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Go East, Young Woman, Go East

6 july 2004

Odometer: 0

Starting the day after tomorrow, I'll be on the road for eleven days of driving across the country, starting here in Toronto, then going to visit my parents, then going to W's cottage, then G's cottage, then to Montreal to pick up Jill, then to Halifax to see Molly.

I'll try to pop in reasonably often with updates, but don't expect too much!

7 july 2004

Odometer: 0

We haven't even left yet, and already things are changing!

Last night Jill and I spent much time poring over CAA trying to figure out how to activate online membership and how to get from point a to point b. Is the mythical trip through Maine the best way to get to Halifax? It looks like it on the map, but neither caa nor MapQuest wanted us to cross the border at all.

Conversations with various drivers -- from moms to touring rap MCs -- led us to the conclusion that it might be wisest to stay in Canada. Also it might be wisest to hit St-Sauveur on the way back rather than the way out, so as to stock up on more cheese.

The weirdest part will be not seeing TG for eleven whole days! It's the longest we've been apart in a full year.

9 july 2004

Odometer: 506.8

Hard to imagine that yesterday at this time I was sitting in my office in Toronto.

This morning I awoke at my parents' house in Almonte, and after a lovely breakfast, hit the road again to head up to W's cottage. I stopped of at the Dunn's farm, but they were out of eggs -- their new layers are too young to be productive, and they've developed quite a following, so they sell out early. Then I hit the Cedar Hill Berry Farm, and picked up four litres of strawberries. Many of which I ate in the car.

Next stop -- or not really a stop, more of a go slow -- was the ferry at Fitzroy Harbour which crosses the Ottawa River to Quyon. It's a lovely leisurely way to travel, fifteen minutes across the river, and then through the country, up the Mountain (as we call it) in Gatineau Park, and through the park to the cottage.

Haven't done much here other than relax, but that's what cottages are for! Went for a pedal-boat tour, saw the loon -- he did a little wing-flapping dance for us -- and the first water lilies of the season.

Only snag so far -- Molly hasn't been answering her phone! It may not be hooked up yet -- she and Sandy just moved -- but I'd like to be able to call to confirm plans! I'm arriving in Halifax on Monday at 9 o'clock if all goes according to plan, and I hope she'll be there to greet me and not out to dinner or something! So Molly -- if you're reading this -- call me at W's (mum has the number), or drop me an email!

10 july 2004

Odometer: 912

Still at W's cottage.

So where did the extra 400 km come from?

Well, mum can't get into the cottage to stay overnight, due to the whole stairs issue. So today I drove from the cottage to Almonte to pick up mum, brought her up here, it started raining so we went to the golf club for dinner, the golf club was closed for a private function so we drove to Wakefield for dinner, then I drove mum back to Almonte, then I drove back here. So, 400 km and three ferry rides later, here I am!

And so glad to be here!

11 july 2004

Odometer: 1148

I like to go wandering!

The air in the Laurentians is cool and sweet. Heading north from the flat lands in the valley, it's phenomenal how hilly things become -- these really are mountains, the roads winding tight as they climb their way clinging up and down to and from the summit. Approaching St-Sauveur, the land drops away annd then rises in the distance, the town painted into the side of a mountain, green with trees and the occasional sheer rock face peeking through.

You really feel how hilly it is on a bicycle.

G. and I went for a ride through the cemetary (filled with Polish gravestones of those who left before the war), through a meadow (now sadly dug up and being developed), through the wooded hills, through a lea by an abandoned dairy farm (with lovely gabled silos), and back through town, which is packed with people and horse-drawn buggies.

After my pedal-boat excursions and the morning's swim, I am officially pooped.

Had a truly wonderful dinner with G. and P., with much conversation running much later than we realised. That seems to be the way in this family!

13 july 2004

Odometer: 2650ish

I am typing from Halifax! At last!

Yesterday's drive was a long one, especially since we somehow forgot the time change; going from Eastern to Atlantic cost us ann hour we hadn't anticipated losing.

Nonetheless I managed to find Jill's mum's place in Montreal, and then we wound our way alonng the south shore towards our maritime destinations. The sea snuck up on us -- we had been observing the farms to our south, the flat green lands puncuated by sudden round mountains, when all of a sudden we could smell salt in the soft air! And there it was to our left: the St. Lawrence.

