A Travellerspoint blog

July 2009

Indian at Taj Mahal and Natal Day fireworks

Hungry for dinner. We had some Indian at Taj Mahal, Jay introduced us to his imaginary friend Jims and Shylo wore some beautiful mint green lipstick.

Then, we went down to Halifax pier for "Natal Day" fireworks and a people watching spectacle. We saw a bunch of motorcyclists and went home. Tired.

Me vs. Naan

Me vs. Naan


Jims

Jims


Shylo vs. mint sauce

Shylo vs. mint sauce


Motorcycles on Halifax pier

Motorcycles on Halifax pier

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

To the Bay of Fundy and back

We had a lazy morning this morning, and nobody really wanted to drive to Boylston anymore. I had found a place with a really nice beach earlier in the month, but it was about a four hour drive away.

So I gave up on that dream.

Shylo, Jay and I drove down to the Bay of Fundy, near Mount Uniacke, the home of BUCK 65!

Oh my.

We stopped to explore an abandoned church and also at "Look Off" point.

The beach was lovely. We got there just as the tide was coming in. I got stuck in the mud a few times and took some beautiful photos.

The beach was otherworldly. The sun shimmered in the puddles in the sand. The water rippled as it came back in. I imagined a tidal wave that would come and drown all of us as the water came back. I started to get scared because we were the only people out there. It seemed like everyone else knew what they were doing, getting the heck outta dodge, so I started to leave. Turns out the tide doesn't come in that fast, so I got up the courage to go to the edge of the ocean. yep, actually it was really slow.

We all walked back out and then got in the car to go back home.

Home of Buck 65

Home of Buck 65


Shylo and Jay at the Look Off

Shylo and Jay at the Look Off


Broken church

Broken church


Broken church 2

Broken church 2


Bay of Fundy

Bay of Fundy


The tide's out

The tide's out


Let's gooooo!

Let's gooooo!


My feet vs. barnacles

My feet vs. barnacles


Stuck in the mud

Stuck in the mud


A rock in a stream

A rock in a stream


Upstream

Upstream


Jay in the fog

Jay in the fog


Jay in the fog

Jay in the fog


Shylo and Jay

Shylo and Jay


Shylo, Jay, Scooter

Shylo, Jay, Scooter


I love you

I love you


Will you marry me Lisa?

Will you marry me Lisa?


My feet vs. mud

My feet vs. mud


The other way

The other way


The stones

The stones

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

The Lower Deck with Sam

After he comes home, we go out to the Lower Deck with some of Shylo's friends that live in Halifax. The cover bands are OK, but not really my bag. I go out and sleep on a bench near the pier for a while. When I come back in, everyone is looking for me. Oops.

Later, we go to another place, where Shylo's other friends are. Two guys who work as journalists. They are cool guys, we hang out for a while, go back to the Lower Deck, where it starts raining.

I get into a little fight with a lady bouncer. She is adamant that I was swearing at her (Which I was not). Finally Shylo comes outside to meet us, and we go to pizza corner for a donair. King of Donairs has the best. While we're there, a band is setting up a video camera to make a video. We watch them for a while, and take a cab home. Our cab driver is from Kuwait and Shylo tries to recruit him into the RCMP. I don't know why, but whatever.

Sam Yazz Shylo

Sam Yazz Shylo


Jay vs. Catapult

Jay vs. Catapult


Shylo Sam

Shylo Sam


Lower Deck

Lower Deck


Sam

Sam


Sam at Lower Deck

Sam at Lower Deck


Band at Lower Deck

Band at Lower Deck


Crowd at Lower Deck

Crowd at Lower Deck


Band outside Lower Deck

Band outside Lower Deck


Crowd outside Lower Deck

Crowd outside Lower Deck


Diners

Diners


Celtic Band

Celtic Band


Me and Shylo uhhhh... no comment

Me and Shylo uhhhh... no comment


Me and Sam

Me and Sam


Shylo and friends

Shylo and friends


Band at King of Donairs

Band at King of Donairs


Me vs. donair Pt. 2

Me vs. donair Pt. 2


Me vs. Donair Pt. 3

Me vs. Donair Pt. 3


Band at King of Donairs

Band at King of Donairs

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

Power kiting and the Lower Deck

I woke up and waited for Shylo to get up. She worked really late the night before, so it makes sense that she would be sleeping for a while today.

