A Travellerspoint blog

July 2008

The first annual Couchsurfing Canada-Wide Meet!

I woke up and took a shower to get ready to head to Tappen. KJ had to work at the pet store later, so we took off after hanging out for a while reading. KJ finally finished the Three Musketeers and then we left. I picked up some Gray Monk wine, since I missed it last time we were there. Curse you, foolish wallet-losing and forgetting brain! So now I am ready for a weekend in the woods! KJ drove me again, and we passed by a cheese factory. So we stopped and I picked some up for KJ's mom and me. Yum, smoked salmon and mustard cheese, to go with my Rose? Yes, I think so. We pulled into Tappen, but our Google directions were wrong. We came to a dead end, turned around and asked an old man for directions. He had no idea where Woodhaven Campground was. So, we kept going, stopped at a Bible camp and walked around asking people where to go. Finally, one person did know, and we found our way there eventually. There was no one at the office, so we drove around asking people where the Couchsurfers were. The last site we came to was the one we were looking for. *sigh* It was very nice, Elly, Robert and Alain were already set up. Throughout the course of the afternoon, other people showed up, including Felix, a friend of mine who lived in Ottawa last year. He came to a party that Tessa, Eugene and I threw last November. He is very nice, I like him a lot. His ride cancelled on him at the last minute, but eventually he found a ride with Dave, a fair trade clothes reseller from Toronto. He was crossing the country, delivering a car to someone in Vancouver, while also doing some business on the side. About 15 or 20 people in all showed up. Elly and I drank some wine while simultaneously being entertained by Riad, the 19 year old hitchhiking from Alaska, back home to New Jersey. Malika played her guitar around the campfire even though she was sick. Robert had brought SO much food for everybody, it was awesome. We ate barbecue and generally just waited around for everybody else. As it got darker, we roasted some marshmallows, Felix warmed up some garlic bread. It caught on fire. It was funny. We talked till late in Elly's campervan with Felix and Kevin and drank some impromptu chai tea, of which I mercilessly criticized since there was no black tea in the mix, OR MILK.

Elly and her mittens, bread on fire

Elly and her mittens, bread on fire


Felix and bread on fire

Felix and bread on fire


Felix with bread, Dave and Kitty

Felix with bread, Dave and Kitty


Felix, Dave and Kitty

Felix, Dave and Kitty


Ryan and Mark

Ryan and Mark


Kevin and Felix

Kevin and Felix


Elly, Kevin and Felix

Elly, Kevin and Felix

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

Fishing on Echo Lake

Today was very much a lazy day. KJ had to go to the pet store at 11 to wait for an order of fish and stuff, so I went with him there and waited until the fish came. The store is called Petland, and really I was surprised at just how MUCH stuff was crammed into that store. You could get any kind of bird, fish, lizard, cat or dog that you want at that store, along with the appropriate accessories and food of course.

I watched the cats and dogs play, tried to see if a parrot would fall off of his perch (he came really close) and really improved on my fish phobia by completely immersing myself in the little cubby at the back, which was just PACKED with all kinds of decorative sea creatures. Ick! I was OK though, in an attempt at getting mentally prepared for fishing later on.

So, finally the fish KJ was waiting for came, and he put them into the tanks. We were off to go fishing! But first, to buy a licence. $35 later we had one non-resident licence for me, a BC resident licence for KJ, and of course, who could forget the package of maggots? (KJ seemed disappointed that there were no meal worms left) Oh man, I thought, how the hell am I going to handle this? I tried to ignore the bad thoughts in my head, and we drove out of town to a place called Echo Lake. There's just so much incredible scenery here, describing it over and over again really does it no justice. I was reminded of a trip to the Yukon I took back in 1999. Also incredible.

We got to the lake, and then parked the truck, so that we could walk down to the beach. It was too bad that we didn't have a boat, but we still had fun casting and re-casting our fishing line into the water. KJ put the first few maggots on my hook, and I watched with utter disgust and horror. Ewwww grooooosssssssssss. OK, so he showed me how to throw it into the water, as far as possible, and slowly reel it in. So far so good. The dock was pretty much sinking, so I went over to the beach to throw the line in there. The first thing I did, was snag it on a rock, and KJ had to make me a new hook. OKOKOK! I can do this! I can put the maggot on by myself, I thought. Oh boy... yes, Louise put a fresh maggot onto the end of a pointy hook... It took about an hour to actually get up the nerve to touch it myself. KJ has a video and he will post it on YouTube soon, I'm pretty sure. I threw my line back into the water a few more times and wouldn't you know it?! I caught a damn fish! I FREAKED RIGHT OUT, swinging the poor, injured creature around and not knowing what to do, it fell off the hook and flopped on the shore, right back into the water. Ohhhhhhhh poo, no dinner tonight I guess. But wow, I got over some crazy fears of mine...at least a little bit. I still don't think I would ever actually TOUCH a fish... but yesterday, I didn't think I'd actually ever touch a maggot in my life...so who knows?! Maybe I'll be filleting and baiting some more in Yellowknife, later.

We hung around fishing for quite a while, ate some trail mix and then headed back to Coldstream. It's an hour drive, so by the time we got there, it was about 6 p.m. KJ's mom had cooked up some vegetables, and we made some pasta to go with it. Then we just hung out and chatted on the back porch (which has a beautiful view of the mountains, btw) watching the quails and pheasants romp around the yard.

