Tag Archives: Canada

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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Travelin’ Man – Stupid Is More Than Just A Word


Today’s Music: Christopher Cross – Ride Like The Wind
Days Til Spring: 30

It started with an innocent conversation between me and my wife (The Most Wonderful Girl In The Universe).
Me: Hey honey, want to go to Canada in February?
TMWGITU: *thinks* Who’s playing?
(She knows me so well! And we’ve had this conversation before. A lot.)
Me: John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett. Acoustic! On stage at the same time!
TMWGITU: *sighing* Ok.

So my wife (who rarely thinks just a concert is reason enough for crossing an international border) planned a long weekend for us in Canada – two days in Montreal, two in Ottawa. Fortunately, when it was time for the trip, NYC was on the verge of a heat wave – 40 Fahrenheit! – so, in fine stupid fashion, off we went to Canada!

Montreal in winter was stunning! After checking into our room, we walked over to Old Montreal to get our very first (so we thought) Poutine.
Poutine is a local delicacy of french fries smothered in gravy and cheese curd. One of the options at the place we went was to get it with smoked meat.

The French on the soda bottle is how you know I'm in Montreal.

The French on the soda bottle is how you know I’m in Montreal.


We were in time for their Fête des Neiges, an annual celebration of snow, held on a small island in the Saint Lawrence river. We took the subway to get there, and I added yet another rail pass to the collection (which sadly consists of only New York, London and Montreal).

The festival was a massive party – Ferris wheel, zip line from the museum, live child foozball.
Yes, you read that right.

At last! A use for kids I approve of!

At last! A use for kids I approve of!

After that (and a great night’s sleep), we headed out the next morning to the top of Montreal to get bagels.
Back near the beginning of the twentieth century, Old World Jews migrated to Canada. Among the traditions, rituals and foods they brought with them were bagels.
I’m from NYC, born and bred. So after my wife told me how famous Montreal bagels were, and people around the hotel raved about them, I had to check them out. The big difference between Montreal bagels and real bagels (yeah, I said it) is that Montreal bagels are boiled in water with honey added. If I hadn’t known it was honey, I wouldn’t quite have been able to identify what was wrong with them. Lucky me.

It kinda looks like a bagel.  But the resemblance ends there.

It kinda looks like a bagel.
But the resemblance ends there.


To be fair, we did go to the two oldest, most famous bakeries to try the bagels.
I’ll stick with an NYC. Preferably with a schmear.

Part two will cover Ottawa, because otherwise, this post would be very long.
So until then, enjoy this view of a ferris wheel rising from the snow.
Ferris Wheel
And some random guys playing hockey on a rink in the projects. Because Canada.
20140131_200908

Linda’s Brain Peanuts Remembers Soda Pop


Today’s Music: Prisencolinensinainciusol (picked by todday’s author.)
Days Til Spring: 38

It’s no secret that I enjoy both drinking and traveling, and traveling to go drinking.
Today, Linda Vernon has taken time from her busy schedule of cheering up Edgar Allen Poe (He was very unhappy about the Pottery Barn’s intriguing story about him), and bringing us the cutting edge of thoughts that scientists are thinking about, to tell us why it’s so important to keep our traveling in mind when drinking.
(Even if she wants me to switch to Pepsi.)
So read! Enjoy! And stop by Linda’s site and follow!
(It’s the easiest way to get into her will…)

My Brain Peanuts Remembers Soda Pop
by Linda Vernon
Drinking soda in the fifties was a lot different from today. First of all, soda came in a bottle. In Washington state, where I grew up, there was no such thing as drinking a can of soda. No siree!
We drank a bottle of pop or we drank nothing at all.

Back then, when you bought a bottle of pop, the pop was yours to drink — but you had to give back the bottle because you were merely renting it. After all, you had to pay a 2-cent deposit on it, for crying out loud, and not taking it back for a refund could seriously affect the budget.

So everyone always returned their pop bottles to get their two-cents back because two-cents in the fifties would buy enough gas to get you to Canada from anywhere in the United States.

The only people who drank out of a can were beer drinkers. But beer cans were worthless so beer drinkers didn’t worry about getting their deposit back. They would simply chuck the empties out of the window of whatever speeding vehicle they happened to be drunkenly swerving down the highway in.

Today, we would consider this drunk driving but in those days we simply considered it littering. And in the 1950’s, littering was America’s favorite pastime — as much a way of life as Polio, onesie gym clothes, and radio-active cleansing cream.

But whether you were drinking out of a bottle or drinking out of a can, you would have died of thirst in the 1950’s if you didn’t have one of these.

It was a combination bottle/can opener, and it was a wonderful little gadget. One end would pry off the caps of Debby and Bobby’s pop bottles while the other end would puncture a hole in Mom and Dad’s beer cans. (The only thing this can opener wouldn’t do is open a bottle of wine, but this wasn’t a problem because in the 50’s only Europeans drank wine.)

I think it’s fair to say that the bottle opener was as much a part of the foundation upon which the togetherness of the fifties family was built as smearing butch wax on crew cuts, stenciling on eyebrows or hiding under desks together to survive atomic blasts.

