected in Saint John."
"Yeah,"said the kid, "if I find myself on a bridge before we get to Saint John, we are staying wherever we are headed."
Also before Sackville is a wind farm, and, coincidentally, a bridge. We began to cross said bridge, and the Offspring stopped the car. (It was late on Christmas Eve, we were alone on the road)
"Mom, we are on a bridge. Where the fuck are we?!" We knew where we were, and we laughed.
After Sackville, about a half an hour, is Moncton. We decided to find a bathroom and another snack there. It was ten o clock on a cold Christmas Eve. Several stops right on the highway were closed. And then I missed an exit for a big truck stop area - fast food restaurants and gas stations - all appearing to be open. We looked for a place to turn around and couldn't find one, and so we turned off the highway about 15 km after the missed exit, hoping to find a way to get back. Somehow we found a cute little country inn with (appropriately enough) a huge NO Vacancy sign and a closed sign in its cute little restaurant window. Offspring turned off the car and said, "okay, give me the gps, you drive, I am tired of this," and we changed seats. We travelled along a quiet little road in the woods for a bit, not really sure where we were (and me getting a little close to panic because I REALLY needed a bathroom). A police car approached and passed and then in the rear view mirror I noticed him make a U-turn. He came up behind us, and turned on his lights. No, I did not take off like a bat out of hell. I stopped. And turned off the car And tried to open the window in the rental car, at which I failed, because the car was off, and because I didn't know my way around the controls. (More panic) The police officer, disconcertingly enough, looked to be about twelve. I opened the door and said good evening officer, and explained that I couldn't figure out the window in this godforsaken rental car. He laughed and asked if my inability to figure out the controls was why I was driving around the back roads of Moncton with no lights on. I guess my face must have been something to see because he laughed again, not unkindly, and coached me through turning the car back on and finding the window controls. Then he asked where we were going and if we had been drinking. I told him the tale of being lost and having to go to the bathroom, to the (I later learned) mortification of the Offspring. After ascertaining that we both had valid driver's licences and agreeing that a drink when we finally found our way to Saint John was indeed in order, and giving us perfect directions to a gas station and the highway to Saint John, he sent us on our way. I still wonder why he wasn't tucked in and waiting for Santa Claus. Now that I think of it, maybe he was our Christmas angel.
We made it to Saint John a bit past midnight. Beloved, Best Aunt and Uncle and the cousins were all waiting up. The Offspring still hasn't quite forgiven me, but all I have to do is say the word Antigonish to any of Beloved's family and they are quite helpless with laughter.