June 07, 2006
drive west phase 2

We stocked up on food in "the Sault" (note that "Sault" is pronounced "soo") - which is your last chance to be sensible and cut through Michigan - and began the long drive around the top of Lake Superior, the third Great Lake I'm checking out on this trip. I've been along this road once, heading in the opposite direction in the summer of 2003.

The scenery is very . . . wildernessy. Canadian Shield for a long, long way. Rock, trees, lakes. And today rainy in the afternoon, foggy in the evening. We did get some great sunset views at the tops of crests towards the end of the night, though.

For those of you interested in pictures, Bri's done one better: we have his video camera set up to take a shot every 2 seconds. This is a further deterrant for us in terms of border crossings, but it makes for a cool movie when you play it back at many frames per second. We've decided against any sort of audio recording as the language in the car tends to be a bit salty.

We're stopped near Nipigon (which is sort of near Thuunder Bay) for the night.

Distance travelled: 1200km
Timmy's passed in Ontario: 12

Posted at 08:56 PM

trip west phase 1

Our drive west began at 4am this morning (on account of the ferry schedule).

If you want to avoid Sudbury and its famous nickel next time you drive west from Toronto or environs, you can cross Lake Huron on a ferry (from Tobermory to South Baymouth). The trip is 2 hours and is not unlike the BC Ferries trip from Vancouver to the island, though the water is a lot calmer and you're in no danger of seeing any whales. Huron is still big enough that you can't see the shore at all once you're out in the middle.

Then it's not too far to Espanola, where they seem to make a lot of paper, and you can turn left onto a Trans-Canada highway (Ontario seems to have 2) and head for Sault Ste. Marie.

Distance travelled: 600km
Timmy's passed in Ontario: 10

Posted at 08:51 PM

June 06, 2006
so many bricks

My plans for a review of last year have been interrupted by the beginning of wedding season.

I'm currently in Ontario, flew in Thursday, and managed a couple of beers with antiflux's own Evan. I was going guarator his passport, but the pub distracted us for too long.

The real purpose of my trip, however, was my cousin's wedding this past weekend in Kingston. It was a delightful event - I was again struck by how people manage to really make a wedding their own.

Yesterday, I spent much of the day in Toronto, probably the most time I've spent walking around there. I ate in Chinatown (the restaurant was playing an okay screener of MI:3 on the tv) and then caught up to my sister in the Beaches area down near the lake. These are places I didn't really know existed until this week.

Maybe it's because I'm a Westerner, I don't know, but I am always struck when I visit this province by how much brick has been used in buildings. It's everywhere - shops, homes, skinny little apartment buildings, all over the place.

Speaking of the West, Bri and I are driving there starting later today. There's a Great Lakes ferry involved that I'll talk about more later.

Posted at 09:17 AM

You're a Notary Public? That's handy. I'm having to do the Statutory Declaration in Lieu of Guarantor.

Posted by: tedmunds on June 6, 2006 01:09 PM

June 23, 2005

Why Abbotsford, you ask? This was Ben's first question for my upon my return. I assured him that my first instinct when in Abbotsford is to leave immediately.

I booked my flight to Toronto on Harmony about three months ago, with some very specific dates in mind. I also added my mom to the same flights later on when she decided they would work for her, too. Then one week before we are set to leave, the flight is cancelled, and instead of leaving Vancouver at 06:30, we can leave around 15:00, basically losing a whole day on the other end. Not cool. Lucky for us, WestJet bailed us out with a seat sale and we were able to dump the Harmony flight. Then, while we were away, so with maybe three days' notice, they cancelled the return flight as well. So I've learned my lesson and will not stray from WestJet again.

My new flight, however, had to be booked through Abbotsford, as the Vancouver flights at the same times had all been gobbled up, no doubt by disgruntled Harmony customers. Getting to Abbotsford for a 07:00 flight means leaving really early, but thanks to a late but fun night before, I woke up at 04:30 without having packed. I made it from my door to the check-in counter in one hour flat, which is something I would actively discourage you from trying.

I should mention that YXX, the airport in question, is very pleasant. Parking is abundant and cheap, and the only line-up for security is almost sure to be for your flight. This also means no waiting on the runway for other flights to take off, minimal wait for baggage when landing, and as there is no fancy over head landing tube, they use two flights of stairs for you to get on and off the jet (and you thought that rear door was just for show).

Posted at 09:18 AM

whats yxx?

Posted by: yomamma on July 18, 2005 05:42 PM

June 22, 2005

So I was in the Guelph/Waterloo area for my sister's graduation this past weekend. It's always great to have the family together, and we managed some excellent meals and partying while we were there.

The graduation ceremony went very well (which I judge as I've now been to few). Unlike last year's endurance test in the muggy Waterloo gym seated on benches for hours, the Guelph proceedings were refreshing: only about 300 grads, decent folding chairs, well-ventilated, some funny speeches.

Later, there was a banquet just for Laura's class. Wine had been provided with dinner, but not every table managed to finish theirs. After confirming that we were not the only ones, we grabbed some of it for ourselves. (Ben, relax; they were going to throw it out anyway.) The festivities continued later at The Ranch, a charming cowboy bar that was a favourite among the graduates. I woke up on a couch in someone's house the next day.

Saturday was quiet, and then it was Father's Day on Sunday. After tasty dim sum, we headed out to the Ontario wine region to check out some wineries. I found some that were quite to my liking, and Bri snagged a case of a lovely red that we will enjoy in the coming years. We capped the day with an awesome tasting menu at one of the winery restaurants - there was some amazing duck and their boar was a treat.

Monday, it was time to head out. The flight back was uneventful, unless you count the dude on the portion to Calgary that really didn't understand how the armrest is shared space, and that the VOLUME UP button he kept jabbing was for the headphones I was wearing.

Though there was essentially no traffic, the drive back to Vancouver from Abbotsford took considerably longer, which I actually found kind of relaxing.

Posted at 11:24 PM

November 19, 2003
Bye bye, Clio

Well, today I returned our plucky little Renault Clio with its first 12,700km. That is an average of 230km a day over the time we had it, which helped me realize why I still felt like I was moving even on days when we didn't go anywhere.

I can recommend the Eurodrive program to anyone visiting France for any extended period. It was hassle free (mind you, I didn't get in any accidents) and required almost no paperwork on my part.

Apparently this program is quite popular, and ends up making a signifincant contribution of cars to the French market. Renault deals something like 25,000 cars per year through this program, Peugeot 20,000, and another manufacturer (can't remember) some smaller amount. In Bordeaux, the cars are leased by a lot of surfers.

The guy I dropped the car off with was nice enough to take me back into town with him (in Bordeaux, the car had to be picked up and dropped off at the airport). He is a big fan of Canadians as he had a longtime Canadian friend who worked at the Paris embassy.

Posted at 05:21 PM

November 09, 2003
Paris VI

First up in our tourtoday: the Catacombs under Paris. They had these tunnels,
and at some point, the city was filling up with too many graveyards, so
somebody had the idea to exhume them all and put them underground. This
makes for a really interesting visit if you get the chance. The descent
is 20m via a tight spiral staircase, so you feel like you are very deep
underground (well, I guess you are, even beneath the metro). There are
bones from five to six million former Parisiens down there, with
accompanying engraved slabs with philosophical and/or pithy expressions
about death.

No visit to Paris is complete without a stroll along the Champs Elysees.
We made the famous walk from Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe,
and were then ready for a couple of beers before meeting up with Nicolas
for dinner.

Nicolas took us to a restaurant called Entrecote, just off the Champs
Elysees. The specialty there is beef with fries with their tasty sauce
(which must be at least half butter). Very, very good.

Posted at 10:44 PM

You drank BEER in Paris ??! Was it French beer? Was it any good?

Posted by: Derek on December 1, 2003 05:14 PM


Posted by: grant on January 18, 2004 05:58 PM

November 08, 2003
Paris V

Bri and I were treated to a walking tour by our host Nicolas. We several
of the usual Paris sights . . . the gallery offers a better recount.

Nicolas was most helpful in that he knew how to get us into the Sorbonne,
yet another oldest university in Europe. This was cool because I know somebody who went there (hi Megan!) and wanted to check it out, but it is
not exactly a place where you just waltz in to tour around. So we pretended
to be students (there was a conference of some sort, so it wasn't too tricky)
and checked it out. It's another of these places, like the university in
Bologna, where I can't believe people actually attend classes. But there
you go.

Nicolas then had to go home, and left us on our own to head to the Eiffel
Tower. I did not do well with the height, which was compounded a bit by
the fact that we only had enough money to take the stairs, as opposed to
the lift. It also meant we only went as high as the second stage, but
perhaps we'll get to the top next time.

That night, it was a gin and tonic party at Nicolas' place and we got to
meet several of his friends. One of the guys, Francois, would enter the
room, and lament in an over-the-top French accent "Oh que j'ai
soif!", which turned out to be some sort of in-joke with these
guys. It cracked me up every time he said it (which is a lot of times
since we all needed a lot of refills).

Posted at 08:40 PM

November 02, 2003
And back again

This was not the most exciting day. We got decent weather for our drive
back to Bordeaux, and collapsed at home after our 10 day road trip.

Posted at 07:34 PM

November 01, 2003
Back to France

We got up early enough for a walking tour around Sienna. I got some
decent pictures and Brian happened upon some sexy grappa at one of the
local shops (also available: sexy pasta).

The day's plan was to see San Gimignano, then drive through Pisa (of course
to see the tower), pick Claus up in Genoa, and get back over the French
border to spend the night in Nice in preparation for the return to
Bordeaux the next day. As a lucky coincidence, I would also meet up
with a friend in Nice who happened to get in the same day.