I was pretty sleepy, and I think KJ was too, so we didn't do much of anything after that. I wrote down the directions to Tappen just now, and here I am writing this blog. I think it's bedtime. Night night.

View from KJ's kitchen

View from KJ's kitchen


Me vs. maggot

Me vs. maggot


KJ with fishing pole

KJ with fishing pole


Echo Lake

Echo Lake

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

The Gray Monk Winery and ALMOST losing my wallet

This morning started out with a breakfast of some delicious cheese from the cheese factory on bagels with roast beef! Ha! You had to be there.

I tried to think about what would be the most "Okanagan" experience today, and decided it would be to bike through the mountains to a winery. Yes? I have two days here, so I could spend all day doing this, and then the next day could be spent doing something else that is very "BC-like". (Fishing and hiking)

The closest winery was 27 km away and KJ said he was up for a bike like that, reluctantly I think. We took his parents' bikes and went up and down some crazy mountain roads. KJ would periodically get off and walk up the hills while I rode beside him in the lowest gear possible. We got there in about two hours, but it was really nice biking and even better scenery. Lake Okanagan is just huge and incredibly crystal clear. I also love the shape of the mountains here, they aren't as craggy looking and uninviting as the Rockies are. Many of them are nicely rolling, with the occasional irregular rock formation, sometimes making them resemble a giant set of child's building blocks.

We finally got to the winery. It was a really beautiful day, not too hot and not too cold. We took the invitable tour of the facilities....Did you know that they throw out their wooden wine casks after making just four batches of red wine? Incredible...haha... Obviously, everyone's just there for the free booze, so after the tour we got to try four different kinds. I liked the Latitude 50 white, and I went to go buy a bottle, but when I looked in my bag, no money! I immediately started freaking out. In case you don't remember, last time I lost my wallet, (in Quebec City) it was a giant ordeal. It didn't ruin my trip, but I lost $200 on the first day I was gone. Well isn't it a coincidence that this is the first day of my trip and I lost my wallet again. I'll have you know my wallet at the moment consists of a ziploc baggie containing a credit card, health card, debit card, ID and cash. (Inspired by Trinette actually) I have to say, it is very convenient for traveling, but not so convenient when you are looking for it at the side of the highway.

So anyway, we cut out visiting the second winery, because I was imagining some hitchhiker living it up on my $2,000 credit limit somewhere in Regina by now. We called up KJ's brother to come and pick us up. KJ had just about had it with biking anyway, and I really wanted to get to the spot where I thought I dropped my wallet too. Kyle was nice enough to come and find us and we stopped at the spot. Nothing was there. When we got back, I ran up to my room, and lo and behold! there was my "wallet" amongst all the other crap that I left on the floor there. I was soooooooo happy, jumping for joy and all that. Now I would have nothing to do for the rest of the day. I was planning out how I would get a new ID and cancel my credit card etc. etc. etc. So this was awesome.

I was so happy, I planned on taking everybody out for dinner. Not just because of that, but KJ and his family had been soooooo hospitable while I'd stayed here, that I wanted to treat them. KJ called his mom and dad and we went to the Blue Heron restaurant on the lake. It was a 30 minute wait for a table on the patio, but we were all starving so we chose to sit inside. KJ owns a pet store with his dad in Vernon, BC so we talked a lot about that. They used to own an A&W among other franchise businesses, but to run this one, required a lot of knowledge and learning about different kinds of pets before they started it. So, that's cool that they just jumped right into something they didn't know much about and now they're making it work.

After dinner, KJ and I went to the drive-in to see Kung Fu Panda and Hell Boy 2...I know I know, boring, but there's really nothing else to do at night in Vernon. On the up side, the Starlight Drive-In boasts the biggest drive-in screen in North America.... I fell asleep during Hell Boy, so that's what that says about that movie, and I thought Kung Fu Panda was pretty cute.

Bottling facilities at Gray Monk Winery

Bottling facilities at Gray Monk Winery


Gray Monk Winery

Gray Monk Winery


KJ vs. Latitude 50 Rose

KJ vs. Latitude 50 Rose


Me vs. Pinot Grigio

Me vs. Pinot Grigio


Okanagan Valley

Okanagan Valley


Okanagan Valley 2

Okanagan Valley 2


The road to the winery

The road to the winery

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

Flying to Kelowna, meeting KJ

I brought all my luggage to work, since I had to catch my flight at 6:45 p.m. I tied up some loose ends, said goodbye and boarded the plane. I met a nice lady, Melanie who was going back home to a place just near Tappen, after spending a harrowing month caring for a very sick cousin with brain and thyroid cancer. I told her, if she was up to it, to com out and spend the wekend with us in Tappen! Then, I told her all about TravelPod and Couchsurfing and she was way into it. Hurray! I hope she comes to our camp later if she can. If not, I will catch up with her next tim she's visiting family in Ottawa. What a coincidence though, don't you think? Small world again.

KJ met me as soon as I got off the plane. I was looking for a tall guy with a ponytail and there he was! It's so great to work at TravelPod and get to know people from all over the place.

