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Andy Prest: How to turn 'making great time' into 'having a great time'

Sometimes the best trips are the ones where you aren't headed anywhere in particular
vacation 2
Dipping toes in Harrison Lake?Why not!? The best road trips can be the ones where you've got nowhere you need to go.

Are you one of those people who travels with a purpose? Even when you are on vacation you prize “making good time” over everything else, including actually “having a good time?”

It’s a common Dad-ism to be ripping down the highway, feeling ecstatic over “what good time we’re making” while your children squirm in the back with empty stomachs and full bladders.

“Dad, I’m starving!”

“We just ate six hours ago. Here, have some cough drops.”

“Dad, I really gotta go!”

“Can you hold it? For maybe ... two more hours?”

“Dad, Timmy looks sick.”

“Share your cough drops.”

“Dad, I’m peeing. Right now.”

“Here’s an empty bottle.”

“Dad, I think Timmy is dead.”

“We’re making great time!”

I’m one of those dads. Well, I’ve never had a kid die on me, but they’d have to be gravely ill before I considered clicking off the cruise control as we whip across the beautiful B.C. mountains from Vancouver to Edmonton in one day, stopping only to see the majestic sights of Petro Canada.

It’s not just men though. A girl I dated had an unflinching internal clock that drove her ceaselessly towards her destination. It wasn’t “making great time” that spurred her on, but rather “being on time,” which is of course a laudable goal for nearly any occasion. But for her it was a bit of an obsession.

One time, we were travelling across this great country and had made plans to have dinner with her aunt and uncle in Winnipeg. We were having a lovely time seeing the sights and exploring new things, and I wanted to keep doing that for a while longer, but when her internal clock told her it was time to get back on the highway so we could make it in time for dinner, it was GO TIME. NOW!

It didn’t matter one bit to her that when we departed to make it in time for dinner in Winnipeg, we happened to be in Prince Edward Island.

But hey, approximately 40 hours later, we pulled up at her aunt’s house at 5:55 p.m., just as the roast chicken was coming out of the oven.

I still haven’t really forgiven her for skimping on the red sands of P.E.I. just to make dinner in Manitoba, but I guess we came to some sort of truce, as that gal is now my wife. We’ve had many memorable trips since then to beautiful places like Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff, racing through them all.

“Enjoy that pristine lake from the car window, kids, we’ve got pizza waiting for us in Calgary. And boy, we’re sure making great time!”

Last week, however, we tried something new. And I highly recommend it, in these challenging times of unending worry.

The kids had a day off school, my wife and I bailed on work and we all hopped in the car and went on a road trip adventure without a clock to beat or relatives to meet. We just kind of ... drifted.

We stopped at a café in Hope and ate something called Honey Toast. We did a fabulous hike through the old Othello train tunnels, and then went back for more Honey Toast. We considered heading home to North Vancouver at this point, but the traffic on the highway home was bad so we veered off the road and did another quick hike up to Bridal Veil Falls. Then we scooted across the Fraser River and dipped our toes in Harrison Lake for some reason, and then we ate schnitzel (the Honey Toast restaurant was closed).

We didn’t make great time. But we had a great time. 

I mean, don’t get me wrong. It didn’t completely remove the crushing weight of this anxiety-ridden COVID existence from our hearts. But hey, it was good fun.

And it was liberating to remove the clock from the equation, to explore without deadlines.

One of the great things about living in this beautiful place, particularly in these challenging times, is that there are nearly limitless places to get away from crowds and clocks and explore, whether it’s a walk through an urban forest, a dip in the ocean or an old train tunnel carved high above a thundering river.

No cough drops – seriously, stay home if you’re coughing – just whatever you may find in the land of milk and Honey Toast.

Andy Prest is the sports and features editor of the North Shore News. His lifestyle/humour column runs biweekly.

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