I've been trying to write up this conference/etc. for days. As such, I'm sticking daylogs where they go in chronological order. Ok? Ok then.
The last week has been ka-razy with a capital ka-ray. That's phonics!
Short story: I went to Canada, to Prince Edward Island, for a conference on L. M. Montgomery's life writing (which topic is itself problematic for a number of reasons). I bit the bullet in terms of vacation days and drove there. I went to the conference, which was good; I met and hung out with Cletus the Foetus and friends, which was also good. Then I drove back. Then I collapsed for a day. Now I am here. Hello!
19 June, Wednesday
In which I am exhausted and unhappy
I was trying to do this drive -- that's 1300 miles, ow -- in two days. This required me, then, not only to get absolutely everything ready to go the night before I left, but to go to bed early enough to actually get up and leave by 5:30a. Then I had to drive as much as humanly possible in one day, covering as much distance as I could physically stand, such that the second day could be much shorter after all that exhaustion. Thus I couldn't go see or meet anyone on the way due to time constraints. This may be flawed reasoning, but it's still my reasoning. I would have really liked to meet more people, though.
I managed to get out of the driveway by 5:40 or so, which allowed me to miss the Detroit rush hour by about ten minutes. I was on the Ambassador Bridge at 6:30, and in the customs booth by 6:45.
This is where the first real snag hit. I gave the girl my driver's license, the only thing I have ever been asked for when crossing this particular border. She said "Don't you have anything else?" What? They changed the law? No, apparently not; it was just that no one had been enforcing the law for a good while. Therefore I needed my birth certificate to cross.
I had a good several moments of panic there. I had my birth certificate at home, fortunately, as opposed to its previous home in my parents' safe deposit box in North Carolina, but it honestly hadn't occurred to me that I would need it. I could go home and get it, and come back. I would just be losing two hours. In Detroit rush hour, both ways. Three hours. So. Doable, but very bad for the overall hell-bent-for-leather strategy.
So I asked her what to do, if there were anything I could do, etc. At this point I fully expected to be sent back. So when she asked me some more routine questions and then went ahead and grudgingly let me through, I was pretty surprised, and certainly a nervous fucking wreck.
I had already felt terrible about going to this conference at all. It was really bizarre, and different from any road trip I had taken before. See, I love driving. I really like experiencing the whole of the land and country, as opposed to seeing it from a tiny window 30,000 feet in the air. I like to have the time to sit and think, to relax, to just drive, with no other obligation. And I like going places. I had never set out on a trip such as this, whether with people or alone (as is much more common for me, and which I tend to like more anyway), without being completely excited and happy about it.
This time, though, I was very conflicted. I knew that conference was a good thing to go to, that it would be great to actually have my head submerged in academics for a full weekend, that I would meet lots of good people and that it would be soothing to be out of the house and the heat. And still I was not happy at all to be driving in the morning. I had been dreading it for at least a couple days before I left. It was going to be exhausting and expensive and supremely difficult to drive so much with only two days of very busy break in between. Specifically, it would be a break in which I had to be constantly alert and awake and articulate on the spot. And I needed to schmooze as much as possible. I am Terrible at schmoozing. Gah. Besides, I was going to be lonely the whole time. I was looking at the weekend as a task to get through, even though I knew I would also like it. I was completely intimidated by the whole prospect of said conference, and depressed to be losing all my vacation days without even having John with me. I kept trying to pull myself up, and failing.
So this whole thing at customs floored me entirely. I was a complete wreck for the whole morning. Fortunately I can drive well while a wreck; it's generally only anger that affects my driving, and I wasn't angry. So I drove and drove and tried to cheer myself up and sang and drove.
Things were looking better by the time I got past Toronto, but still. "Better" does not equal "good". I was looking at all the trees, trying to think what things I needed to take pictures of (although at this point I had no camera). It was interesting, because certain trees looked like certain provinces as I went along, and the changing plants are always interesting. There are blue lupines in Ontario! I don't remember that! The sides of the road were all brilliant and heathery with them, and with tiny daisies and brilliant thumbnail splashes of buttercups, all against the different greens and light ochres of the grasses. It was especially pretty to catch them growing out of various escarpments.
After making a valiant attempt to get through early, I ended up caught in Montreal rush hour. O my. Fortunately, I mostly only needed to read road numbers, since I couldn't quite read the signs otherwise. But still. My advice is never, ever to do such a thing. I have always found Quebec itself (the province) very intimidating, due to not speaking French and being an American besides. But besides rush hour, which would have been bad in any city, it was all fine.
The roadsides in Quebec are darker, and bluer. I was going along the St. Lawrence, which certainly helped in that regard. All the fine shadings of blue hills across the water and on your either side in the distance.
I stopped atbout 9:30 and spent the night in a hotel outside Quebec City.
The next day there was more stuff.