I said maybe we should go and see downtown Kelowna because I didn't think we'd be back anytime soon, so he was up for it. The only place still open was a coffee shop, where we ordered ice cream shakes with "Matchi" in it. Apparently it gives you some kind of really strong caffeine boost, but I didn't feel anything like that.

We walked around drinking our drinks and ended up hearing a cover band play some Bob Marley and Counting Crows, all those hippies in Kelowna, so THAT'S where they all ended up!

Then we walked down to the marina to check out the scene and I found a crazy sculpture and also took a photo with Ogopogo.

We went back to KJ's place in Coldstream, and then I went straight to bed, really tired because it was 2:30 a.m. according to my EST time.

Me and KJ

Me and KJ


Me and Melanie

Me and Melanie


Me and Ogopogo

Me and Ogopogo


Weird statue, "Sails"

Weird statue, "Sails"

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

Not prepared for this trip...

So, I was a little confused last night as to what day I was leaving. I found out when WestJet sent me a "courtesy email" reminding me of my flight.

"Oh yeah, right, as if anyone forgets when they have a flight to catch...", I thought.

Oh my freaking GOD, my flight is TOMORROW. You've GOT to be kidding me. Wow...

That night, I did some serious packing. I had to cancel my volunteer shift at the Chamberfest, then drop my bicycle off for its yearly tuneup at Full Cycle, buy some dried fruit for trail mix and THEN finally pack my backpack.

When you're camping, you need a lot more stuff than normal, and this time was no exception. I stuffed my bag with very few clothes, sleeping bag, pots, thermarest and a big honking four person tent that really was NOT necessary. I called Keith to hammer out the last details and informed him there are a LOT of mosquitoes up North. He was shocked, and accused me of misleading him...AGAIN. So, I had no choice but to offer to bring him my extra bug suit. I'm such a great person. I had no time to do the dishes, so I left a sorry note for the cat sitter, along with her money of course.

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

Motorbiking home, getting stuck in Vermont

I woke up at about 6 a.m. to the sound of pouring rain and thunder on the roof and windows. I pretended I didn't hear it and said to myself, "OK I'm going to close my eyes, sleep some more, and when I wake up, it'll all be gone." So I did. And when I woke up yes, it was in fact, all over. The sun was shining once again and I was ready to go!

I decided to take the long way home, through New York State Park, Lake Placid and the Adirondacks. It turned out to be a pretty smart move. I only hit rain once in a place called Bellow's Falls, Vermont. I pulled off the road to find a cozy organic farm with a doubly cozy cafe attached to it. I ordered some lunch and limeade, and sat down to get a better handle on my route home. While I was tracing it out on the map, the super friendly hippy who served me at the counter was just about ready to sit down for lunch, so I invited him over. He gladly accepted and we chatted away while the rain poured down outside. Mike was his name, and he owned the Cafe Loco. He lives in Vermont most of the year, but he's originally from Sarasota, Florida and played in local cover bands in both places. He says that people just like to give him real stuffed alligator as gifts, so he keeps them at the cafe. I kind of regret not satiating my curiosity by checking them out now, though. Anyway, the soup was a little salty, but the crab roll and limeade were heavenly.

Mike was interested in fireworks, so we talked a little bit about the giant international competitions they have in Montreal and Ottawa every year. Soon, the rain died down, and we said goodbye. The other Mike warned me about the hippies in Vermont and I joked that I'd get stuck there on Thursday. So this serendipitous lunch was all the more satisfying to me. I'm really regretting not going to see those stuffed alligators now.

I made my way through Vermont and continued on through Princeton and other quaint little towns. The road ambled through tree lined strets and alongside stars and stripes bedecked manors. Wonderful. My route also brought me right through the heart of Lake Placid. But before we get to this, I will tell you about Elizabethtown. I had gotten a little sidetracked, and before reaching "E-town", I found the sun was behind me, I wasn't going west anymore. I attempted to turn around and whoops! fell over once again. I waved down a nice young man in a sports car, who came and helped me pick my bike up. Another old man in a pickup truck let me follow him through town, and he put me back on track. I kept driving and soon found myself in Lake Placid, behind two ladies in ponytails, cruising down the main drag in their forest green convertible. This allowed me to take it easy and enjoy yet another quaint tourist town, with wooden signs and ski-chalet themed everything. There was not one thing on that street that I wouldn't call "rustic". I was once again inspired to buy something quaint. Maybe a wool sweater this time. Alas, I had no time for such indulgences.

The lakes, valleys, forests and mountains are all beautiful in this part of the world. You can smell the sheer vastness of the vegetation as you drive by pristine lakes and the golden sun sets on the horizon, dipping behind the Appalachian mountain range. It's some of the oldest rock formations in North America, but that doesn't make it less lovely. I soon found my odometer coming up to 250 km again. This was not good, because I hadn't seen a soul in at least an hour. I also had no idea how close I was to the next town of Malone. I also thought that maybe I had passed it, and not noticed since I saw a sign welcoming me to Malone about an hour back. It was twilight and I started panicking, thinking I would run out of fuel before I found anything like civilization.

