Unlike previous Stories from a Small Town editions, this story is more recent. Just a few weeks ago, we dropped Boy #1 off at overnight camp. He did it last year and loved it and has been counting down the days until he went back.
Because it’s a bit of a jaunt, and my dad is always game for a road trip, I invited him to come with us last year. All was fine until we were about an hour away from dropping off at camp. Then dad started to get squirrelly. When I say squirrelly, I mean the rabid squirrel trapped in a corner type of way. The chattering that had gone on since I picked him up had stopped. It wasn’t because he had run out of local gossip and the mere mention of stopping had him panicking.
All signs pointed to dad was fretting about something.
He told me that he was worried the cows had gotten out of their pasture no fewer than six times in 30 minutes. When asked how often they had broken the fence that summer, I was told none but that there was a first time for everything. Those of you unaware of the behavior of cattle won’t appreciate this, but the basic rule is that if they haven’t broken through the fence, they are unaware that the grass is greener on the other side and will be unlikely to attempt to cross the fence. Once they have, however, there is little that stops them. Fence or not. So at this point, dad had very little to worry about. The cows had been on pasture for about a month and not yet breeched the fence line.
In an effort to keep him occupied, I let him drive on the way home and that seemed to settle him a bit. So this year, I figured I would save us all the distress and have him drive there and back this year.
Y’all, I took my life in my hands handing him the keys. The man drives like a maniac. I don’t know if I was having an anxious day to begin with, or dad had gotten more reckless in his old age, but that drive goes down as the most terrifying of my entire life. And I have been driven around by my grandmother in a small town doing speeds I didn’t think possible with stop signs present. There’s a couple of corners we travelled on this drive that stopped my heart because my father took them at 90kms an hour.
For my American friends, that works out to 55 mph. That’s really fricking fast when it’s a 90 degree corner. I’m pretty sure there are years of my life scattered on corners all up and down those backroads.
About 90 minutes into the drive I realized that this country girl is becoming a city girl. These days I’m more used to the straight and wide stretches of highway that get me from point A to point B.
I am not used to the sharp corners, the little hills, the bumpy roads that one has to tackle to get anywhere in the country.
And dirt roads are a whole new beast now. There was a time where I could boot down a dirt road at the same speed I travel a highway.
Now? Not so much. I’ve become “one of them”. A city driver.
Next thing you know I’ll be pulling over to look at a deer on the side of the road. Or a moose.
Side note: If you do see a moose, please do not be one of those city people that gets out of your car to take a picture of them. I beg you. We’ve seen this happen a time or two and every time all I can think is that the photographer is taking their lives into their hands. Moose are fast and they can be mean. Enjoy the view but do not approach. Some might say this is the best way to approach yours truly as well. Maybe the moose is my spirit animal.
The trip up to camp was 4 hours, give or take. We did not hit a proper highway until about two hours in. By that time, I needed a minute. Thankfully Boy #1, likely sensing my distress, asked if we could make a pit stop for food and bathroom.
Why yes, my wonderful, thoughtful child. We certainly can. Tim Horton’s to the rescue once again. A bathroom break, a soul stabilizing tea in hand and an emotional support donut later I was ready to face the remainder of the trip to the camp.
Things were great after that until we got off track. Somewhere along the way, my phone overheated and we lost GPS. It didn’t take us long to get back on track, but in my father’s head, we were now running late. I stopped looking at the speedometer at this point. An act of self-preservation I assure you.
We arrived at camp and I manage to stop myself from getting out of the vehicle and kissing the ground. We settle Boy #1 into his camp cabin, much the same as the year before and I brace myself for the return trip home. Because at this point, I know I’m not getting the keys from my father thanks to our detour. And I know what lies in store for me.
There were no pit stops on the way home. None. There was a lot more cursing under my breath and prayers that my 8 year old minivan would hold together for those corners. When he commented on how the van was good to pick up speed in a coast downhill, I couldn’t help but point out that we were exceeding the speed limit significantly. Though I did not put it quite so eloquently. At one point, I sent texts to friends and family to bid adieu.
And my father was happy as happy can be.
We made it back to the farm and I said my thanks and my goodbyes. And then I got my butt back into its rightful place in the driver’s seat and drove myself home.
If I’m being honest, I’m already a little terrified about what next year will bring.
Until next time,
See you at the rink