We awoke to a Shenandoah National Park softly shawled in blue fog and cooled by a light mist of dawn rain. Down through the valley the dark tarmac of Skyline Drive wound its way among groves of Poplar, Pine, Oak, and snags of dying Ash. Understory, the ferns and wildflowers bent heavy with dampness, and all around was silent, save for the wine of the tires as we swept toward Front Royal.
The plan was to follow the Shenandoah Valley to the Cumberland Valley and into the Hudson Valley and Champlain Valley — all part of the western formation of valleys along the Appalachians. But, we did not yet know the rules. Just after a brief stop in Front Royal, we checked the border crossing website to estimate wait times for tomorrow’s move into Canada. As it would happen, the rules for crossing the border have been updated since we left Atlanta. You are now required to have a very specific type of COVID test completed within 72 hours of your crossing. We do not have that test. We can not get to Cape Breton without entering Canada and we can not enter Canada without that test. These are the rules.
It turns out we can get that test. In Manchester, New Hampshire. We figure all this out as we travel toward Eastern Pennsylvania. Since everything depends on getting the test, getting it read and having all that within a certain number of hours of crossing the border, we alter course and find the fastest route to Manchester. This route is neither interesting nor scenic, nor peaceful, but it is doable.
So tomorrow at around noon we will be tested and by 6 pm we should be in St. John for the night so we can catch a ferry across the Bay of Fundy to Nova Scotia at 8 am on Friday morning. But really, who knows. Tonight, we are being serenaded by coyotes, tree frogs and the periodic splash of a leaping fish, along the banks of the Housatonic River in Connecticut. It is a pleasant bookend to the shawl of Shenandoah fog from this morning, and a faithful tonic to the day of highways and phone calls and figuring out.
We will move on tomorrow at dawn, completely confident that it will all work out and thoroughly happy to be trying to make sure it does. These are the rules.