Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 97 & 98: Ottawa, ON

Location: Ottawa, ON
Dates: Wed, July 27th & Thursday, July 28th
Total kms driven: 23,962 kms
Total $$$ spent on gas: $3,296.57

It's been a busy few days in Ottawa. Unloading the car, unpacking things, re-packing for Montreal, running errands, seeing friends.

Wednesday night, we celebrated Freyja's brief return from Vancouver. Two months ago, I was partying with her in Vancouver.

We made stops at The Brig, Rainbow Room and ended the night at Zaphod's.

Outside of Zaphod's, I scored some nice freebies off the side of the road. New wine glasses, a few vases, brand new silver ribbon and this $60 red retro candle holder!

Thursday was the start of intramural volleyball playoffs, and "Team Flail Strikes Back" won all our games! We celebrated with drinks (and steak for me) at Quinn's Ale House on bank.

Day 96: Fredericton to Ottawa

Location: Ottawa, ON
Date: Tues, July 26th

I decided to cancel trips to Campbellton, Miguasha World Heritage Site and Forillon National Park so that I could have a few days in Ottawa to unpack.

I set out at 11 am AST with the goal of beating my 9.5 hour record driving from Fredericton to Ottawa.

The drive was going well, until between Edmundston and Riviere-Du-Loup. I was behind an RV that was passing the transport truck shown below. For some reason this transport driver decided to change lanes, forcing the RV into oncoming traffic. I braked hard, and had to watch as oncoming traffic drove on their shoulder, narrowly avoiding a head-on collision. Everyone was fine, but couldn't help but wonder what the driver of this Cai Logistics transport truck was thinking.

I continued on, and I was making good time, until I blew a tire while driving. I felt two small wobbles, then two big wobbles, and then "bang", the tire blew near Montmagny, Quebec. It's the first time in my life a tire blew while I was driving!

Finally the spare tire I've been carting around for years, would come in handy. I've changed many tires, so I was well prepared... except the car was too low to the ground for me to get my jack under it. I tried everything, including driving over my wooden blocks. Unfortunately it didn't help.

So, I had to use my Rogers road side assistance. I was on hold for a half hour, and then it took a half hour for the service truck to get there. It took him 5 minutes, and then I was on the road again with 1.5 hours lost.

All told, I really lucked out.
- There were no cars around me when the tire blew.
- The rain held off the whole time, but started within a minute of me being back on the road.
- It happened about 100 metres before hitting a speed trap.
- I was 50 feet from a sign saying what km I was at on the highway.
- I found my hub cap.
- I noticed the front tire had lost about 15 lbs of air.

The sun was setting just as I made it through Montreal, so I snapped a photo.

Finally around 10 pm EST, I arrived safe & sound in Ottawa.

Day 95: Fredericton: Ode to the tour van

Location: Charters Settlement, NB
Date: Mon, July 28th

I spent the day transferring everything out of the tour van into my car for the drive back to Ottawa. The tour van covered the country twice over, travelling more than 22,000 kms in 90 days. So I'm dedicating this post to the tour van - a 97 Plymouth Voyageur!

The tour van was a great loaner from my parents... My Dad had to dig it out of the snow in April using an axe and snowblower. He had to replace 11 things on the van, and rumour has it (from my Mom), it broke down 3 days before I came to pick it up in April - the water pump needed replacing. But other than seized up calipers that needed fixing in Vancouver, it worked perfectly... I'm still counting my blessings!

By the time I arrived in Fredericton, the van looked like this. Notice the fan I used to cool me since it has no air conditioning!

So as an ode to the tour van, I want to recap some of the highs and lows, passengers, etc...

** Within 15 minutes of leaving Fredericton in late April, the "Service Engine Soon" light came on. It stayed on for the whole trip, except when the van bottomed out on a dirt road in central Winnipeg near the University. It came back on within an hour.

** Every second day I was re-packing the van, as I dug out cds, merch, food, etc. I would often disappear for 30-60 minutes at a time to do the re-org.

** The chaos of the van would sometimes claim victims like these two cans of Pimp Juice in the parking lot of Western University in London, ON.

************** PASSENGERS **************

I had numerous passengers on the trip, some of whom caught me eating steak or with my thumbs up.

Other times, I was caught sleeping while I let Stephanie drive for parts of the trip.