The rain made this plan a bit more difficult. Our walking tour through
San Gimignano was quite wet, though it is a pretty little place. The drive
to Pisa (and in Pisa) was awful, with poor visibility and slow traffic
(not to mention confusing road signs; Italy makes France seem easy). The
Leaning Tower was . . . leaning . . . but we basically just stayed long
enough for a walk around the surrounding square and a couple of pictures
as we had to get to Genoa. This was again a bit slow, though the worst of
the rain was behind us. Claus got in on time, though, and we showed up
almost on time, so it remained for us to get lost heading out of Genoa
before finally making it to Nice. Genoa to Nice is a notable drive in that
it is almost entirely a sequence of tunnels and bridges for a couple
of hours.

We found a hotel in Nice run by a British lady and her husband. These
sorts of places attract English speakers, so it maybe wasn't a huge
surprise when I returned from going out for coffee that there was a
drunken Australian guy making tea. He offered me some, and we had a chat
about our travels. He was on the road with two friends in a camper van
(the hotel was a special treat on account of one of their birthdays), and
they would basically just park it, or get a proper campground a couple
night a week, and of course drinking all the time. He was locked out of
the room as his friends had not returned (they got separated and he either
left or was asked to leave the bar, I don't think he really knew). I told
him I'd be visiting Australia next year, and he had a suggested itinerary
for me, with the insistence that I "definitely go to Tazzie" (he is
Tasmanian, which also accounts for his very thick accent; when I first got
there, I didn't catch what he was saying in French until I realized he was
speaking drunken Tasmanian English).

Posted at 08:23 PM

October 31, 2003
Halloween in Sienna

This was the day to leave Rome. We'd seen some sights, but were a bit
ready to move on. There's plenty of Italy we have yet to see, and it
was unfortunate that our time in Tuscant so far had been limited to
a drive in the rain. We had heard that Sienna was an excellent place
to visit, and it was about the right distance to Genoa (where we would
rejoin Claus the next day, as he had a side trip to the island of
Sardinia), with Pisa being only a slight detour.

You are not supposed to drive in the main part of Sienna unless you are a
local. The trick is that if you accidently enter the city by car, it is a
bit of a trap when you try to get out. It turned out that we entered town
from the wrong direction, and missed all of the parking for visitors. Oh
well. We left the car temporarily in one of the important squares (hey, I
wasn't the only one) to find a map.

The tourist office had maps and booked us a hotel in Italian. Very

Thanks to our disorganized start, we were too late for dinner and instead
opted for the local Spizzico. It being Halloween, there were a lot of
firecrackers going off and kids dressed up (in case anyone was wondering
if it celebrated over here - I mean, it makes sense; who wouldn't want
another excuse for some kind of party). The old town was pretty quiet,
though, and we settled in early, which was good because the days of the
trip had been a bit long.

Posted at 11:55 PM

October 30, 2003
A brief respite

Bri and I had some more touring of Rome today, but at night took it easy in the hostel (one of these Lonely Planet-type spots with all English speakers, as it turned out); a few days of early mornings with serious touring (plus supplemental serious drinking) does tend to wear you down. Well, we did venture out in the direction of a bar (or rather, the direction that Brian insisted had a bar), but after walking past one of the big militray bases and ending up in a fairly grim section of town, a discussion of "reasonable risk" ended up with us heading back from whence we came. I will save the "drinking and wandering around" strategy for smaller places like Bologna (sorry Bri).

Posted at 04:13 PM

October 29, 2003
Rome and environs

We wake up in our new place on the edge of Rome, and go for some breakfast
across the street before starting our touring. It's the usual croissant
and thick coffee in this breakfast bar that has a number of regular
customers coming and going. This included a big guy who had ridden there
on his motorcycle. With his fire-themed helmet still on, he greeted us
with the Italian version of "Bon appetit!" and sat down with his 600mL
beer. He chugged his breakfast, and was off with a smile.

Upon arriving in Rome, we wandered our way over the the Vatican. It only started raining around the time we got there, which was pretty lucky. St. Peter's had a crowd, but not much; we didn't have to wait in line to get in or anything. The place is . . . huge. I liked the marks in the floor that indicate where huge cathedrals from around the world would fit inside.

Next up, the Vatican museum, including the Sistine Chapel. Beautiful, and again, not really crowded. I had heard stories that one might wait a couple of hours to get into the "big show" of the chapel, but we basically got there when we were ready from seeing the rest of the museum, and waltzed right in. Very civilized. So if you want to know if it is busy there in October, it isn't. And this is about the busiest place I have visited over here.

Then, Claus wanted to do some shopping (he didn't bring enough clothes, but this was his plan), so Bri and I headed over to the Colloseum for some fancy photography in the dying light.

Dinner was had back in the little town where we were staying, in fact in the restaurant adjacent to the hotel/hostel. We entered and got a lot of curious looks from what we can only assume were all locals. So this made for somewhat of an authentic Italian dining experience (or at least for this part of Italy).

First, we had three big plates of pasta to split. Then, since I was kind of hungry when ordering, I'd asked for the steak with fries. So this huge slab of meat comes out, with a ton of fries on the side. Then of course some desert, and wine and bread all the way throughout. It makes for a bit of a daunting meal. Of course, we were not eating like the tables around us, where there would be an appetizer beforehand and a whole pizza (I'm serious) thrown in there somewhere. Mama mia.

Posted at 03:32 PM

October 28, 2003
Florence . . . Rome

By now, we'd spent more time in Northern Italy than we had originally
planned, but this was not a problem as we'd been enjoying ourselves in
Bologna. Florence was next on the agenda.

After getting partway to our parking space 3 km away from the hotel (this
took over a half hour by car due to exciting urban Italian traffic), we
pulled over. Morale was at a low for the trip (the pouring rain that
would accompany us back to the hotel didn't help, not to mention some of
us were hung over), and upon reflection, we reached an executive decision
to pull out and head straight for Rome.

We were somewhat smarter in our approach to accommodations and parking
for Rome. We would not drive into the city. Instead, we pulled off the
highway shortly before, ending up in a place called Fiano Romano. We
passed a guy walking on the outskirts of this town and asked him (hooray
for Claus' Italian) if he knew where we could stay. He said he would just
grab his car and we could follow him there, which he did and we did. He
dropped us off at a decent, affordable place, which even had free parking
(a bit of a luxury, we were discovering). We found out we were a fifteen
minute drive from a train that would require 10 minutes get to the centre
of Rome. Perfect.

Posted at 06:11 PM

October 27, 2003
Bologna 2

Venice is flooded when we emerge the next morning. The ground is damp
near our hotel, but then as we get closer to Piazza San Marco (the famous
square), we see a lot more evidence that Venice is sinking. This did make
for some stunning shots of the flooded piazza, and made for a different
experience of the city than we had had the previous day.

We packed up and headed South. We had such a good time in Bologna that we
decided to return, this time a bit earlier in the day (in time for dinner,
of course). We found another hotel, parking for the car, and then looked
for some food. In a refreshing chance of pace, we were a bit too early
at our chosen place, and went shopping across the street to kill time.
The clothes were cool . . . though we were completely mystified by a
sweater that was like one of those university team sweaters, for some
"Kingston University" in Kingston, Ontario (Canada?).

Dinner was excellent. Though it was never really a personal goal of
mine, I have now had spaghetti bolognaise in Bologna.

And of course we would go out again. This time, we start at an English
pub with a very happy Happy Hour, where we learn of yet another pub that
is having an international students night. We figured this would be worth
checking out, especially for Brian and I who are hopeless in the Italian

We met up with a German girl and a table consisting of a couple Belgian
guys and an Irish guy, all three law students. One of the Belgians wanted
to know about Canada, as in where did it come from. I don't think it was
just the many beers; I could not remember the name of the famous battle in
Quebec where the English finally "won" and that shaped the subsequent
history of the country. I learned from him that Belgium essentially
exists because, though it was fought over all the time, was too hard to
hold and so France and Germany just kind of gave up.

I will ask you to remember this point in the story as a marker for later.

Sufficiently boozed up, we head for a club that is to be much less sketchy
than the other night. Actually, this place was great. Quite full, not
too huge, and people were friendly. The three of us got separated, only
to meet up every once in a while, but we all agreed it was a great time.
I did pretty well with just English (and the occasional French).

The return to our hotel was complicated by the fact that the map had
somehow become very difficult to read. But after enough attempts in the
narrow streets, we made it.

We would only find out in the morning that Brian didn't remember this
excellent club or the walk afterwards . . . in fact, his memory ends at
that point in the story I flagged above. Too bad; that place was fun.
Also, we will never really know what he did there for that long.

Posted at 11:34 PM

October 26, 2003

No rest for the wicked; we were a bit sluggish getting out of bed, but it
was the day to head for Venice, now less than two hours away.

We managed to arrive on the day of the Venice marathon, which meant that
most transportation into the city was closed and the bridge was half
reserved for the runners. Undaunted (and really unable to change plans at
this point), we made the slow drive to one of the large parking towers (no
cars are allowed in the city) and found a nice spot for the night (a good
suggestion by Let's Go: Western Europe).

We had the afternoon to walk around and get lots of pictures. As people
will generally tell you, Venice is gorgeous.

We didn't go far enough from our hotel for dinner, as the other diners
were all English-speaking, but it was okay. Then we used our 24-hour bus
passes (there are no cars, meaning no buses as such; these are boats that
stop all around the city) to tour all the way around the city by sitting
on until the end of the line. Claus did not fare so well in the chilly
air coming off the water; he spent most of the ride inside.

Posted at 03:06 PM

October 25, 2003
Bologna 1

After the usual coffee and croissants breakfast, we resumed our drive to
Italy. It is a long way to Venice from C-F, and involves driving through
the Alps (unless you go along the coast, which we were planning to do on
the way back). We opted for the slightly longer but better route
underneath Mont Blanc, the huge mountain you can see from Geneva that is
close to the meeting of Switzerland, France and Italy (in fact, the border
occurs there for the latter two). We got all sorts of fantastic scenery
on the way through the Alps, including the massive Mont Blanc.

