Venturing to the East Coast was a first for two-thirds of the party, and I quickly came to the realization that despite having lived in the country for my entire lifetime, I had rarely stepped out of Ontario and British Columbia.
Other souvenirs such as caramel popcorn and alcohol were also spotted, thought swiftly deemed unnecessary.
Amidst our trip, it was evident that we had only scratched the surface of what the East Coast had to offer. In other words, the expedition gave reason to visit again, though, perhaps not in the form of a lengthy road trip.
The air was fresher, and the scenery invincible - surreal even. I couldn't believe that the scenes flashing before our very eyes existed in our own nation! It was as if we had been transported into the world's most beautifully photographed postcard. Yet none of it was fabricated, edited, or enhanced; we were living and breathing in that instance, amidst the luscious greenery, within kilometres of the Atlantic Ocean and its breathtaking beauty.
To a smaller extent, we appreciated the absence of telephone poles. Such technological advancements guarantee convenience, but also impose on an otherwise untainted display of nature.
At the same time, however, one feels an immediate disconnection from the rest of the world. There is no cellular signal, nor data connection, which endorses GPS devices as absolute necessities for navigation and, ultimately, survival. Google Maps will not function here.
Trails devoid of lamp posts prompt visitors to travel only during daytime hours. Sharp curves and sudden twists on unfamiliar, unlit paths are capable of putting even the most seasoned driver at risk.
Never one to be amazed by crustaceans or shellfish, it was likely that I consumed more seafood on this week-long excursion than I have over the entire duration of my existence. The coastline provided access to the freshest resources, and it would have been a shame to not indulge. Oysters (D1) became known as a stellar starter, while a deeper appreciation was garnered for mussels and lobster. Needless to say, my eye-opening encounters with Digby scallops and hotate sashimi are ones to be remembered for an eternity.
Placing the most obvious local ingredients aside, it should be noted that other components of the food chain were tragically absent. Meat in the form of poultry, beef, or pork were rare sights; even when they were spotted, none of us were particularly keen on attempting them. These items were certain to be fresher back home.
Fruit and vegetables were also hard to come across. With the exception of Harbour City's breakfast buffet, we passed many days without seeing a single orange or banana.
Also scarce were leafy vegetables (such as the commonly seen Chinese choy varieties back home). I stand corrected in that there was no shortage of baby spinach, romaine lettuce, or other forms of salad greens. These were all served fresh (from a package) in the side salads that we requested, but diversity was nominal. Our options did not stretch beyond Caesar, Spinach, and Mixed Greens.
Bubble tea, namely Chatime, was a specialized selection that I honestly hadn't expected to see. Three East Coast outposts were found near university campuses: one in Downtown Charlottetown, another near Park Lane Mall in Downtown Halifax, and the third not far from the Halifax waterfront.
The presence of the chain was a vivid indication of the number of Asian - specifically Chinese - international students studying abroad. Boba is a niche market, and its ubiquity could only be instigated by demand.
Unlike that of metropolitan Toronto, or even suburban districts in the GTA, the population density across Maritime provinces is quite low. According to census data, the numbers rank in at:
- 3.7 persons per square kilometre for PEI
- 10.5 persons per square kilometre for New Brunswick
- 17.4 persons per square kilometre for Nova Scotia, with Halifax assuming the largest percentage as an urban area
Excluding Halifax, majority of the provinces are comprised of small communities. The inhabitants of the region reside in ridiculously rural areas, where drugstores are far and few between and the nearest gas station may be over twenty minutes of a drive.
The culture of these civilians is benevolent and genuine - far from the facade and fussiness of "big city"-goers. They also tend to carry about their business in pleasant, unhurried manners. This can be seen as a form of inefficiency, but charitable manners and true patience are valued greater than the need for economic efficacy. It's been a long time since coming across a fellow human that didn't demand a material exchange for their kindness.
A question I pondered throughout the trip was this: How did locals make a living? High season for lobster fishing meant steady income, but was the arrival of winter synonymous with difficulty in making ends meet? The Maritimes are more suited towards tourism (both national and overseas) than agriculture. But alas, the resources and capital required to expand are quite limited. I never did receive an answer to my inquiry.
School buses were seen on rare occasions while road-tripping about the three provinces. Public transit, on the other hand, ceased to exist in live-able frequencies in all areas besides Dartmouth and Halifax. On weekdays though, buses were plenty and constantly served the major roads surrounding university buildings.
four days of nonstop editing and six export attempts.
To be fair, I loved every bit of the trip, minus sitting in the back seat. I've had more than enough of my fill of road trips for the time being, but should I pursuit a similar travel format in the future, it is positive that I'll earn my turn in the driver's seat, blasting GOT7 to the degree I please. (Of course, that's not to say I didn't execute that plan this time around. Hehe.)