For as long as both the USA and Canada has been around, we always had the want of roaming our territory.
The freedom of the road and the vast opportunities to see something extraordinary and different. Something unique that you can tell stories about for the rest of your life and pass it down through the generations.
As we celebrate the double holidays across our border – Canada Day and Independence Day – let me distill some great and unique ideas for some road trips. Yet, I have to admit one thing: These are from my own perspective. Yes, there would be my favorite unique and extraordinary road trips celebrating the anniversaries of the founding of the USA and Canada.
It might not be your idea for a road trip, but, hey, I'm only throwing in suggestions to not be a tourist, following other tourists to do touristy things.
Be your own guide…
YOU'RE VISITING WHERE? Between the two countries, there are plenty of places where tourists never gave a second thought on visiting. Granted, there are tourist destinations to go in these places, but most Americans and Canadians usually find themselves in more well-known locales than most. Why not visit Saskatchewan? Or, Kansas? Or, Iowa? Or, West Virginia? Or, the Yukon? Some of these places are between known for those who live there or in nearby states/provinces. But, how many of us had to decide between going to Washington, DC or heading into the heart of West Virginia instead? You will be surprised what these places to have to offer to a wide variety of tourists!
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME (CANADIAN) FOOTBALL? While we wait for your favorite NFL and college team to hit the preseason camps, the Canadian Football League is underway north of the border. The regular season starts in June and ends up with the Grey Cup on November 24 in Calgary. Obviously, you can go to Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, or Vancouver to attend a game. I would suggest something more in the prairies. Try a game in Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, or Edmonton. Or, attend a game in Hamilton. These five cities are not known as tourist locations for most Americans, which makes sense to witness some of the loyal fanbases in CFL. You might be surprised by some of the hospitality you will find in these communities, as well. If you like what you saw on the field, bring some of that team's swag home with you! You might be a fan for life!
FINDING AMERICA'S HOCKEY HEARTLAND: On the other side of the border are some legendary places where the sport lives year-round. Such a road trip may have to start in the Iron Range of Minnesota at the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum in Eveleth. You get to learn about the game's growth in this country. Then, it's about a three-and-a-half-hour drive to the northwest corner of the state. Your destination is Warroad, considered the nation's hockey factory sending it's best to the world. Just to be in this town of over 1,700 people is to understand the roots of the sport and its impact on Olympic competition. You can drive down along US Highway 75 along Minnesota's western border towards Crookston or Moorhead, or head back the way you came if you happen to have a hotel room in the Iron Range (or Duluth).
MUSICAL JOURNEYS IN PLACES THAT MAKE YOU GO "HMMM…" Did you know there's a Hip-Hop scene in Halifax? It's not all Country down in Nashville. Across our continent, there are places where you will be surprised by the music scene. We often associate certain communities with a certain music genre or stereotype. It does take some deep diving to find it, but the discovery is well worth it. How about making your own scene? If you're a hand drummer like me, you could seek out a drum circle to get some of your road stress off your chest. Sometimes, you can find these in places where you never thought would have one.
TAKING IN A HISTORY LESSON…OR SEVERAL: Back to Nova Scotia for a moment, you may not have heard of Viola Desmond even though she kicked off an important movement in Canada. She wanted to see a movie to pass some time while traveling in the town of New Glasgow. The cinema's management refused entry into the "whites-only" section of the theater. Desmond was arrested and convicted of a tax violation over the ticket she paid for and the seat she took. After being pardoned by the province some decades later, Desmond became the first woman – and Afro-Canadian – to appear on the country's currency. There are many stories unknown across our continent that are waiting to be discovered. Only the curious will find these stories out wherever you roam.
CELEBRATE PRIDE IN A SMALL(ER) TOWN: World Pride in New York City is not the end of Pride season. For the adventurous LGBTQ person, you can find yourself in a smaller community to be with a community that celebrates as big as World Pride. For example, you can attend a Pride in places, such as Cedar Rapids, IA; Prince George, BC; San Luis Obispo, CA; Victoria, BC; Bellingham, WA; Vancouver, WA; Bremerton, WA; Reno, NV…to name a few places.
Photo by Randy Stern