Toronto, Ontario

10/7/2008 – 10/14/2008

CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario

I left Portland at midnight, and didn’t arrive in Toronto until 7 PM the next day. Quite a bit of that time was spent sitting around — in JFK and Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The Megabus, which has an awesome name, and also only costs $9, proved the saying true that “you get what you pay for” — it was more than an hour late. While on the bus I managed to finish the excellent book I was reading, Bomb the Suburbs, and also watch an entertainingly angry new yorker on the bus yell about how shitty the service was for about 20 minutes after we got on.

In Toronto, Chip walked over from his apartment to the bus station. Conveniently, it’s across the street. If you know Toronto at all, you’ll know that this means Chip lives in a really great location. The University of Toronto is a 10 minute walk away and the main downtown area is even closer. Cool! We ate some Filipino food and then watched Transformers and drank beer.

University of Toronto, Ontario

Since I left DC I haven’t really been able to throw a frisbee around, but we did it almost every day in Toronto! Wednesday was the beginning of that, when Chip and I went for a tram ride down the expo grounds and tossed the disc in a little bit of rain. Despite the weather we managed to have a good time and I got to see quite a bit of the city as we wandered around. That evening was the first of another activity that happened throughout the week: watching Planet Earth dvds. This show is pretty cool, and we watched quite a few episodes.

Cousins, Toronto, Canada

Thursday had a slow start, followed by lunch at Chip’s brother Anton’s work, The Village Idiot Pub. More disc, then more wandering, and finally in the evening we made several trips to the airport, first to pick up Chip’s second cousin Joselle, then again to fetch our DC buddy Gabe. We proceeded to meet another friend of Chip and Gabe’s for a few beers in a weird arcade/bar (but not, notably, a barcade). Moosehead! (Picture of Joselle and Chip about 30 minutes after she arrived.)

Gabe and I went to a sort-of college reunion of his while Chip and Joselle picked Becks up at the airport. After dropping off J’s stuff at the house, those three eventually joined us at the bar. It was great to catch up!

On Saturday, we walked around some more: our destination, the Steam Whistle brewery tour. While waiting for the tour to start we tossed the disc around some more. The tour was pretty good, topped off by Chip trying to convince the guide that the Philippines is farther away (from Toronto) than Australia is. Not true, but he made a valiant effort. That evening we went to Anton’s house for a Canadian Thanksgiving party. Pretty much it was a regular house party with a whole thanksgiving spread of food on the side table. Nice! Canadian Thanksgiving was actually on Sunday night, but they bumped it up a day for the sake of the party.

Sunday, we went to Niagara Falls, which was really cool. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Falls, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Falls/Rainbow, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Heeeeey, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Tightrope, Sort Of, Niagara Falls, Ontario

We concluded our visit to Niagara with a delicious family-style fried chicken meal. Chip was delighted. As were the rest of us really, but no one’s love of chicken can compare to Chip’s. 🙂 Just jokes, buddy!

Monday we made a ferry trip to Toronto Island, which was very nice. In the evening we ate way too much sushi. Then I got sick, not from the sushi. I spent a feverish and sleepless night before getting up early Tuesday to catch the bus to New York with Becks. Despite the sickness the last day, it was really a wonderful visit to a great Canadian city.

Reading: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Bomb the Suburbs.
Departure: Megabus, Toronto to NYC, $60.
How Many Places I’m Behind on My Blog: 4, again.

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Maple Ridge & Vancouver, British Columbia

9/25/2008 – 9/27/2008

I arrived at Langley Greyhound station and wandered around a little bit before figuring out which local bus I needed to take to get to Fort Langley. A short ride later and I got off at what I thought was the right place. I walked a few blocks and eventually found the ferry to take me across the Fraser River, where Ryan managed to come pick me up in his quickly-breaking car. Whew, I made it.

