A Travellerspoint blog

January 2009

Isaac got rejected, we ate poutine

Nate wanted to out on his own today, so Isaac and I walked back to Aux Vivres today. It's not far from Marie's house. This time, I ordered the fake Montreal smoked meat sandwich and Isaac got a slice of carrot cake. It was not as good as the veggielox.

After that, we headed back to the museum so that Isaac could ask that guy out on a date. He was there, so I left Isaac alone for a bit and then took a little guided tour of the Canadian art section.

The guy he had a crush on ended up not being gay at all, but he gave him a ticket to Van Dongen as a consolation prize of sorts I suppose.

I was tired, and didn't really want to do any more looking at art, so I started my big walk to the poutine place. Le Banquises is supposed to have the best fries/cheese/gravy in the whole city, so Nate and I were going to meet up there at around 5 p.m.

On the way, I thought I would pick up some bagels for Marie and Louise. But I walked past an organic bakery, and I saw some giant croissants just glistening in the overhead lights. $1.40 each. Wow...incredible. I couldn't resist. I bought a whole dozen for them.

Getting to Le Banquises is not easy. You have to walk all the way down Rachel St. It's not that far, but by this time, I'm tired, thirsty and hungry. Nate's already there with some tea, so we order our poutines. He gets a regular and I get some kind of Mexican style? Yeah...who knows...

It comes piled with hot peppers and onions and cheese curds and gravy. Wowie. Nate's poutine never comes. We ask the waitress where his poutine is and then she brings it in a few minutes. Then, when she brings the bill it comes in two parts, and she says something to me in French. My French is not so good, so I try to understand her, but I can't.

"Can you say that in English please?"

"No."

I think she's probably joking so I wait for her to laugh...then I start laughing.

"Really?!"

"No, this is the French speaking part of Montreal, if you want to speak English, go to the west side."

Oh my. Never have I been told like that in Quebec before.

Whatever.

Anyway, my mouth is burning and I've drank all my water and iced tea. There is no way this lady is going to bring me more water. She comes over and pretty much forces me to pay, on the spot. I guess she doesn't trust us ignorant Anglos...*sigh*

We pay, but we still have to wait for Sylvain because he is getting a ride home with us. He shows up, has a Coke, I take a picture of him with the funny orange tree, and then we go back to Marie's.

Marie and Tommy are there, but they are on their way out for Vietnamese, so I present Marie with her fabulous croissants and say goodbye. Isaac shows up just after they leave, and then we are off! Another pooped-out weekend in Montreal.

Pigeons in the roof

Pigeons in the roof


Me vs. Montreal Smoked (non)meat

Me vs. Montreal Smoked (non)meat


Isaac loves the carrot cake

Isaac loves the carrot cake


Me vs. poutine

Me vs. poutine


Sylvain vs. Coca Cola

Sylvain vs. Coca Cola


North/East? Wha?

North/East? Wha?

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

We did not freeze at Igloofest

This morning, Isaac would not get out of bed. My only goal for the weekend was to go to the art gallery. He took FORever. So anyway, we were hungry. Isaac will not eat eggs, so we went to Aux Vivres. Again. I think I will set a record for the most visits to Aux Vivres by one person from Ottawa ever. If you recall, last time I was here, I visited Aux Vivres twice in the same weekend, and it wasn't even my idea either time.

This time, it was my idea. And I had some veggielox on chapati, yum. So delicious. Isaac practically had a brain aneurysm and decided we would go tomorrow again. Oh...I guess so. OK Isaac.

It was so cold. We took the metro to the Musee des Beaux Arts. There is an exhibit on some guy named Van Dongen, who was friends with Rembrandt and Van Gogh, back in the day. It was fauve art. I don't know what that means but it was beauuuuuuuuuuuuuutifulllllllllllllllllllllll. I bought a postcard to take home with me and keep close to my heart forever and ever.

Isaac fell in love with the security guard with red glasses. He decided he'd go back there tomorrow and ask him out to dinner.

We needed a little rest, so we walked down the street and my feet automatically took me to a Swiss chocolate shop that I have been to many times. They had a sign advertising 20 different kinds of hot chocolate, so we had to go in.

