Traveling Man: Would You Like Some Snow With Your Snow?


Today’s Music: Lyle Lovett – Here I Am21
Days Til Spring: 21

(After you’ve read this, check out the great thing Zoe is doing for Merbear. If you can help out, even by just spreading the word, that would be fantastic!)

When last we left our intrepid idiot (and his much smarter wife, they had left the cold winter of Montreal for…well…the cold winter of Ottawa.

We took this trip without renting a car. We walked all over, and used public transportation when we needed it. To get from Montreal to Ottowa, we took a Greyhound. Not too expensive, free wifi, and plenty of legroom. I slept through the ride down grey bleary highways.
So how did I know we actually arrived in Ottawa when we disembarked? Because only the big city bus terminals have this in the mens room:

Would a smaller city have such nice accouterments?

Would a smaller city have such nice accouterments?

Having established our location, it was time to get our winter on!
Actually, it was time for that whether we wanted it or not. On the cab ride from the bus depot to the hotel, the driver flew over slush and snow filled roads at normal driving speeds. I was terrified, but he was moving normally in traffic.

Like Montreal, Ottawa also celebrates the snow with its own Winter Festival. In a park across the street from us, there was a snow carving competition. Some of the entries were simply breathtaking.

Ice bowlers are HUGE in Canada!

Ice bowlers are HUGE in Canada!

Wheeee!!!!

Wheeee!!!!

Under The Reef.

Under The Reef.

This is my desktop background now.

This is my desktop background now.

Having gotten our bearings, we wandered over to Byward Market for lunch. The Market is a huge open air mall/flea market. Vendors sell prepared food, produce, trinkets, and there are street performers everywhere. We went into a seafood restaurant.
A couple getting up as we were leaving said they were headed home to Montreal (small world!) and gave us the rest of their gift card.

Because Canadians really are that nice.

The next day bloomed bright and sunny. After a quick breakfast (without Canadian bacon – because seriously, that isn’t bacon), we set out on the day’s adventures.
My wife had one thing on her mind. I had one thing on my mind.
Despite them being two different things, we were lucky that we could do them both in the same place: The Rideau Canal.
The Canal cuts through Ottawa, and is used these days mostly for pleasure boats. Except in winter when it freezes.
And is opened for Ice Skating!!!

Only graceful skaters in this pic. So no, not me.

Only graceful skaters in this pic.
So no, not me.

We’d heard about this on a summer trip up to Ottawa to meet Charles DeLint, and it had been on our list ever since.
Check!
And something my wife discovered that she soon introduced me to – Beaver Tails!
BeaverTweet
These delicious flat, long pastries can only be described as…well…delicious. And sticky.
Grab as many napkins as you can, it still won’t be enough. But the mess will be worth it!

So simple. So delicious. So Canadian.

So simple. So delicious. So Canadian.

With that out of the way, we were off to the highlight of the trip – John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett on stage together!
The two of them have been doing this tour for years. 2 guys, 2 acoustic guitars. On several songs, they backed each other up, both singing and playing. In between songs, they told stories, explained the songs, even played with the audience a bit.

The pale blob on the right is John. The paler blob is Lyle.

The pale blob on the right is John. The paler blob is Lyle.

We’ve seen them both separately and loved them, but together was even better. There were no revelations during the show or transcendental moments, but watching two old pros slip on their songs like comfortable old bathrobes was easily worth the ticket.

This is from a show they did at the end of last year, but it gives the feel of the show.

So after a long weekend of freezing cold, lots of snow, strange food and great music, it was tie to go home. Or so we thought.
Returning to the hotel after breakfast the next day to get to the airport hours early for an international flight, it turns out the flight was cancelled.
Because of snow.
In New York.

Yes, the hotel staff laughed at us.
But they also had room for us to stay the extra night, gave us the numbers we needed to call to find a flight for the next day, and told us where to go for an excellent dinner.
And then laughed at us some more.

So we caught a 6 am flight and landed back in NYC. I was at my desk my ten am, and asleep in my chair by two pm.
My boss let me go home at 4 pm.

And I went promptly to sleep, to dream of gravy, pastry, music and sooo much snow.

Thank you Canada. I had a blast. Can’t wait to see you again!

Canada always makes me feel right at home.

Canada always makes me feel right at home.

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139 responses to “Traveling Man: Would You Like Some Snow With Your Snow?