The phone rang, I pick it up

"Shyloooo????" An old person, maybe a grandmother says from the other end.

"Nooo???" I answer.

"OK, wrong number."

Oh man, I have to tell Shylo someone called. I knock on her door and wake her up. The phone rings again but I don't answer it this time, she comes down and wakes up. We have a breakfast of nutella on whole wheat and go out to fly a kite. My favourite thing to do on the ocean.

Jay has this awesome power kite that you can fly really fast and high. It's about 2 or 3 metres across. It literally carries you across the beach.

We drive down to the beach and bring Scooter with us. Shylo shows me what to do and I try and fly the kite myself too. It doesn't go too well. I slam it into the ground a million times.

A wakeboarder gets in the way with her machine that pulls her up onto shore by a rope. Another power kiter warned me of this lady before I got taken down by the taught rope. Good thing, because I had no idea what that contraption was for.

I try and maneuver the kite, but I can't really figure it out. I almost hit some kids on the beach, and then dump the kite right into the water, where it then picks up a bunch of clumps of sand and can no longer fly. The tide starts to come in so we go back home.

Shylo has to dry out the kite, so we do that and wait for Jay to come home.

Power kite

Power kite


Power kites

Power kites


Shylo vs. power kite

Shylo vs. power kite


Me vs. power kite

Me vs. power kite


Me vs. power kite

Me vs. power kite


The kite fell in the water

The kite fell in the water


The fog is rolling in

The fog is rolling in

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

On to Halifax

My beloved motocyclette is sitting at Derek's house, getting fixed after the Chicago debacle, I hope. So, I decided to book a flight to Halifax instead. I called Shylo yesterday to tell her that my bike was broken and she thought I was going to cancel! Of course I'm coming, I just booked my flight. In that case, she says I can come along with her on her rounds as an RCMP officer! How awesome is that. "It's going to be boring," she warned me. I think not. Embarrassing airport security story alert! I have these pants with a "built-in" belt. I decided to wear them to the airport today. Of course, the security guy gets me to undo the buckle. "I can't, my pants will fall off." "Just undo the buckle, please." "Seriously...I can't." Reluctantly, I undo the buckle, unsure of what exactly is about to happen next. "Yep, just open it like that, totally open." "OK..." So of course, there I am standing there with my underwear on display in front of everyone at a busy airport. Normally I don't have a problem with nudity of any sort, as long as it's my idea, and I'm in a spa or on a beach or in otherwise comfortable surroundings. Displaying my tighty whiteys without my consent in a busy airport is completely unacceptable. Irritated, I walk over to a security guard and ask to make a formal complaint. A sunny, bright blonde haired woman from CATSA took my complaint, diligently writing notes and nodding. "Did you know that you can request a female security guard to search you?" "Absolutely not, that is not an apparent option as you are being rushed through the metal detectors." (That's still not the issue anyway.) "Yes, good point, I will definitely take this up with management." Of course you will dearie.

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

Safe ride home

Dad drives me alllllllllllll the way back to Ottawa and we have dinner at Red Lobster (dad's idea) with my personal bike mechanic, Derek.

Derek helps us take the motocyclette out of the back of the van and we drive back to my place. Dad tries to sleep but finds he can't, so he takes off into the night.

Bye Dad, hope you don't fall asleep and die on the way home! (I called later on, he didn't, just so you know...)

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

Getting OUT of Cleveland

I somehow find my way out of Cleveland and drive on down through Pennsylvania. Somewhere in there, I called my dad to ask him to start driving, because I am terrified. I probably good have made it all the way, but I just was not trusting this motorcycle anymore. I took a bunch of backways and filled some gas up just outside of Erie, PA. I meet a nice man who works for the county fixing the guide rails along different highways in the area. He talks and tells stories about traveling in Canada back in the 80s.

"It changed my life," he says. "Anytime I see someone from Canada, I have to say hi and repay them for the welcome that I felt when I was in Canada."