There were cuckoo clocks all over the place, and in the back, you can sit down with a hot chocolate. I had milk chocolate with kirsch mmmmmmmmmmMMMMmmmMMmm.

After resting up a bit, we made our way to Old Montreal. Isaac really badly wanted to go look at the Burberry store, but Nate and I aren't into that at all. So we just kept on going and tell Isaac we'll meet him later. We trudge through the snow, see some lovely parking lots and finally make it to 3 Brasseurs and sit down for a pint of something or other local brew.

After a chat about grunge music and Vancouver in the nineties, we head over to get our early bird $5 tickets, but go in completely the wrong way. I don't know why going in the opposite direction of all the loud music seemed like a good idea to us, but it's what we were thinking at the time.

Finally, we see a guy operating a snow plow and ask where Bar d'Hiver is. We have to meet Tess, John, Ophir and Sylvain there at 6 p.m. We are also supposed to be meeting the local Couchsurfers, but as soon as they get there, they leave, more interested in their cheap ticket than us.

Isaac also shows up, and then he pays way too much for whiskey. This makes him angry. Bar d'Hiver is located on an island in the middle of a big idyllic skating rink. I wish that I had the foresight to bring my skates! I am very jealous of the people that did.

So Tess finally gets there, but first we are hungry, so we go with Ophir and John to eat Indian food.

Then we all go over and dance dance dance, check out the ice sculptures, and that's about it. Igloofest is put on by the same people that do Picknique Elecktronique, but the music isn't as good as it was in the summer. Tssst tssst tssst...bad house and techno...

So there is a "one piece" competition and people are dressed up in crazy snowmobile suits from the '80s. Pretty funny.

Isaac meets some random people from Australia and then Nate finds us and we are both tired. So we go home and on the way, stop at a random restaurant. At first the music is surprisingly good, with Sublime and stuff, but then some really bad freestyle rappers start squawking so we leave ASAP.

When we get back, Isaac is there waiting for us, worried about where we went.

Isaac vs. Opus Card

Isaac vs. Opus Card


Isaac vs. veggielox

Isaac vs. veggielox


Me vs. veggielox

Me vs. veggielox


Isaac hearts Aux Vivres

Isaac hearts Aux Vivres


Crazy ice tree

Crazy ice tree


Nate at clock store/coffee shop

Nate at clock store/coffee shop


Me vs. hot chocolate w/ kirsch

Me vs. hot chocolate w/ kirsch


Me vs. 3 brasseurs beer

Me vs. 3 brasseurs beer


Isaac is angry at Bar d'Hiver

Isaac is angry at Bar d'Hiver


Ice skating rink

Ice skating rink


Cool!

Cool!


Nate and Isaac freezing

Nate and Isaac freezing


John and Ophir at the Indian restaurant

John and Ophir at the Indian restaurant


Isaac at the Indian restaurant

Isaac at the Indian restaurant


Me vs. shrimp

Me vs. shrimp


Me vs. coconut rice pudding

Me vs. coconut rice pudding


Igloofest

Igloofest


Igloofest ice sculptures

Igloofest ice sculptures


Isaac and me being crazy

Isaac and me being crazy


Weird restaurant we ended up in

Weird restaurant we ended up in


Freestyle rappin'

Freestyle rappin'

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

We almost died and ate lasagna

Isaac came to meet me at work and we came to the realization that Jesus was BORN couchsurfing. That totally blew his mind.

We said goodbye to Owen and Eric and went downstairs in the lobby to wait for Nate to come. Honestly, he showed up within minutes, so it worked out perfect! We threw our stuff in the trunk and took off down the highway. Well, not right away. We were stuck in traffic during bus-strike rush hour in Ottawa for about a half hour. THEN we headed down the highway on our merry way.

Soon, I had to pee really bad, so we pulled over, I peed and someone bought Fritos. We devoured them like insane salt and carb-hungry hyenas.

The snow was unbelievable, covering the highway so thick, Nate had to lean over the steering wheel to get a better view of where the actual road was. We were crawling along and hardly even close, so we called Marie to tell her we would be late. As I was on the phone, Nate completely lost control of the car, it spun around 180 degrees, and the cars behind us slammed on their brakes. I was in the middle of leaving a message on Marie's phone when I started screaming ''OH MY GOD WE JUST HAD AN ACCIDENT!'' and then I hung up. Nate handled the situation amazingly well, he turned the car around and we kept going.