  1. I love the ice surfer! Glad the rest of the trip went well :-)

    Like

  2. I can vouch for that opening snyposis.

    There they are! I’ve been waiting for those pics. They have the duel effect of both taking my breath away and making me feel like a talentless clod. Thanks Guap! That’s exactly what I’m looking for at this hour of the morning.

    You’re 100% correct about Canadian bacon. That’s HAM, for fuck’s sake. Only bacon is bacon.

    One can easily spot Lyle by his tremendous hair. Even in pale blob mode.

    Like

  3. Sounds like a great time! When traveling, I hardly ever rent a car. Walking, taking taxis, public transit all helps to create a feeling of being an actual part of where one’s visiting.

    Love the ice sculptures, especially the horses!

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  4. WOW ! What a great getaway… those sculptures are just amazing… ! =)
    Sounds like you guys had a wonderful time, and after showing this post to my foxing, Ottawa is now on our vacation list. I am hoping to persuade her that it would be just as awesome in the warmer months… we shall see. =) Thanks for such a fun post to start out the day… !

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  5. I’m glad you have a small piece of our Canadian winter on your desktop!! :D

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  6. Judging by that last photo, you were really freezing your ass off in Ottawa… :)

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  7. That had to be a great show.

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  8. You and I have talked about Mr. Lovett (the Lyle one) before, El G. It doesn’t matter to you if I confess…still in love with Lyle Lovett. I’d go to Canada or just about anywhere…excepting and maybe not Texas…which causes me to question my one sided commitment.
    Thanks for sharing photos…almost like being there. Not really.

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  9. Excellent tour! Love the ice sculptures and the skating. Plus, the final picture with you lounging like a super model in front of two ice squirrels about to attack each other… the perfect ending for a great post (and perhaps day too long jaunt to Canada)!

    Glad you were able to catch up on your sleep at work.

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    • I called my boss when our flight got cancelled to let him know.
      He laughed at me from then until I left work the next day.

      Canada really know how to make winter welcoming!

      Like

  10. I’m not sure what I like more–the frozen canal (I’d loved to have seen a businessman skating to work with his briefcase!), the ice sculptures or the Tweet about the beaver tail.

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    • Even on a weekday afternoon, the canal was packed! And there were businessmen doing their morning commute on ice.
      The beaver tail shops on the ice made it even better.

      Like

  11. Those ice sculptures are amazing.

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  12. Thank you for allowing me to live vicariously through you in all of your adventures. TMWGITU should take that stunning portrait of you for her background pic on her computer. Probably the only time she’s seen you sitting in one spot the whole vacation.

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    • Glad you could come along for the ride (while staying somewhere warm)!
      She has a picture of me in my Kermit slippers in my old car that she likes more.
      (I wore them once to drive to Albany, I think.)

      Like

  13. Those ice sculptures look amazing! (especially the last one with realistic looking man on) Beaver tail looks pretty amazing too. Feel like I’ve taken a vicarious vacation, thanks for this.

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  14. whiteladyinthehood

    Great post! The ice sculptures – just WOW! Loved the pic of you at the end! Thanks for sharing your vacation!

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  15. Oh Guapo, thank you so much for this wonderful laugh! I enjoyed practically every word of this blog, and not to mention, the photos and the video! You perfectly captured your experience for all of us, lucky enough to read your blog. Never heard of John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett (don’t follow that type of music, but I found them to be real “down home,” and they were so enjoyable (he was, anyway). You were lucky that you had only 1 day’s delay to come home. My friend lost 3 days of her vacation due to the bad weather, when she was scheduled to fly down from CT. I brought her to the airport yesterday, and her flight was delayed for 1 1/2 hrs due to – this is the truth – snow in New York!!! Hope you got caught up with your sleep.

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  16. Guap – is that you in the picture above lounging on the ice bench?

    One of my dreams is to ice skate in the canals in Ottawa – knowing my father did that in his youth – I love ice skating, there’s nothing like it – it feels so natural, like I could do anything! Well, except surf on ice skates – that would be hard.

    Glad you had a great time and got to see excellent music – way to go!

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  17. I didn’t know that Canadians are nice and I am Canadian. Whatdya mean Canadian bacon isn’t bacon?!! Love the ice sculptures! I forgot for a min. I was reading your post cuz Lyle and John.

    COOL pic of you at the end!

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  18. You realize that it’s Americans who named “Canadian bacon”, right? In Canada we refer to it as Back Bacon or Peameal Bacon. Because bacon IS bacon. When we ask for bacon, we expect the same thing you expect. The term “Canadian bacon” is the bane of my existence. Thanks America.

