Waking up moderately late at 10:30am to the smell of my father cooking porridge on his single hob I considered it lucky that the coach didn’t get in till 12:05pm but pondered whether it was unlucky that today was Friday 13th, I scrambled from my sleeping bag and my father shared some of the porridge and then boiled some water for me to wash my face with. Aah it was just like camping, but.. not.
T’was was sunny out, I took the opportunity to run across the street to the Chittenden Bank and cash in a check (not cheque) for $50 from the Vermont State, what had happened was that I found an old money order check when clearing out my room back in England. Turned out that since I hadn’t taken it to the bank and forgotten about it, the check had expired back in 2004. Had the forsight to bring it with me to America and luckily was able to fill out a form, get some documents copied and notarized and then send off to reclaim the money from the State. Boring paperworky stuff aye? Took me a couple weeks to sort out but $50 is useful spending money!
Checked in at the Greyhound office to make sure I knew where I had to change (White River Junction) and I would have to get off etc. Then went back to my fathers studio apartment and waited till mid-day.
He had been rummaging around and presented me with an old Canadian $10 note he had left over from his own travels. I gratefully accepted, it would make a useful taxi fare.
Coach was 15 minutes late but it faithfully pulled up right outside, handy to have the coach stop next to my fathers place.. the door opened and I was confronted by a vision of beauty, the young woman locked eyes with me for a moment and then I stepped aside to let her get off, hmmm, I like beautiful people, for me, in women, it’s important to stress that this refers not the usual busty fake plastic stripper types, but the sweet down-to-earth natural beauty, those who you know will make beautiful mothers, if you know what I mean, hard to describe, photographic evidence needed sometime!
Well a nice fleeting moment she was, but I had a country to get to and the coach wasn’t gonna wait around long, threw my luggage under, showed the driver my US passport as ID (would also need it to cross the border) and stepped aboard to make myself comfortable.
“A trusty Greyhound coach!”
I settled down opposite a gentleman with streaky shoulder length grey hair, whiskers and brown leather cowboy boots. He kept reaching for a comb in his trouser (pant) pocket and running it a couple times through his hair whilst checking his image reflected in the coach window. Behind me sat an interesting looking girl donning a blue hat and busily staring off into the distance. Aside from a couple of others dotted around, the coach was mostly empty.
I felt tempted to talk a little to my neighbouring journey partners however a burning feeling of calm started pouring back into me as the coach pulled away to begin it’s way along the twisty interstates and freeways. I hadn’t been on my own for a few months what with always staying at peoples places so far, I realised I was momentarily my own person again, independent. Todays journey was a precious time to assimilating my thoughts and placating the stresses of recent.
Thus, I was on my way, in peace.
I zoned out for a little while watching the landscape of Northern Vermont pass by, on the edge of consciousness my mind registered that this really is a beautiful piece of land, a moment later I was briefly interrupted from my daze by the streaky grey haired comb and booted gentleman when he tapped my knee and spoke something to me.
I didn’t catch it but he repeated again and I realised he wanted me to wake him up when we got to ‘White River Junction’,
“Sure thing” said I and the comb and booted gentleman promptly tucked himself into the length of two seats and snoozed.
Booted comb gentleman needed have worried for he awoke when the coach pulled into town and announced we were at White River. I got off for this was my change over also. Only had to wait 20 minutes and the Montreal destined Greyhound pulled in also. This one was much fuller but I still had two seats to myself. I got out a book to read for this leg, Mmmm Sci-Fi.. my favourite. Unfortunately got quite engrossed in the story of advanced civilisations sending a radio signal to Earth from Vega and telling us how to build a machine.. a machine machined from not-yet-discovered fabricating methods of bio-metals and acids. A machine with 5 seats perfectly shaped for humans, should we build the machine? Where should we build it? Who should build it? Who will ride it? How many should be men? How many women? What should the be trained to d….
The coach pulled into border control and the driver instructed that we all had to get off and grab our luggage. Aaaar, what with my brain running amok with interesting futurist icy questions that demanded to be pondered I sort of fumbled my answers to the queries of the immigration border control officers which prompted them to sort through my luggage and be greeted by not very much at all, for I carried little money and had left the laptop at home.
Painlessly, they let this victim of daydreaming into their country and we all piled back aboard the bus.
Book set back on my lap and about to read who got to build the machine, well I didn’t because the new Canadian landscape before me was rather overwhelming. Huge flat plains and farm land extending as far as the eye could see, quaintly small houses (dwarfed by 200 acre back-gardens) dotted the road as we went. Never really seen such obstructed space before, magical stuff. Me-so-small and the rest of it. Photos couldn’t help portray this because there was nothing in field of vision to demonstrate the scale. Might be a way though, shall think about it for the future. At this point I really wised I had more than 8mb to play with on the digital cam of uselessness, at best I would be able to squeeze out 30 or so shots for the whole weekend, gosh it’s just like having to make use of a single roll of film because it was much too expensive to purchase and develop another one, I’m that 9 year old budding photographer all over again.
The sun had set and it was starting to get dark as the coach drove on to one of the bridges that would take us into Montreal, again, again, hugeness and camera pains abound with a vista view of the silvered estuary of be speckled ripples gushing its way to join the Pacific. I stowed away my book and took in the sights until the bus got us to the station.
Montreal has a feel of its own, like Boston was different to New York City, Montreal is different to those, I suspect that this will be a recurring trend to all the cities I goto, most will appear quite similar on the surface but when you’re actually there, the cars, high-rise buildings and people constantly ebbing and flowing from your vision, the subtle differences will seap in at the corners of your imagination and the place stamps upon you a feeling all of its very own. Hard to describe!
I freshened up in the toilets, gave my face a quick wash and pondered how long I had been journeying, about just under 5 hours actually in motion with the odd 90 minutes waiting around. It was just going 6:20pm as I plonked a mapquest print-out of directions in the face of a taxi driver. Took him a moment to get his bearings on the map but shortly we were on our way. For 15 minutes I peered up as far as I could see at the skyscrapers from the backseats and before I knew it, we were already there! The taxi fare was something like $10.11 (Canadian) which seemed to be ironic considering my gift of $10 (Can.) from my father. I gave the taxi driver $15 (US) which he seemed pretty happy with, I guess I’m pretty generous with these things.
Just to confirm I was at the right place, I asked the driver to wait whilst I knocked on the door. I was greeted by a thin, amiable looking fellow donning bouncy tufts of white hair, Prof. Michael Maxwell. I simultaneously shook his hand and gave a thumbs up to the taxi who drove away.
I had arrived at Selkirk Avenue, Montreal PQ.