8:30 am. Best sleep I’ve had in more than two weeks! I go downstairs for breakfast but it looks like needs to be ordered and it’s gonna take more time than I want to spend so I just fill up the thermos with hot water and go back to my room to pack. I check out. It’s the same pregnant clerk as yesterday evening. She should definitely take a leave from work. I get back in the car. It’s raining a bit. I get back on the highway.
The road isn’t interesting, or maybe it’s just that I really can’t wait to be home. It’s always the last stretch that seems endless. It’s about lunch time when I enter the GTA. Not the video game. The Greater Toronto Area. I take an express lane, which has fewer cars because it’s separated from the other lanes that are connected to the exits/entrances. I quickly realize that that may have been a mistake. The car is running on fumes, and I need to get off the highway soon. Luckily, I manage to escape the express lane, and then the highway, to stop at a gas station. As I refuel, there’s a homeless person walking their cart full of stuff near the gas station. Suddenly the clerk gets out of the store and tells the man “You can’t smoke here!” The homeless man mumbles and keeps moving his cart, then goes behind the store to bring a second one. I’m a bit worried because he doesn’t seem to worry or realize his cigarette is dangerous here. Luckily I’m done filling up the tank, and I take off in a hurry, back on the highway.
Still in the GTA, I hope to see the CN Tower from afar. Every couple of minutes I look right in the hopes of seeing it. I start to think I missed it when suddenly there it is! Sweet! It disappeared as quickly as it appeared, though. I’m a bit disappointed. No lunch, I want to be home so I continue having some snacks. Good thing I bought a lot before I left Montreal! Back in the middle of the flat forest, not much to see. It’s Ontario, flat with trees. It starts to rain. This has been kind of a theme this whole trip. While I’m disappointed, at least it’s not snowing and it isn’t too cold. I make a stop in a rest area. People don’t seem to worry too much about social distancing. They should. The whole virus story has moved so fast, maybe they need more time to adjust. There’s no time to need more time though.
I’m bored, so I call a friend to catch up. We talk a bit, then hang up. I listen to some music, then suddenly I’m at the same interchange where, not even three weeks ago, I turned off the highway to go through Thousand Islands. I’m now back in the middle of the leafless trees again.
I’m finally near the border between Ontario and Quebec when I see a field on the left, covered with seagulls. “So that’s where the seagulls hangout all winter,” I think to myself. I know it’s not true, they probably go further south, but I have fun thinking that seagulls could migrate just two hours from Montreal, on a boring field along the border with Ontario.
I arrive on Montreal island, there are fewer cars than when I left. I call another friend to catch up, and, as I pass the airport, I really notice this time how few cars are on the road compared to usual. It’s 5:30 pm, rush hour. I should be almost at a stand still, and while there are cars all around me, we’re all driving above the 70 km/h speed limit. I finally leave the highway. Just a few hundred metres and I’m home. Now it’s shocking how empty the city is. There’s no one in the streets, and barely any cars. The weather is the same as when I left. It almost feels like I haven’t been gone at all.
5:52 pm. I’ve just parked and turned off the engine. 41,684km on the counter. It was at 31,563 km when I turned on the engine at the beginning of this trip. Now, because I come back from another country, I’m supposed to self-isolate for 14 days. I’m not allowed to go out and I have to limit my movement even within the condo building. I grab my luggage, backpacks, and as many things as I can from the car. But I’ll probably have to make one or two more trips to completely empty it. I look around in the parking garage to see if anybody’s there. I should avoid staying near anyone. Nobody’s around. I get in the elevator. Nobody. I reach my apartment door, open it, get in and drop everything. My legs are shaking. I’m relieved to be home.