July 31, 2008

Quoth the blog

Holy crap. It took me the last ninety minutes to add the random quote generator at the right, but it's there. One tiny mistake and the whole thing is buggered. I'm not a perfectionist about anything so working with HTML code is too damn fussy for me, but I think I've got it so I can easily add to it without having any mental breakdowns. I'll save those for when I'm watching reality tv.

If it's working correctly, you should get a different quote each time but I've only put in 75 quotes, so don't whine if you get repeats.

I need coffee, talk to you later.

PS. Google Adsense, WTF? 3 ads for cat diarrhea?

So You think You Can Snack

We needed more seaweed wrappers for sushi, and ended up getting coconut and almond pocky sticks and ginger ice cream. Haven't tried the ice cream yet, but the pocky sticks were decimated mere seconds after opening them. I needed to keep my strength up watching the final 6 dancers.

We also got some hot peppers, and even after washing my hands 4 times, the oil is still there. Gord is delighted, because he could never find properly hot peppers in Calgary. He's also going to have to eat the remaining 6 peppers by himself because I like to actually taste my food, not just have a peculiar burning sensation that lasts all night.

I'm using my old laptop tonight, and I'd forgotten how slow it was. Nothings wrong with the new one, just Gord playing Diablo 3, or 4 or 85 or whatever, and I wanted to watch old episodes of Project Runway. What is it about watching people make clothes that is so satisfying? I'm guessing its the borrowed sense of accomplishment.

I also ordered some art supplies today. I tried to order from Dick Blick, but they were going to charge me $60 just to ship it here. So I found Art Supplies Direct, which is in Calgary of all places. But free shipping, so I'm happy. I prefer online shopping. I can do it in my pajamas and it doesn't matter what time of day it is, online is always open. Plus, someone else carts it up the stairs for me. If there's any thing I'm good at, it's lazing.

Kelly, Amanda and I had our first long distance Rock Band session, and I played on medium for a change. I'm usually a slacker and stick with easy, but today I braved it and even managed to hit the blue button sometimes. Kind of pathetic when you think about it, that people will put time and effort into getting good at a video game version of something they could do in real life. Maybe that's why Neo didn't free all the pod people - they were quite happily playing Rock Band in their purple goo sacks, and couldn't be bothered to, I don't know, walk around. Eat food. Interact with other people. That crap is overrated anyway. But the third Matrix was still a shitty movie.

July 29, 2008

Kitty Stink Eye

The black cat had stink eye tonight. I don't know what was wrong other than that she wouldn't open her right eye and it was runny. So I wiped the goo away and tried to look at her eye. Squirmy cat + stink eye = big fun. I didn't see anything. Waited a half hour and tried again, wiped the new goo away, saw nothing obvious sticking out of her eyeball and took the only rational course of action. I googled "Cat runny eye" (It's what I do. I have no doubt that one day I will find myself googling "survival zombie apocalypse" or worse "adult diapers"). I found out that most likely, if its clear goo (which it was) that she may have a cold if her nose is dry, or a blocked tear duct, or just something in her eye that has to be 'teared' out. If its greenish yellow do not pass go, go directly to the vet.

Thank god it wasn't green. And she's got both eyes open now which is a huge relief because I'm unemployed and on a fixed budget of "don't spend any more money". Of course I would have taken her to the vet but I'm bloody glad it didn't come to that.

PS. Kudos to 'anonymous' for the poem. Anyone who takes the time to rhyme their comments should get a cookie. Too bad you're anonymous ;)

July 28, 2008

Morality for Dummies

Rock band arrived in the mail today, so Kelly and I can finally get the Wyld Stallyns World Domination tour going. I called Death so I can have the bass, and I think Kelly's Station on drums, so guitar is still up for grabs. I'm guessing Alex Winter is free....unless Gord or Amanda want to step in.

I have been missing work lately. Not the office job, the mind numbing boredom of my cubicle is nothing to wax nostalgic about. And I don't miss the customer interaction of the bookstore job, but good god do I miss the people I worked with. And being surrounded by books. Except for the crappy customers whining about US prices, that was the best job. I can't believe the whole US pricing thing still bothers me, but I'll just blog about it til it goes away.

Here's the deal with US prices. The only people who can legally produce a book are the publishers. Most publishers are in the US, they set the price, and since they're the only ones who can produce the product, they can set whatever damn price they want. The market value of the Canadian dollar means shit to them. So there you have it. Buy Canadian, or stop whining. Oh, and because of all the whining about the high cost of books, Raincoast Books (the publishers who did the Canadian editions of Harry Potter) is no longer even publishing, so thanks for that. If it needs to be explained in simpler terms, here's Economics for Dummies:

Things cost money.

If you want things, you have to pay for them or steal them.

That's it. You can negotiate the price of a car or a house, but that's about it. You can steal a car, but it's risky. Regardless of what The Riches and Opportunity Knocks would have us believe, I don't think it's possible to steal a house. Not for long, anyway.
You can download music, and if you're stealing from Metallica, good on you (except you have shitty taste in music, but those guys are tools and no one should pay for their music), but it is still stealing, and you should feel a little bit bad about that. Not a lot bad, cause people like Madonna and Coldplay certainly aren't hard up for money. Feel bad if you steal from the broke musicians who don't have a private jet. (Morality for Dummies)

Everything else costs what it costs and whining about it is a waste of time. The discussion about the price of an item is one that should happen in your own head. You should not say to yourself 'Hey, hey, the Canadian dollar is worth more than the US dollar. I guess I'll spend recklessly and purchase everything I see, WOOHOO!' If you say this to yourself, odds are you are an idiot.