As the day wore on, we decided to stop short of Venice, as we didn't want
a repeat of the night before: showing up late and tired. Claus wanted to
check out Bologna, which was a reasonable target, so we skirted Milan and
made it a little late for dinner but early enough to go out.

The only place we found open was an Italian fast food place, Spizzico
(their untranslated slogan: "Molto fast, very good."), which served
adequate pizza and cheap beer. Then it was time to sample the nightlife.
A couple of local girls were kind enough to point us in the direction of
Via Zamboni. Claus had trouble remembering the name (he had never heard
of a zamboni), but Bri and I were excited to hear a word in Italy that was
familiar (yes, I know the street had nothing to do with zambonies), and
had no problem.

We started out at one of the ubiquitous Irish Pubs before tracking down a
nearby club. There is a pretty decent student population in Bologna, many
of them attending the university there, which claims to be the oldest in

Anyway, the club was decent. Drinks appear to be quite a bit cheaper in
Italy than France (but then, what isn't). I tried some drinking while Bri
and Claus worked their magic on the dance floor, and, as things started to
wind down, had met some people. Claus met one guy who claimed to be
Norwegian, but couldn't respond at all when Claus (master of Western
European languages) spoke some Norwegian to him. Then, as he heard Claus
was with a couple of Canadians, he insisted he was Canadian; when pressed,
his story was instead that his mother was from Vancouver and he had a
Canadian passport (if this is true, it's kind of embarrassing for our
country). Anyway, this poseur (also literally; he is living in Milan and
trying to be a model) got really irritating really quickly.

Then came what would be one of the highlights of the trip. Passing our
least favourite guy off on some of his friends, we tried talking to other
people. Bri approached a group of three girls, and led with a variation
on a classic line: "Excuse me, my friend and I overheard you speaking
English, and we were wondering where you were from?", to which he got the
response: "Actually, we're all from different countries and we're not
interested in talking to you." Too shocked to speak, Bri just kind of
stood there before walking back over to me and Claus to recant the story.
We were stunned, and I could only laugh. The girl's response has since
become one of our favourite things to say.

Meanwhile, Claus had discovered a dance club where we could go as the
current one was closing for the night. Mostly lost and mostly drunk, we
walked for a while in the general direction of the place until Claus' thin
European clothes got the better of him and we looked for a cab. A fairly
attractive girl ( <- an age indicator; don't get all mad at me) who had
just gotten out of a car (she seemed to know the people inside)
gently grabs Bri by the arm and greets him with "Ciao, bello . . ." Claus
was far ahead, and Bri and I couldn't respond in Italian, though we
clearly understood the universal "please get in this car" gesture she was
giving him. We passed up this opportunity (not exactly sure what it was,
though the bet is that she was offering . . . services).

So we get to this after-hours dance club. The place is really not my kind
of place. It's in a sketchy part of town literally on the other side of
the tracks from downtown. It's a concrete warehouse with a few different
flavours of dance music and a bunch of drugged out kids (80% male). Bri
loved it, and spent a great deal of time in the "angry jungle" room.

But it is not so bad. Later, before leaving, I chatted a bit with some
Italian guy (who I am pretty sure was neither gay nor trying to sell me
drugs, just being friendly) while, as it turns out, Claus was being kissed
by some girl and Bri was getting tired and finishing up his thrashing (he
did not have the chemical enhancements of his fellow dancers). It was
time to go . . . 4am or so?

Posted at 11:59 PM

October 24, 2003

France being as large as it is, and with a lot of mountains getting in the
way on the road to Italy, we decided to stop for the night. We chose one
of France's holiday destinations (not too busy this time of year),

A recent heavy snow made for a very cool drive in the central mountains of
France. Sadly, it was a bit dark for pictures. It was some of the only
snow I am expecting to see this winter, though.

We rolled into town fairly late, and finally found somewhere to take us
in, with parking to boot. Claus was quite nervous about the temperature,
but Bri and I enjoyed the crisp fresh air that you can only get at
sub-zero temperatures.

Clermont-Ferrand is also a former home of the papacy (the Crusades were
directed from there). Since our furthest distance South will be Rome, we
have Christened this road trip "Pope-alooza 2003". Theme songs include
some wacky Danish Eurodance tracks and the "Return of the Mack/California
Love" sequence on "Now 34".

Posted at 08:53 PM

October 09, 2003
Chartres and caves

Hotel de la Poste is a great place, the nicest of the hotels in which we stayed. Big room, big bathroom, and most importantly, big breakfast. The help-yourself buffet had meat (!), eggs and cereal along with all the usual stuff. Excellent.

Before leaving town, we walked up the hill to the Chartres cathedral, famous for its blue stained glass. It is a bit of a frankenbuilding; one spire is Roman, the other Gothic (added much later of course). It was to be torn down during (I think) the Revolution, but whoever was in charge ran out of money and/or never got around to it.

One spire Roman, the other Gothic. Which is which? Nobody will ever know.

As it turned out, we misjudged our travel time slightly, and could not make the booked tour in the caves, but we found another cave (turns out there are 300 of these things scattered in Southern France and Northern Spain), actually a replica of one whose paintings are estimated to be even older. The Lascaux site was only discovered about 50 years ago, but after a decade of touring, it was discovered that the tour groups and the modern ventilation combined to produce mold and calcium deposits on the immaculately preserved cave paintings, estimated at about 17,000 years old. The site was then closed to the public, but a replica of the caves was painstakingly built about 100m away in a cave now called Lascaux II. It is not the ultimate in cave tours, but it was still pretty cool to see these things in a more or less natural form (the artists who did the reproduction tried to stay as close to the primitive art tools as possible, and the copy is supposed to be quite faithful).

Finally, it was time to head back to Bordeaux to meet up with Brian for supper (he had been busy at the wine-tasting course). After some ugly traffic upon reaching the city, we were "home", such as it is.

Posted at 08:47 PM

October 08, 2003
Vimy Ridge

There are a number of memorials in the Somme region. Canada was granted a square kilometre of land on which to build its memorial, and the Canadians at the time decided it would be best to leave most of it untouched. So most of the undulating lawn is fenced off because it still contains mines.

The site is hosted by Canadian students (I have to admit, I found the Canadian English there very pleasing to the ears) that work at the interpretive centre and give tours, including a tour of the shallow part of the tunnel system dug by the British. The site also includes trenches that have been kept up for touring, so that one can get a tiny sense of what the place looked like nearly 100 years ago during the war. We arrived in time for the last tunnel tour of the day with a group of boisterous Welsh boys on a school tour and a few other Canadians.

The tunnels are about 10m down, and you spend a good half hour down there seeing the various tiny rooms where things went on (officers' quarters, planning room, munitions). They packed over a thousand troops down there before the big "Over The Top" assault, and it's hard to imagine . . . it is not great down there even with the modern ventilation that has been added for tours. There is also a system of tunnels at 30m below the surface, which are not considered safe for tours, though they have been explored. The Germans also had tunnels at that depth, and apparently the two systems ran into each other at some point.

Thank you to Patricia from Newfoundland, our guide, who gave an excellent tour and managed the enthusiastic kids very well.

The memorial itself is a massive structure (you may have seen it if you've watched a Rememberance Day service on tv). Walking around it, I found the sense of history and loss very powerful.

I would recommend that anyone, especially Canadians, visit this memorial site if you are anywhere in the area (it is not too far from Paris).

Lest we forget.

Posted at 06:42 PM

Paris III

This was the new Louvre day. Dad got an earlier start while I finished up my NSERC application, and I joined him at the Venus de Milo mid-morning.

The Louvre is really incredibly beautiful and really incredibly huge. The guide books even tell you not to try too hard to see very much, as you are bound to be disappointed. We could only handle a few hours at a time of armless, noseless sculptures, but made it first through the Roman section, then up to some of the painting gallerys. Of course we had to see the Mona Lisa; I was interested to see it in person to see if the stories I heard were true. The results were mixed. The crowd was not terribly big, though it was more crowded than the rest of the museum (a lot of echoes in the Islamic wing we visited next), but then, that's what you get for visiting in October. And this most famous painting was bigger than I expected, as I'd heard it was quite small (sorry, Jordi).

After a sufficient visit (as we read in one of the guide books, walking slowly with frequent stops tends to wear you out quickly), we headed out of Paris, our goal being to visit the Vimy memorial site during the daylight and possibly catch the tour (we made it for the last tour of the day). I've added this as a separate entry.

By the time you get up to the Somme region, you are within spitting distance of Belgium, so we headed for supper there. It was a quick stop in Tourini, enough time to grab some dinner and read a number of Belgian roadsigns. Not the ultimate way to see a country, but we didn't really have a lot of time at this point. Wanting to be back down South for the next afternoon, we drove to Chartres for the night.

Posted at 12:41 PM

October 07, 2003
Paris II

We didn't hurry out of bed, and grabbed the usual petit dejeuner (coffee, juice, croissants, bread, butter, jam) before heading up to Paris. We had a decent parking space right on one of the new metro lines (thanks for the siggestion Nicki) underneath the huge national library in the South East of Paris. It turned out to be a great day for visiting museums; very cloudy and a bit rainy.

This was going to be Louvre day, but it also happened to be Tuesday, the day the Louvre is closed. So we had to make due with another of Paris' major museums.

After convincing ourselves and each other that the large Impressionist art collection had moved across the river from the Orangerie (next to Place de la Concorde), we made our way to the Musée d'Orsay for the afternoon. It is a great place with an amazing collection, if you happen to like, among other things, Impressionist painting. The stated purpose is to take up where the Louvre lets off, covering the period from the mid 1800's through the first quarter of the 20th century.

