Tag Archives: Canada

Day 12 – Toronto

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We said goodbye to Jimmy as he was leaving for work, and soon set off ourselves. Today we were traveling into Canada, and to get there we went through an underwater tunnel! Which sounded so exciting but actually was pretty anticlimactic because we couldn’t see anything. Probably better too since who knows what might be in that river.

We got into the wrong line but soon corrected ourselves. The Canadian border patrolman interrogated us, but was “semi-nice” about it (that’s how I described him in the outline).

Now the transition between Detroit and Windsor is quite an odd experience. Basically, Detroit is in the land of ‘Merica, with crime and ugliness and general unpleasant conditions. Windsor is in the magical land of Canada, where flowers grow unhindered, people are apologetic, and milk is in bags. Driving from one side to the other feels like that scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit where they go from the real world into Toon Town. Suddenly the streets are clean, people are friendly, you can unlock your car doors and relax. Sure, you’ve got to figure out how kilometers work, and might need to be more alert for moose, but it’s such a wonderful place.

Anyhow, we drove through a bit of Canada before appearing in Toronto. We had a hell of a time trying to find a hotel, and drove around a lot trying to search for one. Finally found an area with hotels. First we checked Best Western, but they had an age policy and since I was 18 and Sean was 17 they wouldn’t let us rent the room. Checked another nearby hotel, but they also had an age policy, but they recommended the hotel across the way. Went to the Residence Inn and some friendly girls gave us a room, hurray.

Sat in the hotel for a bit, relaxing, and then went out to dinner. I suppose we had been recommended a place named Shoeless Joe’s, which in a search today (in 2013) shows many, many locations.  We had a nice waitress who said “cheers” three times. Sean got the 2 for 1 wings and I got a pretty dry but still ok steak. Went back to the hotel and watched Family Guy and Futurama before going to bed.

Day 13 – Toronto

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Woke up and missed the complimentary breakfast. We started the day heading downtown and parked right about in the middle of where the city transitioned from suburbia to urban jungle. There was this one extremely long main road that we walked down, and I remember it being a long long street. It also was slightly downhill if I remember correctly, so the return trip was not something we were looking forward to. Along the way we stopped in a few shops, and then stopped at a hole in the wall style deli that had absolutely terrible bagels, so I didn’t eat half of it. Then further down our walk a homeless man was asking for change so I gave him the bagel, and felt like it didn’t go to waste.

Toronto was a beautiful city, and had some very nice shops. There was this one indoor mall that had fantastic architecture, and a photo I took inside of it turned out to be a good one that many people compliment me on even today. We saw a hockey museum, but decided not to go since it cost a bit too much for our tastes.

We went down to the wharf and hung out before heading back up the long street. We stopped in one shop where I found this incredible Where’s Waldo pirate scene poster. I really liked it, although later in the trip it was lost (but more on that then). Also stopped in a CD shop and bought Classic Queen hits, an album by Great Big Sea, and Guns and Roses Greatest Hits (which was all Sean’s decision). Also got some candy.

Back to the car and back to the hotel. Tried to find some Chinese food and found a really small take out place. Got the dinner for 2 with additional beef with broccoli, and a 2 liter pepsi, and more candy. Then ate it all while watching Family Guy and Futurama in the hotel room.

Day 14 – Ottawa

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Well this day had some interesting adventures.

Started off by getting the hotel breakfast, which for me involved a bagel and cream cheese. Then we were on the road again, driving through beautiful Ontario countryside. Very natural, very scenic.

We made it to the capital, Ottawa, and made a visit to the visitor center. We didn’t spend too much time here, and I recall going to a square with market stalls and food. We did not go in the famous castle there because we wanted to make our way to Montreal. So after a lunch we headed out.

The car we were driving was this teal soccer mom van, and lucky for us it has a counter telling us how many miles until our gas tank was empty. Unlucky for us, this meter was getting very low and we weren’t seeing any gas stations.

So finally we got to a town named Buckingham. There was a fork in the road, and our gas miles meter read “8”, so we drove a little bit down one side of the fork, and then turned around and tried the other. Finally, running on fumes, we found a gas station (I’ve found this gas station on Chemin de Masson off of highway 50). Filled up the car. And then tried to start it.

And it wouldn’t start.

We cranked it a few times, and couldn’t figure out what was the matter. It was a worse problem than what had happened in Ohio. So we called CAA (the Canadian version of AAA) and they got a tow truck for us. They took us to the nearby mechanic garage on Avenue Lépine.

