Landed

Spoiler alert: We made it from Prince Rupert to Cape Breton, 13 days ago now. Of course there’s been this and that going on, but another reason (or perhaps justification) for the protraction is that I was expecting a tidy conclusion to the story, and once that arrived, then I would write something. But in this case there’s no such thing as the perfect unicorn moment to wrap things up with a bow. Instead, things blend together. I’ve also been enjoying the ease of pressure, but of course it’s time to ramp it up again as I decide just what I’m going to do with myself (and that important other thing, actually acting on the decision).

I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to relax, think, and just be, but it’s now time to establish a Great Project. I have no excuses left. The only obstacle to my productivity is myself. Sure, of course there are all the same distractions that virtually everyone else faces, but if I’m blaming those, it still reflects on me, in light of other people who are not so distracted and are able to do at least some real work.

So, with all that said, here’s a bit of work-like activity. I will begin this post with a recap of the final parts of the trip.

Wednesday, April 13th

Luckily the car and trailer were rescued and put out by the main road the day before

We bade farewell to our gracious hosts in the cottage country near Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, and set off for Moncton. Along the way, we made a few stops, including the obligatory detour over the Hartland Covered Bridge:

For best results, drive through with a sleeping passenger and wake them up in the middle of it

Sadly, Potato World was not open, though we did visit its parking lot:

I think childhood me would be / was like, “how dare New Brunswick grow potatoes, that’s our PEI thing!”

Thursday, April 14th

We awoke from our pleasant night’s stay at the Amsterdam Inn and had breakfast at the nearby (and very busy) IHOP.

Foreground: My hearty “breakfast sampler” / Background: Danielle’s very sweet “Cinnistack” pancakes with a side of bacon

Still not having a New Brunswick-issued map of New Brunswick, I tried stopping at the visitor information centre in Sackville, but once again we were misled by Google – like many other VICs, this one was seasonal. If you are running a business or doing anything where you’re open to the public, do sign up for Google Business and keep your hours up to date! It’s very easy to do and would save hapless people like me a lot of grief, which is also very easy for me to say.

More Locked Doors of Disappointment

So, like with Alberta and Manitoba, it would be a matter of sending an e-mail. I would write to the NB Tourism department on Saturday the 16th, and as of this writing on the 27th, have yet to hear anything. Perhaps their entire operation is seasonal.

The Penultimate Frontier (if you also count the Canso Causeway)

Nova Scotia has a pretty prominent visitor centre right at the provincial boundary, and this one was open! I easily found maps for both Cape Breton as well as for Nova Scotia as a whole.

The next stop was the Cobequid Pass toll gate, where I had hoped to update the info on the account linked to my Macpass, although it wasn’t necessary just then as the Macpass worked, and my toll was paid even though I’d been out of the province for almost five years, rendering the coins I’d scrounged from the change pocket and the centre console unnecessary. (Strictly speaking, I suppose the attendant could have asked for a few extra dollars for the trailer, as that wouldn’t have been automatically deducted from my balance.)

I was thinking of going to the office for the purpose of updating my credit card, but apparently the thing to do now is demonstrate your Nova Scotia vehicle registration and then you can travel through for free! (I am still using my BC plates as of this writing, and there’s a bit of work to do on the car before getting it NS safety inspected again.) But no updating of any kind took place, because the office was closed to the public for COVID reasons.

While I was looking around that side of the building, a Commissionaire told me as much, watched me closely as I took this photo (notwithstanding that it literally says to take a photo, but I’m just noticing that now since the yellow text has faded so much), then as I was updating Facebook as I approached the car, she told me I wasn’t allowed to take photos of the toll gate area.

Here’s a picture I took of the toll gates before being told not to, so you don’t have to risk taking one yourself. Don’t give it to the Russians.

Luckily, our next stop was open for business: Masstown Market. Time for an ice cream break!

Danielle’s Tiger + Moon Mist melange

Then we stopped at my cousin’s new home in the Truro area and played some Mario Kart:

We had our own extra controllers, but Danielle’s Pro controller needed to be charged

We also visited her parents and brother nearby, and it was nearly 8pm by the time we were on the road again, so we were grateful for having split up the final stretch with the stay in Moncton. We had a late ‘dinner’ at the A&W in Antigonish:

Left: My go-to double buddy burger / Right: Frozen root beer (if you like their root beer, you’ll like this too, but bring along your own straw)

We took the south way across Cape Breton up to Sydney. Perhaps we should have stayed on the Trans-Canada as it’s generally an easier road to drive than Trunk 4, especially at night with a load, but we made it to Danielle’s parents’ house all the same.

