My name is Nicholas Madden, I’m a 24 year old from Huntsville, Ontario. A recent university graduate that achieved a BSc in Environmental Sciences. I’m looking forward to the day when I’m able to use this degree to achieve something for the greater good of the environment, society, and humanity. Right now, however, my life is in a very different place. How different? It is currently one in the morning as I write this in the Atlantic on a ferry from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia. You see, about six months ago, I was just starting my last semester at Trent University in Ontario. Around this time everyone kept asking everyone what they planned to do after they completed their degree (or diploma). Everyone’s answer was the same; job lined up, start a family, move back home to pay down some debt, etc. My own answer, though, was a little different.
I’ve always had this dream, this FLAG (fearless life altering goal), call it what you will, of living a more minimalistic lifestyle, versus striving toward the societal narrative of getting a house, a car, a mortgage. Then, when news broke of Canada’s 150th celebration of having all the national parks admissions free, I knew I had to do something. So, I started creating this plan. This plan required mainly three things. A car, a camera, and a will to adventure. I had the two latter ones and in April of 2017 I finally got my dream car to do this, a 1997 Toyota 4Runner that had 265,000kms, and a leaky windshield. When I bought the vehicle, my dad and I got to work, building a platform in the back, all decked out with drawers and cubbies to organize my belongings, and a memory foam mattress I found for $30 at some thrift store in Ontario. Overall, the platform and bed likely cost less than $200 and a few hours of work. I had everything set and ready to go for the vehicle, and all I had to do was wait.
I waited to leave until June 21st, the summer solstice. The only schedule I had to adhere to was catching the ferry in North Sydney, NS to Port aux Basque, NFLD. Now, I’m half-Newfie, my dad grew up in Mount Pearl. I’ve never stepped foot on the island ever in the 24 years I’ve existed. When the ferry docked in port, the excitement I had in me was bigger than the raging sea the Blue Puttees crossed to get there. Then, I disembarked the ferry and was met with, rain, fog, and wind. I hear it is typical there. Being from Ontario, I’m used to heat and humidity, not mild temperatures, and a constant 80km/hr wind. It was all part of the experience though, and I loved every minute of it. I spent two weeks in Newfoundland. The first week and a bit I traveled all up the west coast through Gros Morn, to St. Anthony, I honestly thought the west coast was a pretty remote place. Then I got a chance to go to Battle Harbour, Labrador. This place was so remote, it was highly suggested that I took a satellite phone and an extra gas can. So, I did, and I drove two hours on a dirt road into virtually untamed, untouched, beautiful wilderness. It was an experience I didn’t expect to occur, but I guess that’s what makes the best experiences.
After I got back to Newfoundland, I headed directly south and east to St. John’s for Canada Day. I had spent almost a week in St. John’s experiencing the history, the culture, getting screeched in, and the scenery. Being the oldest city in North America, St. John’s had a ton to offer a history buff like myself. Signal Hill, Cape Spear, and The Rooms Museum were all timeless wonders of what the city and people of St. John’s went through to be what it is today. George Street, known for its many bars and festivals, is a must see. The harbour front was a wonder on its own. The people, I’ve known for many years that Newfoundlanders are some of the nicest people on earth. When I made it to the island, I was greeted with just that. People offered me hot showers, hot food, and places to stay so I could work on a few things along my journey. People stopped me in the streets to compliment my tattoos, my camera gear, even just to say good morning or hello. I still can’t get over the accents people had. Some conversations I had I’m still trying to decipher. It isn’t England or Australia but people still knew I wasn’t from there due to my own accent, and that is something I found interesting to note.
Then one day I sat in a Tim Hortons on Prescott & Duckworth and a woman asked to sit next to me. Her name was Charlotte Gardiner. As we got talking she mentioned she ran a blog with her friend, Lindsey Ross, whom I’ve not met, but I’m sure she is just as awesome. We continued to talk for a while and eventually, we went out for lunch at the Yellowbelly on George & Water, and I was asked to guest write on the Two Wild Tides blog. I felt very honoured and I still feel very honoured! I’ve never written for a blog before. It’s something new and challenging for myself to accomplish and I’m proud of it. So here I am, at one in the morning in the middle of the Atlantic writing this entry I’m hoping people enjoy. I’m excited to share my experiences that I’m going to have along the way. This trip is roughly 30,000km of driving and I don’t even have a quarter of it completed. There are many places to see, many people to talk to, and many stories to hear. I’m ready for whatever takes place.
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