Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Good Thing: Road Trips with #DiscoverON

It's only the start of April and I've already taken eight flights this year. But as much as I love jetting off to foreign destinations, I can authoritatively say that nothing will ever replace the excitement of a road trip for me.

My love of long drives started at the roots. My hometown of Cold Lake, Alberta isn't a city, really. While it may hold that legal title, it's actually three small towns (Cold Lake, Grand Centre and Medley) that amalgamated 20 years ago to become the "City" of Cold Lake.

I grew up in Cold Lake proper (now known as "Cold Lake North," although locals still stubbornly omit the "north"), which was separated from the closest town of Grand Centre ("Cold Lake South") by more than six kilometres of farmland and woods. Six kilometres may not seem that far, but black ice made what should have been a 10-minute drive treacherous during the long winters. As for the closest "real" city? That was Edmonton, which is nearly 300 kilometres away.

So when I was granted a driver's permit at 16, it was my license to freedom. Granted, for any teenager getting a driver's license signifies freedom. But in isolated northern Alberta, it meant so much more.

The first time that I was allowed to take a road trip without my parents was when my high school boyfriend and I drove to Fort Saskatchewan to visit his mom. It was one of those perfect crisp, clear days that Albertans insist make the harsh winters worth it. It was also about -30 degrees out. That wouldn't have been much of an issue, except that Kenny's beat-up station wagon didn't have heat. I spent the duration of the three-hour drive huddled in a sleeping bag, with a massive hot chocolate balanced between my thighs for warmth--and I loved every minute of it.

From that trip onwards, at every opportunity I'd get in the car with my friends and we'd drive. We'd spend summer evenings cruising up and down main street in my Dad's truck, out to Crane Lake, or all the way to Bonnyville, just because we could. We'd make the long drive to Edmonton on the weekends to stock up on pink hair dye. We'd drive to Pierceland, Saskatchewan in the middle of the night, solely for the novelty of crossing the provincial border. On Sunday afternoons, I'd go for drives in the country with my Dad, something that we continue to do.

Road trips, no matter how short, made me feel like I was finally in control in a world that had felt far too controlled. They were a reminder that something existed beyond the walls of the Walmart that guarded the edges of our town. They were a reminder that someday, I would travel a lot further away and that I would always come home.

I've always loved driving. That's why I'm thrilled to be participating in AutoShare's #DiscoverON program this summer. Over the next three months, I'll be taking trips all over Ontario and capturing them on Instagram.

Today, Diana and I took our first trip to the Beamsville Bench. We stopped at our favourite winery, Rosewood, to stock up on mead for the summer. (Because, uh, doesn't everyone need a summer's stock of mead?)

We may have gotten stuck in traffic on the way out of the city, but even that turned out to be a "good thing":

(There's also a video of us singing to us to "Life is a Highway." Unfortunately, my car karaoke skills aren't nearly as refined as my car dance moves, so that one will have to remain in my personal collection.)

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