So I stopped at the next house with lights on. A very nice lady saw how worried I was and assured me Malone was just a few miles down the road. I was soooooo happy. I finally got there, bought the overpriced gas, and took Hwy 37 to Cornwall, through Akwesasne, past the famous casinos and over the bridge to Canada. Finally, I would be able to know exactly how fast I was driving, things would now be in metric again! Hooray. But wait... Oh God, what is that in the distance? The entire sky, lit up, literally, all of it. Bright yellow lightning and just barely audible thunder. I took a deep breath and silently wished the rain was falling over Montreal, anywhere but Ottawa. Again, normal people would probably stop when they saw and heard that kind of lightshow in the sky right ahead of them. Not me, oh no, I had to get home anyway, and I was stubborn enough to keep going. It began to rain and I stopped to put on my jacket. It was gross only for about 10 minutes, so I just kept going. I made it home at about 11:30, called my mom and Mike so they knew I made it alive, and went to bed. Sweet, sweet, sleep. Eleven hours on a motorcycle, I deserved it.

Me vs. salty soup

Me vs. salty soup


Mike from Cafe Loco

Mike from Cafe Loco

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

Illegally flying a kite in Provincetown

I woke up a little early, ready to tackle the day. First on the agenda was finding a kite to take to the beach. I am a woman of simple needs! The plan was to head to the very tip of Massachusetts, Provincetown to be specific. Ohhh the beach.

We stopped in at Target, and went down to the back of the store where the toys were. The lady there knew exactly where the kites were. She snatched this tiny packet from a hook on the wall and proudly held it out to me. I immediately blurted out, "That's not a kite!" and she retored just as urgently, "Yes it is!". So I reluctantly took it from her hand with a quick suspicious glance. The little round packet indeed, was a kite. A kite with a giant smiling Elmo, yes, but a kite nonetheless. Amazing.

It was a kite with no wooden dowels included! How would it fly? Would it even work? I was still skeptical, but I had faith in the outlandish claims of the kite manufacturers. How could they sell these things if they didn't fly? Right?

So, off we went, Mike picked up (ugh) some Starbucks, and before I knew it, we were following signs that said "Cape Cod". After a couple of them, I clued in that we might actually be going to the infamous Atlantic region.

"Cape Cod?! Is that here?!" "Yeah, that's where we're going." "Are you KIDDING me?!" "Nope, it's the very tip of Massachusetts." "It's CAPE COD?!" "Yep." "OMG I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO THERE, AWESOME!" "Well, now you will." "Woowwwwwwwww coooooooooollllllll" And on and on it went...

We eventually hit a bunch of traffic and I quickly bot bored, so I decided to test out the new kite. Everytime the car went more than four feet, the kite took off, exactly as kites are supposed to. This was so exciting for me. The Elmo kite marketing guys didn't lie after all! I would be flying a kite at the beach in no time!

I was laughing my head off, flying my kite out the window of the Honda Civic. I think I was the only one to find it funny. People in the other cars did NOT look nearly as amused as I was.

As the car stopped, however, tragedy struck. The gren plastic tail became lodged under the wheels of the car, and the kite took off the next time Mike hit the gas. Ohhhhhhh no, you know what's coming. The kite tail ripped right off. What to do? I was convinced it wouldn't fly, so I immediately began to fashion a new kite tail from an old Target bag. The new tail was just as beautiful, and Mike had some tape in the trunk. My plan to fly a kite was not doomed after all. Phew!

More and more driving brought us to the big giant Cape Cod sign, wow, it's crazy that I had absolutely no idea that Cape Cod was in Massachusetts. It had seemed to me, just a magical, mythical place, somewhere on the shores of the Atlantic. We passed places like the "Lobster Shanty" and every restaurant had some form of cartoon lobster on the front of their fine establishment. There were all KINDS of kite and beach toy stores around here. Wow, was I a lucky duck.

We kept driving to the edge of America, until we got to the very end. I forget the name of the beach we stopped at, but they are all nice around there, so it doesn't really matter. The surrounding area was like nothing I'd ever seen before. There were all kinds of weirdly shaped bushes sprouting out of the white sand which made up the rolling dunes. Seriously, it was like another planet. OK OK OK! So we paid $15 and drove around and around the full parking lot. Finally, we found a secret hidden empty parking lot. OK OK OK!!! Kite flying time! Wooo! I was all set to fix my kite's tail, but it was windy enough, so I started to fly it on the way to the beach from the parking lot. It was going great. Elmo flew high in the sky... Then, what do I see but a sign that says "NO KITE FLYING" among other ridiculous prohibitions such as "NO PETS" etc. I was totally flabberghasted. What human being with any kind of soul would tell someone they couldn't fly a kite on the beach? Godddddddd. Other people were flying kites on the beach, so there was no way I was going to pack up my fun and go home! No.... way... I am SUCH a badass. Ohhh....man.... (Antonia)

So yes, I flew my kite on the beach. Not on the rocks, but that's OK. The beach was pretty busy. There were old gay men playing with their dogs and really serious beachers, lounging under pop up shelters. People had also parked their RVs and motor boats up on the dunes. But kites... not allowed... REALLY?

