Father's Day on the Road; where else?
June 19th, 2012
Now don’t get me wrong. There is not much I like more than a road trip, even if, yet again, it’s from Halifax to Toronto. I still get wound up.
But when my schedule left only Father’s Day to deliver a 2012 VW Passat V6 to Toronto, a feeling of ‘poor me’ surfaced. To spend the day celebrating fatherhood alone on the road while other fathers hang out at home collecting favours and love just didn’t seem fair.
The silver lining attitude soon took over when I realized even by staying home I wouldn’t see two of my three daughters since they don’t live in Halifax. The youngest offered a rain cheque on the yummy favourite meal she promised.
Drove to Fredericton on Saturday night to take an edge off the 1,900-kilometre Father’s Day run. Plenty of bugs and a good dose of Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap followed by Saturday Night Blues. Even with a bazillion stations on Sirius XM satellite radio, it’s hard to beat good old CBC FM radio on Saturday night. The Passat’s crisp 400-watt Fender sound system didn’t hurt one bit.
I was up before dawn on Father’s Day and strapped on the Passat for the 14-hour run to Toronto. Before leaving, I engaged the Bluetooth system so I can use the cell phone hands-free. Watching the sun rise while punching through lingering fog banks along the Saint John River was a splendid way to start the day.
Of course my daughters called and although they weren’t sitting beside me listening to yet another road trip story, they made me feel like a hero, Bluetoothed through that Fender sound system.
As the day rolled by I thought about my father whose love of cars and trucks, the road and life had a considerable influence on me. He was never one to lecture, preferring instead to offer advice.
“Always wash a car from the top down.” Always have and still do, Dad.
“Get the clutch out and wait until you are just about stopped before putting it in.” I’ve only replaced one, on a 1965 Ford F100 pick-up that had a chattering clutch when I bought it.
“You can’t lock the brakes on a truck like a car.” This was pre-ABS days and although I never really understood why he told me this, I think about it when I see skid marks on the road.
Dad’s best bit of road advice came after I had driven my first extended trip, from Cape Tormentine to Moncton, New Brunswick. Although it was only about 150 kilometres, I was exhausted when I horsed the red 1964 Mercury Montclair into the driveway.
“You’re looking too close for the pot holes,” Dad said. “Just look as far down the road as possible. You will still see the potholes, but you’ll also see where you are really going.”
And that’s precisely what I did this weekend when I encountered the pothole, in the form of that long-haul trek to Toronto on Father’s Day.
I’m at an art opening with daughter Layla, perusing the work on the walls of the Pavia Gallery Espresso Bar and Café with a tasty caffe mocha in my hand. Layla and I are commenting on the work, deciding which one we would purchase if we had the extra money.
Why is this activity out of the ordinary and blog-worthy? A few reasons.
One: it’s Father’s Day and neither Layla nor I have fathers in the near vicinity. Well, not ours anyway.
Two: the art. It’s all about cars and racing.
Three: It’s the classic ‘Sunday Drive’ and as Layla reminds me, when she was a kid, she was ‘dragged’ along on plenty of Sunday Drives.
It’s funny how perceptions of adults are different than that of children. Garry and I remember tiptoeing around the Sunday Drive idea, not wanting to ‘impose’ on our children’s weekend activities.
It all turns out well in the end, though, because, here we are, grown-up Layla and I, out on a Father’s Day Sunday Drive, looking at ‘car’ art, having a wonderful time, despite the lack of our fathers nearby.
My Dad lives in Quebec and, although he isn’t here physically today, he’s in my thoughts. I owe him my love of driving and the road trip. And I thank him for ‘dragging’ me along on Sunday Drives when I was a kid.
I think about Dad when gazing at ‘Battle Plans (Ferrari 156 F1)’ on the wall. This is Layla’s and my favourite here today, we agree. I think Dad would like it, too, being Italian and having had a career in the automotive industry.
It’s a limited edition giclée that depicts Carlo Chiti, Enzo Ferrari and Mauro Forghieri discussing the Ferrari 156 F1 (Sharknose) in the Modena workshop in March 1961. Despite the workshop environment, they are all dressed in suits looking elegant and focused.
The artist is Paul Chenard and today the Pavia Gallery is hosting his first art exhibit opening. Paul’s work of vintage automobiles and historic races is exquisitely rendered with a deft, gentle and knowledgeable hand. He is quietly passionate about his subjects (cars, racing and people) and knows the histories behind the renderings intimately.
Before meeting the artist, we met his art. In December 2008, he sent Garry a Christmas card. On the card was Paul’s original artwork featuring race car driver Sir Stirling Moss on his way to winning the 1959 Nürburgring 1000 km in an Aston Martin DBR1. In the picture, he is being chased by second-place finisher Phil Hill in a Ferrari TR59. The movement and action in the depiction fascinated both Garry and me and we’ve been fans of Paul Chenard, and his work, ever since.
So, when I hear that he is having his first exhibit on Father’s Day, I know I’m going, even though Garry is not here to share the car-centric day. He is here in spirit. ‘Dragging’ Layla along on the Sunday Drive is simply a bonus.
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- Day 5 of our record-breaking attempt: Vancouver to Halifax, least amount of fuel. Dryden to Wawa. | August 27th, 2013
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