Husky the Muskie

I’m in a cafe in Kenora, home of the 1907 Stanley Cup champions, the Kenora Thistles. Turns out this is the smallest community to have ever won a major sports title. 

Wikipedia also tells me that Kenora had an outrageous bank robbery in 1973 when some dude walked in wearing a bunch of explosives wired to a clothespin that he held open with his mouth. When he exited the bank a police sniper shot him, the clothespin closed, and the man blew up!

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenora,_Ontario

Kenora’s a beautiful place. It’s nice having trees again after being in the prairies. The scenery in Ontario so far is pretty amazing. To get into Kenora I had to cross a bridge over Lake of the Woods and I got to look out over this huge lake dotted with small islands that had cottages nestled in the trees. 

I’m having a bite at the HoJoe Coffee and Books place before I head on to Thunder Bay. I expect I’ll hit there tomorrow sometime. I’m planning to check out Fort William and, on Shanman’s recommendation, the Terry Fox Memorial.

The ‘Peg

Driven by Henry Rollins screaming on Black Flag’s Slip It In album I made good time last night and wound up sleeping at a truck stop about an hour east of Regina. Never did see Regina since it was dark out, but I suspect I’m not missing much. The highway doesn’t go through that town anyway. 

This morning I jumped back in the drivers seat and made it to Winnipeg around noon. I’ve spent the past couple hours wandering around downtown, picking up maps from CAA, and buying a power inverter at Best Buy near the Blue Bombers stadium. Their football team has a really nice stadium!

Now I’m eating tasty peanut chicken noodles at a place called The Line Up in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. This is a neat area. I was hoping to eat at this crazy hippie/punk cafe and bookstore across the street but they didn’t have wireless internet.

Winnipeg is an interesting town. Small, and most of the buildings are the original brick buildings from way back in the day. Lots of old timey ads on the sides. It didn’t take long to explore although I realize there’s many things I’ve missed. I wouldn’t mind spending a few days here sometime to really get a feel for the city. It’s low on my list though. At least now I understand what the Weakerthans are singing about.

Once I’m finished here I’m going to hit the road again towards Kenora and see how far I make it on the way to Thunder Bay.

Moose Jaw so far…

I’m in a cafe in downtown Moose Jaw chowing down a ruben sandwich and using their wifi. I got off a little later this morning since I wanted to hit the gym and finish re-packing for the trip. I stopped in Strathmore to pick up a copy of the X92.9 Xposure CD, which features a number of Calgary bands. There’s this hard-rock/punk band called Kilbourne that I wanted to hear, so now I’ve got them for road music.

Musicwise I’ve been tearing through the Fleet Foxes and Grateful Dead’s American Beauty album when I need something mellow and folky. After that I cranked up some Hawksley Workman (Amanda introduced me to him and I think he’s pretty awesome – like Of Montreal but more rock) and then some Pavement to get me into Moose Jaw. 

It’s been neat driving through Saskatchewan and Alberta. Very flat, but beautiful rolling hills. There were some great prairie ridges in eastern Alberta. It felt like the Lone Ranger would appear at any moment and bellow out “hi ho Silver” before riding off towards the horizon.

I’m going to continue on to Regina tonight and then stop for sleep. Winnipeg will have to deal with me tomorrow morning.

I’ve also started putting together a set of photos of my journey (starting today) on Flickr. Here’s a link if you want to see photos as I go across the country:

http://flickr.com/photos/darrenthetiger/sets/72157606678374172/

I’ve got threshold apprehension

Last night Amanda and I hit up the Hifi Club in Calgary to watch Frank Black, the singer from the Pixies, do his solo show. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked in. The past few Frank Black shows have each had a different lineup of musicians on stage so I never know what I’ll be seeing. Tonight he was playing solo and it was interesting for the first 20 minutes or so but got boring quickly after that. Frank writes dynamic songs that are best performed by a whole band who can bring the sound down for a quiet verse and then explode when Frank belts out the chorus. When they’re played solo, the songs lack those dynamics.

Before the show we had a good visit with my cousin Nick, his wife Aimee, and Rowen, their 10-month old. 

Today will probably be a mellow day of Olympics watching, some more visiting, and I’ll have to pack for the beginning of my adventure tomorrow.

