University graduate completes Facebook-themed road trip 0
Greg Mountenay was having a difficult time finding a summer job.
A recent graduate of teacher’s college from Queen’s University, Mountenay took a different approach to figuring out what he wanted to do with his summer.
Originally from just outside of Ottawa, Mountenay, 23, was talking to some of his friends about a road trip across the country when an idea struck him.
“With two degrees and unemployed, I was talking to one of my friends about how great it would be … to pick up everything I need for an epic road trip,” he said.
Prior to attending Queen’s University, Mountenay completed a French degree at Trent University in Peterborough.
His life experiences had left the grad with a plethora of friends and networks scattered across the country.
Which made him think; why not incorporate social media into the journey?
“I thought about hitting the road and visiting all my friends along the way,” he said.
Through conversations with friends and a connection that proved fruitful, Mountenay got a call he wasn’t expecting.
“Canadian Tire called me and said we’re really interested in your road trip idea …and the rest is history.”
The company set the grad up with camping gear and all the necessities he would need, according to Mountenay.
Starting on July 11, the trip took more than a month to complete, as Mountenay was still driving his 2006 Suzuki SUV towards Ottawa by mid August.
Beginning in Peterborough, Mountenay travelled east to Ottawa and then headed across the west coast, all the way to Victoria. Once there he turned around and headed all the way to the east side of the country, ending in Halifax.
He then turned around again to explore more of Ontario, including time spent with friends in Algonquin Park, an area he was familiar with.
Logging more than 17,000 kilometres and getting multiple oil changes, Mountenay says it “feels like he’s seen Canada twice.”
“The goal was to see 300 of my Facebook friends and I’ve seen 315 so far … some of the people I haven’t seen for five or seven years … it’s been amazing.”
It wasn’t difficult to find people who were willing to host Mountenay, as connections and plans were made through the social media website. The grad also documented his journey through a blog, which opened up even more opportunities for people to connect with Mountenay.
“I had people popping up saying ‘I’m in Canmore, come visit me,’ … it became much more of a lucid kind of plan.”
Thanks to a GPS, which Mountenay nicknamed Dorothy, the traveller got to see sights such as Drumheller, whales in Halifax and a view of Edmonton from a helicopter.
The experience has left Mountenay with an appreciation for his friends and a better understanding of the lives they live.
“Now when a friend talks about the West Edmonton Mall on Facebook I can imagine it and know what they are talking about.”
Likening parts of the trip to feeling like a six-year-old, Mountenay said he would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
“I would love to do a trip like this over four months … it was the most amazing experience. Some of these people I visited were just acquaintances and now I’ve done things like paddled in Banff with them,” he said.
Reflecting on his parents’ generation, who grew up without social media, Mountenay believes the platform makes it easier to keep in touch with people from the past and establish better friendships.
“People look at Facebook and think social media is taking over the way that we communicate … I look at it more as a way of keeping connected so that you can reconnect later.”
Looking towards the fall, Mountenay is now registered on the supply-teaching list for Ottawa, which he believes is the first step in getting a permanent job.
Qualified to teach high school level English and French, Mountenay is ready to get back in a classroom, this time, however, not as a student.
“I’m sure by the end of it they [my students] will be like ‘not another road trip story.’”