In August of 2014, I quit my series of part-time jobs, packed my life into my tiny blue hatchback, and hit the road. The goal? Drive from Coast-to-Coast across Canada. 4 ferry rides, 18 000 KMs, a ski season in Banff, and countless life lessons later, I finally did it. And it felt amazing.
The following year, I sort of unintentionally did the trip again, only this time with other people. Two of my best friends, one from Toronto and the other I'd met in Banff from Germany, joined me on an epic East Coast road trip.
To be completely honest, there were a few occasions throughout where it was evident how accustomed to travelling alone I'd become (read: selfish and entitled). It was difficult to take other people’s sleep and hunger schedules into account. And the state of the car was driving me up the wall! Why is it that our own mess is unnoticeable, but another person's mess is all you can freaking see? For a minute there I’d wondered if this road trip had been a huge mistake. Maybe this one-woman wolf pack was meant to fly solo?
Then again, maybe not.
Truthfully, everything we saw, experienced, and accomplished was made better by each other's company. The great moments were amplified, because we fed off one another’s joy. And the shitty moments? Usually made less shitty, because there were people, not only to commiserate with, but also to pull each other out of their respective funks.
One of the best moments was in Gros Morne National Park, in Newfoundland. The previous year, I had discovered a secluded little camp spot, on the beach of a crystal clear lake facing the mountains. My fondest memory was waking up for the sunrise over the lake, seeing the fog roll in, and truly feeling at peace with myself for the first time in a while. It was such a special, sacred place, I'd kept even the story to myself. Driving through Newfoundland with my friends, I debated if I should leave it at that; keep the hard-to-find gem a secret, find another spot to camp in.
Then I thought, Nah fuck it. Let’s hit the wicked camp site.
The experience of the sunrise round 2 was even better because of them, because we were together, embracing each other, in awe of the sight before us. Because shared serenity is somehow more awe-inspiring than solo serenity. And because I love them, and it made me happy to see them so happy.
It wasn’t only the amazing moments that were amplified with good company, but even the mundane tasks were made better, too. The everyday things that need doing can be fun when done with people. Like taking the tent down and playing tent-parachute. Or cooking cheap pasta with flashlights and headlamps in the dark.
Also, having to take other people’s sleep and hunger schedules into account? It's actually a win. The tendency to neglect your needs for the sake of covering kilometres becomes a thing of the past, and you find yourself actually sleeping and eating.
I’m glad I did the first Coast-to-Coast trip alone because it was necessary. I needed the time and space to clear my head, and I needed to know that I could make it out there, on my own, doing the thing I love. But going again, having people to share the difficult moments with, and especially having people to share the wonderful moments with, it taught me the real value of companionship. Traveling alone has its perks, but as the proverb goes,
“Shared joy is double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow.”