I had to call Marie back so that she didn't freak out, so I called her cell phone and told her not to worry, we would probably get there at 10 p.m. She said great, and that she would have lasagna waiting for us when we got there. After getting lost a couple times, we finally find Marie's house, they graciously serve us the lasagna and a delicious salad.

We brought some fruit and wine and beer and things, and we had a party. Marie is friends with Ophir, a guy that I know from Ottawa, so I invite him over along with his friend John, who I also know from Couchsurfing nights in Ottawa.

Dave and Owen

Dave and Owen


Isaac

Isaac


Nate

Nate


Party at Marie's

Party at Marie's

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Photos

dfa

Orange hills

Orange hills


Red desert

Red desert


Cool looking guy

Cool looking guy


Pyramids

Pyramids


Amazing

Amazing


Floating candles

Floating candles


Hands

Hands


Moto

Moto


Cute kid

Cute kid


Monks

Monks


Monks cropped

Monks cropped


Interesting shot

Interesting shot


Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal


Taj Mahal reflected

Taj Mahal reflected


Greenery

Greenery


Idyllic

Idyllic


Quaint

Quaint


Footprints

Footprints


Swiss Alps

Swiss Alps


Is it NYC?

Is it NYC?


Paris

Paris


Flowers and castle

Flowers and castle


Marina

Marina


Summer day

Summer day


Phone booths

Phone booths


Temple

Temple


Eiffel Tower 2

Eiffel Tower 2


Sphinx

Sphinx


Strange building

Strange building


Sunset

Sunset

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

How many times did I pack my stuff this weekend?

Well, at this point, I just want to go home, and I think everyone else does too, because we eat breakfast and clean up rather quickly.

We take a few last pictures, destroy our quinzhee, (Laurel and Kelley stand on top and jump, collapsing the roof completely, it's pretty funny, you had to be there).

We pack up all our gear the same way we packed it to hike in, and then we hike back out. It seems like we have more gear on the way out, and we just might. People have brought their cross country skis to the cabin to go on an expedition early this morning to watch the sunrise. Wha? OK guys, I'll sleep right here by the fire some more, have fun.

Anyway, we have some amazing delicious quinoa for breakfast and other people have some of Laurel's stew/chili stuff.

Hiking back out to the cars is way easier than it was on the way in. Most of it is downhill, yep. But you know what that means...every once in a while, I have to run for my life in front of my sled because it comes careening down behind me if the angle of the hill is more than -2 degrees. I know, I measured it with a protractor.

Rena, Erin and I all ride back to Ottawa together and Stephanie goes back with Kathy this time. We have to drop Erin's van and her stuff off at her mom's house, so we do that, then we load Rena and my stuff into the back of Rena's car. Here is the breakdown of how many times we had to pack and repack our gear:

1. Into Rena's car

2. Out of Rena's car

3. Into Erin's van

4. Out of Erin's van

5. Onto sleds

6. Out of sleds

7. Into cabin

8. Out of cabin

9. Into quinzhee

10. Out of quinzhee

11. Into cabin

12. Out of cabin

13. Onto sleds

14. Out of sleds

15. Into Erin's van

16. Out of Erin's van

17. Into Rena's car

18. Out of Rena's car

19. Into my house again

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

How to build a quinzhee, skate and FREEZE TO DEATH

OK, so I slept in a lot. Everyone is up and doing stuff, but I really can't manage to get my butt out of bed this morning.

By the time I get up, breakfast is well under way. We prepared all our food a week before leaving for camp, we made everything ahead of time, put it into milk bags. If you're not from Canada, these are very strong plastic bags that can withstand boiling temperatures.

What you do is put all the food in there (we had chili, quinoa and pre-made French toast) put half a portion in each bag, freeze it, then when you want to eat it, you clip it to a stick and just boil until it is hot. It might not be good for you in the long run, (who knows what chemicals are leached into your food from the bag) but for one weekend, it's probably not going to have an impact on your health.

