on the road

Surprise! We’re on our way to Nova Scotia!

Yes, indeed we are. And it’s just as much a surprise for us as it is for you. We really didn’t even think about going until…oh… around 4 p.m. yesterday, when I suddenly got this *idea* that maybe we should just toss our stuff in our little van and take off to Nova Scotia for a week. Don has a week off work — the second week of his holidays which he couldn’t take earlier this summer. We were just going to stay around home doing a bit of work around the place, but the forecast was for hot, humid weather. Also, Don is very allergic to pollen and it’s peak hayfever season in eastern Ontario, so it seemed like the timing was just about right to make a trip to the coast. When Don arrived home from work yesterday, I pitched my idea and he thought it was a good plan, so we packed our bags late last night and hit the road this morning. So, I’m writing this post from a motel in Rimouski, Quebec. We’ll be on the road again in the morning and should be in Nova Scotia tomorrow afternoon.

The first and second images in this post are of something I’ve been meaning to photograph for awhile (click on images for larger views). However, we don’t pass through Montreal very often, so this was a rare chance. These were taken in my old stomping grounds in the West Island area of Beaconsfield. The bridge in the photos is actually a pedestrian walkway that spans a very busy section of Highway 20, and dual sets of railway tracks. Before this walkway was built, I and many other kids who attended my high school used to cross the tracks and highway at this location. It was either that, or sit on one of several buses that picked up kids on one side of Hwy 20, and drove them a few miles around to get them to the high school on the other side. The bus trip was usually far more than a half hour, especially after there was a train-bus collision at the level crossing one year and the buses then had to drive a few more miles east to a place where there was an underpass. With school days being long enough as it was, you could shorten your day by far more than an hour if you cared to run the gauntlet across the highway and tracks. Of course, it was incredibly risky and also illegal to cross the tracks. Sometimes the “railway police” used to try to catch us, but that just made the whole thing even more dangerous as we’d all move to a different section where the footing made the crossing more difficult. Over the years, a few of us narrowly missed being hit by vehicles on the highway, and also on the railway after a high speed train was put into service on one of the lines.

My mom, Marian Kay, with some support from other people in the area, decided to try to do something about the situation. She collected info on pedestrian walkways, canvassed the area for signatures on a petition, and went to the government to ask for a walkway to be built. The walkway was constructed around 1970. At one end there’s a staircase, and at the other end, a gradual ramp that leads to a sidewalk next to Beaconsfield High School. You can see the staircase end in the photo below — I had to do a bit of editing of the photo as I shot it through the car window as we went whizzing by earlier today.

Anyhow, I thought my mom might like to see some photos of the overpass. I’ve always been proud of her for managing to get it built. I think it was a very important and meaningful accomplishment, as it was probably only a matter of time until someone would have been injured (or worse) on the way to school. Also, just consider all of the fuel saved, and exhaust that didn’t end up in the atmosphere, over the 37 years since area kids could walk to school instead of having to ride on a bus.

The photo below is of something else I’ve always wondered about. On past trips to Nova Scotia, I’d seen this giant dog a few hundred feet off the higway. As you can see in the photo, the dog is close to the same height as a telephone pole. Today, I noticed the dog coming up ahead, so I grabbed my camera and snapped a picture as we passed by. After blowing it up on the computer, I discovered that it had the URL of a website on its side. I checked that out and now I know what the dog is all about. It’s to advertise a place where one can go to try dogsledding or several other outdoor adventures.

That’s about it for our “on the road” news. Later this week, we hope to spend a few days camping. I’ll probably post something tomorrow, but after that, net access will be a bit sporadic. However, don’t forget about International Rock-Flipping Day coming up on September 2nd. I’m not sure just where I’ll be on that day, but wherever, I’ll be flipping a few rocks and reporting on my findings. I hope that some of you will be doing the same.

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13 Responses to “on the road”

  1. Larry Ayers Says:

    I hope you two enjoy your trip! An interesting post, as it allows me to piece together a bit more of my mental image of your past and your life with Don. Good luck finding a good rock to turn over!

  2. threecollie Says:

    Have a wonderful vacation!
    That is so cool about the walkway. Congratulations to your mother on making a real and lasting difference.

  3. Dave Says:

    Good for you and Don! Spontaneous trips are the best kind, I think. And good for your mom, too.

    I’m glad to hear that enormous tacky roadside statues aren’t just a U.S. thing.

  4. bev Says:

    Larry – We’re hoping to have a good time — Nova Scotia has yet to let us down. Interesting how our blog posts gradually reveal more of ourselves over time.
    Depending on the timing of our journey, I mean try to flip rocks at several locations along the way.

    threecollie – Thanks! Yes, it is cool about the walkway. I like how the “need” for it has changed from safety to also include that of cutting back on wastefulness and pollution.

    Dave – We’re not much for trip planning and usually just let things happen along the way. Definitely seems more fun than sticking to a plan. And yup, we have our share of “roadside attractions” up here too. I’ll have to post my photo of the “big cheese” in Perth sometime!

  5. Dave Says:

    Man…I wish I were going to Nova Scotia! I remember going to Maine when I was a little kid, and have always wanted to get back to that part of the world. Have fun!

  6. Peter Says:

    I’ll keep an eye out for Sabrina when I’m out hiking this week ;-)

  7. robin andrea Says:

    Yay! You and Don are probably nearing your destination as I type this. I am so happy you had this idea and the opportunity. Hope it’s a grand adventure. Looking forward to your pics of the sea. Have fun!

  8. Robert Says:

    Mom’s overpass reminds me of a Montreal Blog I enjoy: Walking Turcot Yard. You must have visited there shortly after passing the walkway. I grew up near Turcot. Since Turcot Yards was filled with overpasses in time for Expo 67, and now it has to be replaced — along with lots of similar structures everywhere — it seems these cement stoneware monuments are not built for the ages. Vast sums are being spent now, in BC, for new transportation infrastructure in preparation for the Olympics.

  9. Neath Says:

    Nice post! I will probably do something about pedestrian overpasses on the 20 at some point. There is this one, one with the Sources interchange and another at Lachine that I can think of! Send me your overpass pics! (smile).

  10. Cathy Says:

    Bev, I’m so glad you and Don are getting your vacation. I’ve never been to Nova Scotia and look forward to your reports whenever they come in.

    That story about your Mom’s bridge is touching. Yes – it’s probably saved lives and prevented injuries. How great that you got the picture.

    I’ll be flipping a few rocks – for sure :0) Hope yours reveal a world of mystery and wonder. Happy Trails :0)

  11. John Says:

    Bev, if I’d known you were going, I would have begged a ride! You know how I want to go to Nova Scotia…and now I’ll have to envy you even more for your trip. I’m looking forward to reading all about it! Enjoy yourselves and try to enjoy a bit for me, vicariously.

  12. Wayne Says:

    Sounds like a good time to get out and try to forget this tempestuous summer. BTW – the hayfever – is this an allergy to ragweed?

    Like everyone else above, I thought your mom’s activism and persistence to be a great story. I wonder how many similar such situations she became a model to others for solving? Things like that don’t go unnoticed.

    With no plans to go anywhere, we’ll be enjoying your adventures vicariously.

  13. bev Says:

    Thanks everyone! We are indeed hoping to have a god time!. We’re just getting ready to head out for the day so I’ll get back to answer a few of the questions in these comments when we land for the evening.