Sunday, 12 June 2011

On the difference between landscapes in dreams and reality

In a Skype conversation with Margo and Chris a few days ago, I discovered that they are thinking of starting their Atlantic Canada bike trek in Moncton rather than Deer Lake. They wished to know how long I had taken to get from Moncton to Deer Lake a few years ago. I was able to send them an Excel file of my odometer readings from that trip.

While checking the file before sending it off, I noticed that my distances were fairly short on the whole, in fact much shorter than I remembered. Looking back, I was loafing along at a certain level partly as there were things I wanted to see, partly as I was approaching distances fairly conservatively and partly because I was traveling "bed to bed" meaning I was always stopping at a place where I was sure of getting a bed. Given the layout of Atlantic Canada, this more or less predetermined the length of each day.

Margo and Chris will be much less affected by this given their ability to camp. I wonder if this means my information will be of less use to them in the Maritime provinces compared to Newfoundland. In the latter province, the distances were much higher on average owing to the lesser density of the population and things to stop and see.

I offered to snail mail them the road maps I had torn out of the Atlantic Canada Back Road Atlas and waterproofed. They asked me to wait until they had a better idea about whether they will do this. Nonetheless, I have been thinking about both their potential trip and the trip I made back in 2008.

For this reason, as I lay in bed this morning only partly awake, I was thinking about what information I could provide them. (I am a librarian, after all: the desire to deliver information is a hallmark of my profession.) This morphed into thinking about the landscape of Newfoundland. As I was only partially awake, the "Newfoundland" landscape was that from an old dream. It was smoother, much more "yuppified" and quaint, fewer trees and somehow...much more remote, much further away from anywhere. As if it were on the distant edge of the World. I couldn't figure out which airports I would be using, nor could I even remember their names!

Then I woke up a bit more and everything snapped into reality: Deer Lake, Gander (whose airport I will not be using on this trip) and St. John's. As well, the memory of the actual landscape of Newfoundland (rugged, but relatively low hills, trees, and indifferent, "blue-collar" architecture) came vividly to mind. As well, as I have been to Newfoundland twice in the last few years, it seemed very much nearer and "realer".

Dreams are funny things. Yet I wasn't quite dreaming this morning, I was half-awake, or possibly only a third awake before I moved into two-thirds awake when stark clarity hit!

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