Posted at 12:40 PM

October 06, 2003
Driving in France

With Brian back at work for the week, Dad and I decided to make full use of the car and guide books in a four-day tour of France. Well, not all of France, obviously, but we hit some pretty distant destinations. We had booked a cave tour to see some 14,000 year old cave painting back in the South of France for Thursday afternoon.

This first day, we avoided the toll highways on the way to Paris, and set out on a fairly direct route along the free national routes towards Fontainbleau.

Along the way, we passed through the least densely populated part of France, the Limousin region, home to the Limousine breed of cattle. We took pictures of some examples for Laura.

Lunch was had at one of the side-of-the-road picnin areas that seems to be pretty popular (apparently camping is very popular in the summer). These places, including their tourist offices, are mostly deserted at this time of year, so we had our pick of picnic tables to enjoy our (what else) cheese, bread and wine.

Our drive also took us through Limoge, famous for its porcelain (copied from the Chinese, of course). We stopped at a big porcelain factory/showroom and I have to admit they have some pretty nice stuff there, not to mention rooms and rooms of it.

Eventually, we made it up to Fontainbleau and met Nicki for dinner. She took us to this little crepe place she likes (yummy), and we had a great visit. Afterwards, Dad and I tracked down a hotel for the night and got some rest before driving the hour to Paris in the morning.

Here is the gallery.

Posted at 09:34 PM

October 05, 2003

The plan for today was to stop in Toulouse for some lunch before heading on to fancy castles and such. We were in fact well enough prepared to have brought a fine lunch of cheese, bread and wine. We found a nice public square, got to the food, opened up the wine . . . we weren't exactly clear on public drinking laws, but nobody seemed to mind . . . even though we kind of forgot to bring cups . . . (as such, this entry is devoted to Ben).

Carcasonne, apart from being the name of a nice German board game I was introduced to in Saskatoon this past year, is a heavily fortified old town, which was far enough into French territory by the time cannons were invented to be preserved.

To get to Foix requires a drive down into the Pyrynees. We were partially retracing our steps from the Andorra trip here, but it was nicer to see things with some daylight available and no dense fog on the drive back.

There is a lovely gallery of this stuff here.

Posted at 09:33 PM


The plan for today was to stop in Toulouse for some lunch before heading on to fancy castles and such. We were in fact well enough prepared to have brought a fine lunch of cheese, bread and wine. We found a nice public square, got to the food, opened up the wine . . . we weren't exactly clear on public drinking laws, but nobody seemed to mind . . . even though we kind of forgot to bring cups . . . (as such, this entry is devoted to Ben).

Carcasonne, apart from being the name of a nice German board game I was introduced to in Saskatoon this past year, is a heavily fortified old town, which was far enough into French territory by the time cannons were invented to be preserved.

To get to Foix requires a drive down into the Pyrynees. We were partially retracing our steps from the Andorra trip here, but it was nicer to see things with some daylight available and no dense fog on the drive back.

There is a lovely gallery of this stuff here.

Posted at 09:33 PM

October 04, 2003
Basque country

Dad, Bri and I decided to start our weekend in Basque country, the extreme Southwest part of France.

Bayonne is (so we hear) a farily typical Basque town, as you may be able to tell from the pictures. They are famous for their pork and chocolate.

Biarritz is more of a resort/holiday destination, and is quite built up in that respect; we didn't go into the casino, but it looked pretty fancy. Sadly, we found rain for the second Saturday in a row, but got in some nice pictures of the coast before it got too wet. This was also the first place I've seen surfers in Europe, though I've since learned that the major surfing spot for Europe is pretty close to Bordeaux.

But don't take my word for it; see the gallery.

Posted at 09:32 PM

October 03, 2003

For the sunset, we made the short drive to Arcachon Basin. Brian has written an entry, somewhat of a story in pictures, and I do not have much to add. Apparently, a lot of people from Bordeaux head out there in the summer; it is, after all, the closest beach, and only about a half hour away by car.

I will say, it is interesting seeing the sun set over the Atlantic . . .

Posted at 09:30 PM

September 28, 2003
Andorra et al

I have a pictures in the gallery showcasing our first stop of the day, the massive Sagrada Familia cathedral. You can go up about 70-80m in the tower, but there are not many pictures from up there, as I was not in a terribly great state at the time (really, I felt quite close to the edge an awful lot of the time) . . . shades of Chichen-Itza in Mexico (yes, yes Taylor, we can all hear you).

We had driven in to Barcelona using the fastest route, which heads mostly East and then cuts South into Spain. This has the slight disadvantage that all of the roads used are toll highways. For the return trip, we decided to pass through Andorra, a tiny country in the Pyrenees between Spain and France.

There was some disagreement as to the best direction to head out of Barcelona, and we were short an actual road map for Spain. This turned out well, however, in that our wrong turn ended us up in Montserrat, a great mountain view (see the pictures).

We continued to wend our way North West and finally found the highway up to Andorra. This stretch includes several tunnels, some a few kilometres long. You also are still in Catalonia, as we were reminded when we arrived just after the national police had cleared the roadway of a group of demonstrators (maybe 50 or so?) with big Catalonia flags. A few minutes later, we were two cars behind a car that hit a girl who was crying with her friends on the side of the road. It was time for us to get out of Spain.

Andorra is also part of what used to be Catalonia, and in fact the official language is Catalan, though a lot of Spanish is spoken in the South end, and a lot of French in the North end. They use Euros as currency, but are not an actual EU member, and as such are not subject to the same tax laws. As a result, Andorra has become a bit of a shopping mall (there are a few big ones on the side of the main road) and tourist destination for its cheap goods, including booze and perfume. We took advantage of this and grabbed some gazoil at about two-thirds the French price.

We were also hungry, and stopped in at a small village near the border. They were having a medieval festival that evening, and we bought cheese crepes at one of the little stalls while made-up soldiers marched around and performers wowed the many onlookers in the blocked off street. We realised on our way out of town, however, that there was a long drive ahead to Bordeaux, and so we grabbed some Burger King (go ahead, hate me, but I had a craving and it was fast and open).

The road out of Andorra and up through the French side of the Pyranees was dark, windy, and not very crowded. It is on this part of the trip that I really fell in love with our car. It had no trouble whipping around corners and keeping a decent speed as we drove off into the night. I didn't feel quite as confident as the locals that occasionally passed me, but following them made it feel more like a rally car race anyway.

Coming out of the mountains in France, we hit some dense fog and slow roads for about an hour, and still had hours to go until home. So Bri grabbed some sleep (he had to work in the morning), and I steered us back to Bordeaux for about 2am.

Posted at 11:38 PM

September 27, 2003

As it turns out, Munich is quite far away from the West coast of France, so our Oktoberfest plans are looking a bit unlikely. We were going to go this past weekend, but instead consoled ourselves by heading to Barcelona, Spain.

One motivation for this particular choice of destination was to see an old friend from high school, Josef, who I recently learned had moved to Barcelona. He was kind enough to take us on a walking tour of the city, despite the fact that it turned out to be the "only rainy day of the year in Barcelona".

I will let the gallery talk about our walking tour of the city.

The typical Spanish night out, as we are told, starts with drinks/snacks after work, dinner around 10-11pm, then hitting a club until 6am and then possibly an after-club until 11am. Our gracious hosts were happy to accompany us on such an evening.

But first, something arty. We met up with Berta and her friend at a photography exhibit at one of the many, many art galleries in Barcelona. The exhibit was really cool, featuring photography from all parts of the 20th century, including some haunting shots from the various wars. Maybe Bri can remember the name of the guy who's work was on display, but I cannot. The art gallery is right by the fountain where I took many pictures, which we checked out while killing time before dinner.

Drinks before dinner were at a football (soccer) club that you have to ring down at street level to let you in (the door is not marked as such, just found between a couple of outdoor restaurants). This is for the purposes of their liquor license or something, as they are a private club. Not too private, as upstairs we discovered a big table of girls with a couple of their moms all down from England.

Time for dinner. We wandered around many tiny streets and alleys trying to find a place that both looked promising in terms of food and had some space to accomodate our group of five. We stumbled upon a little place around one corner that would take us after about a 20 minute wait, but we could spend that at the bar next door.

This bar was empty at the early hour of 10:30pm, but we were assured it would fill up. The place was decorated with a Catalonia, revoluion now! kind of theme, including a big seperatist flag on the wall. For a while, it was just us sipping on wine and Coke (it's not bad - don't worry Ben, the Coke was an improvement for this wine) while Brian and Josef played some foosball (Brian won, but Joe had to deal with a broken defender I affectionately called "Warren" and a slow, sieve-like keeper I affectionately called "Max"). Then, the place picked up when a group of kids who couldn't have been more that about 14 came in (there are no restrictions on ages as such). They demonstrated why the bar might put a "Please don't do drugs in here" (in Spanish, maybe Catalonian) sign up by visiting the bathroom one or two at a time and coming out checking their noses and snorting.

Dinner was good. I had a regional dish, basically a certain kind of sausage. The waitress was sharp enough that after a brief intial order would speak to Bri and I in English and the rest of the table in Catalonian.

It was still a bit early (1am) when we were done eating, so we made a quick stop by the apartment to change and drop off our daypack. The club we were headed to, The Palerma, had "old people" there until about 2am, and then young people would come in and take there place. This sounded a bit weird, but whatever, we would see.

The club is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and from what I could tell (as if I really know much about this), it was kept similar to its original style. A balcony wound all the way around the room, with a bar on the top floor of course, and the main floor had a big dance floor with tables to the side (used earlier in the evening for dinner). With the huge chandelier in the middle and lots of red velvet around, you could eaisly imagine some sort of turn-of-the-century (you know which one I mean) ball being held there.

The 2am prediction was a bit short, I suppose because the older crowd was having such a great time with the live band that performed a combination of local favourites and some international hits ("Lady Marmalade", anyone?). Anyway, at about 2:30am or so, the band packed up, and there was a crew setting up DJ equipment and a big projection screen on stage. Some piped music played, and this is where the crowd really changed; within a couple of songs, the average age of the place must have dropped 20 years. It had filled up even more by the time the DJ started (3am now?), and it was dancing, dancing, dancing.