You ask yourself, 'How badly do I want/need this item?' and "can I afford to pay X amount of dollars for said item?'. The answers to those 2 questions will determine whether or not you make the purchase. You do not scream at/throw books at/otherwise abuse the employees of the store because you forgot to have the above conversation with yourself. Retail staff should be allowed to give Time Outs to customers and if they won't abide by it, call in the British nannies.

That said - Mariana, Kristy, Sara, Heidi, Linda, Mike, Alex (congrats on making Vancouver!) - I miss you guys. And it's not just the total isolation of Montreal talking, I swear.

July 25, 2008

In our ongoing quest for furniture, Gord ordered this online and it arrived 2 days ago. I'm going to call it the Devils Snare from now on because once you get in you're trapped. There's no getting out, every move you make just ends up putting you in a more comfortable position and you fall asleep.

I'm watching Ghost Whisperer right now, but only because Jamie Bamber of Battlestar Galactica is slumming on the show tonight. He's dead and can't cross over because he's been possessed by the annoying kid from Aliens in America, who wants a body to go to his high school reunion...Who in their right mind wants to go to the high school reunion? Why is Biff trying to romance Camryn Manheim? This crapfest replaced Joan of Arcadia? You suck, CBS.

Joss Whedon is filming the Dollhouse, so there's some good tv coming. And there's Dexter and Mad Men, and it's possible that Breaking Bad may come back, so it's not all network doody.

My mission tonight is to find a place nearby that does really good ginger beef, and go there.
We've got 4 days left in our month of slacking off. Better make them count.

July 24, 2008

We must warn the others

We watched Hancock today. Here's your warning - it's the worst movie ever. Worse than Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. I'd rather watch Bloodrayne again.
I don't know if it's just because I no longer have the mind of an 8 year old, but movies today are crap. They don't make em like they used to.

On the up side, Gord make Shepards Pie and 3 of my books came today. So I'm pleasantly stuffed with mashed potatoes and reading Making Money and trying to forget the waste of time that was Hancock. Stupid stupid movie.

July 22, 2008

Feed your addictions. Go Tylenol!

Sorry I haven't posted in a while! First rule of blogging, post often or people will forget all about you. Here's a quick summary of the last week:

Contemporary art - We don't get it.

Walking around this city - Not for the directionally challenged. We are always out by 180. We need to stop trusting our instincts and take a damn map. Or breadcrumbs.

Late night TV - you watch Leno for the headlines, Letterman for the top 10 and Conan for the monologue. God, it's nice to be able to stay up late enough to catch Conan.

Rock the Reception on TLC - looks like the most humiliating experience on earth. White people can't dance.

There is no good place for the litter box. When those beasts poop you can smell it everywhere, air fresheners be damned.

Running out of Advil at that time of the month - BAD idea. Gord having a whole bottle of Tylenol 3 that he doesn't want to take - priceless. Although not as effective as 3 Advil Liquigels at once, it's better than walking to the store in the rain.

Spending an hour trying to find a store that is open before 8AM here - impossible. Even the PharmaPrix that is open 23 hours a day wasn't open before 8. WTF? We got to the laundromat at about 7:05 this morning and we'd planned to just buy detergent from the dispenser but it was broken. Not a single store in our neighborhood opens before 8 - a fact I discovered after driving up and down Sherbrooke for 20 minutes. The good news here is that gas prices at the Esso on our corner were down to 134.9. We're not going through a lot of gas these days, so hopefully this tank will last through a couple of airport runs.

I just found 3 Chapters giftcards that I'd forgotten about, so I'm going to see how many Terry Pratchetts I can get for $135. It's not an indulgence, I'm supporting Alzheimers research.

July 18, 2008


We just got back from an early morning walk, although for us it's still part of last night. Gord wanted to take me to the park down the road and show me the squirrels, who are very active just after sunrise. It's raining, and they weren't out this morning. It's a strange, light drizzle with lots of thunder and lightning. So we just sat in the park for a while and watched the sky get lighter as the sun came up. You never really see the sun come up in a city, there are too many things in the way unless you've got a good vantage point.

I've been feeling like a freak since long before we left Calgary, and it hasn't quite gone away yet. I had a life there, a job, friends & family and all the stuff that is supposed to make you complete, but it wasn't working. I could have tried for a better paying job and bought a house, and that's supposed to be what people want. This just sounds like bullshit to me, because of all the people I knew, not one of them seemed really happy. They were all searching for something, or waiting for something, or drinking something. Probably all three at once. Anyway, we were sitting in the park in the rain, listening to the thunder - it really is different here. In Calgary, it's usually short and sharp. The thunder here really takes its time. Nothing is in a rush in Montreal. So, I guess I did pick the right city, because what I needed was to stop and think a while, with nothing to do but think the next thought that comes along and see where it leads. Do you have any idea how rushed we all are, with all the lists of 'have to's' running through our minds every second?

We like to think in years when all we have are days. We've all made plans for years down the road, and throw away the days on meaningless crap because we've fooled ourselves into thinking we're keeping an eye on the bigger picture. If we were, we'd make those days count for more than the errands we ran, the tasks completed. It matters what you do with your time. I can't keep doing meaningless work for a paycheck. Not to be too dramatic, but I think it was destroying my soul. What was the point of it? To make money so that in the pitiful amount of time I had free from work and responsibility, I was so mentally drained, all I could do was self medicate with distractions. And do this for 60 years, and somehow raise a family and teach my kids to throw out their days with the trash because thats all I'd know how to do.

It was a fairly depressing situation, and I'm glad I've climbed out of it. I don't know what's coming next. None of us are guaranteed anything. If you wake up tomorrow, make it count. Get some things out of the way so you can see the sunrise.

July 15, 2008

Tally Ho!

