Our family went away for this past Canada Day long weekend up to a remote area of Killarney National Park. A beautiful location, a beautiful time, and a rather weathered road we took to get there out of Espanola.
We had a ferry booked, and an alternate route that Google gave us that was more direct when heading back to the ferry rather than Espanola. Since we were tight on time to meet our reservation on this busy Canada Day, I decided to take that road, instead of the road we were familiar with that would have lost us 10 minutes.
In hindsight, I wish I had taken a picture of what eventually came of the road it sent us down, because I'd love the opportunity to laugh at it now that we're home safe, and within cell reception. We were very much not within cell reception during the trek down the road, which ended up with us turning around anyway halfway out of the woods due to the road becoming untreversable.
The thing is, it became that way by degrees, and each lessening of road quality should have been a red flag, but I was confident I could make it through.
As I struggled not to bottom out the car on the cavernous potholes, and dodge the large swaths of water and mud in the drive path, and as we passed a black bear out for a stroll, red flag after red flag rose up to my defiance.
But I was still as defiant.
Then we came to a turnoff to the next road, there was grass growing at the mouth of it, like a river flowing out into the gravel. Just two wheel ruts, one on either side of grass on the road. The kind of grass that grows due to a lack of traffic. Surely a red flag that should have been the one to give me pause.
No. Not I. Certain this would be a short path to a much more well travelled portion of road, I journeyed on.
As the road became muddier and less wheel rutted, my heart sank. Not the least of which happened when our muffler or some piping under the car got banged up from a rock in the middle of the road, disconnecting it from the engine. Our car was now very loud as well. At least the bears would be less of an issue now, I guess.
Continuing on, eventually it looked like the road basically was through a marshy portion I was certain we could not traverse. Crestfallen, I decided it was now time to turn around and go back to our known route, knowing we would miss our ferry. Knowing I had been defeated. Then it dawned on me, I would have to turn around or face having to back out of this ridiculous excuse for a road.
Managing not to scrape the bottom of our car too much in the turnaround, and starting back along the trail the car suddenly stopped. Tires wouldn't turn, or were spinning in mud.
No cell signal.
No cabin or civilization for at least 10 km of road.
I tell you, a kind of panic began to well up in me unlike any I have faced in a very long time. Options flashed through my mind. I personally thought we had jogged some kind of hose loose that caused our engine just to not have any turning power on the drive train. I thought the engine was toast. If that was the case there was nothing we could do but try to walk out. With a black bear sighting only minutes behind us.
While black bears really don't pose much risk to folks, even without that being a risk factor, it would mean walking either by myself while my wife and children stayed in the car, to get help, or have them all come with me on an impromptu 'adventure'.
I tried to accellerate again, and reverse, and forward, and reversed, and movement began to happen. The wheels were turning, and with a rather profound pungent stink of burning rubber we shook ourselves lose and were on our way, albeit very loudly so.
I'm here to tell you all here and now that the road less travelled is sometimes not worth going down. Sometimes you have to turn around and go back down a more weathered path. I'm also here to tell you that if it happens, it's okay.
You're not alone.
Happy Birthday, Canada.