Anyway, so this is what we did for breakfast, we boiled our French toast in a bag and then piled on the pancake syrup. MMmmMMMMMMMmmmmmMmm.

Ok maybe not that many M's but it was alright.

We were all really lazy to get outside, except Kathy. She wanted to get going on the quinzhee, so I went with her. We started to build one, but then Laurel decided we should build it on top of the hill, where it was more level. So that's what we did.

So...I know you're all curious about what exactly a "quinzhee" is, so here are the directions for making one:

1. Mark the perimeter.

Walk around in a square/circle/oval shape, way bigger than you think you will need to comfortably fit whoever is sleeping in your shelter. 2. Pile up the snow within the perimeter

You can NOT use a snow drift for this type of snow shelter. What you have to do, is shovel snow from somewhere else and pile it all into a big mound. It has to be way bigger than you think you'll need, don't stop shovelling until you are so tired you can't move another snowflake.

We didn't have enough snow on the ground, so we had to drag some up from the bottom of the hill in sleds. It was a team effort. We even used the sleds as shovels sometimes.

3. "Porcupine" the mound

Now, you have to break up a bunch of sticks and make them all the same length (approximately 12 inches long). Then stick them into your mound of snow so that you don't dig too far when you are digging out the inside. It will look like a porcupine when you are done, the sticks will be all OVER the snow mound.

3. Let it sit!

Wait a while (ideally a whole day) but we only let ours sit for a few hours and it was fine. The snow has to settle and pack itself down into a sturdy structure for you. The snow does all the work! Take it easy.

4. Dig out your bedroom

We used a pot to scrape away the inside of our quinzhee, you can use anything, even your hands. Make sure you don't look up at the ceiling when you are doing it, otherwise you will get a bunch of snow in your mouth. Once you have scraped out your quinzhee enough, you will be able to get inside. It's easier to transport the snow outside with a little sled. This is what we did and it made everything go faster. We had a few people outside dumping the sleds as they filled up. It was cool!

5. "Candle" the inside The point of this is to make the walls and ceiling icy, so that if you touch it, the snow won't fall down. We used a bhutane torch thing to do this, but it didn't work too well. This part takes quite a while.

That's it!

Now, make sure you lay down a lot of ground sheets, emergency blankets, thermarests and more before you get in. It would help if you had a protective "sack" over your sleeping bags, because getting into the quinzhee often causes snow to fall down onto your bed. When you take off your coat and snowpants before you get into your bed, put it underneath your sleeping bag to give you some extra insulation. You'll need it!

OK, in between shoveling our quinzhee, and shoveling out the inside of our quinzhee we all went and did our own thing. Both Stephanies and I went skating on the lake with some little Cub Scouts playing broom ball. We had to shovel off a little bit of snow before getting on the ice, but that's OK. That was fun, and quite idyllic. It looked just like one of those cheesy Christmas cards, or the Canadian $5 bill. Kids playing broomball on the giant frozen lake, surrounded by pine trees, people cross country skiing in the background and others skating in the foreground. On the hills behind us, other kids are just barreling down the hill on toboggans. *sigh*

We actually managed to pay for a CATERED dinner in the Scout lodge. It was pretty good. Greasy potatoes and roast chicken was on the menu. Followed by...get this... ice cream? Really? Oh well, the coffee was good anyway.

We snowshoe back out to our cabin and dig out our quinzhee. When we are done, we go back inside for some mulled wine and snacks, but there is WAY too much spice in it. We didn't have a recipe, oh well.

Speaking of recipes, here are the recipes of some of the food we made.

Trex Bars:

½ cup margarine 1 tsp vanilla 1 bag large marshmallows 4 cups rice krispies 2 cups corn flakes ½ cup sunflower seeds ½ dark chocolate chips ½ raisins/ cranberries Melt margarine, vanilla & marshmallows on low heat and stir constantly until marshmallows are melted. Add rest of ingredients & stir until cooled. Press into greased cookie sheet. Cool & cut into bars.