He's a history buff and tells me all kinds of stories about Pennsylvania. He also says I should meet up with my dad at the welcome centre at the NY/PA border. I call dad back, see where he is and tell him to go there and just wait, I'd be there in a bit. He agrees and Alan says he'd come over because he had some work to do over there anyway.

Turns out dad was at the welcome centre, but he didn't see me, so he went to another travel centre, further down the highway.

Alan waits with me until he comes. Then, him and my dad actually lift my bike up and put it into the back of this huge cube van he rented! RENTED!

If I had known he was going to rent a van, I might've toughed it out and actually driven the whole way back myself. I would've been tired but it would've been worth it. Feeling like a mountaineer forced to come down from Mount Everest because of bad weather. I had to back out of my plan to circle Lake Erie and Lake Ontario in a giant loop. Who knows when I'll get the chance to tackle that again? Oh well, I guess I'll just do the rest in a cube van.

Alan in Pennsylvania

Alan in Pennsylvania


My bike in the van

My bike in the van


Dad saved me from complete ruin

Dad saved me from complete ruin

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

The frightening ride home

Very luckily, I find a motorcycle mechanic who is still open. Nut's Cycle Rehab, a one man show just around the corner, run by a guy named Justin, with huge ear piercings and sleeve tattoos on both arms. He was about to go home, but he sticks around to check out my bike. Turns out, I had zero oil left, because something is leaking under some panel somewhere. So, I was driving without it, the bike overheated, and blew one of the spark plugs. That's the long and short of it. Hence, I couldn't drive over 80 km/h anymore. He cleans out the carburator, which costs me $60. By the time that's done, it's about 10:30.

No matter how well this guy fixes the bike, I am still terrified of driving it, so I find a hotel not too far away, and go straight to bed. I call my mom because she had offered to literally drive me AND my bike home in a van tomorrow if things don't go well. The offer is still available, so I tell her goodnight and hope that nothing happens tomorrow.

Nut's Motorcycle Rehab in Cleveland

Nut's Motorcycle Rehab in Cleveland

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

The Marauder bites the dust

OK, so I keep going and end up in Cleveland, I fill the bike up with some more gas, and then what?! it just STOPS on the I-90, I am forced to pull over and then walk back into town. I start the bike again miraculously, and try and get back on the highway. It gets up to about 100 km/h and predictably, breaks again. Great, now what? I go back into town again, knowing that I can travel slowly, just fine. I figure I have to change my route, so I find an internet cafe, since I can't find a map anywhere to buy. I find a place called the Phoenix Cafe by asking a guy at a gas station where to get wifi. Some guy there knows about motorcycles, so he looks at mine, and says it should be fine, from what he can see. So, I decide to go to some kind of mechanic somewhere. I find an auto parts dealership, and call around from there.

"I'm stuck, this really sucks," I say to Keith (groan) the nice guy who helps me out at the store.

"Yeah, that's how I got stuck in Cleveland, I was on a roadtrip from SanFrancisco and busted a tailpipe, then I just never left. Yep, it sucks." I can't tell if he's being sarcastic or not. I decide not to ask.

Joe at Phoenix Cafe

Joe at Phoenix Cafe


Phoenix Cafe and my laptop

Phoenix Cafe and my laptop

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

The "Fuck Knights"

Well, I had to get up early this morning and get going. I quickly said goodbye to Suzanne and went out the door. I got totally lost in South Chicago, not a very friendly neighbourhood, but I managed to get out without paying the toll for the Skyway, so I guess that's a plus... Or something...

On the way back to Indiana I stopped in Bryan and met a bunch of guys in a band called... wait for it... the Fuck Knights... The guy who was driving had the MOST beautiful eyes I have ever seen. I'm thinking they were contacts, but whatever. Seriously, I was sorry that they were going to Chicago and I was leaving it. I hope their music is good too. They describe it as indie garage rock, and I guess I believe them.