We left exhausted around 5:30am so that Berta's friend could catch the first train home and the rest of us could go pass out back at the apartment, which we reached around 6:30am.

Posted at 02:29 PM

September 26, 2003

Now we have a car.

I told a number of people about this, but just as a refresher, the French car manufacturers Renault and Peugeot have a short-term (two weeks to a year) lease program for tourists. It takes advantage of a tax loophole, whereby the tourists get a brand new car, fully covered by insurance, for less than the price of renting, and the car company gets to sell the car as used when it comes back to them, at what must be a substantially reduced price do to the lower tax on used cars.

I say it must be substantially reduced because you have essentially zero-deductible no-fault insurance on these things. Nicki, who you may recall goes to a school with many other international students in France, knows a girl who's gone through three cars . . .

Anyway, I picked up our Renault Clio yesterday. Our only requirements were that it should have a diesel engine to save on gas costs, so we are essentially getting their cheapest diesel car. Which is true, but every other aspect of the car exceeded expectations. I was expecting a bare-bones (tape player and heater) three-door (that would be a "two-door hatchback" in North American terms), and instead, due to availability, we ended up with a well-loaded (cd-player, air-conditioning, power everything) five-door. Pictures to follow.

Posted at 09:18 AM

September 20, 2003
West to the Atlantic

France, as it turns out, is a decent-sized country. Feeling a bit tired
and ready to head back to Bordeaux, I passed up seeing more of Switzerland
(Montreux in particular had been recommended) and then, upon reaching
Lyon, found out that the last train to Bordeaux was around 3pm, getting in
around midnight, except for night trains. I was working within the
constraints of the my rail pass (this was the last "day" of use for this
particular pass), and so decided to head home on the fastest route: a
seven-hour train through the middle of France, heading roughly due West
from Lyon to Bordeaux.

Of course, seven hours by train doesn't get you very far if you leave
from, say, Vancouver, but then it is still seven hours. It was pretty
quiet after the first couple of hours (I think I saw one or two people who
went the whole way with me), so I caught up on some sleep and also some
math (my contribution to these papers . . .). The countryside was also nice to look at, I guess. :)

Due to a train delay, I was unable to reach Bri before getting back, so I
cleaned up, wandered around a bit (Bordeaux is much busier on weekend
nights with all these students back) and settled into bed relatively early
(midnight on a Saturday - gasp) with the new comforter acquired during my
time away (thanks Nicki!), which smelled of the incense that ended up
packed in the same bag.

Posted at 11:28 PM

September 19, 2003
UN Visit

As many of you know, I am a fan of the United Nations. I admit that there
is a long way to go in terms of global unity, but you have to start

Two and a half years ago, I was able to visit the UN headquarters in New
York with Brian. Maybe I'll try to dig up the picture from that one to
make a companion to the one I now have from me in Geneva.

Geneva is home to most of the offices of the UN and its various branches.
In some sense, New York is where the public stuff is taken care of
(General Assembly, Security Council meetings), while the Geneva component
is where most of the work gets done. Conferences for world health and
human rights are routinely held here, as is the disarmament committee of
the UN (they meet in quite a room - see the pictures). My supervisor and
I played hooky from the conference and went to take the public tour in the

If you're visiting, there is a huge park that you cannot enter (it is for
delegates to the UN only), and you have to walk all around it to get to
the entrance. This isn't a big deal; at least you get a view of the park
during the tour.

I will not speculate too much here on the future of the UN in light of
recent events in Iraq, but I would say that despite conflicts in the
Security Council in particular, there is no reason to abandon hope. As
the tour guide informed us, the UN is all about the long view; the
convention of childrens' rights took over thrity years to be completed,
but now there is a (more or less) global concensus on the rights of
children. That doesn't mean that there are no problems for children of
the world, but consider that a hundred years ago no concept of such rights
existed in this ubiquitous a form. It's a start . . . and even
Switzerland is a member as of last year (in fact, all nations now are
except for the Vatican).

Posted at 12:31 PM

September 18, 2003
Know your enemy?

Anti-American messages abound in Geneva. From the simple "F**K BUSH"
graffiti to the more subtle "Les skinheads ne sont pas tous des Nazis",
this is a town with something to say. Sadly, I did not have my camera
around when I saw all of these choice bits. I think my favourite, in
terms of "you probably wouldn't see this at home", would be a red
and black poster with an American flag and a picture of G. W. Bush's head on
it, with a crosshairs over his face and the caption "I have a dream."

It's more anti-American sentiment than I've seen in Bordeaux, anyway, but I
don't know how Joe Q. Frenchman feels about the whole situation (though one can make a guess from the news, which may or may not be more useful than the news at home).

Posted at 12:43 PM

September 17, 2003
Eating and drinking in Geneva

Geneva is an expensive place to eat if you are a Canadian. The Swiss
Franc (remember, they are non-EU) is almost exactly the same value as the
Canadian dollar, but the prices are high compared to similar items in Canada (I'd guess roughly 50% to 100% more). Of course, all the places you can eat seem quite nice (they are variations on the sidewalk cafe/restarant theme, of course), and the meals we had were quite good.

We ended up a couple of times, at least for beer, at the Cafe des Amis, located right near our hotel in Carouge.

Posted at 12:45 PM

September 16, 2003
Wine at the lake

This evening, the City of Geneva held a reception for those attending the conference. It was located at the Science History museum on the banks of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva). Wine (and probbaly some other drinks) and many little sandwiches were served.

One feature of the museum is that it houses some of the original
equipment from the record-setting experiment of Sturm and Colladon on Lac
Léman that measured the speed of sound in water to a much greater
degree of accuracy than before. Their motivations were not simply for the
good of science; they were attacking a prize problem set forth by the
French Académie des Sciences in Paris. The setup was clever, even
if crude by today's standards: one boat supported a large submerged bell
the would be struck at the same time as a flare was lit to signal the
start time to the other boat some 13km away. The other boat was equipped
with a timer (with a quarter-second accuracy) and a "hydrophone",
essentially a tube with a sounding chamber on the end that was held in the
water facing the sound source.

Posted at 08:44 PM

September 15, 2003
Geneva walkabout

As the conference did not start until 2pm on the first day, we had some time to wander around Geneva.

Our first stop was a big city park that commemorates the Reformation - Calvin spent most of his time in Geneva - and includes the wall of the fathers of the Reformation as seen below, as well as a museum on the subject at the other end of the park.

Next, it was up the hill to see the Église St. André, which has a great view of Geneva (if you go up in the tower, which we couldn't).

Following that, the waterfront, and the Jet d'Eau, which shoots up to NNNm in the air.

The rest of the tour was dotted with clock towers of various kinds, and we eventually hit a place for donairs before getting to the conference (on time, no less).

See these sights in the gallery, if you like.

Posted at 03:01 PM

September 14, 2003
On to Geneva

After a late brunch (see picture), it was decided that the best plan was
to drive into Paris early so that we might see a sight or two before I had
to get to the train station. What followed was a great driving tour where
we would stop and go around the major roundabouts several times for photo

The high speed train runs most of the way from Paris to Geneva, so the
trip only takes 3.5 hours. I read the little bit about Geneva available
in my travel guide, and otherwise whiled away the travel time. Not much
was open at the train station when I got in around 10pm, but I did find a
bank machine that would give me a 50 Swiss Franc bill (no 20s at this
machine; perhaps an indicator of what spending is like?), a store where I
could buy a no-too-expensive sandwich and drink (hooray) and as a
consequence also obtain change for the tram (a real plus). As promised,
then tram went right to the little hotel in Carouge (techincally not
Geneva, it's a town to the South that grew and was eventually added to
what one might call "Greater Geneva").

Posted at 06:39 PM

September 13, 2003
Loire Valley

I will wait to see what Erin writes for this experience, but the plan this day was to visit the Loire Valley, home of many famous old French chateaux. Our mission: to see the "biggest, best" chateau in all of France.

Posted at 10:17 PM

September 12, 2003
Paris I

Erin and I hoofed it to the train station with our large backpacks and
made it in time for our morning train. The three-hour ride was uneventful
as we spent almost all of it sleeping.

The Paris metro is quite impressive. At least on the new lines, it struck
me as a bit cleaner than the New York subway, the only thing I've tried in
comparison. This might be a bit unfair, as it probably depends which line
you take and which stations you visit; in fact, Erin found a pretty nasty
pay toilet in one of stations on our way.

The afternoon involved a lot of walking around. I have a number of pictures to post, with the theme being "Erin and Nicki tour Paris." I am very excited to see the Louvre from the inside next time I am in town.

Supper was had at a great little Indian restaurant in the Indian sectio of
town. We got there quite early (6pm - no respectable restaurant opens
until 7pm or later), but were ready to just sit down, so we took the offer
of free drinks in exchange for waiting a while before being able to order.
The food was certainly worth the wait.

I don't remember much of Fontainebleau as we got there in the dark, but
I'm sure it's quite nice. It was great to see Nicki again (I haven't
spent more than a couple hours with her in the last two years), and we
stayed up late drinking some of the local cider.

Posted at 11:36 PM

September 11, 2003
Bordeaux Tour I

I leave it to Erin to describe the Bordeaux tour. You may be interested
in some pictures here; I'll get mine up eventually.

Posted at 07:47 PM

September 07, 2003
Day 1, Part II: France

For me, this day began somewhere over the Atlantic as I lost several hours
on route to Paris. I wasn't able to sleep much on the flight, unlike my
medicated American seat companion. The pair of us were lucky to get moved
from a squished pair of seats right beside the bathroom at the far back to
the first row of three middle seats (right behind the final row of four
middle seats, which kept getting banged by the meal cart). I got some
reading done, passed out occaisionally, and enjoyed the free wine, which
they kept serving until it got late and most people were sleeping (don't
ask me how).