Quinoa with Spiced Fruit Breakfast 2 cups quinoa 2 tsp salt ¾ cup diced dried apples ¾ cup dried cranberries (also good with diced dried peaches, apricots. raisins) 2 tsp cinnamon ½ tsp ground cloves ½ tsp allspice 4 cups water 1 cup of chopped walnuts syrup Mix and pack all ingredients except walnuts in a bag. Add more or less seasoning to taste. To prepare, add contents of bag to 4 cups of water in a large pot. Bring to boil and then simmer uncovered stirring frequently for about 10 minutes until quinoa is soft and water is absorbed. Stir in walnuts after cooking. Serve with a small amount of syrup. Note: This is also very good cold. It can be made the night before and packed in individual snack bags to make a quick no dishes breakfast or as a lunch dessert. Peanut Butter Balls 1 cup peanutbutter 1 cup of icing sugar 3/4 cup rice krispies 3/4 cup of a combination of chopped up dried fruit and nuts/seeds 1 tbls. soft butter 1 cup icing sugar water about 1 1/2 cup coconut Mix peanutbutter, butter, 1 cup icing sugar, krispies, and fruit and/or nuts. In a separate bowl mix icing sugar with enough water to make a runny icing. Shape the peanutbutter mixture into balls, dip into icing, and roll in coconut. Keep in refridgerator. Options: For a more nutritious snack use only 2/3 cup icing sugar and add in 2/3 cup protein powder or powdered milk into the peanut butter mixture. You can substitute some or all of the rice krispies with a cereal like Fibre 1, or All Bran. They can be rolled in finely chopped nuts instead of coconut, or dipped in melted chocolate. I used less sugar, 1/2 cup protein powder, rice krispies, cranberries, sunflower seeds and chopped peanuts.

Um...OK...

Now that you have scrolled down, I will reward you with a funny story about how I almost froze to death.

So...getting into a quinzhee is tough. You have to bring your sleeping bags into the shelter, lay them out flat, take off your boots, snowpants and coat, put them UNDER your bed and then get into your sleeping bags. By the time you are getting in, probably your sleeping bags are all twisted around, so you have to untwist them and somehow get comfortable. All WITHOUT touching the walls or ceiling. Because if you do this, snow will fall down on you, melt with your body heat and make you cold.... *insert evil voice here* for the rest.... of the night...muuuahhhhh ha ha ha ha!

So here I am, getting snow EVERYWHERE the worst, is one big clump down the back of my shirt... OH MY GOD SO COLD! Once I am in my sleeping bag, Kelley comes in and gets in hers. Then Laurel comes in, and in the process of getting in her sleeping bag, a big clump of snow LANDS STRAIGHT IN MY FACE! Holy God get me out of here. I bitch and moan that I am cold and wet, for about a half hour and then decide I'll go in if I'm not warm by 2 a.m.

Even WITH my steel hot water bottle, I am NOT warm by 2 a.m. I manage to wait another half hour and just go in the nice warm cabin in the end. Leaving my sleeping bag behind. I run with wet socks and no coat straight into the cabin. Oh my, I should've done this long time ago. Freezing and sleeping in the cold wedged in between Laurel and a wall of snow is not ideal sleeping conditions! No offence, Laurel.

There are some spare blankets in the cabin and Stephanie has kept the fire going, it's soo toasty warm. To my surprise, Insuk and Kathy are also on their way in! They couldn't sleep in their "snow trench" anymore, because the snow falling on their tarp started to weigh it down too much. I guess that 2:30 is the average "giving up" time for all of us. I sip some more hot chocolate, eat another trex bar and just curl up beside the fire and sleep.

Wonderful.

Me and Kelley vs. French toast in a bag

Me and Kelley vs. French toast in a bag


Me vs. French toast

Me vs. French toast


Mark the perimeter

Mark the perimeter


Shovel LOTS of snow

Shovel LOTS of snow


Keep going!

Keep going!


Break up some sticks

Break up some sticks


"Porcupine" the snow mound

"Porcupine" the snow mound


Let it sit

Let it sit


Some of our gear

Some of our gear


Our cabin

Our cabin


Me on the steps

Me on the steps


Broomball on the lake

Broomball on the lake


Insuk learning to skate

Insuk learning to skate


Frozen lake

Frozen lake


Skiiers on the lake

Skiiers on the lake


Catered dinner? At camp?

Catered dinner? At camp?


Me vs. chicken (notice visible frostbite)

Me vs. chicken (notice visible frostbite)


Dig out an opening

Dig out an opening


Keep digging!

