Last weekend as I drove to town to do errands, every tree and stretch of land beside the road was green, green, green. The air pouring through my car’s open window was sweet and warm, and the sun smiled down, kissing everything and everyone with heat and happiness. I’m not exaggerating! I know the other drivers felt spring’s invigorating cheeriness, too. Even folks at the four-way stop in Thornhill managed to take their turns properly and with minimal road rage.
What caught my attention most, however? The profusion of camper-laden trucks pulling boats, ambling RVs, and cars jam-packed with tents, sleeping bags, coolers, and other miscellaneous gear.
After our long winter, it seemed like everyone and their dog (Seriously, there were a ton of pets grinning joyfully from passenger windows) was out and about, ready to explore.
All the smiles—and bags of fast food—I spotted through windshields brought back memories of the many, many road trips I enjoyed with my family as a kid. One of my favourite parts of those long and varied holidays was waking up in the gently swaying camper, already long in motion, miles from where we’d stopped for the night. (Remember when you could legally travel like that? I am old!)
I’d clear a peephole in one of the condensation-misted windows and stare out at the blur of highway and—to me, at least—“exotic” scenery. No matter how familiar our destination was, my grandparents’ farms, or down to Vancouver to shop and visit extended family, or off to a favourite remote lake or campsite, each trip was ripe with possibility and promise.
When I tired of gawking, I’d burrow back into my sleeping bag (I favored a chocolate brown one that was incredibly soft and had an orange, beige, and brown interior, sporting a wild forest scene, replete with huge moose) and commence my other favorite part of the trip—one that will come as no surprise to anyone: putting my nose in a book.
My mom bought me an old, slightly battered train case at a church rummage sale when I was six, and I treasured that thing until late into my teen years. It was perfect for book hauling! Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Harriet the Spy, Laura Ingalls, Mary Lennox, Anne Shirley, Bugs Potter … I’ve lost track of how many childhood friends I dragged with me in my early travels—a tradition I continued when I grew up, then passed on to my own kids and husband during road trips (especially via audiobooks).
In the same way that certain scents have a way of sending you back through time to places—and people—from your distant past, at specific scenic spots all along Hwy 16, I hear various characters and recall dramatic happenings. (Miss Marple haunts Terrace to Prince Rupert very spectacularly!)
I’ve always wondered if this duo love of mine for stories and road trips partially explains the inspiration behind my River’s Sigh B & B series. After all, each standalone novel is somebody’s road trip, his or her own personal story.
These days, thank you eReader, my luggage is a lot lighter when I travel, but whether it’s the beach, a campsite, the city, or the open road, you’ll still never find me without a book nearby.
And whether I’m literally travelling or not, I go on little escapades all the time. It’s the most wonderful part of being a reader: how there are no limits to the places you can visit, the time periods you can explore, the people you can meet, the adventures—sweet or terrifying!—you can find yourself in, the ways you can grow.
I hope you and yours get to explore new-to-you terrain this spring or summer, by boat, plane or car—but even if you don’t (actually, especially if you don’t!), make sure you “book” other getaways and adventures.