oh, oh canada

Canada Day in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, is a big deal. On the 150th anniversary of Confederation, it is a really, really big deal. Charlottetown and the Big Red Music Festival had paired up to provide a Canada Day weekend’s worth of real Canadian music, including, of course, Newfoundland rock stars Hey Rosetta, and The Barenaked Ladies. I snagged us tickets for Hey Rosetta, and Rachel booked the weekend off at work. The drive from the Annapolis Valley to Charlottetown takes approximately four and a half hours. Canada Day fell on a Tuesday, and we had planned to leave town on the Sunday before, heading out in the morning and getting there in time for the Sunday night line up. Of course, that would have been too easy. So instead, in a moment of spontaneity, we packed up the car on Saturday evening. No lists, minimal planning. Running from house to hatchback with sleeping bags, totes filled with clothes and beach blankets and matches, water bottles and snacks. A last minute stop at the store for marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate, and another stop at Rachel’s house for her road trip music stash – an eclectic and not entirely Canadian collection of Fleetwood Mac, Great Big Sea, Hey Rosetta and Barenaked Ladies (in preparation for the concert), and Mark Knopfler. By 9pm, we were on the highway, driving off into the sunset. Having run out of driving snacks, we stopped in the thriving metropolis of Truro for the night. The blue-haired gent at the front desk of the cheap hotel was thrilled to have customers, and we crashed into a chocolate-filled, driving-induced sleep. As the money-less student travelers we are, we partook of the breakfast buffet with gusto, not only filling ourselves with cold waffles, but also packing bagels and packets of cream cheese, peanut butter, and jam into the snack bag (also known as Rachel’s Really Big Purse). Racing to the car with our somewhat-stolen stash, we hopped back on the highway, and followed the signs to the Confederation Bridge- a  popular spot on the anniversary of Confederation. We only drove 10 kilometers too far into New Brunswick before realizing it was not, in fact, the bridge, before getting back on track. We aren’t big fans of maps. All was well, however, when we finally arrived in Charlottetown. It was the most perfect summer day, almost too perfect, as our chocolate proceeded to melt all over the car seats in the heat. So much for s’mores. Driver got to pick the lunching spot, and I took Rachel to Young Folk and the Kettle Black, a cafe right downtown, and clearly the place to be. Rachel’s veggie burger was the size of her head, and I had a portobello mushroom melt, with an iced tea to share. We sat outside on the patio, under a huge, patriotic maple tree, and watched the little children climb on everything- including us. We only had a few hours to kill before the music started, most of which were spent begging various baristas around the city to fill our water bottles as we tried to stay upright in the hottest day of the season. Before we knew it, Adam Baldwin was entertaining the very small crowd from the main stage, and we were getting sun-blasted while eating pizza from kiosks. Rachel, as an almost-Newfoundlander, had waited desperately all day for Hey Rosetta to hit the stage, and as the sun went down we joined the throngs dancing to their French horn-playing, trumpet-wailing, Newfoundland-inspired brand of rock, followed too quickly by Sam Roberts Band, who impressed us all not only with his hits, but also a massive light show and a freakin amazing sax solo. Rachel – the saxophonist – had to stop dancing to listen. There were more people watching the show than we have in our whole town, but the crowd was nothing compared to what we had to look forward to on Canada Day!

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