So here are the best guess numbers of what it cost to get out here.

Gas - $628.79 (this is not as horrifying as it sounds, because our loving families kept giving us gas money. Much appreciated gas money.)

Motel in Swift Current $70
Night at the Cat Sass Tavern parking lot: 1 pint of blood
Travelodge Thunder Bay $110 (including charge for 2 cats)
Wawa Campground $26 (plus 6 for firewood)
Norvic Motel $69
Ontario Municipal Campground $87 (plus $13 for 2 bundles of firewood)

for a total of $381

Yikes. We should have just slept in the car the whole way.

UHaul - $196 + $54 for insurance + $27 for the extra day = $277.

We're not going to count food, because we would have eaten food if we'd stayed at home. And I don't want to add anything else to this.

Grand total for the move, (not counting anything spent to get ready for the move)


Holy shit. I need a minute....

ok, minus the money our families gave us and it's only $706.79

However.......Here's the cost if we'd decided to fly out.

I've checked Air Canada & Westjet, and if we were lucky and found a seat sale, we could each have flown out for approximately $410, so $820.
Cat's flight $50 each, if we treat them like checked baggage. Which we probably couldn't have done. So we would have had to buy 2 soft sided kennels , so pretend we could find those for $50 each - now we're at $200 to get the damn cats to Montreal (that sentance would read quite differently if Gord were writing this. But he's far more patient with the cats than I am.)

So, $1020 to fly us, 2 cats and 2 suitcases each. That would leave us without:
Gord's 3 electric bass', 1 upright and 1 amp
My 7 boxes of books and 4 boxes of art supplies
All our kitchen crap (we love our blender. And the rice cooker.)
Mattress, bed frame, tv, most of our towels etc. etc.

The cost of shipping all those items out, or replacing them once we got here - I'm guessing it'd be more than $266, so we really did make the economical choice. Plus, now we have a really good sense of just how far away everyone we know is. And that's important, because you can never have enough guilt or homesickness in your life.

I'm going to wake Gord up so we can watch Dexter and eat chocolate chip cookies. What are you going to do today?

Post Apocalyptic Grocery Stores

We went to a movie last night. Nothing makes me feel more normal and grounded than just going to a damn movie. It's such a homey thing to do. So we went to the theatre at the Plaza Cote-Des-Neiges to see Hellboy 2. It's a strange little mall, unlike the behemoths we have in Calgary. It's more like the Stettler mall. Shops close at 6 there, except for the Zellers, Canadian Tire and Mango Tango, which are open til 7.

We went into the Mango Tango because we needed mustard (Have you ever tried to eat a sandwich without mustard? It's not even worth it). It looked like the grocery stores in a movie, after the apocalypse. Half the shelves were empty, the produce was a bit squiffy looking, we couldn't even find toilet paper. Their cereal section was 3 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios, 1 of Frosted Flakes, and a huge box of Corn Flakes. I know that western culture enjoys its excesses, and that the local Safeway is overstocked with a lot of crap we don't even need, or that is not technically 'food', but this was depressing. It was like we'd wandered into Soviet Russia. We found mustard, one lonely bottle of French's Mustard, but we left it there. We were a little afraid of the zombie eyed people at the check outs. Who knows? Maybe by purchasing that mustard, we would have validated the reality of post apocalypse Montreal, and found ourselves surrounded by real zombies, not just retail zombies.

Hellboy 2 was very good, well worth the $7.95 admission - that's right, that's the regular ticket price here. AND, they gave us a $3 coupon for the concession. Calgary movie theatres don't know how to treat their patrons.
We came home and started watching Dexter, which I wasn't too keen on at first, but now that we've seen 3 episodes - I'm getting impatient for Gord to get up so we can watch some more.

And, it's happened. We're completely turned around. We see the sunrise everyday, because we haven't gone to bed yet. We sleep til noon, and just wander the city or relax at home. We said we were taking a month off to recuperate, and we're sticking to that. Calgary messes with your head, and it's all "Go, go, go! Buy, buy, buy! Drink, drink, drink!" Where Montreal, at least in our experience, is far more likely to say "Relax, slow down, what's your hurry?" We're listening to Montreal now.

July 13, 2008

Jazz Festival

We went to the Jazz Festival on July 3rd, and caught some of the free acts. Gord wanted to see Chris Tarry, because he likes his playing if not his music. I liked the music, but maybe that's because I know jack about jazz. About 3 seconds into the show, someone lit a joint. After that, Gord and I realized that this is the official smell of Montreal, much like exhaust fumes are the official smell of Calgary.

Chris Tarry Group

We wandered a bit, had some hot dogs from a street vendor, thought we saw Murray....

And heard the band on the red stage do a cover of Joni Mitchell's 'Woodstock'.

We left the Festival area and walked a few blocks. We saw 6 sex shops and 4 used book stores, and smelled pot about every 3rd group of people. Maybe that's why there's no road rage here.

Ass Kabobs

So, those are probably the last photos you will see of the apartment for a while. Now that we've moved all our stuff in, it's a mess. And it wasn't that clean to begin with, let me tell you. We emptied the uhaul & showered, then drove around aimlessly looking for a UHaul so we could drop off the trailer. When we didn't immediately find one, I made Gord call my go-to-guy, and Kelly mapquested UHaul locations for us. We finally found one, and dropped the damn trailer off...Oh, it's nice to drive the CRV without hauling anything. I can turn around, and back up and everything. Whee!

We're starving, so we stop at A&W for dinner before heading to get groceries and cleaning supplies. And rubber gloves. Thank god for those. We don't know much about the girl who lived here before except that she had long black hair - we found it on everything. And she probably wasn't a fan of Kim & Aggie's "How Clean is Your House?". Just guessing.