I remember my grandparents only drank Pepsi which they always referred to as Peps. Pepsi was for those who think young. Not only did my grandparents think young, they were young. When I was five, my grandmother was only 44. (Back then people started families way younger so they could get it out of the way quicker and have more time to drink Peps.)

Now let’s say you only drank half the Peps in that rented bottle of yours. What would you do? Well, instead of pouring it down the drain, you would save the remainder of the Peps by utilizing another ingenious type of gadget that people just referred to as that bottle thingy.

That bottle “thingy” I’m referring to was a rubber gasket that went into the top of the bottle to seal in the carbonation as well as that delicious Peps refreshing flavor. After all, you spent a whole dime for that bottle of Pepsi, and you wouldn’t want it to go to waste.

Not if you were ever going to afford that trip to Canada!

Adminisilliness (a Bread Crumbs post)


(*This page is a permanent page above the title bar.
It was suggested that I post it as a regular page, because who ever really reads the fine print anyway…
As such, there is no Today’s Music here. On the other hand, I haven’t finished my ideas for the next post, so think of this as a Bread Crumbs (filler) post.)

I hate paperwork.
Even virtual paperwork.
But every so often, it has to be done.
So here it is:

1 Nov 2011
This blog is maintained/arranged/updated by El Guapo (the handsome one).
(As I keep telling myself).
He can be contacted at Guaposaur@gmail.com

Posts are made irregularly. Mostly because I want to say something worth saying (at least to me), as opposed to just adding to the general cacophony. My Reader(s?) deserve better.

Pictures are added as needed to express a point, clarify a point, or to amuse the author (again, me).

Today’s Music may be what I’m listening to at that moment, or something I feel is appropriate to the post, or an act I want to highlight. Check them out, you might like them. And any musical suggestions are always welcome.

Occasionally there will be a Today’s Adventure. That is a quick note on something I’ve done recently that I really enjoyed.
I hope there will be lots of them.

Comments are allowed instantly, but are checked regularly, since I find myself not wanting to do my job when I am there, so I poke around online instead.
With that in mind, please be respectful. You can be as passionate as you like in expressing your point of view, but please don’t descend to immature name calling.
Or I will summon the Flaming Balls of Zoltan upon thine comments. Sadly for the justice system, I am the court of last resort around here.

I do read all comments, and do my best to respond to/answer questions raised in them. If you’re shy and want to ask me something, feel free to email.

My philosophy is that we should all enjoy the bejeezus out of ourselves up to the point where we infringe upon the ability of others to enjoy themselves.

I enjoy sour and half-sour dill pickles, but not the “bread and butter” ones.

I think that covers it.

Let me know if I left something out.

*This will probably be updated as soon as I remember what I forgot.

Cut it out, Canada.


Today’s Music: Oh, Canada

I like Canada. A lot.
I’ve been there several times, most recently to see The Cars at Sound Academy in Toronto.
I’ve loved seeing the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Parliament in Ottawa.
I loved hanging out with Charles DeLint at the bar he plays at weekly. He invited me up onstage, and lent me a guitar so we could rip through a twelve bar blues riff with his band.
He took us out for lunch after we spent the day exploring the Byward market, a really nice indoor/outdoor shopping area filled with the products of local craftsmen and street musicians.
My wife (the most wonderful girl in the universe) and I spent a lovely afternoon strolling through the Ottawa government seat, and walking along the Rideau river.

Manhattan at noon, 29 October

I’ve skied at Tremblant and loved, and have nothing but nice things to say about Montreal.

More recently, I’ve enjoyed the tulip festival. They really are beautiful. The way you arrange them shows why you elevated the festival to a national event.
My wife and I loved your museums, and admired the clean orderliness of your street.

Brooklyn, 20 minutes after Manhattan

And on the same trip when we went to see The Cars, we also stopped at Niagara Falls. It’s true, the view is better from the Canadian side.
So all the times I’ve been to Canada, I’ve had nothing but fun.

Queens, 35 mjinutes after Brooklyn

But you have a dark secret.
Any architect building a freestanding home in an open area will tell you, build the hedges along the north.
During winter, the cold air comes down from the north. That’s how the jet stream works.
And what’s north of New York?
Canada.
That;s right. I said it.
Canada is sending us the snow.
I like snow. I like sledding, skiing, sitting on the porch watching it build up. I like driving in fields through it, catching it on my tongue, and making naked snow angels in it. Ok, that was once, and i was really drunk at the time. But I enjoyed it.

But now you’ve gone too far. It’s October. There are another 60 or so days of fall. Which I can’t enjoy. Because it’s snowing.
The snow Canada sent.

Look, I admit it, the U.S. can be mean to Canada. We ignore you, we run roughshod over your entertainment industry by selling you our music/tv/movies. And I know you have to pay more for those same books and dvds we insist on sending you.
But I’m begging you, please, turn off the snow.
I gave your anthem the “Today’s Music” slot.
I like real maple syrup.
I’ll even admit (under duress) that I own a Bryan Adams cd (it was a long time ago and I’ve no idea where it is anymore.)

So stop with the snow already. At least for another month or two.

The view out my window 15 minutes later.

Or we’ll send back William Shatner.