My mission officially complete, I grew weary of flying my kite so I gave it to Mike. He said it was "quite enjoyable". Good. I decided to continue walking down the beach to see what was around the corner, it turns out more beach. It was almost deserted just a few metres away . The beach was absolutely full of broken fish bones, gross! The water was a little cool, but the day was hot, so as soon as we were out of sight, I changed into my bathingsuit...my laziness knows no bounds!.... and jumped in. I was sooooooo terrified of coming into contact with fish, and I felt the ocean just sucking me into the great abyss, so screaming and jumping, I sucked it up and dunked myself. Almost immediately, I got out. Mike quipped that it was like a "baptism". Oh what a witty boy. So after getting thoroughly salted up, we headed back to the car, a little tired, parched and ravenous.

We drove the rest of the way to Provincetown, had another terrible time finding a parking spot. We walked down the one main street, past men dressed up in drag advertising "tea dances" (I never found out exactly what that was) and another man with half his naked body spray painted in tie dye, advertising a body modification parlour of some sort if I'm not mistaken. He tried to charge me $1 to take my picture with him. I laughed and politely declined. Mike said he was hungry enough to eat his hand, but none of the places I wanted to go to were open until 5:30. OK, so we went to a regular looking place for some lobster on the pier/wharf/marina/whatever. Mmmm, very fresh and very good.

Oh and of course, I had to bring back some saltwater taffy. Who can resist? Not me, that's for sure. After dinner, we drove straight to Providence for pitchers at the Trinity Brew Pub. We had something called Point Break something or other, that I wanted to get just because of the name, and some sort of India Pale Ale. Also very nice. It was pretty late when we got back so I just went straight to sleep, literally, 20 seconds after my head hit the pillow. What a crazy fun day in Rhode Island and Cape Cod.

Dead fish "art"

Dead fish "art"


Deserted beach

Deserted beach


Don't know...

Don't know...


From the dinner table

From the dinner table


Interesting fire alarm on the street, Providence

Interesting fire alarm on the street, Providence


Me and kite

Me and kite


Me vs. lobster

Me vs. lobster


People fishing on the beach

People fishing on the beach


Plates?

Plates?


Provincetown

Provincetown


The beach

The beach

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

Falling to my death and Zima on the rocks...

So, I woke up at 5 a.m. and went straight to the super Wal-Mart that was open 24 hours. Oh the wonders of modern civilization. You can get rain pants at any time of day or night. It's just amazing. The super Wal-Mart was exactly what it sounds like, SO huge you can't even believe it. I asked a lady who worked there if they had rain pants and of course she had no idea. How could you be expected to know what they sell in the camping section when the camping section is 2 km away?

I quickly found some pants and bought them for about $20. It was even a good deal. Wow, Wal-Mart, seriously...amazing...

I went back to the hotel for some breakfast, stole a muffin and a bagel for lunch, then headed off on my merry way. The skies were ridiculously clear. The exact opposite of what they looked like yesterday. I was pleasantly surprised. Everyone who told me not to go to Rhode Island, you know who you are, can now officially kiss my butt. I just drove and drove and drove all day, through lush forests and breathtaking mountains. I figured out that I have to stop every 250 km to fill up with gas. This is also the exact amount of time I need in between pee breaks and snacks. So that's totally cool with me. A highlight was the fantastic view from the bridge crossing on the I-90 between New York and Massachusetts. You go over a giant bridge way up high over a beautiful river valley. Definitely worth checking out. I totally freaked right out when I saw it. OK, so I got to Mike's town, Lincoln at about 2 p.m. 10 minutes after he finished work, which was pretty cool. As soon as I put down my bags, he asked me what I wanted to do and I just screamed, "BEACH!" in his face. I have no recollection of this, but if you ask Mike, he'll swear to his grave that's exactly what I did. I got way too excited and then we left right away for Newport. I guess this is a popular place for tourists, all gentrified and stuff. There is a road called Ocean Drive which has all kinds of fancy houses on it. Great Gatsby style. Pretty interesting, but I don't think it was worth getting out of the car for. I didn't think about wearing clothes that might've been more appropriate for the weather so I was sooooooo hot and wishing I had changed into my short pants. Oh well. We went to the beach, but couldn't find a kite to fly there. What we did find however, was some Zima! I had always dreamed of drinking a Zima, seriously, since I saw it on a Saturday Night Live skit in the mid-nineties. Never had I seen it for sale in Canada, and I bought the last six pack in the Newport liquor store. It was citrus flavoured, and I was way too excited. Sweet. I secretly really wanted some American Mad Dog, but that particular quality beverage was nowhere to be found.

In my haste to get to the beach, I didn't bring my camera. Yeah, sucks. We bought a lemon slush at the beach and climbed around on the rocks, I slipped on some wet rocks, and almost fell right off the edge of a cliff, into the ocean, so that was good. After that, we went for dinner at the Fastnet? Pub. I ordered a fish sandwich, but it was deep fried and came with french fries, both of which I had no interest in, but it was OK I guess.

Having found nothing that resembled a kite, we went to another rocky beach, in Jamestown. I thought this beach was wayyyyyyy better than the Newport beach. So we stayed there until it got dark, Mike with his regular person beer and me with my Zimas. Zimas, by the way, pretty gross, totally not worth looking for them in the liquor store. You're better off with Mad Dog.

So that was pretty uneventful, but I am becoming increasingly disturbed by the amount of time we talk about the online travel industry. It's now officially crossed the line from fascination into full blown obsession. I don't think it's healthy.

While we were hanging out, there was a police patrol helicopter hovering over us for a while, and also, a couple with a blanket were obviously disappointed to find people already using their secret makeout spot.