Keep digging!


Make it big enough for ALL of us!

Make it big enough for ALL of us!


We used a pot to dig inside

We used a pot to dig inside


Laurel inside the quinzhee.

Laurel inside the quinzhee.


This is our feet

This is our feet


Here we are!

Here we are!


OMG will we sleep in here?

OMG will we sleep in here?


The quinzhee

The quinzhee


Quinzhee

Quinzhee


Quinzhee

Quinzhee


Uhhhhh, I dunno about this one...

Uhhhhh, I dunno about this one...


Oh, you guys are comfy, aren't you???

Oh, you guys are comfy, aren't you???


I left shortly after this.

I left shortly after this.


Shoveling

Shoveling


Skating

Skating


Falling

Falling


Woooo...

Woooo...

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Off to Perth we go.

We drove out of Ottawa at around 6 p.m.

I thought Rena was picking me up at 5 p.m., so I was rushing around at home trying to get everything ready. In my haste, my bedroll was not up to it's usual snuff. It's true that bundling up THREE sleeping bags and two Thermarests in a groundsheet is not normally that easy, but today, my bedroll was WAY bigger than it should've been. It was also heavier.

Anyway, Erin's parents came to drop Erin off, so that Rena could pick us both up at my house. Erin said that Rena wasn't coming until 5:30 and I was still freaking out, with a quickly made cheese sandwich in my hand. What? Oh...good, I guess...

Soon, Rena is here with her Matrix. Usually there is enough room in this car for all our gear and more, but winter camping requires a lot more preparation than the usual spring/summer/fall excursion. We have to pack sleds, snowshoes, skates, skis, lots of warm clothes, more stuff to sleep in, already prepared food in plastic milk bags (I'll explain later). Plus, we are picking Stephanie Wilson up on our way, and there is absolutely no room for anymore stuff in this car.

Erin's mom, Deb, just randomly blurts out, mostly joking: "Why don't you just take our van?"

....

Rena: "Really? Because you guys can drive my car for the weekend."

Deb: "...Yeah why not?"

Rena: "Great!"

So, out goes our stuff from Rena's car, and we pack it into the back of Erin's parents' van. It fits easily and we pick up Stephanie and drive out to Perth.

Our meeting point is the Wendy's. In my rush to go home and pack, I forgot my wallet on my desk at work, so Rena lets me borrow some monies for a chili and coffee. Thank you Rena. Everyone is waiting for us, but not very long, so that's cool.

Anyway, Camp Opemikon is not far away, so we all pile in our cars and head out.

Rena shows us all how to bundle up our gear on the sleds we have brought. Erin can't pull one because she has to carry a giant backpack, so I offer to pull the extra one. We attach it to the back of my sled and then go off into the night. The air is crisp and chilly and the stars are absolutely brilliant. I can't see anything in the pitch dark except the headlamps of the others, but every time I snap a picture, we are illuminated for a second, so I take quite a few.

Our cabin is only about 1 km into the woods, but traveling there lugging sleds and everything is not a simple feat! Normally it would take 20 minutes, but for us, it takes about 45. Going up the hills is the worst! My new snowshoes are pretty awesome, they dig into the snow very well but still, I slipped a couple of times, losing my grip on the powdery snow. Another thing that slows us down is our sleds. Every once in a while someone's would just topple right over, and we'd all stop and wait while she picks it up, recentres the gravity and continues on her way.

Eventually though, we made it. We have a celebratory drink (of water) and then go inside for some hot chocolate and a sleep.

Kathy notices I have a steel water bottle, so she offers to heat mine up on the stove. What a wonderful woman! I have never done this before, so it feels just like heaven when I hold it and warm my feet on it as I drift off to sleep.

Me vs. giant bedroll

Me vs. giant bedroll


Everyone at Wendy's in Perth

Everyone at Wendy's in Perth


Rena teaching us how to pack

Rena teaching us how to pack


We are bright!

We are bright!