Eastward Bound

The past couple of days I’ve been planning my cross Canada route. I’ve decided to go through Canada on the way east and to head back through the States. My journey is going to roughly look like this:

Calgary -> Regina -> Winnipeg -> Thunder Bay -> Sault Ste Marie -> Ottawa -> Montreal -> Quebec City -> Charlettown

I’m for sure going to stop and check out Winnipeg for a few hours since it’s the home of the Weakerthans. On the advice of my Aunt Julia I’m also going to spend a little time at Fort William in Thunder Bay. Montreal and Quebec deserve a little time too although I won’t be there too long on the way out. I’m thinking I may make time for a couple of days in Montreal on the way back before I head to the States for the faster route home. 

Assuming I don’t stop too much, I expect I’ll be in PEI in 7-8 days. 

This past week I’ve been getting all sorts of things tied up and visiting with my people in Calgary and Amanda’s people. I had a great dinner with the Revak clan and was also out with Amanda’s parents the other evening. Now I’m into the last weekend before the big trip!

Vernon

The first leg of my cross-Canada trip started today with a drive to Vernon. Amanda finally got to meet my Mom and we don’t have to drive to Calgary in one day. The drive over the Coquihalla was sunny and amazing. When we got here we all piled into my car to head down to the Italian Kitchen for good food and wine. This place is always packed but we managed to sneak in before the crowds hit. Finally the day was completed with a tasty pie. 

Something you may not know about me is that I have a serious thing for good pies. My Mom used to make some of the best pies when I was young and the love affair with the pie has blossomed ever since. When we were on the island this past week I picked up a delicious rhubarb and berry crumble in a pie shell from a small bakery in Ladysmith. Amanda claims I talked about the pie all day until finally, after our late night BBQ on Long Beach, the pie was taken out and sliced up. I took one bite of the pie, gave a quizzical look at the fork I was using, put the fork down and demolished the rest of the piece with my bare hands. Upon seeing this Amanda exclaimed, “the fork is only a barrier for the pie man!” 

Tomorrow we head to Calgary where I will stay for the next week since Frank Black, lead singer for the Pixies, is performing on Sat, Aug 9. On the Monday I’ll be continuing on to the east coast. 

If anyone has any leads on an exceptional pie shop in Calgary please share!

Grouse

Last night we all wound up at Grouse Mountain for a fancy dinner on top of the mountain. It’s neat to do fine dining from time to time. I had a “rabbit salad” which was pretty much awesome. After that we wandered around the top of the hill, contemplated trying out the logrolling thing, and then took the gondola back down. 

We weren’t super-energetic yesterday morning and finally stumbled over to Reilly and Miranda’s to make a waffle breakfast. They live in a live-work place and have leased the next door unit so they can separate their living space from their working space. Yesterday they were waiting for keys to the new unit so they couldn’t leave to go for breakfast, hence the waffle thing at their apartment. All good times. 

Today I have to finish unpacking from the last adventure and then repack because I’m heading east tomorrow morning. Amanda and I will be in Calgary until the 11th and then I’ll continue heading east to eventually hit PEI.

Last Day at Pemberton

I’m trying to catch up on my blogging since I’ve been too busy doing things to sit down and write about them. 

Last I left the Pemberton Festival I was in a cafe on the third and final day. Day 2 was finished up with The Flaming Lips and Tom Petty. The Lips were awesome as always! Their show is a spectacle of chaos with confetti canons firing, a couple dozen people dressed as teletubbies dancing on the sides of the stage, and other random things happening during the performance. Wayne, the singer, came out in his giant transparent ball and rolled across the crowd. I love the Flaming Lips and I’m sad that I’m not going to see them again this summer. 

Tom Petty was cool to watch too. Didn’t stay for the whole thing since an entire day in the dusty heat can wear you out. Fortunately, they had better communication about their shuttle service so we made it back to the campground without having to walk anywhere.

The last day started with Vampire Weekend. I was a little tired so I slept through most of their set and only opened my eyes for their big hit song. The singer had these goofy 80’s style sunglasses on and I thought he looked as though he belonged on the set of The Breakfast Club.

There was a big wait after Vampire Weekend since the next act was delayed by all the traffic in Pemberton. Finally, the hip-hop group N.E.R.D. hit the stage and got busy with the show. Now, I’m not a big fan of rap (you can’t spell ‘crap’ without ‘rap’) but these guys were pretty awesome. They somehow managed to get a pile of girls from the audience onstage for their last couple songs and it felt like I was seeing the 2 Live Crew. 

The N.E.R.D. show was so good that we didn’t make it over to the sidestage to see Wintersleep until their last couple of songs. Great band and I’ll have to see a proper show by them one day. 