When we left the secret rock, it was pretty dark and it was an ordeal trying to find our way back, but we made it. The drive back to Lincoln was mostly silent because I was just about ready to pass out from exhaustion. We went down to a little tiny river and stayed talking shop and phobias until about midnight. Then it was time for bed, night night.

Mike had already joined Plenty of Fish and was dating some girl that I was jealous of. In retaliation, I created my own POF profile, that was completely fake and said something like "I wish cheat on you and steal all your money". A lot of people believed it and I actually had a date with a guy that I later friend zoned and then eventually completely shut out of my life because he was gross and weird (Harris). Mike didn't want to repeat the make outs from last time, I guess understandably, and I think he's married to that girl now. Fucking hell.

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

Crazy thunderstorms

All day at work, I was checking the weather report for Providence, and all there was, was rain rain and thunderstorms for the whole weekend. Mike sent me an email that says there's a hurricane watch, and massive amounts of monsoon-like rain falling on everything. Most normal people would change their plans and decide not to motorcycle eight hours in the middle of the night across three states, but as you all know, I'm not as normal as I seem on the outside. I left work at 5:30, and the sky was pretty clear in Ottawa, so I took my chances, naively believing the rain would stop, as I traveled east. Nope. There were some light sprinkles as I passed through the Ottawa Valley, but as I crossed the 1000 Islands Bridge, everything just got much worse. The bridge is metal, and full of little holes everywhere, so it was a terrifying experience. Seriously. When I got to the customs officer on the other side, not only was I completely shaken up by the bridge experience, but after he took my passport, he looked me in the eye and said, "Have you ever been arrested or charged for an illegal substance?" I regularly go through such things at border crossings, so this was not a surprise to me. "Ummm.... yes? I think?" "By who?" "Customs officers at the Ottawa Airport." His eyebrows went up... "By Canadians?" "Yeah..." "Why?" "Coming back from Amsterdam once, they found some traces of weed in my luggage." "So you weren't charged with possession or anything like that?" "No." "We take charges like that very seriously in the United States, you know." "Oh, I know." "So you weren't charged with any drug-related crime ever before?" "No, I was not charged, just arrested and searched." "Were you smoking weed in Amsterdam?" (Burst out laughing) "Yeah of course!" "But you don't smoke weed now?" "No." "How old were you when this happened?" "Ummmm..." (trying to do the math in my head, failing) "It was 2003." "OK...So where are you going in this awful weather all alone on a motorcycle anyway?" "Rhode Island." "Wha? What is there, a boy or something?" "Yeah, sorta, not really." "OK, I think you're OK. I was a little suspicious there before, but I think you're OK."

Well thank GOD you think I'm OK, Mr. I'm-in-charge-of-everything...Always the attitude with these people...blah...

Immediately after that, the rain just started hammering down on the little concrete shelter the customs officers get to stand under. I sigh, put the bike in first gear and head off...still foolishly thinking the rain would at least slow down a little bit. It was like I crossed the border into a land of disorder and chaos. As soon as my ordeal with the border was done, all there was was wetness, cold, and a giant rip down the leg of my rain pants. This allowed my jeans to slowly become soaking wet and consequently cause my body to commence hypothermic responses to the aforementioned stimuli.

Now, when you're riding a motorcycle and you're shivering from head to toe, you know in your heart, it's time to stop, and I really wanted to. But there was nothing around for miles. So I just kept going, at about 80 km on the 65 mph highway...that's way too slow, in case you can't convert metric to imperial like me. I just kept going and going until finally, I came to something familiar, Watertown, NY. I was just ecstatic to find an exit with Arby's, McDonald's THREE hotels and a super Wal-Mart, open 24 hours.

The first hotel I saw just looked too expensive, so I went by it, then I stopped at the cheapo place down the road. No vacancies, but the lady informed me there was a Microtel further down the road to Watertown. I really had no choice, so I went over there. It was like, $80 for a room for the night, so that sucked. It would've been cheaper if I was in the military...Everything in this area would've been cheaper if I was in the military. Why DIDN'T I sign up for basic training when I had the chance?! Dammit!

So anyway, there was no way I was turning back to go home right now, and also no way I was going further. My rain pants were toast, and I couldn't be trusted to operate machinery in the condition that I was in. I asked if they had a dryer that I could use at this hotel and the lady at the desk said, "Of course!" Sold! To the bitter lady working the desk at Microtel.

I took off all my soaking wet clothes and threw them in the industrial-sized dryer. So happy to be somewhere warm and dry, I cranked up the heat and called Mike and my mom. Mike was under the assumption that I was going back home tomorrow, but I obviously was determined to make it to the ocean. So we had a conversation for a good five minutes on totally different wavelengths, which was funny. Mom was happy to hear from me and she said she'd pray the rain stopped tomorrow.

By the time that was done, my clothes were dry enough, so I went immediately to bed and asked the desk lady to wake me up at 5 a..m.