I got to spend some more time with Ryan and the whole family on this visit. Jill was actually around this time which was really nice, and I spent more time with everybody than I did last time. I love these guys! Fraser, Lynn, Ryan, Jill, Emily and Olivia. I even got to say hi to Melodie on the phone. We: went to a concert in Vancouver, played rock band, tossed a frisbee (w/Olivia), went for a run (w/Ryan), learned how to play Buck Euchre (w/Jill & Ryan) and even regular Euchre (w/Jill, Ryan & Lynn). Super fun. I once again got a ride to the skytrain from Ryan and off I went to Vancouver to meet Sebastien and Hope at a friend’s party.

I had some trouble finding the place and actually startled the host from the street about half an hour before I actually met her, but Seb eventually saw me walking around looking lost and scared the crap out of me on the street. Much silliness concluded the evening and a good portion of Saturday morning was spent recovering from Friday night. I did meet some neat Irish fellows who had just moved to Vancouver and were full of funny and interesting stories. They had actually met the host when they purchased her couch through craigslist and she had invited them to the party. Awesome!

We went for a wonderful walk around Stanley Park on Saturday morning and I saw some more things that reminded me of childhood memories. The mini-train! The Aquarium! Then we ate hot dogs which is always one of my favorite things to do. Finally, we rented a zipcar and went shopping at MEC before dropping me at the train station shortly before my train left for Seattle.

Departure: Amtrak Cascades to Seattle, $30.

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Road Trip Canada, Days 1-4

9/7/2008 – 9/10/2008

Vancouver – Kamloops – Lac Le Juene – Kelowna – Revelstoke – Olds

On the Road in Chilliwack, British Columbia

I arrived at the Kamloops greyhound terminal after a fairly uneventful trip. My grandpa was there to pick me up and we stopped to get some dinner (supper, here in Canada) to take back to the house. After supper we headed out to the lake house at Lac Le Juene, just a half an hour away. Lake at Sunset I, Lac Le Juene, British Columbia I ran shortly after arriving, but a little while later the sun went down in a spectacular fashion. Throughout this trip we would play cards for small change, but this first night–the time I ran away with the game–we neglected to put any money on the line. Oh well. The plan was to visit my paternal grandma in Kelowna, a couple of hours away, before we headed east for real, so we headed to bed fairly early.

Family, Kelowna, British Columbia

At my grandma Wallace’s in Kelowna, my uncle Vern and aunt Marilyn surpised me by attending as well. We had a good lunch and it was really nice to catch up with these people as I hadn’t seen them in many years, Marilyn in particular. Vern just recently retired and he seems to be having a great time of it so far.

A stop for ice cream at a dairy that had a camel and a llama in the yard was the extent of our stops before a hotel in Revelstoke for the night.

BC Logging Truck II, British Columbia

Tuesday morning we got on the road early, crossing the border to Alberta in a fog before arriving at my great uncle Daryl and great aunt Verna’s place in Olds, north of Calgary. Here I ran, played cards, billiards, and shuffleboard, and ate excellent food. I also got to listen to lots of family catching-up and stories about relatives that I don’t know very well.

Reading: The Balkans; A Storm of Swords.

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Jetplanes of Abraham – Take the Cash

That band I saw in Ottawa, Jetplanes of Abraham? They’re really good. I bought their album and have been listening to it a bunch. I really like the track, so check it out.

Jetplanes of Abraham – Take the Cash

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Ottawa: My Full Saturday and Less Full Other Days

I went to Ottawa for this weekend plus Monday. Why? Because I’m a Canadian who is out of touch with his country and it seemed like a good place to get acquainted with. I did end up learning a lot about the city and country while I was there. I have some pictures that Ryan gave me, too, but I’ll post them later.

Saturday was a very busy and decadent day. Let me tell you about it.

It started out around 8:30 in the morning when Jazz, Ryan, and I went for a short run around their neighborhood. I have been starting to get into better shape recently, and this one felt pretty good. I’ve included the route here and you can zoom out to see where they actually live.