And we cleaned for a good 3 hours. Gord took the bedroom and I tackled the primordial ooze living in the fridge. If left alone for long enough, it would have evolved into something...not dinosaurs or anything good. Something with tentacles, and it would go "Glop".
But I killed it with a toothbrush and lots of bleach, so we'll never know for sure.

We put the bedframe together, realizing that we'd misplaced a few bolts, so we left the top of the headboard off. Who needs it?

There's a strange set up in the bedroom, as in there's no door closing it off from the kitchen. There are 2 doors to the storage room, though. So we've got a curtain for now, and we intend to move one of the extra doors to the bedroom before we have company. That's August 19th, Kel?

We also have the worlds smallest bathroom. It's 4.5 by 5.5. But it's got a great shower, so it's a fair trade. (For anyone who does intend to visit us.....here's a tip. It takes 2 flushes to get rid of the evidence. )

The neighborhood is great, mostly. The people on our street all seem to speak english, and are friendly enough to help me out with the parking situation. Oh, parking. I've never liked parallel parking, but I'm getting semi-competent at it, out of necessity.

We're on a street with a cul-de-sac, with buildings on one side, and trees on the other. There's a space of about 6 car lenghts in the middle of our street that is reserved for people with parking permits. These cost $50/year. There are spaces for another 8 cars on the street that don't require permits. If you're lucky, you can snag one of these spots and park from Wednesday night to Tuesday night. On Wednesdays, from 9 -5, everybody has to move to the other side of the street, and again, there's a space of 6 spots reserved for people with permits. The non permit spots go fast on a Wednesday morning, so you're better off to snag one Tuesday night. This has been explained to me by several neighbors, who saw us get parking tickets the first 2 days because we had no idea what was going on. What we still don't know is why we have to park on the other side of the street on Wednesdays. It's just one of those things, I guess.

Let me just say about the drivers in Montreal - sure, they have no concept of lanes. Sometimes there are 2, sometimes 1, sometimes 3. Depends who wants to go where, regardless of the painted lines. But after driving in Calgary, it's so relaxing. It really is. No one seems to be in a hurry in Montreal, as opposed to Calgary where everyone is in a hurry and ready to commit vehicular manslaughter if you don't GO ALREADY, GOD DAMMIT!!

I feel like a complete idiot when I don't turn right on a red light if there's no traffic, and I keep waiting for the guy behind me to have an attack of road rage and come at me with a crow bar, which is what would happen in Calgary. But they don't. I'll trade road rage for the casual insanity of Montreal drivers any day. It means I don't look out of place when I get lost.

We were also warned about the humidity, and that has been harder to take than the crazy parking, or the crazy driving. There are days when it feels like you're breathing soup. There are days when all you can do is sit in front of the air conditioner. But the upside is that you don't have to constantly apply lip balm and hand lotion. Every part of you is covered in a sticky film of sweat. It's a good thing we have that fabulous shower, or the ick would drive me crazy.

The french, so far, has not been an issue. From our experience, it seems entirely possible to live here and not speak a word of it. Unless you're looking for a job other than telemarketing...

Our apartment is 1 block from Vendome Metro, 1.5 blocks from the Japanese grocery store, which we've already scavenged.

Cucumber and avacado sushi we made ourselves.
It lasted about 3 minutes.
We were hungry.
Shortly after that,
we went for pizza.

A note about Pizza Pizza - they have actual strips of bacon as a topping. There's one 4 blocks from us, and they're open til 1AM. Ask us why we love this city.

Another reason to love it here - we get hilarious junk mail.

Ass Kabob, anyone?

Our first 2 weeks here have been spent sleeping, sweating, finding furniture, sleeping, watching terrible zombie movies, sleeping, eating, napping, showering, eating and wandering our neighborhood. We've discovered that you can, in 2 hours, and without traveling more than 5 blocks, have Crepes at a Russian cafe and get groceries at the Japanese grocery store where they're playing KD Lang, and where they have 12 flavours of Pocky sticks. So far, we've been out to the Jazz Festival and the Planetarium, and unfortunately, one Wal-mart. We would have done more, but really, what's the rush? We're going to be here for a while.


Canada Day. We wake up and dismantle our tent, pack everything up and we're ready to go.
Here's the fire pit that defeated us:

Gord's shoes, sacrificed to the rain gods. They weren't enough to make it stop.

As we are heading out of the campground, Gord's camera stops working. It has condensation on the lens. Same with the video camera. So we think we've ruined our electronics by camping in the rain. Fortunately, there doesn't seem to be any permanent damage, and the camera is working again in about 40 minutes, which is good, because it means the rest of this post can be done entirely with photographs.

July 12, 2008

Days 7, 8 & 9

It rained last night. And the thunder ROOOOLLLLED, Garth Brooks. It was so long, I had time to think complete sentences. It was so loud, I felt it roll through me. It wasn't scary, just like the sky was going "Look what I can do!" very emphatically.

At some point, Gord gets up and takes everything except the sleeping bag to the car so it won't get wet in our leaky tent. Also, we were idiots and left our shoes outside the tent, cause god knows you don't want dirt in the tent. So we wake up to soggy shoes, but the sun is shining and we don't have to drive ANYWHERE today. What a freaking relief that is.

We didn't take any pictures, or even really do anything. Wait, we did laundry. Glorious clean clothes, no more bean and chili pants. We feel like kings. We also leash the cats and bring them outside for a while. They don't like outside, or being leashed. A train hoots in the distance, and both cats loose their shit. Ruku bolts into the litter box and burrows in the back, Penta dives into the duffel bag and almost knocks it off the picnic table in panic. The cats are put back in the car.

