I grip the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car, driving on the wrong side of the highway. It’s my first experience driving in North Wales, and I’m finding the hairpin turns to be more than a little hair-raising.
Contrary to the popular saying, knuckles don’t really go white: they stiffen around the steering wheel on fingers that seize like claws. I’m so close to the craggy mountain that my shoulders involuntarily seize up in a shrug to keep the rock face from scraping against the side of the car.
When we stop at a rest area and look back (left photo), it seems the highway has no shoulder room either.
Not what we’re used to on the TransCanada through Saskatchewan (right).
Still, the North Wales highway is in good condition. No potholes to swallow your tires, as we sometimes find at home, and very little in the way of garbage and litter on the roadsides. If the mountains unnerve me, it’s likely because I’m a flatlander by nature. On the other side of the car, past my daughter’s calm figure, I catch glimpses from time to time of the steep drop from the mountain highway past the cars that shave by us. Barely enough room for two cars to pass. I can’t help but wonder what it’ll be like once we leave the main highway.
Everything is moving too fast: the cars going by us on the right (instead of the left), the signs, the time on our three-week trip “overseas.”
That’s the tone for our first trip to North Wales. Getting used to the narrow highways was only the first part of the journey for me. It stretched me in ways I could never have imagined. The result? Travel articles, a young adult medieval fantasy novel, and a new perspective on my Welsh heritage.
I’m planning a trip back next year. Flipping through the pages of my journals and considering some of the striking photos we took, I find I can hardly wait. Over the next few weeks I plan to post an article every Tuesday. Many will detail our trip to Wales, as well as our family trips to other places of interest in Canada and around the world. Have you been to Wales? If you care to share your experiences, or comment on mine, please click “Read more” below.