I had numerous other passengers including Lise and Rachelle shown below.

Some passengers dared to dive into the back in search of some item while I was driving.

Some passengers dared to ride in the back, including Dystrakted shown below. Others to experience the back include Kasia, Kristian, Stephanie and Chris.

************** SLEEPING **************

After unloading the van, you get a better view of the bed I slept on 7 times during the trek. The neighbour across the road was gutting a trailer, and left the bed thingy on the side of the road. My Dad grabbed it, stashing it in our shack in the backyard for awhile... It smelled quite musty, but certainly did the trick for sleep!

Here's how I looked sleeping in the parking lot at Lake Louise, where it was below zero.

I slept in the van 7 times including behind some white vans at the university in Prince George and outside the Old Orchard Inn in Kentville, NS.

************** WEATHER **************

The van ran into some crazy weather in Alberta. Calgary provided 3 intense hail storms. While the drive from Drumheller to Edmonton provided winds stronger than I've ever experienced. The wind would lift the windshield wiper up and hold it in the air.

************** SIDE VIEW MIRROR **************

The side view mirror came in handy for shooting several situations.

Rush hour in Toronto

The Digby ferry lineup

Construction in Nova Scotia.

Animals include an elk licking my mirror and a long horned sheep

************** LANDSCAPE and VENUES **************

The van saw the whole country.

By the mountains along Lake Superior

At Waterton Lakes National Park

In the Rockies in Jasper National Park

At the Royal Albert in Winnipeg

Day 94: Sydney to Moncton to Fredericton

Location: Charters Settlement, NB

After having a blast in Cape Breton, I was sad to say goodbye. I took the morning and afternoon to catch up on my blog, facebook, etc before leaving for my show in Moncton.

The day was bright and sunny, providing great views of Brad D'Or and the Canso Causeway.

The sun was shining bright as it was setting until some clouds rolled in... I snapped shots, but they didn't quite capture the view.

Finally I arrived in Moncton for my show at The Paramount Lounge, hosted by Adam Gould and DJ Matty J of Broken Coast Productions.

The night started with a small crowd of emcees there for freestyle open mic and break dancers. Hydrogen ended up winning the $50 freestyle prize.

The crowd got quite bigger and by the end of the night it was packed! I was pretty exhausted, but at 3 am, I opted to continue on to Fredericton for a night's sleep at my parents place.

Unfortunately just as I was leaving Moncton, one of my headlights burnt out, making for a somewhat dark drive at times... As soon as I got to Fredericton it started to downpour! Did I ever sleep well though!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Day 93: Black Brook & Bras D'Or

Location: Sydney Mines, NS
Date: Sat, July 26

After 4 hours sleep, I was on the road from Glace Bay back to Sydney Mines. Rachelle & Levi packed up the car with beach stuff (and Parker), we picked up Nicki and headed to Cape Breton Highlands National Park with a destination of Black Brook.

Parker was one happy dog to be along for the trip!

Rachelle entertained us by playing the trumpet and bagpipes! :)

Rachelle & Nicki swore they saw whales, so we stopped to look, but didn't see any. I'm getting disappointed, that I still haven't seen a whale on this trip. I heard one, but didn't see it at Cape Spear!

Finally we made it to Black Brook in Ingonish. The day turned out to be beautiful and perfect for the beach!! The cold water hit Levi hard... haha. And Parker had a blast fetching sticks and digging on command!

I was introduced to Boogie Boarding. At first I didn't think it looked much fun, but after trying it, I had a blast... probably the most fun I've had on the whole trip! It was hard to catch the perfect wave, but when you did, it took you all the way into shore. There were lots of tumbles, laughs and near collisions.

We left the beach, and stopped at a nice spot for supper of hot dogs and sausages. Levi got so excited, he dropped a brick! :)

Then it was back to Sydney Mines... We got to take the Englishtown ferry again, but the currents were pretty strong, so it was looking pretty crooked!

I needed a nap! After that it was some partying with Nicki and her friends Laura, Courtney & Lisa. There was some drinking, some shots of Pimp Juice, some newfie dancing, some karaoke and some railing dancing. Then we headed to the Mist Tavern in Bras D'Or. Rapper Bush was in the house!

Finally I got a cab back and was in bed by 5 am!

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