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  19. I love the ice sculptures… what a cool medium to work with… uh…

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  20. What an incredible trip Guapo! Now I’m dying to go… it’s been years! I love the ice sculptures (especially “Whee!”)– all lit up they are magical!! And the people skating up the river… I grew up in Boston with those kinds of winters and miss them! I regret that my kids have never had the joy of skating on a local pond/stream… magic from my own childhood! Thanks for taking us along!

    Like

  21. Ottawa has this reputation for being boring (too many civil servants) but it really is a lovely city. Skating through a city is pretty wicked.

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    • We’ve taken two trips to Ottawa, and had a blast each time. We haven’t found it boring at all.

      (And I’ll be back at least once more, for the bungee jumping.)

      Like

  22. Love the song, love the photo of you on your ice bench and really love your writing. I don’t think I have mentioned that before. You keep a narrative going but still capture the details.

    Also, I think it’s nice that the men’s room at the bus station has everything a guy needs for a successful date night. America could learn a thing or two.

    Like

  23. I’m about to say something I never thought I would: “Where can I get me some beaver tail?” Oh, those look so good!

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  24. HOW FUN!!! Who doesn’t want to get stuck one more night during a getaway and have another delicious meal – or 20 Beaver Tails! For the love of GOD, YUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nice icy recliner!

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  25. What a fabulous trip, Gaupo. I love the ice skating canal and all the ice sculptures. So very cool. Glad you had fun!

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  26. Guap, I love everything about this post! I am not sure what I love most, but in the running: that version of Here I Am (that’s Francine Reed from Atlanta, Georgia, right?), the ice sculptures (especially Wheeee!), the very nice Canadians (that has been our experience as well), the ice skating canal, the beavertail (!), or the pic of you in the gorgeous ice sofa. There are two words I never thought would be in the same sentence. ;-) Well done!!!

    Like

  27. Sounds like so much fun! Nice to read :). And I must admit I think it’s pretty funny they laughed at you for the snow :D. Sorry.

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  28. The ice sculptures are wonderful and I think Canadians are that nice, too. Years ago I saw Lyle Lovett in Salt Lake. He sounds exactly as he does recorded.

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  29. Fun fact: One of our past Prime Ministers used to skate along the Rideau Canal to his office during the winter. Now that’s an enjoyable commute!

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  30. Oh god I’m filled with nostalgia! Did you know the majority of those ice carvings are made by cooks? True story.

    Sounds like you stayed at the Lord Elgin. Nice digs! And the seafood on the market, did you go to the aptly named “Fish Market?” Or did you go to Lapointe’s (that’s my last name, but we’re not related).

    I miss Ottawa. It really is a sweet little town. For a nation’s capital, there’s a shitload going on, and there’s always a festival happening. Sigh. I need to go back home for a visit.

    p.s. my fave beavertail was the cheese and garlic one. So very yummy. Muy rico!

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    • We were at the Lord Elgin!
      It may have been fish market, but I don’t recall for sure. We also enjoyed the sweet beavertails.

      I had no idea cooks did the ice work, but it kind of makes sense.

      Like

  31. Thanks for taking me along! I haven’t been anywhere in a while.

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  32. As a vegetarian, I might have to fall off the wagon for one of those beavertails ha ha. Looks yummy. Glad you’re back home safe!

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  33. OMG – yes to Lyle Lovett! I had the pleasure of seeing him and John Hiatt last year in St. Louis. Such a great show! I got to meet him, too. What a class act. I really wanted to stroke his hair. But I didn’t.

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  34. Those works are beautiful. Thanks for sharing. :-)

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  35. 1) Condoms, cologne, and breath mints all from one machine? That’s everything a gentleman needs!

    2) The “ice bowling” that Canadians are so fond of is actually called curling. Every four years, in a city somewhere in the world, the rest of us get reintroduced to it for a short time. And when did you pose for that surfer ice sculpture?

    3) The first time through, I skimmed your post and caught, “my wife… beaver tail… delicious and sticky… many napkins won’t be enough… the mess will be worth it!” I was wondering what kind of kinky stuff you kids had going on in the hotel room. Then I read more carefully and saw that you even involved a pastry. Scandalous!

    4) Sounds like a great concert, and I’m a little envious.

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  36. Thanks for taking us to Ottawa. Canada in the winter is beautimous.

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  37. Did I tell you all I have seen of Canada is British Columbia?