For me, the highlight of the day was Death Cab For Cutie. I’m not a huge fan of their albums, but their show at Sasquatch earlier this year was heavier and really good so I wanted to see them again. They weren’t as heavy this time, but they were entertaining nonetheless. 

Jay-Z was the second hip-hop act of the day and he was super good as well. I’m still not a rap fan, but I enjoyed their show, especially as they had a full live band who would bust out some AC/DC in the background while Jay-Z laid down his stuff. 

Finally we waited in the cool evening for Coldplay. Another good band although, to be honest, I’m not as big a fan of these huge acts with the slick production behind them. It’s neat to watch, but I find that the music isn’t as much the focus when the stage is bombarding you with flashing lights and video clips.  

So that was the end of Pemberton. We cut out from Coldplay early to beat the crowd back to parking. The next morning Amanda and I packed up at 6 and jetted home on the sea to sky before everyone else started stumbling out of the festival camping.

Thar She Blows

Yesterday started in Ucluelet where Dave, Amanda and I jumped on the Seaway Express to make the trip to Bamfield. It was a pretty awesome cruise that took us through the Broken Group islands, which are a world-renowned kayak destination. Along the way we spotted a Grey Whale and a Humpback Whale, both of whom put on a show of spouting and diving with their tails breaking the surface.

Once the Seaway Express dropped us off in Bamfield, we took the tour of the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. The highlight for me was the “touch tank” which is inhabited by a variety of sea creatures such as starfish, urchins, and crabs. All the animals are safe to handle and we were encouraged to dip our hands in and pick up the various critters.

After our spin through the research station we hopped on a water taxi to head to the older half of Bamfield which sits across the inlet. There we wandered along the boardwalk that takes you along the shore and could be considered the main “street.” Eventually we found ourselves on Bradys Beach which had a beautiful view of the ocean. Farther down from the beach is a place called “the blowhole.” The Blowhole is a narrow channel in the rocks which turns into a small cavern and when a large wave rushes in, the back pressure will cause a spout of foamy water to jet straight up in the air. I was standing a little too close and got soaked. Fortunately my camera is weather sealed.

Back at the dock we had a little time to kill and thought a beer would be in order. Unfortunately, the place up the road was in the middle of renovations and the only other pub was closed on Wednesdays. We did spot a bunch of the locals sitting outside the general store (which also served as the liquor store) knocking back some Budweisers and we realized that this is how after work drinks are done in a tiny place like Bamfield. So we went into the store, dug the last six pack of Granville Island Hefeweizen out from behind a pile of (ugh) Molson Canadian in the beer fridge and sat back on a park bench and sipped beer until the boat arrived to take us back to Ucuelet. I understand why my sister liked small town living so much. You’d never get away with drinking beer out in the open in a city.

That evening we decided to hit up the Shelter Restaurant in Tofino for dinner. One of Dave’s friend’s joined us and we feasted on tasty salmon and clam chowder before heading back to Dave’s to crash. An entire day running around in the fresh air takes the gas out of you.

Today was pretty mellow. We had thought about going kayaking, but slept in instead and had a leisurely breakfast at a local cafe. Amanda and I left town, spent a little time on Schooner Cove and then hit Nanaimo for the ferry. The damn ferry line was all backed up so we wound up missing the 5:20, despite our reservation, and made it back on the 7pm sailing. Good thing Amanda had 3 seasons of How I Met Your Mother on her laptop. It made the wait go by pretty quickly.

I’ve also put some pictures up on my flickr account if y’all are interested.

Update from Ucluelet

I’m in Ucluelet right now at an internet cafe waiting for the boat to Bamfield to sail. Their office people didn’t show up so they’re waiting around to get keys and stuff before they can depart.

Amanda and I made it back from Pemberton without any problems. We left early so we could avoid the traffic rush that was sure to hit the sea to sky highway. After showering and doing laundry we hopped on a ferry to Nanaimo to stay with Amanda’s aunt and uncle who live near Ladysmith. They were really awesome and we ate all kinds of tasty food and heard scuba diving tales from her uncle.

Yesterday found us heading to Tofino to visit Dave and check out the west coast. It’s a beautiful drive even though it poured rain on us most of the way. Personally, I love the coastal rains so it doesn’t bother me much. The rain let up in the evening and we cooked up a bunch of prawn skewers on Long Beach last night. Tasty!

Now we wait for the ship to Bamfield…