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

Travel Blog Exchange '09

The Travel Blog Exchange started bright and early at 9 a.m., so I woke up (before Suzanne!) and took the brown line downtown to the Chicago Cultural Centre. It's a long way and I'm still pretty tired, even though I got a good sleep the night before. The train takes you on a loop through the downtown core before I got to Randolph station. It's just awesome to see all the architecture sort of left there from the Depression. That's one of the best things about Chicago, it's that there's been no unguided attempts at "urban renewal" or something lame like that. Sure there's little pockets of paved-over paradise, but the whole feel of the city remains. The sense of place in Chicago is very intense and completely unavoidable. My congrats to the urban planners. Conferences are interesting beasts. You go to them, and there is an organizing committee and they plan little sessions and panels etc. etc. I find I don't learn much from these types of things, what I learn the most from is the time I spend with people before and afterwards. I think most people there felt the same way as me. Everyone seemed to be twittering while the people on the panel discussed strategies about traveling and blogging and travel blogging. Happily for me, Lauren showed up. I didn't get to meet her last time I was here, so I am glad that I met her. Rob and Ian also came to the conference. I was interested in meeting Chris Christensen from the Amateur Traveler podcast, so I was glad when he sat down right beside me. The room was hot and sticky, even though they told us to dress in layers, funny. After a while, I noticed that there were tables for us sponsors on the other side of the room. I went over to move my stuff there after one of the breaks and it worked out pretty good. At one of the breaks I asked people who want more exposure, to tell me and give me their business card so they can be profiled on the company blog (http://blog.travelpod.com) later. Lots of people came over, it was way easier to do that, than to tell everyone individually. I'd like to start a travel blog network at some point in time, just when I will do that, is the question I guess.

So, most of the conference was directed at people who are new to blogging. Stuff I've already wrapped my brain around since my life has been that for 1.5 years now. Lauren had to leave at lunch, so I said goodbye, and after the conference, I went out with a bunch of people to a beautiful restaurant right in the middle of the park with the giant silver bean thingy in it.

Who was there? Gary Arndt, of everythingeverywhere.com, Sean from Bootsnall, his soon-to-be wife, Brandy freelance writer, Jessica, Heather Poole, a flight attendant who has a hilarious blog about the industry. I was surprised she came, but I was REALLY glad she did. Pam of Nerd's Eye View was there with her friend Travellious.com and Peter Carey of Carey's Adventures. Jenleo from the Los Angeles Times was also there as well as Nomadic Matt. Also, the guys from Irish Fireside showed up. Of course, we talked about all kinds of travel gossip and the internet and blahblahblah. Lots of fun.

After everyone went their separate ways, I went with the IrishFireside.com people to the "oldest Italian restaurant in Chicago". More like "It's a Small World" for diners. The place was done up in outrageous, over the top Italian-American decorating. Glass grapes, twinkly lights built into the walls, bright garish colours all over the place. We talked and talked and ordered our meal, and talked some more, and waited and waited, nothing ever came. Finally, the waiter asked us where our meals were. We told him we were hoping he'd know. He did not. An hour later, we got our dinner. Wow! Hilarious. Anyway, we had a nice time and it was fun etc. etc. etc.

At about 9:30, I figured I'd go back to Suzanne's place to get some sleep for the ride back home. I said goodbye, and got back on the train.

Suddenly, two stops into the journey, I felt INCREDIBLY nauseous. I thought I was going to puke so I got off and waited for the next train. The next train came and I really couldn't get back on. The lady operating the train asked if I was OK.

"No, I'm going to puke."

"OK, go downstairs and ask the CA (customer assistant) to use the CLEAN washrooms."

"Thanks."

Downstairs I go, only to be denied entry into this magical land of sparkling porcelain.

"Fine, I'll just go puke upstairs then!" I yell back at him as I climb back up the stairs, being absolutely honest.

I really don't know how I made it back to Kedzie station, I opened the plastic bag I had in my bag and had it at the ready in case something decided to make its way outside of my body through my oral orifice. I guess it helped to be distracted on the way to Suzanne's by the CRAZY drunk lady and her boyfriend going home from the bar.

"Are you OK?"

"Yeahthanksforasking", she mumble/shouted back at me. There's always someone on this earth who's worse off than you.