We stopped just before leaving Quebec for a quick poutine fix, and then on through New Brunswick to Saint John. After saying good bye to Jill, I hit the road before sundown and headed straight for Halifax -- well, as straight as one can go by land, which is not a straight line at all (I think I'll investigate the Digby ferry annd see if that might work for the trip back).

I only got slightly lost coming in to Halifax. I was expecting to approach via Dartmouth to the north, but somehow I ended up coming in from the south-east. Not sure how that happened. A quick phone call confirmed my suspicions: I was a block away but stymied by one-way streets. Luckily Sandy was there to talk me through.

This morning Molly and I had a lovely brekkie on the deck, with a view of the harbour. We went for a stroll by the waterfront, and then I went exploring when Molly had to go to work. Halifax is a very hilly town -- I made it to the top of Citadel hill, wandered a windy path back to the apartment and am officially pooped again!

14 july 2004

Odometer: parked!

Did some stretching this morning, but am still achy. Yesterday, after all the hiking I did in the morning, I went for more long walks up and down and around the town, and my legs are killing me! I'll be ready for a marathon by the time I get back to the T-dot.

Last night we hung around the apartment and Sandy did an excellent job with the barbeque -- we had lamb burgers with pine nuts that his mum made. Oh, they were delicious. Molly pulled out the old photo albums (a giant box full of them -- she's always been notorious for over-use of the camera) and we spend a few hours on the patio goinng through them. So many old places and faces I'd almost forgot!

Today I'm going to call up one of those faces -- Dave, who used to work with me at the ByTowne Cinema back in Ottawa. I haven't seen him in years, and last time I tried emailing I got a bounce-back. I hope I'll get to see him while I'm here.

Also want to find time to sit in a cafe and write and knit (I am still hoping to finish Lilliana's sleeper that I started back in January before I hit St.-Sauveur again).

15 july 2004

Odometer: parked!

Ugh. Suffering the after-effects of karaoke today. As well as the usual hill-walking stiffness.

Yesterday I made a couple of phone calls only to realise that I have no way of checking the voicemail if someone called back (and there's no call display). Whoops! The went for another walk around town, including the Old Burial Ground. There are graves going back to the 1700s, all carved out of ominously dark grey local slate. It's interesting to see how the styles and symbols have changed over the years. The earlier graves had blatantly morbid imagery: skulls and crossed bones, and the occasional strange floating eye; inscriptions were blunt (e.g. "Here lies John Smith, who was murdered on..."). Later the gravestones had less to do with the actual death and more to do with mourning: an urn, a lamp gone out, a willow weeping. The trees stand tall, and seem awkwardly close to or even on top of the graves. Then you remember: some of these graves are three hundred years old; a tree planted in memory has had centuries to overtake its surroundings.

After some more walking I ended up in a cafe (Steve-o-reno's) where I actually did some writing on my novel. It was getting on for six, so I wound my way to Molly's work, passing a comic book shop (where I picked up some leftovers from Free Comic Day for TG) and a nifty clothing store where I did some browsing, and at some point I saw a sign advertising karaoke.

Molly and I walked back to the apartment looking for lobster for a reasonable price (I am a tourist, after all). It seemed heinously expensive everywhere, so we gave up and decided to go for sushi instead. Fortunately, Dharma Sushi had a lobster roll on the menu! So I got my fix for lobster and sushi too.

We went back to the apartment to change -- it got cold quite suddenly -- and made our plans for the evening: check out the Jazz East jazz festival. We headed up Spring Garden, realised we didn't have a festival guide, and then I mentioned that I had seen a karaoke bar at some point in my wanderings. We decided to set off in search of karaoke! Of course, I couldn't really rememer where it was. So we retraced my steps: past the cafe, past the comic book shop, past the clothing store, and... no luck. We found ourselves near Reflections, and decided to pop in, since it's Pride Week here. They were hosting and event called Hissyfit: boy bands in girls' clothing. The first band seemed like an okay eighties-new-wave-revival outfit, until the crazed singer started hollering. We decided to look for the karaoke bar again.

Looking through a copy of the Coast, we finally found it -- a skeevy bar near Molly's apartment. I guess I walked past it right near the beginning of my wanderings and didn't remember. We sang some Loverboy and the theme to Laverene and Shirley and the B-52s and eventually wandered home exhausted, glad that it was so close by.

And luckily, since I started typing, both of the people I called yesterday just called back, so I have no more voicemail worries!

16 july 2004

Odometer: 2662

Funny, I've done so much walking in the days that I've been here, it feels as though I must have seen the entire city by now. No. Looking at a map, I realised just how little I'd seen -- the downtown, and that's it.

