We two had a nice day planned.
A small family reunion in Baddeck, involving three generations of cousins. It had been too long since we were together. You’d think that Baddeck was in China; that’s how often we get together, but never mind, it was happening on this day.
“I have a brilliant idea,” I announce to hubby that morning. “We don’t want Barb to make us two meals, so let’s stop at the Cedar House on the way and get a bite of lunch first.”
I couldn’t believe it. Hubby said yes to stopping for lunch. This is almost unheard of. He has this thing, where he’ll begrudgingly stop at a fast-food joint or Tim Horton’s while we’re on the road, and take something with us to eat while we drive, but to stop at an actual restaurant is almost more than he can bear. He just sits there shaking one leg in anticipation of the waitress giving us our menus, while all the trucks we passed are quickly zooming by, and getting ahead of us again.
He can’t stand wasting time. I used to point out little craft stores on our way to Halifax or wherever.
“Why don’t we run in and look around?”
“We will when I retire.”
I have yet to set a big toe in any of these places, and he’s been retired for 10 years now. Once he starts the car, he’s got blinders on, like an old work horse. His mind is on the destination and look out to anyone who stands in his way.
So, we started out okay. We drove by the A & K Lick-a-Chick, where my sister’s family stopped to have lunch and buy t-shirts, because that’s what tourists do when they see this particular joint.
“Oh-oh,” hubby muttered.
Cars were slowing down in front of us. There was a construction sign warning us of something dire going on up ahead. We were behind a high-sided van, the kind you can’t see over. That somehow made things worse.
“Just our luck,” he said.
“Oh well, it shouldn’t be too long.”
I’ve tried to block out the next 40 minutes of our ordeal, because when you sit in a car that’s not moving, every minute feels as if it’s at least an hour long.
And what makes it excruciatingly worse is having to listen to the man beside you moan about it every 30 seconds.
“Can you believe this?!”
I was about to answer him, but he required no answer in this frame of mind.
“What are these boneheads doing?!”
I got an annoyed glance for that remark.
But after the 20-minute mark, he was right. Even I started to squirm in my seat, because when there is no end in sight on the highway, your bladder urgently reminds you that you shouldn’t have downed that large coffee an hour ago.
At least a hundred cars and trucks went by at first and then there was a bit of a lull.
“Maybe this is it. This has got to be it. There can’t possibly be any more cars coming this way.”
Nope. After 10 seconds of nothing coming, another huge batch started in. And that’s how it continued for the entire 40 minutes. Like breaking waves, these vehicles just relentlessly kept driving past us.
Hubby kept looking in the rear-view mirrors. “Look at the line-up behind us! As far as the eye can see! What would it be like if the ferry was in?”
While I sighed, he fumed. Of course, roads need to be fixed and sometimes we’re inconvenienced, but I had to admit, this was getting a bit ridiculous. Where were all the cars coming from? We were in rural Cape Breton, not Los Angeles.
Just when I was ready to stuff a sock in hubby’s mouth, we started to move, very slowly, behind a long line of other irate drivers. After a few miles of passing the slow pokes in the bunch, the exhilaration of boogying down the highway was wonderous.
Suddenly, there it was. I pointed at the Cedar House sign.
“Are you kidding?!” hubby said. “We can’t stop for lunch now! We’ll never get there at this rate!”
I was so close.
Lesley Crewe is a writer living in, and loving, Cape Breton. These are the meandering musings of a bored housewife whose ungrateful kids left her alone with a retired husband. Since all her pets have now died, she's very cranky. Her 11th book, Are You Kidding Me?! Chronicles of an Ordinary Life, (a collection of her various columns over the past 20 years), is now available in book stores.