Packing up

Packing up


Into the dark, cold night

Into the dark, cold night


Stephanie

Stephanie


Hiking into the dark

Hiking into the dark


Rena in the kitchen

Rena in the kitchen


Our bunk beds

Our bunk beds


Erin vs. the fire

Erin vs. the fire


Kathy with frozen hair

Kathy with frozen hair


Me vs. hot chocolate

Me vs. hot chocolate


Me in the kitchen

Me in the kitchen

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Schedule

It's a short trip out to Perth, Ontario for a little camping getaway, no boys allowed!

Jan. 13 5 p.m. leave for Perth Jan. 13 evening, set up tent, eat dinner Jan. 14 Build our quinzhee and do stuff plus catered dinner and mulled wine Jan. 15 Clean up and leave

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Plane to Ottawa

We have to switch planes in Montreal. We also have to manually switch our bags over ourselves and go through security again. We sleep some more on the airplane benches, totally wiped out from the trip. When we get back to Ottawa, we see piles and piles of random luggage all over the place. We wait for an hour or so for ours, but it's not there. Probably got lost when we manually threw our luggage onto our next plane ourselves. Sucks. I have no keys in my carryon so I am desperately hoping that Louise (my neighbour) is home and can give them to me so we can get some much needed rest! We ask the taxi driver to stop at the McDonald's where we pick up some dinner (blech, but that's all there is around my place). I'm so exhausted that about 20 metres from my front door, I trip and fall, smashing the cap of a 2L bottle of Pepsi into my right eyebrow. OMG, how embarrassing. I traipse around the world, and I bash my head right outside my door. Figures. I call Louise from the lobby phone and I'm so happy to find her there! She has my spare set of keys, so I give her a big hug, hand over her as-fresh-as-possible bagels and go back downstairs to rest. Phew, another awesome trip, another little dream of mine, realized.

Thanks everyone for making it possible!

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

The plane home

We took the plane home today at about 10 a.m. We decided not to take the bus, and instead ordered a cab for way too much money. After breakfast at the hotel and a quick stop to buy some bagels for my neighbour who is taking care of my cat, we are off to LaGuardia airport. Checking in is easy and quick, then we have like 1.5 hours to kill before the plane leaves. To my utter surprise, the airport has left some fruit, coffee and snacks for us in the terminal! Amazing. I relish a big giant orange and drift in and out of sleep while watching footage of bombings in the West Bank on TV. I hate being so out of touch that I have no idea what is going on out there.

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Mike and Teresa at Coyote Ugly + Avenue Q

We went to go meet Teresa and Mike at the market down the street for breakfast. I had gotten up a little earlier and snagged a banana and juice, so I wasn't too hungry. However, I ordered an everything bagel with cheese and jam anyway.

We don't really have anything planned for today, except for Avenue Q. We decide to wander around Central Park and who knows where else. So, we pay for our meal, but while I was in the washroom, Keith and Mike are accosted by the waitress because they didn't leave enough tip. So far, we have found that tips are always added to bills automagically. So, it's weird that this lady is upset about not getting enough, I think.

Our breakfast place, is right down the street from Central Park, so we walk around for a while looking at squirrels and ducks and such. It's kind of a grey day, so it's not so exciting. We come to a pond that I instantly recognize. It's the place that kids use remote control boats on in the summer. I remember a couple of my friends and I falling asleep on the edge of it in grade 11, being mistaken for a homeless person, and waking up with a flyer that tells me where to go for free food and cheap lodging. Ha!

Anyway, I don't really know where Teresa and Mike plan on taking us, but our next stop is a famous Italian bakery, I think it's called Veniero's... It's beautiful inside! Stained glass windows and what is probably a lovely patio in the summer. Everyone gets some sort of dessert, Mike has a really disgusting mix of espresso and a whole bunch of various liqueur, blech! I get some steamed milk with an almond flavour shot, yum.

We walk around Times Square again, find out that the Virgin store is closing down, so we stop in there to find some deals. There aren't any, just deals on clothes, and I already have my I heart NY t-shirt, so I am uninterested. We lose Keith for a while, and later I find him downstairs contemplating some headphones.

So, off we go, to find something else interesting to do. Mike takes us to a famous square where they hold protests. I THINK it's Union Square, but I could have forgotten. This is what I get for writing my blog so late in the game!