I was a bit disappointed in French customs upon arrival. I had a whole
convincing story explaining how, yes, I wasn't leaving for about five
months, but I wouldn't be in France the whole time, so I won't need a
proper visa. But the guy just took my passport, filed away the card I had
filled out saying I was a "student" and "tourist", and handed me back my
passport. I didn't have to say anything. Oh well. Maybe they want
Canadians moving there, looking for work on tourist visas, then returning
to steal French jobs. As some of my friends will attest, this is much
harder to accomplish in North America.

At the airport, I obtained another expensive sandwich and settled in at the train station (conveniently located in the airport) for a few hours before my train to Bordeaux. My prospects for communication bode well: the woman who helps me with my train ticket is surprised to be dealing with me in French.

Taking a bench (these would fill up later in the afternoon), I was reading for a little while until a young woman and an older man sat down in the remaining two seats. They were speking in English, and once they had a chance to rest, I asked where they were from. Of course, they are visiting Europe from Saskatchewan (no wonder their English accent did not sound in any way exotic to me), passing through Paris en route to a famous pilgrimage route in Spain.

As for the train, I can definitely recommend against cars that allow smoking. It is a place not for those who want to smoke in their seats, but also for people from other cars who want to drop in to smoke. Three hours of that is pretty ugly . . . I will avoid such spots in future.

Bri picked me up at the train station in Bordeaux, and took me to our loft apartment. We drank some wine and went for dinner after the sun went down (a great view . . . should be on his web log). The dinner was excellent, particularly the mussels I ordered. Walking through Bordeaux is interesting for me . . . the route we took was one of the popular pedestrian roads near downtown, with shops on the main floor and apartments for two or three floors above (as it turns out, most of the city is like this, except sometimes there are residences on the main floor).

So, overall, the traveling part went pretty well, and since the French government doesn't seem to care, who knows when I'll leave?

Posted at 05:55 AM

September 06, 2003
Day 1, Part I: Canada

After watching American Beauty to stay awake all night and mess
with my internal clock, I stole out of Michal's place in Vancouver at
5:45am. The previous night had involved some, but not too much, booze
(Ritchie and Chris' school-girl/greaser/biker party - I got a drawn-on
tattoo of a heart with a knife through it that said "MOM"), so I was in
decent shape to begin this journey (it's not like I was hitching up the
chuckwagon to ride out to the East coast or something).

I had a separate flight from Vancouver to Toronto on Air Canada's Tango.
Not the best flight experience . . . it's not appreciably cheaper, but is
really, completely without frills. Fortunately, I had brought an
expensive airport sandwich with me to tide me over. No wonder people are
always so excited to be on Westjet flights when I talk to them. I am a
long-time supporter of Westjet, but it just didn't work into my schedule
this time.

I made it to the Toronto airport with baggage and self intact. I met Joe
from Winnipeg on the shuttle from Terminal 2 (where, incidentally, I have
spent almost all of my time in Toronto over the years) to Terminal 1. I
would have grabbed food and a beer with him, but instead ended up waiting
over an hour in line due to late-arriving Italians (the line for the Paris
flight was the same as an earlier flight for Milan).

Security notes: Apparently I no longer set off metal detectors now that I
am without magnetic insoles (never added any to my new boots), and my belt
is somehow less metallic than before. Plastic knives, which I couldn't
bring through security in Saskatoon for Thanksgiving, 2001 are available
in the boarding area with my meal, as well as on my international flight.

I bought an expensive but fairly tasty airport pizza at the "Infield
Terminal" (you take a bus there from Terminal 1; it's a building with just
a bunch of boarding areas) from a nice Indian lady who had just finished
serving three middle-aged busybody flight attendant women who demonstrated
pretty much all the feared T.O. stereotypes in a short couple of minutes
(rude to server, catty, wouldn't even bring coffee over to one another
when it was ready) . . . anyway it left a bad impression, especially
considering they were AC flight attendants (not on my flight, as it
turned out).

Reading material: Avoiding the possible lefty trifecta of Naomi Klein's
No Logo, Michael Moore's Stupid White Men and a collection
of post-9/11 Noam Chomsky essays (I've already read much of the latter two
online), I opted instead for Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of
Human Societies
by Jared Diamond and How The Universe Got Its
by cosmologist Janna Levin.

On the plane, I met a pediatrician named Nick from California. He was
surprised that I was from Canada because I "sound American", which is
further support for my theory that Western Canadians have a nearly
identical accent to West Coast Americans, even all the way down
California (extreme surfer dudes excepted).

Posted at 05:56 AM

hey bra, what're you talkin' about? we don't sound nothin' like those guys from cali up here.

Posted by: r. on September 13, 2003 12:16 PM

Oh, I'm sorry, apparently you now work for Buddyhead's Vancouver branch office.

Posted by: warcode on September 20, 2003 04:23 PM

July 09, 2003
Halifax Road Trip: Day 4

Ottawa, ON - Halifax, NS (via Montreal, PQ and Fredericton, NB)

This turned out to be the final day of what was originally billed as a five day journey (yes, the journal entry title is still correct).

I did not get a great look at Montreal in the morning as I was speeding along its freeways around 6am. There were a lot of cars out already, but traffic flow was still smooth at that hour of the morning.

The approach into Quebec City brought upon our only major separation. AT one point, the highway diverges into three, with the left branch heading to the bridge into the city, the central one being for through traffic, and the right one going somewhere else. An abbreviated conversation (the co-pilots were sleeping) over the walkie-talkies assured me that we wanted the middle branch. I was in the lead, with the truck behind in the leftmost lane. I was in a lane that split at the junction, and waited as long as possible to see what would happen behind me. At the last moment, I decided to keep to the left so that we wouldn't get split up, since it looked like the truck was blocked from the middle lanes and wouldn't make it in time. Of course, just as I was past the point of no return, the truck bolted for the middle lane and made it . . . we had a few seconds of walkie-talkie contact before we were out of range, and they headed out on the highway and I crossed the bridge into Quebec City.

To solve this sort of problem, you should plan in advance what to do, like stopping at a certain exit or something. We had no such plan, but we did have cell phones, and after a brief excursion into the city, I found the other bridge back and we met up at a later exit.

There are also moose in Quebec. But the signs are different. I didn't manage to get a picture, but there, the silhouette is of a moose that is kind of standing there, maybe walking slowly towards you, and there is no demonizing caption. He looks much friendlier than Night Danger, sort of a "hey, how's it going" kind of moose.

There is quite a nice highway system in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, at least if you are going through all the major cities. They also have the most sensible moose signs, I think, with a non-menacing silhoutte, and a red and white caption saying "ATTENTION!". It conveys the significance of the safety issue while not making you fear for your life should you have to pull over at night and forget to lock your doors.

We rolled into Halifax around 11pm local time (we lost one more hour by entering the Atlantic time zone). There were mattresses and a couple sheets available even though most things were still packed in boxes (the movers had only arrived the previous day).

The total travel time for the trip was about:

11 hours for Day 1

14 hours for Day 2

15 hours for Day 3

17 hours for Day 4

So you can make it in four days at about 14 hours a day. Your time may vary according to how fast you are willing to drive (the truck was kept under 110km/h) and how much construction you encounter.

Posted at 11:27 PM

July 08, 2003
Halifax Road Trip: Day 3

Sault St. Marie, ON - Ottawa, ON (via North Bay, ON)

After heading almost straight South for several hundred kilometres to get to Sault St. Marie and finally having made it around Lake Superior (which is massive), we were ready to bend East again.

You may have heard about the bugs in Northern Ontario. From what I could tell, everything you hear is true. Getting out of the car on the side of the road is a dangerous proposition. There are all manner of bugs that swarm you, including these huge horseflies.

It is also moose country. There are warning signs (I'll post those soon), featuring a vicious looking silhouette of a moose in full charge, with the caption "NIGHT DANGER". The sign reminded me of the signs in the Rockies that are a white silhouette of a deer with the caption "ATTENTION". My grandparents used to have a joke about how there was this white deer running around whose name was Attention, who was clearly quite famous since his picture was up everywhere. A similar kind of story entered my mind with this scary-looking moose; he's all black, and when night falls, watch out for Night Danger.

We were delayed a couple hours or so as a result of various construction sites along the main highway. A note for those of you taking walkie-talkies out on this kind of trip: do pay attention to the signs that ask you to turn them off in certain areas, as they may inadvertently set off blasting caps or something (Michal, please).

A further delay occured when we had our first (and as it turned out, only) bit of trouble with the old truck. It turns out you can get it stuck in first gear if you are not careful (not that this thing is exactly a delicate machine). We were driving up a hill as part of a small convoy of one-way traffic through one of the construction zones, and had to pull over on the gravel shoulder to check it out. After twenty minutes or so, involving some cursing and Brian burning himself on the exhaust pipes underneath the truck, my boss took a turn and managed to wrench the gear loose, and we were on our way.

Just past Ottawa (speaking of which, you can tell they've put a lot of money into the roads and other infrastructure around there . . . must be nice having all that federal money), we stopped at a diner where the waitress addressed us in French and then, when we started ordering in English, switched over to perfect English (slight accent). Not something that happens in all parts of Canada.

Soon after eating (it was already quite late), we ended up at the French motel near the Quebec border. The alram was set for 5am so that we could beat rush hour in Montreal early the next morning.

Posted at 11:26 PM

July 07, 2003
Halifax Road Trip: Day 2

Kenora, ON - Sault St. Marie, ON (via Thunder Bay, ON)

As I mentioned, the terrain is pretty much the same through all of the Canadian Shield. It's quite pretty, though . . . you get a feel for why some people think of Canada as a vast wilderness.