Now one thing that some people may know about Quebec, the province we were in, is that they predominantly speak French. And it just so happened that Buckingham was a French speaking city. So much that many people did not speak English, or at least not very well. It became quite a challenge to communicate to the mechanics what was wrong with the car, and filling out paperwork was also a bit challenging since it was in French. For some reason I particularly remember this one mechanic that spoke almost no English, and had absolutely terrible teeth. Well despite this language barrier, the car went in for service and we found a motel, Les Pignons Verts, to stay at.

Day 15 – Buckingham

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We were woken up by call from garage around 10:00. They told us it would be about $700 Canadian to fix the car, which back then was only $518 USD. So we got up and went to the garage (which was just across the street). They told us that the fuel pump that had been installed in Iowa City had been a used, rebuilt fuel pump and had failed. They also explained a bit why it was so expensive, but I don’t think I really got that. Anyhow, we gave the go ahead to fix the car.

We walked around the town and found there was absolutely nothing to do. It was your typical small town with nothing really going on. We got breakfast at a sketchy-looking diner, but it turned out to be pretty good. Again it was difficult to overcome the language barrier. I saw that they had crepes on the menu, and got excited for that, but when they just brought out regular pancakes I realized my mistake.

Anyhow, went back to the motel room and just relaxed the whole day. Sean finished Without Remorse, and I finished Mona Lisa Overdrive while reading more Aesop’s Fables (which I quite enjoyed).

After a few hours we went back to the garage and they told us that the car was done, but they hadn’t had time to call us. Since it was already late we decided to stay in Buckingham another night, which was actually a decision already made since we had booked one more night and there wasn’t any refunds. So the rest of the night was me reading and writing, and Sean played Metal Gear Solid on his gameboy. And of course we repeated our tradition of watching Family Guy and Futurama before bed.

Day 16 – Montréal

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We started out from Buckingham early in the morning, and reached Montréal in about 1.5 hours. Learning from our hotel finding adventures in Toronto, we decided to find a place that was outside of the downtown area, and found a nice looking motel that was just a bit north.

We went into the office and asked if they had a room. We were given the choice between a cheaper room with one bed and a more expensive one with two, and we chose the one with one bed because we didn’t mind sharing a bed and we were cheap. Well the lady looked at us a bit weird, she gave us our room key and we went to drop our stuff at the room.

Well we opened the door to the room and realized why she had looked at us strangely. There in the center of the opposite wall was a large waterbed, and on three sides of the bed (two walls and the ceiling) were mirrors. This obviously was a hotel meant for sex and affairs. And it was in that moment that I think Sean turned to me and said “I don’t this we should sleep in the same bed tonight”. I agreed.

Anyhow. We headed into town. The Montréal streets were confusing and narrow, especially for our van. We parked and paid for 2 hours, and then followed a tourist route around the city. Stopped for bagels. Saw some protesters for something in a park. I went into a dollar store to get sunglasses but they were huge. Picked up some watermelon candies. And toured a bit of the “underground city” (which is just their underground shopping center). Then headed back to the hotel. For dinner we got Harvey’s, which was pretty good fast food with customizable burgers.

I think Sean took the waterbed and went to sleep. I watched a show called Dubtitled / Kung Faux which was entertaining ebonic dubbing of Asian martial arts films, and a whole lot better than the porn on the other channels. Not surprisingly I could hear people in the adjacent rooms having sex at 2 in the morning. Very pleasant to hear while trying to go to sleep, but amusing because it seemed like the woman was… well… not the best actress.

Day 30 – Tacoma to Vancouver

southern kitchen
Finally vancouver
sketchy hostel area
to get into canada
1 hour wait
dr. sun yen
something or other tea
walked around the city
bamboo stick
bubble tea
cat empire cd
back tot he car
Guu Japanese restaurant
canadian’s outside
i went to sleep
mike proceeded to have an “adventure” of his own

Day 32 – Banff to Medicine Hat

packed and left
got a bit lost
parked far from area but for free
walked around festival
mounted shooting event
main rodeo
horse riding
cattle roping
soaking wet when mike drove by
yelled after the car
came by again and picked me up
drove to medicine hat
cheap hotel
movie! Wanted
the garage
very cute bartender
too drunk to drive so walked back to the hotel

Day 37 – Sault Ste. Marie to Montreal

50 cent coffee but didn’t have enough change but she gave it to me anyway
drive drive
tourist center
walked around the food area for a long time looking for something good to eat
overpriced post card
got noodles that were really shitty
back to the car and drove all the way to montreal
made it to samara’s and practically fell over with exhaustion
stayed up enough to watch planet of the apes and have sex