(Good) Friday, April 15th

Fortunately the extra five days I got with the trailer meant that I had a final full day to unload. I had some problem getting the lock open and was thinking it would have to be broken (it’s my lock; U-Haul also means U-Buy-a-Lock), but access was achieved:

After unloading Danielle’s belongings, I drove across ‘town’ to my Mother’s house and began unloading my own belongings:

Photo curated to make the process look much less chaotic and overwhelming than it actually was
A little more honest

That evening, I picked up a take-out order and went back to Danielle’s and we finally had the Mian’s butter chicken that we’d been looking forward to as our first Sydney meal since planning the move.

Jake also thinks it’s good

Saturday, April 16th

And now it was time to return the trailer, and free my car from the extra mass and surface area that had been burdening it for more than 7,000km. Although the haul is lighter and the load easier on the brakes when the trailer is unladen, the ride gets even rougher than when it is laden, and there’s less weight to keep it from being blown around on the highway. So either way, I was glad to be rid of it. It’s the kind of thing you’d want to do with your car once.

Goodbye, UV 1664 C

That afternoon, Danielle and I walked the Baille Ard Nature Trails.

An Eastern Hemlock, which – let’s be real – I only know because it was so signed

We also had a drink and snack stop at the George Street Irving:

Real Polar Pop (okay, it’s just fountain pop in a good takeaway cup), just barely fitting in the Focus cupholders
Tornado warning

That night, I went back to Mom’s and got the room at least to the point where I could sleep in it:

Don’t panic, I have a system

Since Then

I had a job interview on Easter Monday, which I thought went very well, and subsequently completed a rather gruelling skills test, only to be told thanks but no thanks several days later, with no feedback about how I did with the test, which I spent several hours on. It reminds me of how I once completed a skills test to a very high standard but was still dismissed by the interviewer / owner because I’d never done anything like the job in question before. Anyway, the search continues – as a fallback / level up, I’m enrolled in the Electronic Engineering Technician program at NSCC’s Marconi Campus for the September intake. I love electronics, and I think I would love them even more if I knew how to build and fix them. I think it would complement my computer / IT skills well. (I graduated from the Information Technology program with a programming concentration in 2013 and got a Governor General’s medal! And yet I couldn’t really hold get or hold down a tech job until I worked for the Prince Rupert Library.)

I was also able to set up the most critical components of my tech setup on top of Mom’s antique sewing machine:

All set for the first post-move Minecraft stream!

On Fridays Danielle and I go out for food, and one thing Danielle has sorely missed is Taco Bell. There was one co-located with the KFC in Terrace, but in late 2020 it closed for good.

Frustration
Redemption

We also enjoyed bubble tea from Vailly’s Dessert House on Townsend Street:

Left: My mango green tea (sweet even at regular sweetness, might dial it back a notch next time, would have liked to have tapioca balls but they weren’t available that day) / Right: Danielle’s taro milk tea with ice cream and taro balls (quite good, she loved the taro balls)

Another thing that’s happening is getting the car fixed. Back in Prince Rupert in November 2021, I’d gone to the Kal Tire for an alignment that the who I deem trustworthy mechanic at Entire Automotive (that doesn’t do alignments) said I’d needed, and, after they didn’t call me for an entire day, I was presented with an absurd laundry list of needed parts and was looking at a good two grand for parts and labour. I said the heck with it. Now I still need the alignment, which will finally be done Tuesday May 3rd at an independent specialist garage here (if all goes well I will update this post to include a shout-out), and here is the much shorter list of parts that I need, and there isn’t the usual Prince Rupert markup and (I expect no) weeks- or months- long shipping delays:

Perhaps I could get better deals somewhere else, but the shop had posted on the wall the phone numbers of virtually every source of parts in the CBRM, so I think they know where to check for what

I was thinking I’d get the alignment then get new tires, but the front tires are too far gone for the alignment to be done, so I picked up three tires identical to the one installed in Quebec (which has only been on for a few weeks and still looks new enough) and will get them installed at the same time:

New tires, from the North Sydney Canadian Tire, naturally

Once this is all sorted, it’ll be time to transfer my drivers’ licence, get an MVI, and purchase private liability insurance so I can get this car registered in NS again. Unfortunately BC took my title paper, which isn’t even a concept that they have (nor do they have MVIs for private passenger vehicles except when you ‘import’ a car, like I did), but hopefully that won’t be a major snag on this end. I also want to get the exhaust looked at – the sound coming from the engine is rather harsh, and has been so for quite a while, especially when you first start it up.

And so, we come at last to the end of this post, and the end of the literal journey but just the beginning of the figurative one.

(Still waiting to hear back from one province. Alberta has sadly ceased issuing their own road maps.)

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