I spent forever on the island - waiting - before at midnight I could finally made my way back to our yard in Woodstock with a loaded trailer.
Mind you, I love PEI and its people, and the spectacular drive across the Confederation Bridge to get there and back again. So it didn't really upset me.
But I also spent forever in Harrisburg, PA, earlier that week, trying to unload. And I spent forever in New Jersey after that, waiting for my return load to be ready. Shippers and receivers clearly have their struggles too. And as a result, on my way back to Ontario, my 14-hour window closed and my ELD shut me down, way before I reached the Canadian border. Nothing really went according to plan.
Luckily though, once back in Ontario, my drop and ensuing pick-up appointments were rescheduled and I was asked to take my next load from Brampton straight back to our yard in Woodstock. Once there, surprisingly, a couple of Maritimes runs awaited me. That was not what I thought the next plan was going to be. According to that usual plan I would have been sent back to either New Jersey or Montreal.
At this point I should tell you that I have only lived here in the Maritimes for a little while now - I moved here in November 2017 from Holland where I lived in the capital Amsterdam. I first visited the Maritimes in 2016 after driving up from Boston through beautiful Maine. This was a part of Canada I had never been before. I'd been to both Quebec and Ontario, to Alberta and British Columbia, and even to Saskatchewan. But as for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island; you don't really ever get here unless they are the destination themselves. They're kind of their own little corner of the world, hidden behind big old Quebec and rugged Maine.
It was the passionate endorsement of my elderly great aunt and great uncle, whom I visited in Guelph, Ontario in 2009 - and who have since passed away - that convinced me I should go and pay a visit some day. They moved to Canada in 1950, right after World War II and after Holland had been liberated from the nazis by the Canadian army. They lived in Ottawa most of their years in Canada, but retired in Guelph. And no matter how awe-inspiring they found the Rocky Mountains and the great national parks there to be; their heart was in the Maritimes for its stunning natural beauty; for its coastlines and ocean views, its forests and vastness, its wilderness and the skies. In other words: for its Maritimes magic.
When I first visited Fredericton, Charlottetown and Cape Breton Island during my 2016 road trip, I immediately got it. And when dispatch was telling me now to go to Debert, Moncton and Oromocto, and back to Moncton, Charlottetown and another place on the island, I simply felt happy.
Many miles in the distance, surprisingly, the Confederation Bridge is visible.
While on my way, I watched the hills roll by. I looked at individual trees and the entire forests they make up; I looked out over the frozen mighty St. John River between Woodstock and Fredericton and at Jemseg. I climbed the Cobequid Pass and on my way back down I could make out the Northumberland Straight and even the Confederation Bridge way back in the distance, an incredible view. From the bridge itself I watched the bright white ice sheets randomly scattered, drifting, bobbling, laying at the mercy of the winds and the dark, ever-moving waters underneath and around them. Like massive pieces of a giant puzzle that was never going to be completed.
On the island the people were their signature PEI-friendly. And finally on the way back to our yard, the moon - well on its way to being a full moon - continued what the sun had been doing earlier that day. In a subtler way though it lit up the ice on the waters, it reflected haphazardly and brilliantly on the waves. And it cast its pale night light on the New Brunswick woods and forests like only the moon can do. It's pure magic: the shadows and light alike, giving life to the otherwise dark landscapes; that oddly shaped bright ball striding unapologetically across the night skies.
I spent forever, for the entire duration of this post-midnight trip, looking and feeling a crazy sense of bewilderment and happiness at this moonlit spectacle not only displaying itself, but also at it being home now. Maritimes magic for real.
Quick photo stop half-way between the island and Woodstock on this moonlit drive.