And for dinner, replay the fire woes from the previous post, minus the eventual fire. Tonight we try toilet paper and a hockey magazine. No go. It's especially embarrassing because there are witnesses in the camp to our right. These people have a camper, a tarp village, a bbq, CHRISTMAS LIGHTS...these people are equipped. These are the people that watch the Canadian Tire commercials for the outdoor air conditioning units, portable showers, and solar powered big screen tv and entertainment units and think, well, now it's possible to survive in the wilderness. I shouldn't mock them though, because the nice man had some lamp oil that he offered to pour on our logs. We had another brief fire, cooked some smokies and went to bed.

Only a light rain that night.

We wake up, and go directly back to sleep. Seriously. It starts to rain, and there wasn't anything else to do.

Second wake up, and we go to the store to get food, because I think we've pissed off the fire gods.
I'm hoping they have bread, and sandwich meat and cheese. They don't. We get:

2 cans of Pringles chips
2 chocolate bars
1 box of Gobstoppers
1 deck of cards
1 Coke
1 Fresca

We eat the Pringles and play cards in the tent for a while and it starts to rain. Again. Only HARD this time, and it's dripping into the tent.

Gord's shoes, that were almost dry, are filling up with rain outside the tent. We send whiny text messages to our friends and wait for the rain to end.

When it does, we reconfigure the tarps so that our tent is completely covered. Screw the picnic table and firepit, they're no use anyway. We sit in the tent in a gentle rain. We have one can of vegetarian chili and Gord snuggles with it for 2 hours to get it to body temperature. We eat in the tent and go to sleep. The new tarp deployment is a success. We hear the patter of rain all night, but nary a drop enters the tent.

I'd like to take a moment and thank Gord for being stuck in a tent with me for almost an entire day, and not only NOT fighting, but making it fun. There are very few people who could sit in a tiny 2 man tent with me for that long and not think standing in the rain is preferable.

Tomorrow...after a year of planning and 6 days of driving, 2 days camping in a leaky tent with fire woes, we will finally get to Montreal.


PS. The chili was still in the can. Gord did not smear chili all over his body to warm it up, and we didn't eat lukewarm chili off his naked torso with plastic forks. Just in case you didn't have that picture in your head already ;)

July 11, 2008

Day 6

We had originally planned to drive fast enough to give ourselves a day off and still make it to Montreal for June 30th, but since we don't have a show to go to, we now have 2 full days free. We can't get our apartment in Montreal until the first, so we check online for campgrounds near Ottawa, and find the Ottawa Municipal Campground. Gord calls and charms the pants off the girl on the phone, and gets us a site for 3 nights. We leave the motel in a light drizzle that becomes a downpour. Just as we're heading into North Bay, we spot - HALLELUJAH, A Canadian Tire. Not that there isn't one every 50 feet along the Transcanada, but we've just realized that we need to recover and retie the mattress. We have a mild tiff in the parking lot, and I make Gord stay in the car while I head into Canadian Tire to get new tarps, matches, duct tape and more bungee cords. How did people manage before bungee cords? I also picked up a new non leaky mattress, because I'm too delicate to sleep on the actual ground.

We fix the mattress, tie it down tight and head to the Sobeys across the parking lot. This time, I stay in the car while Gord gets groceries for the next few days. It's day 6 of constant togetherness, and it's about time for a break, even if it is only 15 minutes each. He comes back with more smokies (this is why I love him), more cans of chili, and bananas...Actual fruit. Not just something that claims to be 'fruit flavoured'.

We don't take a lot of photos today until Gord sees this building:

Which is where the Ottawa Senators play.

We get to the campground, find our site, and set up the tent. Gord goes for firewood while I blow up the air mattress. Here's where our natural camping ineptitude strikes again. The wood is all stored in these chicken wire pens, in plasstic bags. It's been raining all day. The wood is damp.
Also, while I picked up enough duct tape and bungee cords to be the next Red Green, I forgot all about those handy little things called hatchets. This wasn't such a big deal in Wawa, where each bag of firewood had tiny little kindling pieces, but here at the Ottawa Municipal Campground, you get giant logs. So we sat at our damp picnic table and peeled little strips of wood off the rough hewn logs. Soon we had a little pile of damp strips of wood and very sore fingers. Surely we could make fire with this! Having learned my lesson in Wawa, and also having decided that there's no way anything was going to burn, I graciously let Gord build the fire.

So here's how it went down:
G:"Yeah, these sticks aren't going to light."
L: "Hmpf"


G: "I would really appreciate some help."
Ok, now we're talking (or, we're talking now that he realizes HE NEEDS MY HELP. I win)
"Throw some more matches in."
"Are you sure?"
"We've got 500 of them. Throw a handful in. That'll work."
We have a brief display of match heads flaring and going out in the damp damp firepit.
"Now what?"
"We have toilet paper in the car..."
"How much?"
"4 or 5 rolls..."

I get a roll of toilet paper, and bring it back. We proceed to take a couple squares, crumple them and tuck them under the wet sticks, light them...add more toilet paper, watch it burn, add more...thinking that if nothing else, this should dry out the sticks and then they too will burn.

And we're right, but it takes 2 rolls of toilet paper to do this. Don't anyone tell my dad that I wasted 2 rolls of toilet paper like that. Well, not wasted. While Gord was crumpling and burning, I cooked 2 smokies over our toilet paper fire.
We do finally have a fire going - ok, one of the drier logs is on fire, and the rest are just there for show. Gord shoves a can of chili in as close to the burning log as he can without burning his hands. I did come prepared - I came with a guy who will stick his hands in fire so I can drop hot chili on my pants. That's Love, that is. We eat the chili and I'm about to say "Lets put out the fire and go to bed" when the fire goes out. We go to bed.