We had a pair of walkie-talkies to communicate between the two vehicles. I can heartily recommend this idea to anyone attempting a similar trip. You can even buy more of the same units and set them to the same frequency if you have more than two cars (we encountered someone with the same walkie-talkies at one point, which led to some confusion, since we weren't expecting to hear a woman's voice on the line).

We didn't quite make it to Sault St. Marie (or "The Sault", pronounced "The Soo", in the local slang, or at least that's what my boss called it). At about 10pm, still a couple hours out, I notcied that our car needed gas. You wouldn't think this would be a problem, but you reach a point where there just aren't any places to stop for a long time. Not being experienced with this particular car (the only time I've ever run out of gas, the gas gauge on the the car lied and was still above empty when the car died), I took the precaution of coasting down the big hills around Lake Superior. This probably didn't help much, but it made me feel a bit better, and there wasn't really much else to do.

Fortunately, when it looked like we were in trouble, we came upon a little motel where we learned that we could get gas in the morning just a couple miles away. Relieved (at least I was - no stopping for gas meant no stopping for bathroom breaks), we stayed in a hunting lodge there that had only been open for a couple weeks. It was pretty well-equipped for such a place, with most appliances you might want in a kitchen as well as a living room to lounge in.

Posted at 11:24 PM

July 06, 2003
Halifax Road Trip: Day 1

Saskatoon, SK - Kenora, ON (via Winnipeg, MB)

We rolled out of Saskatoon a little late . . . around 9am. The (lofty) goal for the day would be Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The driving crew consisted of my boss and his son Brian in an old (27 years?) Dodge truck and myself and Bryce in a 1991 Toyota Corolla. Both have manual transmissions. The truck used to have its gear shift on the steering column, but had been altered after numerous problems; the gear shift had been ripped out of the steering column and attached to the gear through a hole in the floor, giving a rough approximation of where a gear shift usually goes on a standard. Since Bryce had just learned to drive stick in the last week or so, I took the first shift (ha ha) so he wouldn't have to deal with any city driving, and we both avoided driving the truck on account of its peculiar setup.

The Moosomin 500 of the previous weekend was good practice for the early stage of the drive (in fact, we took the same route through Moosomin to get to Manitoba). It is flat leaving Saskatoon, then it gets to very gently sloped prairie as you go South a bit. But it's more or less flat all the way to Winnipeg.

Winnipeg was the biggest city by far that we would hit on this first day. But as it has a road all the way around it, we didn't see too much. Just as the perimeter road joins up with the Trans-Canada highway on the East side, there's a truck stop named Salisbury House where we stopped for supper.

The Salisbury House features pretty common truck stop/roadside diner fare. Imagine one of those big, laminated menus, with all-day breakfast and such. Except everywhere that you would see the word "burger", substitute the word "Nip". As in, "Our Famous Nips" and "Chili Cheese Nip" and the formidable "Mr. Big Nip" which had three or four patties. This was a little bewildering to us . . . for some reason I think Evan might have told me about this, but I'm not sure. Anyway, Brian (who happens to be half-Japanese) insisted that we call him Mr. Big Nip for the remainder of the trip.

You hit the Canadian Shield pretty soon after heading East out of Winnipeg. The terrain shift would be the last for quite a while. Basically lots of trees, rocks and hills.

Due to our late start, we only made it to Kenora by about midnight. The other tricky thing is that we'd crossed into another time zone, making it a loss of two hours. We stopped for the night at a little motel that provided small, clean rooms where you get your own mini-fridge.

Posted at 11:23 PM

July 05, 2003
Wagons East!

Tomorrow, we head out for Halifax. I will be working out there for about a month before flying back to the prairies.

While I've driven the route from Saskatoon to Vancouver many times, I have yet to take a drive out to the other coast.

This will be the first part of my two-part drive across Canada; in August, I complete the trip by driving from Saskatoon to Vancouver. Not the route most would take, but it's all I've got.

Which reminds me . . . I should probably get the parking brake fixed on my car now that it will be encountering some sort of elevation again in BC.

Posted at 02:48 PM

July 03, 2003
Moosomin 500

Sunday found me on an excursion to a farm near Moosomin, Saskatchewan. A friend of mine who is leaving town right away was dropping off his car at his grandparents' farm, so he enlisted four of us to go with him, taking another car so we could all drive back together. In this case, the 500 refers to kilometres instead of laps, since that's about the distance from Saskatoon to this place.

One of our group was very excited to acquire a Saskatchewan Wheat Pool hat at the farm. Apparently these are now hard to come by. We are interested to see how this look will serve him in Halifax (more to follow on that one).

Posted at 12:09 AM

June 09, 2003
like Gilligan's, but with more VD

This weekend, I traveled to Red Deer for what are only mildly interesting reasons, mostly to see my parents.

It turns out that Red Deer is roughly due West of Saskatoon, and that the most direct route involves going through Stettler, Alberta.

As you approach Stettler from the East on Highway 12, you pass by an industrial slough (perhaps a naturally occuring pond which happens to be in the industrial part of town). This body of water has what amounts to a pile of rocks sticking out at one point, which somebody has carefully crowned with an old tire. I call this formation (wait for it . . . ) Stettler's Island, despite the fact that it looks rather small and unpopulated.

Posted at 11:34 PM

ben's gonna kick your ass for that.

Posted by: beth on June 16, 2003 06:03 PM

April 18, 2003
Easter time

For those heathens among you (and I mean people who don't even get Good Friday off), here's your reminder that it's Easter this weekend. Of cousre, you're probably not reading this if you're at work anyway, right?

I am heading off to Montmartre, Saskatchewan (just South East of Regina taking #1) to visit family. As an added bonus, my parents will be around as they are bringing in this year's batch of emu chicks to be rasied in North Battleford. I just spoke to them on the phone; they're probably speeding through Edmonton right now. When I expressed surprised at their new ETA (about two hours earlier than I expected), my mother informed me that "the truck will go 140, you know." I suppose a responsible child would lecture them at some point, but what are you gonna do?

Anyhow, the new plan is that I'll ride down with them once they get here and grab a bus back from Regina to Saskatoon. This is a bus I've taken before . . . it pulls over during the trip, in I think Chamberlain, where I bought this kid smokes once during the pit stop. I guess I was in a weird mood because that's the only time I've pulled for anyone like that, but also one of the few times I've been asked.

Posted at 11:07 AM

I initially misread that as "emo chicks" and it took a triple take for me to figure out what the hell your parents were up to. I mean from what I've heard from you they've always sounded like cool people, but raising emo chicks? that's marketing savvy bordering on genius.

Posted by: r. on April 19, 2003 06:05 PM

i've been to helena *and* bismarck.


Posted by: ben on April 20, 2003 01:24 AM

i agree with this "r." your parents are in the wrong business. mail-order emo brides! genius!

Posted by: grant on April 20, 2003 09:20 AM

Dudes, emo is so 2002.

Posted by: warcode on April 20, 2003 10:40 PM

February 04, 2003
I ate the whole thing.

Before the White Cowbell Oklahoma excitement, however, we (Tim, Grant, Mike, Ben and I) went out for dinner. This being Alberta, steaks was the meal of choice, and I arrived just in time for us to leave for our reservations at the Hy's in Edmonton.

Hy's is a fairly classy place. They have a sign saying proper dress is required, but they don't seem to enforce it too strongly (we had a couple collared shirts, a couple t-shirts . . . I was in a t-shirt after removing my Sybian Athletico bunnyhug). What might have been a posh dinner for other patrons turned into a contest of wills for our table. Upon examining the menu, we got into a discussion about how big a steak is (based on its size in ounces), and how much somebody should order. We noticed that the biggest steak on the menu was a 24oz porterhouse. Mike, feeling lucky, bet me the price of the meal that I couldn't eat the whole porterhouse order (veggies and potato included). I wasn't sure if I could, but was willing to give it a shot. Ben, Grant and Tim acted as judges.

After a solid effort, I still had food left when everyone else was done. This is often the case when I eat with other people, though, so nobody was counting me out yet. Mike's shoulders started to slump as I plodded through the last few bites. It was not quite the monolithic slab of meat he was hoping for (it was no Great Outdoors steak scene, for example), but to his credit he made good on his end. I was a little woozy heading out of the restaurant, but otherwise in great spirits. I made a point of drinking beer later and they made a point of poking me in the stomach.

As I said at the time, this was partially in response to a dare/bet made in first year, where certain "friends", many of them readers of this journal, encouraged me to chug a Hermannator (strong dark beer, 9% alcohol, about 800mLs) right before one of our exams. In retrospect, that exam was not a big deal (look at me now!) and I'm sure the $50 they were offering would have made the apres-exam festivities that much more festive.

Posted at 03:04 PM

$50 to chug a Hermanator right before an exam? Damn, I'd do that almost for free, especially because of the ass-ramming exams I write.

The nastiest drink I drank was for $2....a shot of cheapass 50% vodka with cooking oil on top. The wanting to puke feeling stayed with me for a good 12 hours.

It should also be noted that Hermanators are only 650 mL, unless of course they made them bigger back then which is possible.

Posted by: bricode on February 4, 2003 04:35 PM

i am glad you are now a hy's addict. i remember when you turned 14 and we were going out and we went there.
incidentally, i think we should all know better than to ever bet that warren can't eat something. especially beef. and excepting when warren has just had his wisdom teeth removed.
let this be a lesson to all of you.

Posted by: beth on February 5, 2003 11:15 AM

Now that my wisdom teeth are out, I am unstoppable.

Posted by: warcode on February 5, 2003 11:20 AM

I'm pretty sure I tried to cast the Herminator issue in exactly that light at the time. At the heat-death of the universe, will it really matter what you called Balzarini in a drunken rage over some question about beavers building dams that flood the houses of fat-cats in Ottawa? Or something?

