Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
So the next day Mike was meeting his family in Niagara and I was invited along since it was one of my destinations. His Mom and her boyfriend are big spenders at the Niagara Casino so they get all sorts of free things. They were staying at a really nice hotel room on one of the top floors for free, had a free buffet meal and tickets to Sinbad live, all of which I was invited to partake in.
On the ride there I actually found it kinda weird to be in passenger after spending over 50 hours driving recently. It was nice though cause it meant I could enjoy the scenery along the way. Lol, even though he's a cop he was speeding the whole way there and cursing the drivers who were only going 20 over the limit. I thought that was kind of ironic.
Niagara falls were awesome. The Canadian falls are way better than the American ones. Mike's family were cool too. Apparently my Mom used to babysit Mike and Sherry when they were kids and their Mom told me a few funny stories about that. The last time she'd seen me I was like 5.
Once it got dark out we went to the theater in the casino and saw Sinbad live. Personally, when I heard we were seeing Sinbad I thought of terrible movies. But his stand-up was actually quite hilarious. And surprisingly PG. After his actual act was over he stayed on stage for another 45 minutes just talking with the audience and improving. It was hit and miss, but the funny improv stuff was hilarious, and the stuff that wasn't funny was usually cause an audience member had asked a stupid question. We were in 4th row, so it was kinda cool to see him up close. I just realized I forgot to mention some other actors I saw. In Chicago I saw Oprah from across the street and in Toronto Mike and I saw Eric Balfour from Six Feet Under and 24.
Anyway, after the show we headed to the casino. Mike gave me like $100 to spend in the casino! Needless to say that vanished. It was a lot of fun though. In the back of my mind though I knew this was the last destination before heading home. The fact that my trip was coming to and end was hanging in the air.
We got back to Toronto at something like 3:00 in the morning, so I crashed immediately. The next morning I woke up slowly to the realization that the long drive home began that day. I took my time waking up and showering, then treated Mike to breakfast. He had been so hospitable and paid for everything so I insisted on at least letting me pay for a breakfast. We ended up talking for hours. He totally understood what this trip was all about, and related stories of his youth when he was in a similar "who am I?" phase.
The conversation ran a little long and we didn't leave the restaurant until 3:30 pm. We said our goodbye and I thanked him for the place to stay and we both got in our cars and left the parking lot. I followed him a bit on the 401 until it was my turn off. As I turned off the 401 to take the long road back to Winnipeg he waved out the window as he drove off in the distance and I waved back. The long drive through Northern Ontario was now ahead of me.
I am really glad I decided not to come back through the states. It was great coming out through there but to go back the same way seemed silly. Everyone had warned me about driving through Ontario, saying the driving conditions were awful and that wildlife was everywhere. They told me it was 2 lanes with oncoming traffic zooming by, including semis, etc... Once I was on the road I realized I could easily handle it. I probably would have been nervous if I'd come out through Ontario, but now that I had over 75 hours of highway driving under my belt it was a breeze.
Canada is a beautiful country and I'm so fortunate I got to see it. 3 days driving along the lakes through Northern Ontario was a great way to reflect on the trip and get in a little zen time. Huge rocky hills topped with lush green forest, winding roads up, down and around the hills, with the great lakes on my left and often waterfalls on the right leading into the lakes. On the second day I could see a giant cloud of fog rolling in off Lake Superior and within an hour it was so foggy I could barely see over a meter from the car. It was really cool.
Once the fog had faded I drove by a small pond and the fast changing temperatures had led to steam rising off the water surface. Just beautiful.
After 3 days of driving I finally reached Manitoba. It's funny, you leave Ontario and it's immediate. The hills vanish, then so do the trees, and within minutes you went from huge forest covered hills and lakes to the prairies. And all you can see is horizon. After a while it feels like you're not even moving, cause there's no way to gage your speed or direction.
As I reached Winnipeg a sense of nostalgia came over me. I hadn't been home in 2 and a half weeks. Even though now I saw it for the dump it really is, lol, it's still home. "It's good to be back" I thought to myself as I drove by the mint. Literally as soon as I finished that thought I looked over and saw a young guy sitting at a bus stop not looking too good, and suddenly without warning he leaned forward and violently projectile vomited onto the street in front of him. "Yup, I'm home."