Gas to get us this far:
Calgary $33.00 @ 131.9
Medicine Hat $39.00 @ 130.9
Swift Current $40.00 (I'm guessing, we lost the receipt)
Regina $37.00 @ 139.9
Moosomin $34.00 @ 139.9
Winnipeg $40.00 (again, no receipt)
Kenora $42.50 @ 137.9
Ignace $39.00 @ 143.9
Thunder Bay $52.00 @ 143.9
Marathon $44.00 @ 145.0
Wawa $47.49 @ 141.9
Sault Ste Marie $37.00 @ 136.9
Wahnapitae $50.68 (doesn't say, can't remember how much/litre)
Stonecliffe $48.00 @ 136.9

Day 5

We wake up, shower and break camp by 10:30. I told you we aren't morning people, didn't I?
While Gord is showering, I have a visitor - he crawls all over the picnic table, climbs in the bag of food, and promptly runs off when I reach for the camera.
He (or someone who looks just like him) comes back and poses for us just as we're about to leave.

We get gas and breakfast (Twinkies...They're almost food), drive for a bit, and stop at Old Woman bay, where Gord decides he's clever and takes a picture of Old Woman Bay and his old woman. Ha. Ha.

It's quite cold.

There's a picnic area, but we've been sitting down for days, so we walk around taking pictures while we eat our gas station Twinkies. And hear a bird whistling the unmistakable first three notes of "Iron Man". You can't hear those first three notes (I AM I..) without mentally hearing the next two (I AM I..RON MAN!) Gord tries to teach it the missing notes, but it doesn't catch on. We both have Iron Man stuck in our heads for the rest of the day, only Gord now sings it "I am IRON BIRD".

Guess what happens next? That's right, Bob Ross!

(ground squirrel, whatever)

Happy little squirrel smells Twinkies.

Happy little squirrel bites the hand that does not feed it Twinkies.

Luckily, Gord's finger is calloused from the bass, or the happy little bugger would have punctured the skin.

Today's counts:
Roadkill: 5
High 5's: 1 ( Our enthusiasm is waning)
Caffeinated beverages: 4

We end up at the Norvic Motel, about a half hour east of Sudbury. They allow pets, so the cats can get out of the car and hide under a bed! They also have internet, which is an unexpected pleasure. And brings unexpected bad news. Back in May Gord had got tickets for the E.S.T (Esbjorn Svensson Trio) show at Place des Arts for June 30th, and we'd planned our trip around that. It's a band Gord has wanted to see for years, and they never come to Calgary (no one does), so this was something he was really looking forward to. Tragically, Esbjorn Svensson died in a scuba diving accident on June 14th. Gord is depressed, because a lot of the musicians he really wants to see live are dying, but it's expected because they're quite old. This is one musician who should have been making great music for decades yet. We console ourselves with pepperoni pizza and Much Music's Video on Trial.

Gas to get us this far:
Calgary $33.00 @ 131.9
Medicine Hat $39.00 @ 130.9
Swift Current $40.00 (I'm guessing, we lost the receipt)
Regina $37.00 @ 139.9
Moosomin $34.00 @ 139.9
Winnipeg $40.00 (again, no receipt)
Kenora $42.50 @ 137.9
Ignace $39.00 @ 143.9
Thunder Bay $52.00 @ 143.9
Marathon $44.00 @ 145.0
Wawa $47.49 @ 141.9
Sault Ste Marie $37.00 @ 136.9
Wahnapitae $50.68 (doesn't say, can't remember how much/litre)

Day 4

We left the Travelodge in Thunder Bay @ 11, went to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast and had the slowest sandwich maker in the world get us the first vegetables we'd eaten in days. Granted, they came with a lot of bread and meat, but some is better than none. On our way out of town, there's a huge line up by the side of the road - some radio station is giving away free gas, and they've got the barely dressed girls out in force to promote it. But the line looks like it'd take about an hour to get through, so we pass.
Then the Mist hits, and we can't see a thing. Is this normal around the great lakes, or have we stumbled into Stephen King territory?By day 4, I am sick of driving, and we're making good time, so we stop often today. There's also more to stop for - lakes everywhere. There are so many lakes, they're running out of names for them. We pass by, in quick succession, Dad Lake, Baby Lake and Mom Lake. A few miles later - Orphan Lake. Perhaps he can be adopted by the parent lakes up the road.

Here's Lake Superior, or rather, a tiny tiny portion of it.

This is 4 photos poorly stitched together.

We passed Winnie The Pooh, not sure why, I thought he came from Winnipeg, but anyway...

We see one deer today, just as we're coming out of a construction zone. He waits for us to stop and bounds across the highway. That's all - there's NO roadkill today!
high 5's: 1
Caffeinated beverages: 5

We stop in Marathon to gas up, and because we want to find a campground tonight, we hit a grocery store.
"I refuse to eat any more bread. NO BREAD, do you hear me?!?!"
"I'm not paying thirteen bucks for a can opener! Find pop-tops."
"Where the hell are the forks? WHY don't they sell forks here?...OK, we're buying 200 plastic forks."
"Chili and beans?" "We'll keep each other warm tonight."
That's pretty much how it went.

We wanted to make it to Wawa by nightfall, and we luck out and see a sign for a campground, and end up in the lovliest spot ever.
(Can't for the life of me remember the name of the place....Wawa RV Campground? It's a yellow and red sign, anyway. That's helpful.)

This one is Gord, getting fancy with the photography.

All I know about Wawa is that it's home to one ex-Flame, Chris Simon. You can see why he's so angry when he has to leave it. It is so quiet here, you can hear the river and it is barely moving. Even the birds call a little quieter.

