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Column: Canada has so much beauty, regardless of where you are

David Willberg's column on his adventures in the Atlantic Canada.

For as long as I can remember, dad has wanted to take a trip across Canada.

He talked about it when I was in elementary school. In fact, he thought he could get from B.C.'s Lower Mainland to St. John's, N.L., in four or five days. (Don't scoff, this is a man who has routinely completed the trip from Maple Creek to Langley, B.C., in a day, and been home in time for a somewhat late supper). 

Once mom and dad sold the farm in the fall of 2019, the first big trip they had planned in their retirement travel extravaganza was the cross-country jaunt. Needless to say, they wouldn't try to complete this one in five days.

Of course, COVID-19 dashed those plans. Sure, they could have driven across Canada. But nothing would be open. They'd have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in some provinces. And frankly, driving a vehicle with a B.C. licence plate wouldn't win them any popularity contests.

They completed some trips in the past two years, but the cross-Canada journey eluded them. 

Until this year.  

And as a bonus, I joined them for the Atlantic Canada leg on June 21. 

Since that time, it's been a whirlwind, and we've been able to enjoy so much. Halifax. Cape Breton. Cabot Trail. Prince Edward Island. The Bay of Fundy. All have been great. I've seen places that I haven't seen before, and frankly, up until a few years ago, I never dreamt I'd get to experience them.

(About the only challenge has been delays at Pearson Airport in Toronto, but that's another rant/column/profanity-laced tirade for another time). 

When travelling, I'm looking for great food, quality local beer, magnificent scenery, hospitable people and an opportunity to experience local culture and history. Not necessarily in that order. We've certainly had the opportunity to enjoy all of them. 

I know that 10 days in Atlantic Canada won't be enough time. A month wouldn't be enough time. I could do a week in Halifax alone, with all of the great history and scenery in that city. I could spend another week in Nova Scotia. I could do at least a week in Prince Edward Island, even though you can drive from one end of the province to the other in just a few hours.

And I could spend a week in New Brunswick. 

You'll notice I haven't even mentioned Newfoundland and Labrador yet. I won't have time to make it up there, so that'll be another trip for another time. 

Prior to this holiday, the furthest east I'd been in Canada was Quebec City. (When I was in Quebec, it was part of a French Immersion exchange when I was 12 years old, so I definitely didn't appreciate it back then). If I were to go back to Quebec now, it would be a lot more fun. 

When we were in northern B.C. and Yukon last year, I wanted to make the most of it because I knew I likely wouldn't get a chance to get back there.

Mom and Dad have been having a great time on their trip across Canada. They were out here for two weeks during the April snowstorms for a renovation of my condo. Once they left Estevan (and the snow drifts) behind, they've been travelling a few hours a day.

They spent their anniversary on an old-fashioned riverboat cruise of the St. Lawrence River. 

And they have seen all sorts of great scenery across the country.

They decided they wanted to be in Atlantic Canada now, before the rush of tourism season with summer vacationers. People asked if they would be out east in the fall to see all the great colours, especially in P.E.I. and New Brunswick, but that is also hurricane season, and it just takes one of those to ruin an otherwise incredible holiday. 

Sometimes it's easy to forget how much this country has to offer us. We want to get out and see the world. Make no mistake, it's a world worth seeing. There are so many cool things out there. But we forget how much fun we can have in Canada.

Or we get into our familiar travel routines, and we remain fixed in them because we know them and we like them. 

Some people just don't have an interest in travelling. The journey from Estevan to Saskatoon is far enough for them. And they're going to look for those familiar restaurants along the way. 

If that's your thing, that's cool. But sometimes we miss out on those great opportunities, and while we might have to venture into a different time zone to see them, Canada is a nation that we should look to explore.

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