Posted by: Theodore on February 9, 2003 12:42 PM

February 01, 2003
it's a short drive

In Edmonton until Monday . . .

Posted at 11:21 AM

December 18, 2002
it's the little things

It's always a bit strange coming back to BC, especially after my recent extended absence (four whole months!). From the girl with the "Fuck you! I have enough friends" bunnyhug (sorry, hoodie or hooded sweatshirt) with her very pierced hardcore mountin biking boyfriend on the bus, to the oh so clever bit of subversion at the ferry terminal where the PASSENGERS sign over the ticket window had been modified to read PASSENGER$, to the number of people speaking Chinese, to the possibility of seeing people in those bright yellow rubber boots (they'll wear them anywhere . . .) to the excellent sushi I had yesterday in Vancouver.

And it is so, so gloomy here. Except for a pretty sunrise Sunday on the morning drive to the ferry, I haven't seen the sun at all. For a week now, it's just grey skies and plenty of rain . . .

Posted at 09:34 AM

December 13, 2002
sweet home a la Duncan

Yesterday morning found me struggling against my foggy (read: hungover) brain as I had to pick up my car from where it was parked before the previous night's festivities, and then pack for my trip to BC. Oh, and get to the plane on time.

I think I managed to pack eveything, though I forgot my sunglasses. Then I realized they are not much use out on the gloomy coast anyway, so no big deal. I also forgot to empty everything out of my backpack/carry-on, and one of the truly absurd moments of the day came right after checking in my luggage, finding a stapler in my backpack, and handing the stapler to my ride Brian (not my brother Brian) as I headed for security.

Despite being the last person to check in for the flight, I was granted on of the front seats in hospitatlity, right behid that wall to business class. Those seats have a ton of leg room, so I was thinking hey, I am lucky today despite my poor planning and mental state.

As the flight from Saskatoon to Vancouver wore on, it seemed like kind of a long two hours (many of you know I don't wear a watch, but prefer to try to figure out what time it is). And I was right; we arrived a good 40 minutes late thanks to poor weather in BC. This made me about 10 minutes too late in rainy Vancouver to get down to the 1pm ferry, and the next wasn't until 3pm. I make my way down to the ferry (note: the suggested bus route 404 from the airport seems long; there must be a faster one if you bus into Richmond first) to find out that they might cancel my ferry due to wind.

Now a lot of you might be expecting some sort of ferry tirade at this point, but for some reason, I'm just not as upset taking ferries anymore. Maybe it's because I only take a couple of them a year, I don't know. While I would not say I am quite unflappable, I am certainly . . . less flappable. For example, once the ferry is finally underway (late, of course, but not cancelled), there is a kid running around near where I was trying to sleep, playing some sort of game where he opens and slams the very heavy outside doors and also screams sometimes. I realized that my innitial reaction a few years ago would have been to seethe and want to run over and suggest to the kid we play a new game called "sit down and shut the fuck up", but this time I just kind of rolled over.

Today, I've had lots of sleep. This place is great for sleeping because the rooms are dark, quiet and have good beds. As much as I have come to like the dogs I live with in Saskatoon, it is nice to take a break from them in the morning.

The plan for today basically involves my sister and I getting a lot of food and then later, eating.

Posted at 01:55 PM

November 09, 2002
it's raining mice

Yesterday's destination was Disneyland. While the weather had been sunny and warm here since my arrival, yesterday and today are rainy and gloomy. The upshot of a rainy day at Disney is that you don't have to wait in line for any of the rides; we walked onto basically everything.

I went to Disneyland once when I was about 10 years old. It was interesting to see what I remembered and in what ways it has changed over the last 12 or so years.

I think Dave will have some pictures at some point, though I think a lot of you reading this have already been there, probably with Dave.

Posted at 11:15 AM

i sure hope you purchased one of the yellow rain jackets with the mickey on the background.

disney salts the sky to make it rain every so often to sell those poncho things.

Posted by: beth on November 12, 2002 03:55 PM

Actually, they were selling blue ones that said Disney on them this time. But a lot of people were also wearing the traditional yellow poncho.

Posted by: warcode on November 13, 2002 12:27 AM

November 05, 2002
lobster is good

Yesterday involved even more time on the I-5, which is getting a little old by now. This time the destination was South, through Tijuana (yes, yes, the happiest place on earth) to Puerto Nuevo, a little village with all these lobster restaurants. You can basically order as much lobster as you want for cheap, and have fancy mexican drinks and cervecas to your heart's content. Also, you eat while looking down at the ocean. Very nice.

The return through the border was kind of funny. Nobody really cares who gets in to Mexico, but the Americans are worried about who gets out, so we were stopped on the way back. I was traveling with an American, so she had no problem, but the guard looked at my passport and asked where I lived. I explained how I live in Saskatoon, though my permanent address (on the passport) is in BC. And he asked, "Isn't that where Gordie Howe is from?" and I explained that he was from Saskatchewan, though not Saskatoon (I couldn't remember the name of the town, but it turns out he was born in Floral, though there is a statue of him in Saskatoon). I don't think that mattered, since most people outside of Canada don't know the difference between Saskatoon and Saskatchewan anyway. My hockey knowledge seemed to satisfy him that I was Canadian, and we went on our way.

Posted at 12:37 PM

November 04, 2002
quite the weekend

As many of you have read by now, I was the third man in on the exciting "fatkids invade Catch" dining experience.

The rest of my weekend was quite different from the other two gentlemen. As mentioned in my last post, I am in California. I flew down to LA on Saturday, and was in San Diego by late that night. Sunday was meant to be a gathering for dinner of the five people I know in San Diego (Dave and Eunice have not met the others), but the plan had an unexpected change. My cousin's boss was driving up to LA for a Laker game when his wife (the boss') went into labour (I guess it would actually be "labor" down here). So there were these tickets, and, long story short, instead of dinner I was riding shotgun in a car blasting up the I-5 to LA and then sitting about ten rows behind one of the baskets to see the Lakers play the Trailblazers. (A side note: the Staples Center was not as big as I was expecting.)

I went to one Grizzlies game back when I (and the Grizzlies) lived in Vancouver, but the seats were pretty far away, so the players looked big like on tv, but that was about it. Sitting so close on Sunday, I got a better idea of how huge these guys are. It was also cool to be able to watch any part of the game that you want, instead of what the camera chooses. For example, I'm not the biggest basketball expert, but Kobe Bryant was really impressive, and seemed to be doing just a little (sometimes a lot) more than the other players, and not just when he had the ball.

The Lakers won in overtime, which was cool to see. I was also a part of the action with my "bangers", those plastic inflatable tubes that you bang together and wave around when the visiting team is shooting free throws.

So if you can get good free tickets to the Lakers, I'd say do yourself a favour and go.

Posted at 10:44 PM

November 03, 2002
sunny California

I'm visiting UCSD campus this morning and helping Dave and Eunice move. Eunice's old place (where we are now) is like a 2-bedroom Thunderbird-style apartment, but with Vanier-sized rooms. I'm told the new place is much bigger.

Dave is bugging me to go, so I'll update another time.

Oh, by the way, it is sunny and warm here (about 22-23C). There are people playing frisbee out on the lawn. Hooraj!

Posted at 02:04 PM

November 01, 2002
and I'm off . . .

I will be away for the next week and a bit. I drive to Calgary tonight to see a couple of my Albertan colleagues, and then hop a plane to California tomorrow.

The visit will be mostly to San Diego, but will include side trips to Disneyland and Mexico. Regardless, right now I am very excited to go to a place where you don't have to scrape off your car in the morning and hair doesn't freeze while you're walking around.

I'm sure you'll hear about it when I get back, and I might even have pictures if I can convince Dave to bring his camera out.

Posted at 08:41 AM

October 08, 2002
Edmonton is fun.

It's now a bit after the fact, but I figure I should write something for all my fans about the weekend in Edmonton.

I travelled with three friends from Saskatoon, and we met up with more later on in the weekend. The trip was in part a reenactment of Adam's bachelor party a year ago, though with fewer strippers.

Friday night: Arrival. Check in to the reasonably priced and located Econo Lodge downtown. Some wandering downtown suggests that it is not the most exiciting place to be on a Friday night, unless maybe you are looking for drugs or to get jumped. We hear Whyte Ave is the place to be.

Saturday afternoon: West Edmonton Mall. I think Tim (either one) probably thinks we are goofy tourist hicks for it, but the Mall is a staple destination people visiting from Saskatchewan. Much shopping took place, and I picked up some fancy silver shoes for indoor soccer (did I mention I'm organizing a team? Well, I'll tell you about it another time).

Saturday night: Iron Horse. This is a bar located on famous Whyte Ave that is a converted train station. I'm a fan of the atmosphere and music. Our group from Saskatchewan, now six strong with a late arrival to the city and a mathematician ex-pat now studying in Edmonton, proceeded upon arrival to get quite drunk and mix with the locals. I might link to the pictures which feature such antics as a girl with a cell phone in her cleavage, Brian flirting with girls using Adam's wedding ring, and me in a yellow plastic lei which I do not remember receiving or wearing (and also escaped me). As you might expect from a fun night at the bar, we procured a mullet wig on the way out, which I wore on the cab ride home.

Sunday night: Tool. Which I will detail a bit in the next post.

Monday: A sleepy return to Saskatoon.

All in all, a great trip. I'll have to make it to Edmonton more often.

Posted at 11:53 AM

October 04, 2002
road trip || pysanka!

Today I leave with my cohorts for the Tool weekend extravaganza in Edmonton. It's a 5-hour drive from Saskatoon taking the lovely Yellowhead highway. Sights along the route include the Red Bull gas station, North Battleford, and Lloydminister, the wacky town that has two time zones because it straddles the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. There isn't much to see in Alberta now that there is a bypass around Vegreville (home to the world's biggest Pysanka!), but Edmonton should be fun enough.


Posted at 09:50 AM