Before I get into what happened next, let me deal with an example of strange differences in the way Americans and Canadians talk. Americans take showers, where Canadians have them. I don’t know why this is different, but it is. So we all had showers, and then we headed for the bus station to go downtown. Turns out Ottawa has a great bus system, and I made full use of it all weekend.

Our first stop was the Canadian National Gallery, which besides looking cool has a neat exhibit of Renoir landscapes going on right now. I didn’t even look at the permanent collection, something I regret, but I guess it just means I’ll have to come back sometime.

After the museum we walked a couple blocks to a restaurant that we had a coupon for, and I bought lunch for all of us. Jazz and I had New Orleans-style pasta, which was good, and Ryan had a wrap, which was not so good. Meh, I liked mine. Jazz had a craving for dessert, and I wanted coffee, but the restaurant’s dessert menu didn’t quite cut it, so we took off. Fortunately, we were in the middle of the Byward Market, a busy market district right near Jazz’s work, so she quickly led us to a cheese shop that happened to have imported chocolate. As she was buying a fancy chocolate bar I noticed a stack of little bars next to the register with a sign saying “Lebanese Baklava.” I always like trying new things, so I asked “what’s the green stuff?” because the bars had green stuff all over them. The answer, “crushed pistachios,” sounded good, so I got one and it was delicious. Then, as if we needed more, we stopped at a busy outdoor cafe to get coffee and while we were waiting some crazy triple chocolate dessert bar caught Ryan’s eye so we ended up with coffees and our (my) third dessert of fifteen minutes. I only had one bite of the bar and it was very rich. I couldn’t believe that they ate the whole rest of it between them.

After lunch, we decided to walk down to the Ottawa Bluesfest, which we had purchased tickets for earlier. We could have stayed on the Ontario side of the river, but the walk is quite nice on the Quebec side and I wanted to at least walk in the province so I could say I’d been there. So off we went, across a couple bridges and along the Ottawa River for a nice walk. Lots of bugs, though. I remember hearing stories and jokes about Ontario Mosquitoes when I was a kid, and they were definitely based in reality. Lots of bugs.

I had noticed on Friday that Manu Chao was Saturday’s headliner at the Bluesfest, so I suggested that we go to that. Turns out it was a big festival and there was nonstop music at 4 stages all day Saturday. It was a very cool scene. Here are a few of the highlights:

We stopped at the Black Sheep stage to see a band whose blurb in the brochure made them sound cool, Jetplanes of Abraham. They’re a six-member Ottawa band made up of musicians from several other local bands. A neat sound, for sure. I like Canadian indie bands.

After that we wandered over to another stage and saw a band I’d heard of before, Mute Math. They were very crazy, lots of percussion, and really fun to watch. Highly recommended if they come through your area.

For dinner I ate a Jamaican patty, which I’d never heard of before, and a samosa, making it almost the cheapest meal of the weekend, and a good one at that. They had a bunch of local restaurants running food booths and the prices were actually pretty reasonable.

Finally, Manu Chao played. The place had really filled up by 9:00 and we pretty much resigned ourselves to seeing it from far away. Ryan and I attempted to get closer, however, and managed to get within 200 feet of the stage for a little while. I’ve never been to such a big show before, and the amount of energy in the show was quite amazing. Everybody within a couple hundred feet of the stage was dancing. Not that many Canadians understand Spanish, either — the energy was coming from the music and the crowd itself, not necessarily from the lyrics and showmanship. I really liked being part of the show. Also, the amount of weed smoked all over the crowd at the beginning of the set was impressive.

Like I said, I’ll post pictures soon, and maybe write something about some more general impressions I got from the trip. It had been a while since I’d been to Canada and I’d forgotten some things about it.

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Another Map

Speaking of maps…this one shows my facebook friends’ hometowns. It can’t match a lot of people because they put in non-standard things for their hometowns, and it seems to have an especially difficult time with Canada, but it’s still interesting.

Facebook Friends

Make your own at MapYourBuddies.

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Summer Idea

What do you think?


Updates coming sometime.

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