Last Friday I shared the view from our backyard. It looks like paradise and in many ways it is. I have a "pinch me, I actually get to live here" outlook most days.
When we decided to leave Maine to move back to Canada we had two criteria in looking for a place to live. We wanted to live within driving distance from my parent's place in NS, and we wanted to live close to mountains. A search to meet those two criteria landed us here, on the Gaspé peninsula of Québec.
There were other factors that contributed to our decision to live where we do - the opportunity to live in a different culture and learn another language, the fact there are no Walmarts or McDonalds, and without a doubt the natural beauty of the peninsula (beauty speaks to me on a very spiritual and inspirational level). We felt we could have a high quality of life here and our experience so far has proven that to be true.
We believe also that God brought us here for His purposes in our lives and lives of people around us (something I don't write about a lot but is very important in our decision making).
We did not move here for the easy access to large cities and centers of commerce. There is no easy access to either of these.
That is the price we pay for living in paradise. And affording it.
There are many beautiful places to live in Canada. The west coast, interior BC and the BC and Alberta Rockies call to us especially but those locations are decidedly way beyond a day's drive from my parents. I am currently swooning as my friend Catherine shares her travels through those very places. But those beautiful places are also more expensive than the peninsula where we live because they are all relatively close to major centers.
Whenever a beautiful place is close to a major center - people come, lots of people, and prices go up and eventually Walmart comes to town and well, you get the idea.
There are great advantages to living closer to big centers. That has been my reality for my whole life up until one year ago. Access to shopping, world-class arts and culture, and easy travel are a big draw, to be sure.
But for us, right now, an affordable life in the woods - where we connect with people all over the world and have access to amazing resources from shopping to school via the internet - is a bigger draw. Not to mention our local community has enough "culture" to meet our needs - good coffee shops, theatre, music and art exhibitions. Arts and culture are alive and well in the Gaspé. (Now if only there were some homeschoolers and Amazon prime shipping.)
To illustrate one of the challenges of living in paradise I thought I'd share my travel plans with you for going to Allume next month.
Allume is my first blogging conference and with travel arrangements like this, it may just be my last. After researching all the options - planes, trains and buses to and from where we live, I made the following travel arrangements.
- Wednesday afternoon - Board a bus for Québec city (make a midnight transfer in Rimouski). After driving all night, arrive in Québec city in the wee hours of the morning.
- Early, early Thursday morning - Catch a cab to the airport. Board a plane to Toronto. Transfer planes in Toronto.
- Thursday mid-morning - Arrive in Harrisburg, PA. Catch a shuttle to the airport.
- Thursday through Sunday - Connect and meet with amazing bloggers and online friends. I can't wait for this part. So looking forward to seeing my close friend Emily, rooming with Jamie and meeting Tsh and others.
- Sunday morning - Catch an airport shuttle and board a plane out of Harrisburg. Fly to Toronto, then Montréal, then Québec city.
- Sunday evening - Hang out in Québec city. Any recommends?
- Sunday midnight - Board a bus for Rimouski. Make a transfer for home. Another all-nighter.
- Monday, around noon - Arrive home. Tired and travel weary but full of friendship and creative and spiritual encouragement.
A total of five flights, four bus routes and a couple cab rides and shuttles in between. You'd think I was going to Europe or something!
I googled it. "Flying" to Allume will take me as long as driving there. I'm not sure which is cheaper, when taking into account the cost of gas for a seventeen hour drive. Driving wasn't an option anyway. We're a one car family and Damien needs a vehicle while I'm gone. And I have no desire to make a seventeen hour drive on my own.
Alternatively, I could have avoided the bus by flying first out a regional airport across the border in New Brunswick but the flight times were not good and it would take Damien and the kids nearly five hours driving to get me there and get back home again. They'd have to make this journey twice and that is a real cost in terms of gas and working time lost for Damien. Not to mention this option was twice the cost of the bus-plane travel arrangements.
So there you have it. The travel realities of living in paradise.