I drove by work and popped my head in to say hello. As soon as I did I realized how foreign my own life felt to me now. After that I went to my Mom's to let her know I was back in one piece. She'd been worried pretty much the whole time I'd been gone. When I got home most of my friends got together and hung out for a bit, first just at McDonald's then at Johnny G's on Main.
It's been really weird falling back into the routine of things. This trip has changed me, and it's been so monumental. It's weird though, cause everyone else is acting like it's life as usual, cause I suppose it is, but things are very different for me. There are several changes in life I've realized I need to make. This trip is exactly what I needed it to be. Next year, either the west, or south to the States!
It's been a great adventure.
I've posted a tiny percentage of the photos and videos from my trip on this blog. If anyone wants to check out all the photography and videos I got out of it, I have a set on flickr, it's about 900 photos and 50 videos, lol.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
The 401 was awesome, as always. The pix and videos I’ve taken don’t do it any justice, it’s all about peripheral vision! When 18 lanes span your whole field of view, it’s quite awe inspiring, especially when it’s a sea of either sun reflecting off their roofs, or a current on white light oncoming on the left and red light travelling with you. Lol, after all the highway driving and metropolis driving I’ve done, Winnipeg is going to seem like a joke. Oooouu, route 90! Yikes! Lol, but then again Winnipeg has some of the worst streets and drivers I’ve seen, so maybe not.
Got to Toronto a bit early and Mike was in a meeting so I parked my car and went for a walk through the park behind his condo. It was really nice. Later on Mike told me it’s a pretty bad area and I shouldn’t walk through it alone... Oh well, I survived. Plus Mike is a cop so I wouldn’t be surprised if seeing the worst case scenario almost exclusively starts to jade your view of people and the city you live in.
Once Mike’s meeting was done we met up. He is a really cool guy and very funny. I met his boyfriend Mitch who was also very cool. It was late and dark so we didn’t see any sights the first night, just ordered some food and watched Robin Hood Men In Tights, lol. Though Mike being the head of the condo association thing was able to take me to the roof and get a cool view of the city. I could see the CN Tower in the distance.
The next day everyone slept in till almost 1:00pm (fortunately only noon Winnipeg time, so I didn’t feel too guilty about letting my sleeping pattern slip to its old ways). Mitch was doing a dragon-boat race at Niagara falls so he took off before I woke up and wouldn’t be back for the rest of the weekend. It was cool meeting him.
So eventually Mike took me to see the sights. While we were in the car I realized I’d forgotten my point and shoot camera in the car (so no videos of Toronto sadly), AND realized my battery for my good camera was dead! DISASTER! The plan was to park at the mall and take the subway downtown, so we looked around the mall a bit for a replacement battery or charger but no luck.
Took the subway. It was a real subway, not an el-train like in Chicago. That was kinda cool. When he arrived downtown there was a Black’s Photography and they let me charge my battery there while Mike and I went for food at a really nice restaurant.
Mike I talked about travel and self-discovery over lunch which was cool. He totally got what this trip was about. And as a police officer he has tons of interesting stories, plus he’s just really outgoing in general.By the time we were done eating my battery was charged and we headed out. Downtown Toronto is cool. It feels like a newer, Canadian New York. We walked around and he pointed out all the important buildings and historical sites. Walked to the Much Music building. I’d wanted to get a picture of me in front of the Much Music building but sadly they were setting up for the MMVAs so there was scaffolding and stuff everywhere. Oh well. We went inside cause Mike knew the head of security and figured maybe he could get me a free tour but the guy was really busy setting up for the awards. I think some of the VJs walked right by me, but I confess I haven’t watched Much Music since I was a teenager so I wouldn’t even know. Got to check that out and got some cool photos. The view is incredible! Your ears pop like 5 times on the way up, and at the top you can actually feel the tower swaying in the wind! At the glass floor Mike had me like down face up before actually looking down. He got a few photos of me and then told me to turn over and look down. That made my heart skip a beat, cause suddenly you’re staring straight down for over 100 stories! Eventually I was bold enough to jump as hard as I could on the glass, lol.After the CN tower Mike continued the tour downtown showing me points of interest. Got to see Yonge and Dundass, which is essentially Canada's Times Square.