I started to feel better as I walked back to Suzanne's house, on top of all this, the key didn't work, so I had to in the back door, up the fire escape. No problem, it worked just fine. I emptied out her kitchen garbage can and placed it beside the bed, just in case.

Suzanne came home soon after, and I told her I might puke, but that I was feeling better. We laughed, ha ha ha ho ho ho! Oohhh woe is me.

See you in the morning Suzanne.

Travel Blog Exchange 2009

Travel Blog Exchange 2009


The crowd

The crowd


The panelists

The panelists


Nomadic Matt, Michael Yessis, Jen Leo, Gary Arndt

Nomadic Matt, Michael Yessis, Jen Leo, Gary Arndt


Ian, Sean...

Ian, Sean...


Jen, Gary, Ian

Jen, Gary, Ian


Me vs. "Goose" beer

Me vs. "Goose" beer


Waiting with Liam and Corey

Waiting with Liam and Corey


Me vs. gross sausage

Me vs. gross sausage

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

Wicker Park Fest, a Cubs game and Wicker Park Fest

Suzanne got up early today and left for Wicker Park. I slept in a little later and ventured over to meet Rob and Ian at Bon Bon Vietnamese Sandwiches. Rob and Ian are aspiring travel bloggers so we all got along well. From there, we ambled over to the festival, which was more of a street party than an actual festival. I was a little disappointed, and decided I'd be back later on.

Rob had to go play golf, so he left and Ian and decided to get some deep dish pizza. One of Suzanne's friends advised us to go to this REALLY touristy pizza place, which was fine, as long as the pizza was good. It wasn't that good. Anyway, Chicago deep dish pizza, check.

Ian's friends were at the Cubs game today, so I tagged along and went down to meet them. They were all very nice and we witnessed the craziness of the Cubs fan phenomenon. It's not a playoff game or anything, but people were just FREAKING out, getting hammered, dancing like crazy, all before 3 p.m. Very interesting cultural experience...

Anyway, we hung out around there, met up with some more people Ian's friends knew. After that, we went our separate ways, Ian to the Sears Tower and me to Wicker Park again. Wicker Park was a little better than in the day time. I watched a nice little punk band, and then hung out with Suzanne for a while at her vendor tent. I was complaining that my feet hurt in my flip flops and she immediately gave me the keys to her house AND $20 for a cab ride back to her house.

I didn't use the cab money, I just took the bus back. I asked a man (who didn't LOOK crazy) if the bus stop was for the bus going north. He looked at me frantically, and didn't answer. Luckily the woman beside him realized I needed help, and she said yes, and that the bus was indeed on its way. Now, we were having this conversation OVERTOP of this person. He looked at me again, with that frantic look...

"Could you PLEASE have your conversation somewhere else. You seem a little slow, and I don't like you talking around me like this."

"Umm, OK..." I didn't think it was a big deal so... whatever I changed and then stood beside the woman, talking about the bus. After a while, I sat down in beside the crazy man. He immediately moved to the end of the bench. Weirdo.

"So, I hope the bus comes because I COULD take the subway but it would take forever."

"YEAH TAKE THE SUBWAY, THE BLUE LINE IS RIGHT OVER THERE, GET ON IT!" And he got up and sauntered into the night.

Wow...weirdo. So then I caught the bus and found my way back to Suzanne's. Minus the crazy man.

Me vs. CTA card

Me vs. CTA card


Me vs. Bon Bon Vietnamese Sandwich

Me vs. Bon Bon Vietnamese Sandwich


Ian vs. deep dish pizza

Ian vs. deep dish pizza


Me vs. deep dish pizza

Me vs. deep dish pizza


Wrigley Stadium

Wrigley Stadium


Poor paddywagon

Poor paddywagon


Police on ATVs!

Police on ATVs!


Josh, Jamie, Casey

Josh, Jamie, Casey


Ian, January

Ian, January


Wicker Park Festival

Wicker Park Festival

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

Michigan is very strange

I'm running out of gas again, so I pull off in what looks like the middle of nowhere, incidentally, it's right outside of Kalamazoo. A place called Galesburg, Michigan. This place is just.... falling apart. That's the best way to describe it.