And we're camping. We have a tent. I thought I packed some matches in our 'camping box' that's in the back of the CRV, but I didn't. The good matches are somewhere in the middle of the UHaul, and I'm not opening that can of worms. Luckily, I found an old survival candle from Cosmos, and it has a pack of very old crumbly matches. We have an air mattress and sleeping bags. We have a pack of damp firewood. We have wiener sticks.
So, clearly, we are not prepared to camp. We should have lighter fluid, a bbq, a lantern, a hatchet. We have none of these things. To top it off, we made some silly assumptions, like that there would be a grate over the fire pit on which to put our cans of chili and beans to warm them up. There isn't, but that's not going to be an issue if we can't get the fire started.

And here begins the politest fight Gord and I have ever had. I told him not to start the fire without me, and he agreed. I then started the fire without him. (which was wrong, and I'm sorry). The fire was going. Gord poked and poked until it went out. Gord started another fire. I poked and poked until it went out. We are very polite about poking each others fires out, "Oh, I just want to put this piece...ooh, what a shame. Perhaps if I...uh oh, now it's out. I'm so very sorry, dear." "that's quite alright, I'll just let you start it again?"
We've never shied.....ok, I'VE never shied away from a fight before, so why the reticience? Maybe because we are more than 2000 kilometers from anyone we know. Maybe because literally fighting with fire could cause scarring. Either way, we're both more pissed off and more polite than we've ever been with each other. It's a strange mix.

What finally happens is that, in after school special fashion, the fire that lasts is the one we build together. Aaww. (vomit)

We get a fire going, and I immediately rip into the pack of smokies and start cooking. You can tell they're good by the hiss of grease hitting the logs. There's a lot of hissing going on. We pop the tops off our can of chili and beans, and Gord shoves them in the fire. We think for a second, pull them out of the fire, remove the paper from the cans and put them back in the fire. We take a drink from our coke cans and top it off with rum (which of course I remembered to pack with the camping stuff. I told my uncles I'd remember I was an Albertan, and no real Albertan camps sober.Who needs matches? WHERE'S THE RUM?!)

We eat our first smokies, grease dripping off our chins and fingers. We eat our second smokies, dripping on our pants and shirts. Gord pulls the beans from the fire, and we proceed to drip beans on the picnic table and our pants. The same with the chili. We're going to look like dirty, dirty hobos in the morning, but that was good eats.

We put the fire out and go to bed, and some time during the night realize - the air mattress has a slow leak. Ah well. Those were good smokies.

Gas to get this far:
Calgary $33.00 @ 131.9
Medicine Hat $39.00 @ 130.9
Swift Current $40.00 (I'm guessing, we lost the receipt)
Regina $37.00 @ 139.9
Moosomin $34.00 @ 139.9
Winnipeg $40.00 (again, no receipt)
Kenora $42.50 @ 137.0
Ignace $39.80 @ 143.9
Thunder Bay $52.00 @ 143.9
Marathon $44.00 @ 145.0

July 10, 2008

Day 3

Again, I forgot to give you the best shot of the day, good old prairie sunset.

Do you see the Nefarious Frog God? He was a portent of the night to come, but did we heed the warning? We did not. Let this be a lesson to all you kids out there - don't cross the NFG. You'll spend a sweltering night tormented by the Judds and mosquitos, and wake to find this:

That's the Cat Sass Tavern. And beside it is the L'agimodiere Restaurant, where you can get steak & eggs for $6.49, and the coffee is heavenly. Its the kind of place where the locals will grab a pot and fill up everyones mug while they're at it. Delicious food. Worth going to Winnipeg for.

Roadkill: 11 (one of which was a moose, which was heartbreaking. Little gophers are easier to take, especially because they all seem to be suicidal)
Caffeinated beverages: 4

High 5's: 3

LIVE ANIMALS!! Gord saw 1 scampering little black bear soon after we entered

Hey, it ain't easy getting the shot from a moving car. No time to stop. NO TIME!
Also saw one live deer. Go Ontario, with your wildlife being all alive and such.

Sign of the day: Woman Abuse is a Crime.

Holy shit, Canada. We need billboards for this? Come on.

So, now that we've left the prairies behind and entered Ontario, we can see why everyone thinks the prairies are flat. They are, but for 2 kids from the prairies, they don't look so flat. Ontario is very pretty, lakes everywhere, and these inukshuk guys:

After driving this far, I haven't really seen any place in Canada that isn't pretty. We have a very pretty country, at least for the mile or so on either side of the Transcanada. There isn't anywhere that I wouldn't consider living, except maybe here:

And we're headed for Thunder Bay, which we make in good time and are able to find a Travelodge that allows pets AND has a room. Perhaps we've shaken the curse of the NFG.
It rained a lot in the last 2 days though, and that's when we notice that the tarp covering the mattress has come loose and the mattress got a bit wet. Damn duct tape. I guess we didn't use enough.

So we get an actual bed for the night, and showers, and internet access...oh, it was good times.

Gas to get this far:
Calgary $33.00 @ 131.9
Medicine Hat $39.00 @ 130.9
Swift Current $40.00 (I'm guessing, we lost the receipt)
Regina $37.00 @ 139.9
Moosomin $34.00 @ 139.9
Winnipeg $40.00 (again, no receipt)
Kenora $42.50 @ 137.9
Ignace $39.80 @ 143.9

July 09, 2008

Day 2

Whoops. Forgot to mention the incredible sunsets you get in the prairies. See above.

I can't say how Gord felt that morning, but I woke up in a motel in Swift Current Tuesday morning thinking "What have I done?! I left my friends and family for this? Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit..."
But we press on, stopping for gas and Tim Hortons. We start each day unsure of how far we're going to make it, and we don't have any reservations anywhere except in Montreal for the night of the 30th, to see E.S.T. at the Jazz Festival. We're aiming for Winnipeg today.

