Thursday, June 11, 2009

Going down the road....

The photo theme prompt this week at Carmi's place is "road." Surprisingly, I seem to have quite a few pictures of roads, all of which are far more eye appealing than this one, but none with more meaning. Worn and paint scraped with a few bumps and cracks in the foundation.....this a picture of a small portion of the old Trans Canada Highway.

Taken last summer after having dinner at a roadside diner about 20 miles "upriver" from where I live, I was so surprised at how empty it was. I grabbed my camera and stood on the pavement with NO concern that I would be hit except perhaps by a loose Moose! Progress had replaced this portion of our national highway with a much more expeditious route. As soon as it was built, this old one transformed into a designated scenic route that offers wide eyed glimpses of the Saint John River Valley. BEE-UUU-TEE-FULL!

Theoretically, this two lane “ribbon of highway” begins in Saint John's, Newfoundland and ends in Victoria, British Columbia. 4,680 miles long, it takes in some of the most beautiful scenery along the way….bodies of water, beautiful forests, majestic rivers, the Great Lakes, breathtaking snow capped mountains, undulating hills, small towns and villages, wide ranging farmland of the prairies and the spectacular rock faces of the Canadian Shield.

It cuts through industrial pockets and rides past enormous office buildings which sprout up and dot the outlying cities. It often parallels the train tracks, many of which have been turned into the Trans Canada Trail system. Designated picnic area stops, drive through Tim Horton’s and tourist information pavilions, and Mom and Pop diners and budget motels have their place along this multi faced road, as do hitchhikers, cyclists and truckers off to the side idling for some shut eye rest. From the shores of the Atlantic to the shores of the Pacific, this long and winding road symbolically connects us. I feel that deep in my bones.

Almost 22 years ago, in a jammed packed car driven by us and a stuffed little truck driven by a friend, my soon to be husband and I made the trek east along the Trans Canada highway to a new life together in a new province, in a new city. After 14 hours of driving, we would’ve made it to this point in the road….where I took the picture…..close to where we pulled off for much needed respite. I thought of that day while standing there remembering the move, but hardly recognizing the old road because in the summertime, it used to be vibrantly alive with slow moving camper vehicles and van of families all headed to vacation destinations. It was well used.

Meaning… this road takes me home…to my family and friends in Ontario and to my family and friends in New Brunswick. In fact, if you were to keep driving from this spot, you would end up driving right by the street which leads to my own. In the wintertime when the trees are bare, I can see the old highway from my living room. In the summer, I can only hear the infrequent echoes of the cars passing by. Some of them are folks opting for the scenic route. Some are people passing through onto a new life, or getting away from an old one. It holds meaning.

While standing there…..I also thought of Terry Fox as I looked down this straightaway and wondered what it was like for him when he reached this spot in his trek across the country. His story is etched into this cracked and worn pavement. I could almost picture him coming towards me. His Marathon of Hope story was picking up steam and being passed along from one person to another....there's a good chance that the people whose homes line the highway were out waving him on..... I can picture it completely.

Our national hero….a young man with a dream as wide as this country. His determination continues to inspire me. Accompanied by his best buddy who believed in him, Terry Fox dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic to start the run. His plan was to dip it into the Pacific when he completed the journey. 4,680 miles of sheer will.

We all know he never had a chance to finish it on his own. Cancer got him again….knocked him right off the Trans Canada near Thunder Bay. But his legacy and spirit continues to be carried in the hearts of every Canadian….his goal to raise money for Cancer research…to find a cure….was passed onto the people from coast to coast who continue to organize “Terry Fox runs” every September, who continue to tear up every time they think of his stamina and guts! More than anyone else before or after (except for the 1972 Canadian Hockey team…J), Terry Fox linked Canadians together. More than anyone else, this young man pulled a bunch of separate communities together. He ran on this pavement…… Hop, skip, run…..

Yes, this little photo is a patch of the larger ribbon of highway. It holds meaning. It holds the collective history of a vast country filled with people who know one another.

Thank you Carmi for the prompt. As usual, you kick started my memories. For more road stories, check out Written Inc....


Walker said...

I pass by the statue of Terry Fox near the hill at least once a week.
He more than finished his run and is still running for the cause

Awareness said...

Walker you're so right. I should fix that in my piece and put in the word "physically didn't complete it" because he did finish that run.

What a blessing he continues to be...I got all veklempt all over again writing about him this morning!

Vita Stunder said...

Great shot and story :)

I joined thematic photographic today.
Have a nice friday!

Awareness said...

Hey Anna! Welcome aboard. I'll drop by soon. Cheers.

NJ said...

I lived in Thunder Bay when Terry had to call off his marathon. It was a sad time. Years later they erected a monument at the hill he finished his journey and it made me emotional to see it. It's been a long time since I've been back to the north but I often think of how hard that journey would have been for him through all those hills.

Romany Angel said...

What an inspirational man. Some people are just put on this earth to change us and our perception of what can be done with guts, courage and determination. Terry sounds like such a man.

Gilly said...

I love roads that represent romance, connections of a vast land, travel, etc. Before motorways ate their way across Britain, there was the Great North Road, linking London and that unknown, "here-be-dragons" bit of the UK. In fact just outside London was a signpost "To the North".

You can't get much more romantic than that, can you??

And Terry Fox sounds a brave, inspirational young man.

Love 2B Homeschoolers said...

I love that you didn't choose your most "visually" beautiful road, but rather your most beautiful road.

My Thematic, Photographic is up here if you'd like to stop by: said...

haha sounds like that road might be longer than the UK!!!

great shot

Carmi said...

Gorgeously evocative memory and photo - I chose the theme because of similar big-picture recollections I often have while rolling along on my bike or driving the endless road back home from visiting family far away.

The road has a certain spirit to it that I just can't let go. It manages to weave itself into every facet of our lives, which you've reflected so beautifully here. May all our journeys be as blessed.