I start to think I won't find any gas anywhere, when I find an old, dilapidated Marathon. The lady inside says that I can't use her washroom, but I'm free to use the washroom in the laundromat across the street.

"Not even if I buy something in the store?"

"Nope, sorry."

"Ohhhhkay."

Off I go into the abandoned laundromat, afraid that someone will lock me in there while I'm peeing.

Anywho, I need to call Suzanne to let her know that I definitely won't be getting into Chicago before midnight, so don't bother waiting up for me. I head over to the Hardings grocery store and ask to use the phone. The lady in the store is angry when I say I need to dial a 1-800 number to use my calling card.

"You can go out on the street!"

"Sheesh, sorry I asked"

I find the payphone on the street, and call Suzanne. I tell her where I am.

"Suzanne! I'm not going to be in until late tonight! I think I'm in Indiana or something!"

She'll be out with friends anyway, so it's totally not a problem if I arrive late at night.

A couple of funny old people are sitting on the bench beside the pay phone. Presumably waiting for a bus that doesn't appear like it's going to come.

"Where am I right now?"

"You're in Galesburg, Michigan, where you off to?"

"Michigan, oh no, it's worse than I thought. Do you know how far Chicago is from here?"

"Just down the I-94, you're almost there. About two hours from Kalamazoo."

Alright, this won't be so bad after all.

Me vs. Hardings

Me vs. Hardings


A typical street in Galesburg, Michigan

A typical street in Galesburg, Michigan

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

Wal-Mart pit stop

So I'm driving and driving all through Ontario, with my crap radio. Sorry dad, I really appreciate the free radio but it does NOT work on long drives through the country. I continuously lose the signal and it's very disheartening to listen to fuzz on such a long drive.

The weather continues to threaten to rain, and it does, and I have to stop and take off the rain gear and put it back on because it alternates between sweltering and soggy, on and off on and off. Terrible luck.

Anyway, the border crossing at Sarnia is easy peasy, despite the long line up.

On and on I drive through Michigan, and I stop to fill up gas in Imlay City, right next to a giant Super Wal-Mart *queue triumphant trumpet blast*

I can't resist the Ben & Jerry's cinnamon roll ice cream and my traveling staple, Arizona iced tea. I eat most of the ice cream and all of the iced tea, wow, sugar overload.

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

It's like the freaking Autobahn out here!

So, I get back on the bike and head out to my final destination, Chicago. The skies are clear and it looks like it's going to be a nice ride. The strangest thing happens though, everyone is going REALLY fast. My motorcycle doesn't have miles on it, so I never know just how fast I'm going, but 110 should be fast enough, don't you think? Most people are just motoring past me like maniacs. OK whatever.

Soon, it gets dark and the sky is lit up from all sides due to lightning and thunderstorms. I figure it's not going to hit Chicago. Boyyyyyyy am I wrong. As soon as I pull in, the rain starts falling. I'm so close now that I can't give up! I follow everybody onto the toll road, so there is hopefully less traffic, and there is. Everyone is going really slow, which suits me just fine. There have got to be more than 16 lanes on this crazy highway. I can't figure out where to get off. Luckily Suzanne lives outside of downtown, I gradually find my way there, stopping to ask for directions at least three times.

Once I get to her place, I know no one is going to be there. I drop off my stuff on her porch and go in search of a phone. I find a nice young thug who lets me borrow his Blackberry. Suzanne says she will come and take a cab so she can let me in quickly! Aw, Suzanne, you are so nice. By the time I get back, she has just pulled up in her cab and is running over. We go up to her place, and she cooks me some fresh tuna! With hummus and whiskey! Wow!

After the rain stops we go out and find a more appropriate parking spot, whilst brandishing a high ball glass of spirits each. Suzanne spots a car pulling out of one spot and she stands there. A car passes by and makes conversation. By now she is holding both of our glasses and she must look like either a woman of the night or a crazy lady to these people in the car. When I push my motorcycle to the spot she is standing in, they pull away. It was funny, you had to be there, I think.

Suzanne cooking up a storm

Suzanne cooking up a storm


Me vs. tuna

Me vs. tuna

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