    Generally speaking, I haven’t seen the eastern side of North America at all. The farthest east I have ever been is Detroit and Ann Arbor. No lie.

    I should like to rectify that someday, especially with these lovely pictures. But, hmm, people. I don’t like crowds. I’ve had a hard time even in Seattle. Someday, though.

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    • I’m not a fan of crowds either, but my only concession to that is trying not to vacation during high season.
      I’ve been to the west coast of the US, but never Canada. I’d like to make it up there one day. I hear the skiing is fantastic.

      Like

  38. for a minute there you made me feel nostalgic about northern hemisphere winters and then i just waddled down the road and bought myself an ice cream….

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  39. Oh what a fun trip! I can’t get over how many wonderful things there are to eat in Canada! And I hope that picture of you on that ice couch wasn’t where the laughing Canadians put you up for the third night! And those ice sculptures are amazing!!!!

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  40. As the 100th commenter, do I get a toaster? Or at the very least a chia pet? Speaking of Lyle Lovett’s hair…loved the clips! And “Here I Am” just happens to be one of my favorite Lyle tunes. Looks like you had a deservedly fabulous trip!! Happy weekend!

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    • I think we have some oven mitts left from the old occupants of this site – lemme see…oh, here they are! Chico’s Bail Bonds.
      Want em? ;)

      I love Here I Am, just for the cheeseburger line.

      Like

  41. However cool and nice you had it over there my friend…there still exists an Olympic ice-Hockey final I need to congratulate you on…so Congrats, let’s all meet in the Curling finals next time :)

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    • Oh no, I’m American. I was just visiting Canada.
      Congrats to you. We got shellacked there in our last game.

      Why isn’t Frozen Margarita Making an olympic sport? I mean, with all that snow and ice…
      think how much more entertaining bobsledding would be if the racers were also the margarita judges!
      hehehe

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  42. Every January, a hotel down in Florida hosts an indoor ice sculpture “park”, with all kinds of amazing statutes and displays. I remember going with my family when I was younger, because we actually had to go out and buy gloves/scarves/etc. I’m glad the weather relented and finally let you get back home!

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  43. You really need to come to the awesome side of Canada, here in BC, and we eat real bacon here, none of that stuff with no fat :) and it’s warmer, mostly. :)

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  44. Beaver tails, Lyle Lovett, and cool vending machines at the bus station– it doesn’t get much better’n that! Great photos and travelogue!

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  45. Awesome ice sculptures!! Sounds like a wonderful, wonderful time!

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  46. Ice sculptures are always so fun and I love that the canal is turned into a skating rink although I’d never do it. I’m going to have to look up what a Beaver Tail is! And what better way to end the post than with a picture of you on an ice couch. ;-)

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  47. Love Ottawa! And have never had a beaver tail….

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  48. Were you supposed to lay on the bench sculpture? Because it would have been cool to pretend to sleep with a sheet of ice newspaper blanket over you.

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  49. What a carve up :) I especially like the relaxing on the iced sofa right at the end of your posting, now that is what I call comfort, being a bit on the ghoulish side I mean :) lol All you need now is a couple of Vampy sorts to give you a nice big… Beavertail Pastry :) Wicked…

    Andro

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  50. Dude, that is so awesome. I used to go across the river to pub in Hull, but then they shut all that down, so I spent so much time in the Byward Market. Public, middle and high school I spent in Ottawa; most of my family is still there. Glad you got the canal and the market and that you had a beaver tail, they are really yummy but horrifically bad for you.

    Awesome that you guys liked the place. Ottawa is special, and not saying that only because I grew up there. It’s a beautiful, unique place, and even though it’s colder than sin during winter, it’s still great and has wondeful people (except for the politicians – they can suck it).

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  51. Glad you enjoyed your time in Canada! Now plan your next trip to Alberta so you can see our beautiful Rocky Mountains! We have lots of concerts here too you know!

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  52. Aah, sounds like the best trip ever. Those sculptures look marvelous. And good to see YOU in a photograph !

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  53. I really need to make it to Ottawa… the Canal skating and Beaver tails!! Glad you had a fun trip!! The nice Canadians were off-putting to me at first, but I’ve mostly gotten used to them :)

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    • Ottawa is beautiful in winter and summer!
      And the trip is worth it, just for the Beaver Tails.

      I’m right there with you on polite people. I mean, what’s that all about???

      Like

Ahem *best Ricky Ricardo voice* Babble-OOOoooo!!!

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