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

Motorcycle home and a GIANT BLACK SNAKE

We woke up to the sound of waves crashing on the beach, seemingly right outside our tent flap. The rain and stormy weather had stirred up the lake even more than before. It made for quite the pleasant wake up call. Everyone but Bonnie had already gotten up and were eating breakfast. More fruit plates and sticky buns. Mmmm. Heather made the fruit trays today, but I've gotta say, definitely not as attractive as mine were. The rest of the time was spent cleaning up and drinking coffee while the rain continued to come down in a gentle sprinkle. Everybody left at exactly noon, but I chose to stick around and wait until the rain stopped. I could get home before 8 or 9 if I left at 2 p.m. so I wasn't worried. I ended up leaving the campsite at 1 p.m. and stopped to eat leftovers at a picnic area at a place called Salmon River. I went to go pee in the bushes, and in my typical fashion, was not paying attention to where I was placing my feet. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, a GIANT BLACK SNAKE violently wriggles and jumps away, at right about exactly the spot, I was going to choose to relieve myself. Hahaha. My heart pounding and fingers shaking, I walked as far away as possible, and peed somewhere else. I picked an alternate, and faster route to get home on Hwy 7 and the 417, so I ended up home at about 7:30, and everything was great.

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

Lazy day in the woods

Mom woke us up at 8 a.m. and practically pushed me out of the tent, forcing me to make my famous fruit tray. (Do something nice once, and you're labelled as the fruit tray lady forever). So that was delicious. Heather managed to sleep in somehow, and as soon as she woke up, ate and got dressed, we were out the door, hiking into the great wilderness of southern Ontario near "Line 11". Lynda is constantly learning stuff, so she would stop every so often and point out different wildflowers to us out of her identification book. So funny. Mom told us the stragglers signaled to her that they wanted to go back, so we waited for them to catch up, but when we were close enough they said, nope, they were fine, just slow because they were learning about wildflowers from Lynda. Another case of mom extrapolating her wishes onto other people to get what she wants. Ask her about it, she'll deny it, but I know the truth. It had gotten extremely hot, and on our way back, we stopped at the general store, looked around, found nothing, and left. From there, it was straight to the beach! I splashed around with a pool noodle for a bit, then got out to lie on the dock (the grass was absolutely full of goose poo) and listened to Lynda read more about wildflowers. Did you know that wearing "mullen leaves" on your clothes will ensure conception? But if you put one in your shoe, you will be protected against it. After this, I went to go read in a field while everyone else made lunch. Hee! Heather also disappeared and we all got back together to eat lunch, and sit around talking some more. After lunch, Heather played some crazy balloon games with us and we all got tootsie pops at the end, because "We're all winners". Trinette and my mom went swimming again. The lake had gotten choppier since the morning and now all kinds of debris was floating around, so I declined the invitation to swim. Soon, it was time for dinner. Everyone wussed out and wanted to go to a restaurant in town. Apparently they couldn't agree on what to buy at the grocery store, so they had decided this restaurant plan without my input. So of course, there was disagreement on where we would all go. Trinette: Burger Pit, Aleasha: Anywhere but. We ended up driving around Orillia and stopping at Theo's Eatery. It had alright Italian food, but we had to wait at LEAST an hour for a table. Two of them on each end of the restaurant. Funny. Another thing we couldn't all agree on was dessert. We drove back to our site and started a fire for s'mores, except Aleasha and Trinette were picky again, and didn't participate. The s'mores were delicious despite their lack of friendly participatory behaviour. Next, it was time to disagree again. Should we sleep outside, or in the tent? Bonnie predicted rain because she didn't feel enough dew on the ground. It turned out she was right. We listened to her sage advice and slept inside. The clouds had already obscured the stars anyway, so it would have been pointless. I woke up a couple of times in the middle of the night to lots and lots of rain, hammering down on the tent. Thanks Bonnie.

Heather and Bonnie vs. marshmallows

Heather and Bonnie vs. marshmallows


Hike near Bonita Glen, Trinette Bonnie

Hike near Bonita Glen, Trinette Bonnie


Lunchtime!

Lunchtime!


Lynda and her wildflower book

Lynda and her wildflower book


Me vs. golden marshmallow

Me vs. golden marshmallow


Me vs. the perfect s'more

Me vs. the perfect s'more


Some cool graffiti

Some cool graffiti


The ladies and bouquet, portrait

The ladies and bouquet, portrait


Trinette with fruit trays, still life

Trinette with fruit trays, still life

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

Motorcycling and Imaginary Horror Films

I left my house at about 11 a.m., one hour later than I wanted to because I got a little side tracked applying for Expedia jobs. A couple in Massachusetts that I thought had passed, and another in London I forgot all about. We'll see what comes of those. Mom called and woke me up at about 8 a.m., she told me there would probably be no rain today, but most likely on Sunday. Yeah, she was a little, how do we say? wrong? I got a little past Arnprior on Hwy. 17, when it started pouring, no evidence of civilization anywhere in sight. Great. I get totally soaked and pull off when I see a small town gas station. The lady in the store has a thick Russian accent. "Hi, I will need some gas in a little bit, when the rain dies down. Mind if I hang out here for a bit?" "A store is not a place for hanging out." "OK, I understand that, but it's kind of pouring out there." (point) I walk away and pick up some Ben and Jerry's. She immediately perks up. I ask her how far it is to Hwy. 60, and she tells me, smiling, in her best broken English. Oh my. I figure it's probably going to rain the whole way there, so I put my whole rainsuit on. Yeah, it totally saved my life. The whole way there, driving through enormous swamps and beside gorgeous lakes, I couldn't really enjoy it because I was periodically wiping my visor off with my gloved hand and squinting through the streaks it left. Nevertheless, I would still recommend a similar drive. I remember driving past Denbigh, the town near Ken's cottage, where I spent Canada Day weekend. I drive the rest of the way through ominous skies and brief rainshowers. An old man at the next gas station just outside Haliburton, advises me against driving a motorcycle through a storm watch. I look at the sky and it's dark grey with an underlining of purplish red, not exactly friendly. The clouds are spread thick, like gauze, and I solemnly nod in agreement, silently cursing my mother for not meeting me at camp on Thursday night instead. I finally get to Hawkestone, on the edge of Lake Simcoe at about 5 p.m. Aleasha booked a site at Bonita Glen, a Girl Guide summer camp during the week, and general peaceful place of rest for Guiders and other members during the weekend. I park my bike and expect to see somebody, anybody there. The place is deserted. I guess all the campers have already gone home for the weekend as well as all the counsellors, even the camp director is nowhere to be found.