We walk down 1st Ave. and suddenly what do our wondering eyes should appear. Coyote Ugly. Hilarious. I have never seen the movie, so I don't know what to expect from this place. You can see what's coming, can't you?

So anyway, the bar is empty and everyone goes to the washroom. I ask for a draught cider and then take it to a booth.

"No, no no, this is Coyote Ugly, you have to sit at the bar," says the hefty bartender, spilling out of her too tight shorts and tank top. "Um, OK, I guess." "I'm Jenna, who are you?" "...Louise..." Suddenly Kid Rock's "Cowboy" comes on the jukebox and she jumps up on the bar, swinging from the pipes in the ceiling and stomping around in her boots all over the place. It is difficult not to look at her. I try and avert my eyes and stifle my laughter.

Who in their right mind takes a job like this? Does she get paid by the dance? Is that in her job description? I can just see it... "Bartender, Coyote Ugly Saloon, Responsibilities include serving beer and spirits to customers, sweeping, mopping, cleaning tables and washrooms, dancing on the bar and wearing clothes that are too tight for you".

To me, even though she's wearing her clothes, it's the same as being a stripper. What have I gotten myself into today? By being complacent and indecisive, I find myself in a pseudo strip club with used bras hanging from the windows and a bathroom where the door has fallen off of the toilet stall. There is also a beautiful mural on the wall depicting a cartoon inebriated coyote sitting in a barrel with the caption "Don't just get drunk, get ugly", encircling his head like a halo. *sigh*

So, I take some time to contemplate my predicament in the washroom and decide to just embrace it and go with it. I've pretty much "done" everything in New York by this point in my life anyway. An afternoon in a dirty tourist trap isn't going to kill me.

Yes, so that is what we do. I try and ask "Jenna" if that IS her real name about her life before she came to New York, she expertly dodges my questions. Mike says she's definitely from the south. I wouldn't be surprised.

Before we know it, it's about 5 p.m. and we have to go get ready for Avenue Q! Mike and Teresa come with us to our room, where I have to pick up my credit card. I give it to Keith and then we go. For some reason, 10 minutes down the road, Keith says he doesn't have it, so we have to run back and find it again. He realizes he put it in his jacket after all so then we go back to the play, and make it, still a little early for the curtain call. I have no idea how far away we are, so I'm a little stressed out at this point. Teresa is marvelous and she gets us there very easily. Imagine if we didn't have our local friends to help us out! So we say goodbye and thank you to Mike and Teresa, hoping that they will come and visit me in Ottawa sometime. Maybe they'll stop in the TravelPod office for beer o'clock!

OK, so Avenue Q is pretty fun, just for the writing and the presentation of the show. But for over $100 per ticket, I'm not 100% sure if the actors aren't lip synching. Our seats aren't that far away, so I think it's kind of pathetic that I can't tell. If it's real, then the play is really well done, if not, then I am sad and disappointed. Either way, it's funny and entertaining, albeit slick (a little bit too slick) for my tastes.

So, after this we wander around Times Square looking for somewhere to hang out. We spend a little too much time in the M&M Store (???) just trying to figure out the POINT of it. Why here? Why M&Ms? Why would anyone pay $20 for a plastic statue of liberty M&M dispenser? Bizarre. I ask a couple random people if they "get" it, but they don't either. So that's a relief, I'm not the only one going crazy. At least not today.

We find the Cuban restaurant that Teresa recommended and after getting tired of walking around aimlessly, we go back to our hotel and eat the Chinese food leftovers, along with sushi and a grapefruit from the market around the corner.

Me vs. NY bagel

Me vs. NY bagel


Central Park squirrel

Central Park squirrel


Central Park squirrel 2

Central Park squirrel 2


Teresa and Mike at famous Italian bakery

Teresa and Mike at famous Italian bakery


Me vs. steamed milk w/ almond

Me vs. steamed milk w/ almond


Coyote Ugly

Coyote Ugly


Keith, Mike, Teresa at Coyote Ugly

Keith, Mike, Teresa at Coyote Ugly


Mike and Teresa on the subway

Mike and Teresa on the subway


Keith, I don't know

Keith, I don't know


Keith and me on the subway

Keith and me on the subway


We are at the theatre

We are at the theatre


I think these are the people behind us.

I think these are the people behind us.

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)