Misadventure #2: Past meets present
I was 19 when I set out driving from Toronto to Nova Scotia. My dad had passed away the previous year, but my mom was still alive and I was going to spend a week with my sister and mother and see friends. My vehicle was a robin-egg-blue 1982 Dodge Reliant I named Buffer. Instead of taking the Trans Canada Highway up the Saint Lawrence river in Quebec, then down into New Brunswick, I wanted to drive through Maine and check it off my list.
I turned south on a road numbered 201. A two-way paved road flanked by thick, endless forest. Fifteen minutes became half an hour, and not a car in sight -no buildings either. The time and mileage clicked by, and I remember thinking, “Every serial killer in the America is hiding out in these woods.” That thought made me reach across my body and push the door locks down. Not long after that, I started watching my fuel gauge drop. It was hovering just below the quarter zone. I was mildly concerned. More forest, I still hadn’t passed another car, nor a building of any kind.
Slowly the needle sank, getting closer to the the red zone. I passed some deer grazing on the side of the road. I reminded myself to slow down, dusk was approaching. Just then a knot formed in my chest. Darkness … ugh it is getting late, 8:30 pm. Yikes. My heart started fluttering, and my mind kept asking me What are you going to do if you run out of gas – spend the night on the side of road waiting for one of those serial killers to help you?
I kept driving, patting the dash, encouraging Buffer to keep going as I watched the needle now touch the red zone. How far can I car drive on E? I asked myself.
The sun was gone from sky. I put my headlight on. “Do they use gas?” I didn’t know. I couldn’t even get a radio station to come in clear. I was lost in the north woods of Maine, while my car continued on fumes. At 8:50 pm. The gas indicator lit up my dash. I bit my lip in fear, but I had no choice but keep driving till Buffer stopped.
Lo and behold- a general store plunked right in the middle of a clearing, Is this is a mirage? The car gurgled and jolted up to the set of old gas pumps Made it Whew!
The place looked deserted. One more wish please, I need a person – a friendly one, not a murderer. I walked up to the door but the sign was turned to CLOSED. Standing on my tippy toes, I peered though the dirty window and gave a knock on the door.
“Hello,” I jumped at the voice that came from behind me. I turned to see an older man dressed in denim coveralls walking with a slight stoop. I would guess he was in his mid-70s or even 80s.
“I was just closing up shop you are in the nick of time. You need some gas?” he asked.
“Yes sir I do.” He opened the store door and flicked on a switch then we walked back towards my car and he pumped the gas into the tank for me. While he filled the car he nodded at my licensee plates. He said, “You’re a long way from home, missy.”
“Yes, sir I am heading home to Cape Breton to visit my family. I wanted to drive thru Maine.” I paused and looked back at the road I had just arrived on and I said, “That was a long empty road from the Quebec border.”
“Yes you just came… ohh …” he pause to think ” … close to 90 miles. Your car is taking a lot gas she was near empty. You’s lucky.”
“Yes sir I was very happy to see your station for sure.” I chuckled, glad to be able to laugh instead of cry. I asked “Am I close to any towns, where I can get a room for the night?”
“Yes, just keep going and turn onto hwy 2 you will find them along there.” I paid the man cash, and he told me to be careful and good luck. Not far from his store, I found a family-owned cottage and slept the night away well enough.
The next day Highway 2 took me to a by-pass off Bangor, ( I have another story about this town). I connected onto Highway 9, where I crossed into Canada at the Calais-St Stephen, New Brunswick border. At the time it was just a name on a map and meant nothing to me just another town on the way to Nova Scotia.
Just off Highway 1, I saw a sign pointing “Falls.” I turned down the road and parked on the shoulder and a took picture of the falls. It would be another 6 hours of driving before I was home in Cape Breton.
Over the last 30 years, I have often looked at that photo and wondered where it was? This past Victoria Day weekend I decided I would go see Lepreau Falls. I had never been there. It is about an hour southwest of my home, 5 km east of New River Beach Provincial Park. A large sign off 175 promotes Lepreau Falls Provincial Park.
There are several parking levels and a winding loop road. I parked my truck, readied my camera and put my sunglasses on. A wooden boardwalk leads you to towards the platform. I greeted several families and stepped off the path into the trees to allow social distancing. We smiled and they thanked me. Lots of people were out enjoying the beautiful weather. I waited for a group taking a picture to move aside, and then it was my turn.
“Holy shit… this is the waterfalls from my unknown picture.” The trees have grown up the last 30 years, but the falls are just as pretty. Before heading out, I checked my fuel level and said to myself, I think I passed an Irving gas-station, I better fill up.
Happy Travels from Maritimemac.
If you enjoyed this content, you can tip me to show your appreciation