Context: Bonita Glen is a camp near and dear to my heart. I came here way back in 1995, for my first "interprovincial" camp. It was a pretty monumental affair. It was the summer after grade 8, and I was super excited, because everyone who went to this camp had to pass a rigorous (for a 12 year old) paperwork process. Adult reference letters had to be written, the applicant had to write an essay on why she would be a star candidate for such an adventure. We really were an awesome (read dorky) bunch of pre-teens. Anyway, I had a super great time there, and I still keep in touch with a couple friends from that camp, on Facebook, yeah, but whatever. So anyway, here I am walking around this legendary (to me at least) camp. First of all, it's way smaller than I remember (of course) and I keep having flashbacks (of the campfires, of swimming at the beach, of crafts on the picnic tables, of flying a kite that I made that same day...I kept it up high in the sky until dark. I also remembered dressing up like a bright red lobster and painting my face with lipstick to star in the Lester the Lobster skit.) Incredible how vivid memories are sometimes.

Anyway, so I'm walking around the campsite and the last cabin I come to is Lake, and it's FULL of stuff for a typical Guider camp, party mix and who could forget the cherry whisky? One bag I recognize as my mom's and immediately I notice a note for me: "Hi hun, (Louise) We went to get groceries in Orillia, see you when we get back." I don't know why everybody had to go, but I guess they had important business to contend with. I wait around, lounging on Trinettes famous luxury lawn chair and write. Before I know it, it starts to pour, and tremendous claps of thunder sound right overhead! It's starting to strike me as some bizarre B-horror flick. I imagine my ladies are all really kidnapped and from inside the cabin, I'm pretty sure I just saw the Blair Witch dart past one of the open windows. I examine the note a little closer, it doesn't really look very much like my mom's handwriting anymore... Oh God... what was THAT?! The rain continues to come down in sheets and I shiver with sheer fear on the plastic-encased mattress in the corner. Please come quick! Someone, PLEASE! A nice man with long grey hair in a pony-tail comes to see if we have our own tents. I of course, have no idea. He seems nice, and very concerned...or is he? This is exactly how everything starts. He tells me to phone when we figure out our tent situation. Yeah right, I'll be watching you, Bill... if that's your real name, of course. So 8 p.m. comes around, and my mom and her friends finally show up. They have not been kidnapped by alien brain snatcher scientists after all. I had gotten pretty hungry, and imagined everyone was out having a posh dinner somewhere. Turns out, it was just East Side Mario's and mom brought me some grocery store sushi. So, the rest of the time was spent giggling and eating snacks while drinking my mom's crappy wine coolers. At about 11 p.m.-ish, me and Aleasha had the urge to go night-swimming. We convinced Heather to come with us. So we went down to the beach and jumped in the extra-cold water (because of the rainstorm you know)... That took about five minutes. You cannot fathom the exquisite feeling of putting on a warm sweater after a swim in a cold, clear lake. If you haven't done it yet, do it tomorrow, honestly, you'll thank me. We changed into our pyjamas and went back inside for some more wine ruined with Kool-Aid, and then we went to bed in one of those old school canvas ridge tents. Hurray.

Found a note!

Found a note!


Sad at Bonita Glen, deserted

Sad at Bonita Glen, deserted

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

Green hair

From Bluesfest, 2008

Bluesfest 2008 1

Bluesfest 2008 1


Bluesfest 2008 2

Bluesfest 2008 2

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

Leaving the cottage

I inexplicably wake up at around 5:15 a.m. and get ready to go. Ken has to take me over to the marina because his cottage is "inaccessible by road". He whines a little bit, but I think he's OK. There's mist on the lake again, but this time it's not obscuring anything and it's nothing less than captivating. I unload my stuff and load up my bike. Ken reminds me to open the choke on my motorcycle, or else it won't start, and then I'm off. Motorcycling straight to work after a weekend of fun.

I only stall the motorbike once, but this time, it happens on the 417 heading into Ottawa, with major rush hour traffic all around, oops! The transport truck behind me, kindly did not run me over.

See you next time, when I go camping at Bonita Glen with my mom and the Girl Guide ladies.

Ashby Lake in the morning mist

Ashby Lake in the morning mist


Ken on the little boat

Ken on the little boat

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