Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Eagle Has Landed

I can now confirm to you, my loyal readers, that I have returned to my adopted homeland of Ontario. Well, okay, I’ve actually been back nearly two weeks now. And that 4-day stay in Kenora? Funny story. Turns out the car repairs I paid hundreds of dollars for and waited an entire long weekend to get didn’t actually fix anything. Ahh, good times.

I recall the drive up last August being rather inspiring. To be exposed to so much of my own country, so much of it I was ignorant of. Natural beauty and all that jazz. The drive back, though… much less fun. I hated every fucking inch of that road. Every kilometer turned over on the odometer got me further out of Hell. I had grand plans to go on about a million different road trips, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna do this ever again. Kenora? Thunder Bay? It was nice knowing you.

I haven’t got anything against air trips, however, so on Monday the 23rd I’ll be meeting up with Andrew in Berlin. The one in Germany. Two weeks later I’m flying out of London. What we do in between is anybody’s guess. Paintball in Hitler’s bunker? Overnight at the Eagle’s Nest? Tea with the Queen? Could be in the cards.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Best Laid Plans...

Well, I didn’t see this one coming. I should have. But I didn’t. To save you the trouble of reading through the post, let me say that I’m stuck in Kenora until at least Tuesday, when, hopefully, the minor car part needed will arrive from Winnipeg.
There - I just saved you a trip to Wikipedia
I chalk it all up to hubris. For months I’ve suspected that Ole Yeller wasn’t firing on all cylinders and… well, literally, that’s what was happening. George can attest to this, having driven to Saskatoon and back with me while this was a concern. I pushed it to the back of my mind, thinking that over a 3300Km drive, it wouldn’t pose a problem. Ahh, what a fool I was.

I woke up Friday morning in Flin Flon, said my goodbyes to the Trevors, and motored my way across the great province of Manitoba. It was a fairly lonely drive, filled with hours upon hours of nothingness. Take a look at a map to see if you can find anything between The Pas and Winnipeg, and you’ll see what I mean. After 10 hours of this excitement, I saw the sign: Kenora – 1.5 (I assume they meant kilometres). Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the car sputters, lurches, and gives out. I manage to get her onto a little side road, from where I walked to a driving range on the outskirts of town to call the tow truck. Mercifully (for you as much as me), this is where it got interesting.

The tow truck driver said he was sad that he wasn’t picking up the real Michael Smith (the decathlete, as opposed to either the Nobel laureate or actor). I give him the obligatory laugh, since I’ve heard that one a few times. No, he says – Michael Smith is actually from Kenora. Presumably he was back in town for the long weekend visiting family. So, see? That was the one time in my life where that joke would have worked.

Tow truck driver and I seemed to hit it off. Very affable fellow, and had only been on the job for a week. Once he had my car dropped off at the dealership and I’d checked into my hotel, he had me over to his sister-in-law’s for a few beers. I met his woman and two-week old son. There was a bonfire, a nice little pond with fish in the backyard. The whole deal. I owe him a few drinks so perhaps we’ll meet up sometime before I leave.

The remainder of the evening was spent at the hotel’s lounge. Kenora seems to have a pretty active nightlife in the summer, with some pretty nice bars, but I just wasn’t in the mood. Those places are full of younger groups having a good time, and I can’t see what the single loner can get out of that atmosphere. For my money, the better evening is to be had in the hotel lounge with its… erm… other single loners, I guess. Real “characters”, they are, and not necessarily in a bad way. And, hell, I even ran into a woman who knew George from his Leaf Rapids days (the ones you need parental permission to hear about).

Kenora isn’t so bad. I just have to approach it as a sort of… forced vacation. It sucks to have my homecoming delayed for a not insignificant number of days (and the hotel isn’t exactly cheap), but there’s truly no other option (well, unless one of my true friends wants to hop on a plane and get up here with my car parts).

There’re fireworks tonight down at the waterfront, and who knows what other sorts of fun a resourceful fellow like myself can get up to? Until Tuesday, when my minor car part arrives from Winnipeg, I don’t really have much choice, do I? But, Christ… it just had to be a long weekend. So happy Canada Day to you all (well, not you filthy leeches down on St. Pierre et Miquelon and those of you living on the Alaska Panhandle – you buckets of scum can go fuck yourselves).

It should come as no surprise that the captain of the Titanic was a Smith.