Lol, all day he was telling me people kept checking me out, women and men. Toronto has a big gay scene, and Mike being a part of it has an eye for this. Lol, at one point 2 oolllddd guys walked by and Mike told me they were looking at me like I was meat! :-P But at one point we were walking down the street and this young girl, total drop-dead blonde nymph, walks up to us and asks me if what she’s wearing could work as a dress or if she should put on pants. The ‘dress’ was barely covering her ass, and it was see through so you could see her tiny black thong underneath. I had her do a little twirl and considered taking a photo, lol. She was all giggles and ran off with her friend, and I watched. That was the highlight of my road-trip.
It was getting dark and we could see constant lightning in the distance getting closer so we headed back to the subway to get back to the car. Sure enough, as soon as we got into the subway it started pouring, lightning thunder, the whole deal. We ordered pizza and watched some more TV and chatted. Good times.
Today we’re heading to Niagara falls in the afternoon and I’ll get some photos, then we’re going to see Sinbad live at the casino, lol. Mike has been paying for everything which is amazingly nice of him. So after Niagara falls and the show we’re coming back and I’ll be leaving the next morning.
The 3 day drive back will be interesting. No big destinations, long stints on the road with great scenery. I’ll really be able to reflect on the trip as a whole, get some thinking done. I start work on the 18th which means I’ll get back just in time. I would have liked to have at least one day off before I go back to work, but not a big deal.
It’ll be really weird to be back in Winnipeg. I think I’ve changed a fair amount as a result of this trip, and it will be bizarre to be back in the old routine. But I’ve caught the bug, I am now a traveller. In August we’re doing a road trip with my family, and I’m already in the early stages of planning my next trip, either west or south. Now that I know what I’m capable of, it’s more just a question of what do I feel like doing?
P.S. Photos and video added to previous entry too!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I drove into the city yesterday from my motel and went straight to the museum of civilization. It was very cool. All the exhibits were great, including the temporary ones. There was one on a classical pianist and I ended up buying one of his CDs just for something relaxing to listen to on the long ride home after Toronto. The architecture in the building was half of the appeal too. All of Ottawa has amazing architecture.
After the museum I called Sherry and she was just finishing up work, which fortunately was only a block away. So I met up with her and we walked around downtown and chatted. Good to get to know her better. It went from beautiful to rainstorm in a matter of minutes so we ducked out in a really nice restaurant and she treated me to dinner, which was also very cool of her.
After we were done our meals and the rain had stopped we continued our walk. It was really nice out again, with those epic after-rain clouds. She showed me around Parliament which was really cool. I got tons more great photography but unfortunately there's no internet here that I can upload on, only check email and write this blog, so I'll try to add photos to this entry later. Parliament was really cool, and it has an amazing view.
Went and checked out where Tim used to live in Ottawa then sent him a picture of his old apartment on my cell just to creep him out, lol. It did.
Today I woke up and Sherry was already gone to work, so after showering and getting ready I hopped in the car and went to check out The National Art Museum of Canada. Ottawa has the largest concentration of museums anywhere, and sadly I didn't get to see them all. I really wanted to see the War Museum too, but it was closing by the time I was done at the Art Museum.
After finding some parking I walked around the Byward Market which is just a cool farmer's market. All kinds of cool stuff, bought a few trinkets, and whatnot. Also checked out Riddeau Center, a mall I remember Tim talking about when he used to live here. Ended up buying some clothes (including normal t-shirts Lauren :P)
I just got home and am pretty pooped. Sorry no pix or vids this entry, like I said I'll try to add some to this entry once they're edited and uploaded. I tried to find some places with wireless internet access today while I was out and about in Ottawa but didn't have any luck.
So Ottawa has been pretty cool. Tomorrow I leave for Toronto. I'm looking forward to meeting Mike and seeing Toronto. I also plan on checking out Niagara Falls one of the days. Then it's gunna be the drive home, which will probably be 3 days.