So, we made it. Suffering at the worst of times and struggling to accept that the best times were only getting better! It took us 13 days; we travelled across 16 states and clocked 5988km on the trusty odometer. There were times that we repeatedly questioned ‘Where the hell are we?’ and ‘Who’s idea was this?’ I confess it was definitely mine. But only somebody as crazy as me would tag along right? All those seasoned Canadian’s were correct when they warned us of the freezing temperatures and icy roads we would encounter. But nothing could deter the almighty Lily and Holly, that indestructible duo, armed with a whole lot of fun and barely a couple of days experience in harsh winter weather. Survivalists, as we claimed to be, legends, as we wanted to be known and idiots, as anybody else would see. But we are here, and we did make it – Legends.
One Van, two foreigners and then there’s Kevin- the carrot, that’s us. The complete package! We left Chicago on a much easier note than we entered. The intense peak hour traffic was behind us with only the open road ahead, or perhaps I should mention the eight tolls’ we had to pass in order to make it to Strongsville, Ohio. This became our emergency stop point along Interstate 90.
The day had been a rough drive through constant falling snow, not such an inconvenience for visibility but definitely for the amount of widescreen anti freeze we were going through. It’s a scary moment when you realize you are out of anti freeze while travelling at 70mph along a highway with an already frosted over window. We quickly learnt our lesson and pulled directly into the nearest gas station for a refill. Our third gallon we have been through in three days. Wow. As dark approached, we decided it wasn’t safe to drive anymore, we had passed four truck accidents in the past 100 miles and I don’t think my body could take on any more kegel exercises to ease the stress. Strongsville was the closest town that appeared to have a Walmart Superstore – A gold score on out budget saving road trip, this meant a free overnight stay! Yippee.
After a refreshing -12°C sleep in the van and a morning refresh in the Walmart restrooms, we hit the road towards Washington DC. Veering away from the now familiar Interstate 90, we headed south toward the nation’s capital. Within a few hours of this journey we had hit temperatures above 0°C, calling for a shirts off dance party in the van. It felt like months since we had defrosted ourselves, let alone our poor van. We made it to DC before sundown, it was still a few hours yet until my friend Nick was finished work so we decided to park up on a corner near his place and find a well-deserved pint of beer. After a brief stroll down the main street, we were walking back toward our van when something caught my eye. A police car was parked on the corner with its lights flashing, a car alarm was going off and a tow truck had just began pulling out with some poor bastards car latched onto it. Oh, Wait! That’s our van!
We were about a block away when we sadly watched our beloved van being towed away – she was crying loudly with that glorious honking sound. We sprinted toward her but we were too late. She was gone. A smart looking police officer was stood on the corner where she was taken, we ran to him in a huff, panting loudly and aggressively flaunting our arms around – the panic in our eyes was real. Perhaps it was Holly’s dimples or my charming Australian accent that won him over, but whichever it were, we were lucky to have met this officer.
He interrupted our intense moment of panic and fear with a casual ‘Don’t worry girls, he is just going to park it a few blocks away where it will be safe’. Oh!, hero officer, thank you! We immediately began to calm down before explaining to him that a week and a half ago we had squeezed our entire belongings into that van, and only two minutes ago had seen it taken away before our eyes. He understood and managed to see the humorous side to it all. As it turns out, the DC area has a free tram service called the ‘street car’; there is a yellow line and a red line when on the road which indicate the amount of room that the streetcar needs in order to move through the streets. We had unfortunately parked our van in a way that it touched the red line, meaning we had parked in a space that stopped the streetcar being able to move along the road. Whoops. Our angel officer offered us a ride to where our van had been towed. I was forced into the back, making me look like a criminal. Brilliant. Within the first 20 minutes of being in Washington DC, here Holly and I were, in the back of a fucking police car.
Following the rough start, we enjoyed DC. Catching up with Nick and walking around all the monuments was great. But we had to get a move on, and it was now time to hit the big apple – New York City! We drove from DC through northern Pennsylvania to visit my friend Nick’s parents and then onward to NYC – that giant pile of lights, people and tall buildings. We spent the next two nights in Brooklyn, catching up with my friends Krista and Elyse. They are always eager to show me a good night out, definitely our highlight of the city. Of course, we had to visit the classics – Central Park, Times Square and Statue of Liberty. But how can one compare those to a good night in a Brooklyn gay bar or a catch up with friends over a nice dinner. It was all fun, I suppose!
And here it is, our final leg, that final push before we can breathe again. That final 628km drive to Montreal. This is it. Our time on the road is almost over, all we have to do is cross that border and open a bottle of Champagne with my friend Zinny on the other side. We have got this. Heading out of NYC was pretty easy, a breeze in comparison the evening traffic we encountered on our way in. Once we left the city limits we were surrounded by snow capped mountains and the beauty of upstate New York. It was a lovely drive with an easy border crossing and simple entry into Montreal – That point on the map we had been aiming for the entire time.
Montreal gave us a lovely welcome, we had a balmy -18°C overnight followed by heavy snowfall and the dreaded ‘freezing rain’. This had our van covered 1.5cm thick in solid ice and surrounded by a pile of freshly ploughed snow. But here we are! I can’t wait to spend the next few months here, learn some French and eat the best poutine in the country! Montreal! You ice covered beauty!