A light rain starts as we leave SC and continues for the next 4 hours. Swift Current...we wouldn't go back. But the coffee was excellent. Also, I heard that terrible song "I Kissed a Girl" on Saskatchewan radio. I didn't think they were that progressive out there. My brain is just a big knot of stereotypes, slowly being unraveled on this trip.

We pass Moose Jaw and there is indeed a moose. Witness the mooseyness of that moose, bein all moose-like.

When we hit Regina...The Apocalypse, Uber Rain. Took pictures, but they don't do it justice so I'm not going to post them.

Roadkill: 25. 25?!?! Shame on you, Saskatchewan.
Caffeinated beverages: 6
High 5's: 4

Sign of the Day:
Life is sacred, from conception to natural death.

A trend is starting, the sign of the day goes to the one that gives us the most willies. We see another "Life is Sacred" sign later that says "Take my hand, not my life".

"What's all this Christian propoganda on the side of the road?"

The sign says
"Dam Days August 1,2 2008"
and under that
Town Around a Lake"

Oh Saskatchewan. Your utter lack of personality is adorable, you know that? Who's a cute little province?

396. I don't think we'll make it today, but I'm wrong. Oh man am I wrong. We enter Manitoba and just keep driving. By now, it is pretty flat, and the road just goes on and on, with nothing to really break it up except religious billboards and gas stations. For some reason in our log book, we've written

"What colour do I want? Brown!...It's coffee, not doo-doo". And I can't remember why Gord said that, or why we thought it was so hilarious.
(*edit...Gord just came in and cleared this up for me. He was discussing what flavour toffee he wanted.)

We enter Winnipeg at about 11, and drive right through it without seeing the Travelodge I thought was supposed to be there. We spot one on the eastern limits of the city and think we're home for the night, but no. This one does take pets, but they don't have any 'pet friendly' rooms available for the night, and since the cats are still pretty freaked, we wanted to stop somewhere and let them out, see if they would finally eat something.
So we pass on the Travelodge. Looking back - bad idea. We exit the city, thinking there would be motels and hotels on the east side of Winnipeg, and we'd just pick one of them. Ha.
There are no hotels. We gas up at a PetroCanada on the edge of Winnipeg, and there are no lights off in the distance that we can aim for. This is my fault. As we entered the city, I told Gord to text our families and let them know we were staying in Winnipeg for the night. So we keep driving, and driving, and finally about a half hour, 45 minutes out of Winnipeg we see a truck stop next to a restaurant that is closed, but it's far enough from the highway, and we're tired so we stop.

We do our best to get comfortable in the car, but it's not easy. The night is hot and muggy, the cats are climbing over us and the mosquitos are out in force. Gord is in the passenger seat, wrapped up entirely in a blanket as protection from the mosquitos (looks like he's wearing a burka) and I'm on the back seat. Gord is singing "Love can build a bridge" in his best Cartman impersonation, trying to get comfortable when I see him bolt up out of his seat to flail ineffectually at the mosquitos, screaming
"I will bathe in the blood of my enemies!!...Technically, it's my blood."
And I think I giggled myself to sleep. Beat that, Travelodge.

So ends day 2.

Gas to get this far:
Calgary $33.00 @ 131.9
Medicine Hat $39.00 @ 130.9
Swift Current $40.00 (I'm guessing, we lost the receipt)
Regina $37.00 @ 139.9
Moosomin $34.00 @ 139.9
Winnipeg $40.00 (again, no receipt)

Day 1

Starting from Calgary

Gord looking thrilled about this.

We were tired, and in less than stellar moods, so we didn't even bother to get a picture of the whole rig, Honda + UHaul. But it's there. We would never have got this far without a fight if it weren't for Kevin, who helped us move. Kev's the man, we would never have made it out of Calgary that day if it weren't for him.

Starting Mileage: 277267KM
Gas prices in Calgary: 133.9

We're not sure how far we're going to get today, we don't leave Calgary until 3:30pm and we're already tired...We were up at 7:30 and WE ARE NOT MORNING PEOPLE. We are cranky, and need a nap, but we've got to keep moving on, like the Littlest Hobo.

We're keeping track of:
Roadkill: 7
Caffeinated Beverages: 6
High 5's: 2.5
Sign of the Day: "Free Spirit Taxidermy"
(spotted somewhere between Brooks and Medicine Hat, I think. We did not get a picture of this, but it's there)

We stop in Medicine Hat for Gas (130.9, yeah baby), shout out to Earl, who told us we could be in Montreal in a few days....Sorry we let you down Earl. We're lazy.

We head out of Alberta and take this picture, thinking it'll be the last one we see for a while...

But it wasn't. Saskatchewan is not entirely flat. There are some very pretty green rolling hillsides in the province.

"So far, it's not as flat as I thought it would be.
I don't know what the fuck everyone was talking about."

We get into Swift Current by 10:30 that night and get lost in the downtown (?) area...it looks like Ogden. We try the Holiday Inn, but they're full, so we end up on the other side of HWY 1 at a motel that we can't remember the name of. The motel doesn't allow cats, so the beasts have to spend the night in the Honda, but they do have...

Snazzy Religious Indoctrination! Hell yeah ;)

And about 10 minutes after getting our bags into the room, we have fight #1, and it's a doozy. We're up til 2AM. I'll spare us the embarrassment of details, especially since it was clear come morning that it was just the stress/tiredness/homesickness cocktail we'd been drinking all day that caught up with us.

Gas to get this far:
Calgary $33.00 @ 131.9
Medicine Hat $39.00 @ 130.9


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