robertisenberg

Canadian Outback: 1

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2010 at 12:51 am

Photograph of Jim Vota and Sarah Jennings riding the Trans-Labrador Highway. Within seconds, they were subsumed in a cloud of dust.

After three weeks and several thousand miles, I have just returned from Canada. My bank account is empty, my phone was briefly shut off, and mail has piled on my desk. I’m a little shaky on my feet, having spent so much time huddled in the back of an SUV. But now I’m here, back in real life, and I have a lot to write about.

A lot of people are confused about my trip. They’re not sure where I was all this time, and I was too busy, before leaving, to really explain it. Here, in brief, is what I was up to:

  1. I traveled with the ALT Project, a documentary film team that takes alternative roadways through North America. Each year, they pick a theme and plot a course. This is the Project’s third year.
  2. The theme this year was twofold: Acadian culture and riding (by motorcycle) the Trans-Labrador Highway, which is effectively Labrador’s only major road. The highway is mostly gravel, sparsely populated, and cuts through 341 miles of wilderness.
  3. The highway was completed earlier this year and should be paved within the decade, so it has attracted all kinds of adventure-riders from around the world. The route is long and rugged, and a lot of motorcyclists salivate over this.
  4. This odyssey also doubled as my “field seminar” for Chatham University. The MFA Program requires that students travel somewhere (aw, shucks), and I wanted a structured project that was also independent in nature. The ALT Project seemed like the perfect opportunity.

My goal now is to write about this journey. I have a pile of notes, 500-odd photographs, and tons of memories — none of which have to do with the documentary proper. Jim Vota, the head of the ALT Project, gave me plenty of free-time to explore the towns and meet people. Once I’d finished interviewing the Acadians, Jim encouraged me to do what I do best — wander around and meet people.

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