In August of 2014, I quit my job(s), packed my life into my tiny blue hatchback, and hit the road. The goal? Drive from Coast-to-Coast across this great country. 4 ferry rides, 18 000 KMs, a ski season in Banff, and countless life lessons later, I finally did it. And it felt amazing.
The following year, I sort of unintentionally did the trip again. Only this time, I went with people! I headed back to the East Coast with two of my best friends, drove back to Alberta to meet my partner, and drove to the West Coast with him.
The second time around, the journey featured a few places I’d already been and loved, as well as some I’d missed on round one, and promised myself I’d go back for, “someday.”
One of the best moments of round 2 was in Gros Morne National Park, in Newfoundland. The previous year, I had discovered a secluded little camp spot, on the beach of a crystal clear lake facing the mountains. It was so special, I didn’t talk about it with anyone. Driving through Newfoundland, I almost wondered if I should leave it at that, an untainted memory of serenity and peace. But then I was all like, “Nah fuck it. Let’s hit the wicked camp site.”
A few times throughout the trip, I realised how use to travelling alone I had become. It was difficult for me to take other people’s sleep and hunger schedules into consideration. And don’t even get me started on the state of the car. At first, I’d wondered if I’d made a grave mistake. Perhaps this one-woman wolf pack was meant to fly solo?
I was wrong.
Everything we did was made better by the simple fact that they were there. The great moments were amplified, because we fed off one another’s joy. And the shitty moments? Usually made less shitty, because, well, you had people to 1) feel crappy with, and 2) help pull you out of the funk.
The sunrise in my – our – little camp spot was lovelier than I’d remembered, probably because I had people I love to share it with. People to wrap my arms around and say, “isn’t this the best thing you’ve ever seen?” to, while they hugged me back and vehemently agreed. And it wasn’t just the great stuff that was made better with good company, but the mundane tasks, too. The things you have to do that end up being fun when you’re doing them with people. Like taking the tent down and playing tent-parachute. Or having breakfast cooked for you while you go off into the bushes to do your thang. And by the way, having to take other people’s sleep and hunger schedules into account is actually good for you. You stop neglecting yourself and actually sleep and eat. And don’t even get me started on how great it is having a visual merchandiser reorganise your car 😉
I’m glad I did my first Coast-to-Coast trip alone. I needed to. I needed the time and space to clear my head. I needed to know that I could make it out there, on my own, doing the thing I love. But going again, having people to share the difficult moments with, and especially having people to share the wonderful moments with, it taught me the real value of companionship. Traveling alone has its perks, but as the proverb goes,
“Shared Joy is Double Joy; Shared Sorrow is Half Sorrow.”