So, yesterday I made my way out to Quinpool Road, where I got a t-shirt for Molly with a kitty singing karaoke on it! Very appropriate, I thought, considering the previous night's activities. I got one with a mouse on it.

Then I walked back downtown to the Biscuit General Store where I found that holiest of holy grails -- dark-rinse medium-rise jeans. Not low-rise-look-at-my-hoochie-mama-underpants jeans, not high-waisted-mid-life-substitute-teacher jeans, but jeans that actually look good and are comfortable. For the past year, the garment gurus have been promising that jeans would become tolerable again, but everytime I've gone into a store and asked for the new styles, all they seem to have is last year's tacky stuff. I'm so happy! They're made in Canada by Dish Clothing Denim Division and they look and feel great. The style is called "Desi" if you're looking.

After I zipped back to the apartment to ditch my new purchases (and put on my new jeans!), I headed over to the Trident Cafe & Bookshop to meet Susan. We spent a couple of hours chatting over coffee -- could have stayed longer but they were getting ready to close! I caught Molly and Sandy in the street and we picked up some groceries and headed home for dinner.

It was an incredibly foggy day, so we were worried that our evening plans (a harbour cruise on the tall ship Silva) would be ruined. Fortunately, they were still sailing! The fog lifted enough before we boarded that we could see the lights of Dartmouth, but soon enough the scenery disappeared into a thick haze of grey. Dark shapes would loom suddenly out of the mist, then disappear again just as quickly as we passed them. Sandy pointed out all sorts of interesting (if barely visible!) sights: retired submarines, a huge drydock, various ships and buildings and bridges. Molly saw a seal stick its head out of the water, and I saw a dark lump which may or may not have been something alive. Our glasses fogged lots, and we didn't feel seasick at all -- until after we were back on solid land, at which point it was difficult to walk a straight line!

This morning I hooked up with Dave for a morning coffee. I hadn't seen him since 1996 I think! Hard to imagine! Sometimes it's like no time has passed at all, though. I also got to meet his fiancee Linette, which was a riot since she is also a U of O Theatre alum -- hard to imagine we never met before!

Speaking of small worlds, I've bumped into a few Torontonians this week -- one of the owners of the Horseshoe is getting married here on the weekend, so there are all sorts of familiar faces around town.

Then I drove up to the Hydrostone, a nifty area that was decimated in the great explosion and had to be rebuilt. I was a bad girl and bought unnecessary yarn. It was too soft and lovely to resist.

Now, since it's sunny again, I think I'll go sit by the water and knit. That way I can justify my new treats!

17 july 2004

Odometer: parked!

It's half-past six o'clock in the morning, and I'm packed and ready leave Halifax. My hello kitty pyjamas are folded up in my overnight bag and most of my stuff is already in the car.

So strange to think I'll be back at home, back at work, all within a day or two.

The big question is what has changed: how are the cats? How is TG? Are the pansies on the deck still alive or did they get eaten by raccoons?

Tune in next time when you'll find out!

18 july 2004

Odometer: 4852

Just got in the door, maybe a half-hour ago, phone already ringing. No messages (thank you, thank you -- I changed my outgoing message to say "do not leave a message!), still haven't checked email. Briefly considered driving around for another hour-and-a-half to make it an even five thousand, but sanity prevailed.

Yesterday I drove (stopping somewhere near Amherst for breakfast) to Saint John to pick up Jill, then up to St-Sauveur. On the way we stopped at Hayward's Potato place, where we saw a giant (as in three or four tons) chunk of tree waiting to be turned on a gigantor-style lathe. Then we stopped on in St-Louis-de-Ha! Ha! (yes, that's how it's spelled, exclamation points and all) to enjoy the view. We took a photo of the odometer as it clicked over from 189999.9 to 190000 -- that's a lot of road trips. It was after ten when we arrived, but G. and P. had a spread waiting for us on the table. The trip odometer was around 4250 at that point.

This morning we made a stop at Epicerie Bourassa, home of the huge walk-in refrigerator of cheese, Chez Bernard for rabbit rillette and other delicacies, and then off home. We dropped in at mum & dad's in Almonte, and then it was non-stop to the T-dot. Well, except for traffic. We abandoned the 401 for the 2, and took the leisurely-but-less-irritating way into town. Finally back in the neighbourhood, dropped off Jill, picked up TG, and now I'm home. A little stiff and sore, but otherwise happy.

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