If the French Canadians were Sean’s peeps, New Brunswickians are Russ’s. I honestly think that Russ should run for Mayor of Moncton. (Russ is considering asking our boy Paul Ives to be his running partner as Russ likes his platform on most issues in the Valley- Paul we are big fans of yours! Keep up the great work!) In the past four days I have seen Russ dishing out hugs to middle aged mothers, enjoying coffee with retired farmers, eating nothing but potatoes, he has even picked up the maritime accent referring to us as “youss GUYS”. (If you have ever seen the movies “Fargo” or “Snatch” his accent resembles many of those characters.)
As soon as you cross into the wonderful province of Nouveau Brunswick, you really feel a change in the vibe. Completely removed are all the suave stylists, hipsters and fashionistas that disclose all the trendy digs in Quebec, they are replaced by a sense of reality. Hard working class, blue collar, over the top hospitable and quirky people line the streets. As horrendous fashion is a Mackinnon Hereditary trait (Except for Sean Neville who could be a Giorgio Armani Model-Lucky Guy) I think arriving in New Brunswick brought back a sense of normality that we had lost in the land of cafes and croissants. Anytime we even step off of our bikes here we are immediately engaged in a conversation with a bubbling New Brunswickian, blank faced attempting to decipher what they are saying we smile, nod and inevitably giggle away. They are just such friendly, outgoing, talkative and enjoyable people. Russ told me he is thinking of franchising Pana-Go Pizza out here, says he would make a million bucks, build a pepperoni empire employing cute and chubby, peculiar British Columbians just like himself.
Today we cycled into Sackville, New Brunswick that sits 10 Kilometres from the Nova Scotia border and 50Km from the Confederation Bridge to P.E.I. so tensions were extremely high. Riding a tail wind for most of the morning we flew down the Trans Canada and into Moncton where we had our first influential meeting of the day. Scoping out Moncton’s amazingly brown river (Have to say Moncton is not my favorite city on this trip) I had the pleasure of meeting Moncton local Grade 6 student Cameron. Cameron, a very curious kid came over to us and quickly asked what we were up too. When we answered him he threw a stream of questions at us. After about 5 minutes I think that Cameron began to apprehend that “YES we did cycle from Vancouver” and “No, we are not crazy”. Cameron seemed satisfied with his questioning and skipped off to his skateboard and his boys in the park. After a little while I watched as Cameron walked over slowly came right up to me, handed me a Looonie and squealed in the cutest puberbescent voice ever “ This is to help you on your way.” The kid made my day as we really did remind me of myself pre-growing pains, crows feet and when my mom thought my high pitched soprano vocal chords were taking me to Carnegie Hall. We will definitely donate Cameron’s Loonie with pride!
Arriving in Sackville, we landed at a McDonald’s to use their free Wi-Fi and get myself an Earl Grey Tea as my head was screaming. (Apparently Tea can become an addiction just like coffee Morgan McDonald) We decided to sit there until dark, as we were honestly petrified of the mammoth mosquitoes, and just wanted to sit at a table without being harassed by them. While sitting at the McDonald’s we started chatting with Eunice Griffin, an original Ontarian who has been based in Sackville for the past 14 years. Within minutes of meeting Eunice we immediately noticed that she had an uncanny resemblance to our Grandmother from the Mackinnon clan, Nana Gaye. The similarities were ridiculous, both caring and loving ladies without question she invited us into her striking heritage home for the night. One of my favorite moments of my childhood was heading over to Vancouver on the ferry knowing that our Nana Gaye (Hughie Mac’s Mom) would always have gourmet sandwiches, treats, and ice cream for Russ waiting for us. Riding behind Eunice’s car through Sackville I felt the same way.
Walking into the house, I was so happy to have a roof above our heads. Within seconds of being in Eunice’s cozy abode Russ again showed his inane ability to suss out the most comfortable seat in the house. I swear the kid has a sixth sense, he can walk into any room, immediately scan, decode the most comfortable chair, connect with it and have himself wedged into the most enjoyable position in seconds. The guy just uses his energy so efficiently. No energy is wasted on any task that does not have top priority like food or couches.
Eunice is one switched on 84 year old, playing with her I-PAD she figured out the weather for us for the next day and doted on her four stinky and dirty new house guests. Showers, laundry, comfortable beds and an appetizing breakfast were on the menu for the next 24 hours and we could not have needed it more. Thank you Eunice so much for taking care of us!! The more time we spent with Eunice, the more we realized how intelligent, well traveled, kind and clever she was. Interacting with her felt like we were back at Nana Gaye’s house in Vancouver. It really felt like we were spending time with our Nana. (They even dressed alike and had the same hair). We talked about relationships and marriage; Eunice had met her late husband of 56 years the night before he asked her to marry him. Our Nana’s story is quite similar; listening to Eunice talk of her late husband reminded me of Nana talking of Grandpa Joe (Who I never had the privilege of meeting-One of the big regrets in my life). We talked about how back in her time divorce/separation was not an option so couples just worked on their relationships, and somehow it worked. I remember my Nana telling me this. And think it definitely has some value. Something I have really noticed about our elder generation is they really know how to tell a story. I am not sure if it is because of all the electronic-social media equipment now a days or if we have just lost the art of story telling. But Eunice had a J-Slat’s (Jordan Slater-Epic Story Teller) ability to tell a story. No detail was wasted or forgotten, every sequence in the story was perfectly placed with the punch line climaxing at the right moment punctuated by her timeless laugh.
We all fell asleep entertained by the interesting life that Eunice has led!