Archive for ‘road trip’

March 30, 2012

Au Revoir MTL

We’ve got everything packed and ready to go, just a very few odds and ends left to chuck in a box. We learned after the last move to have aces things out of boxes as possible. The last move took way longer than we expected because we weren’t fully finished packing. We anticipate a bit of chaos tomorrow, but not nearly as chaotic as last time.

Tonight is our last night in Montreal. Part of me is sad, but the majority of me feels ready to go. The sadness part is that this adventure turned out to be a lot different than I expected. I turned out to react a lot differently than I thought I would. My anxiety was a lot higher, and my interests here were a lot different than I expected as well. In the end, even though I am a little sad things didn’t work out quite as expected, I learned a ton about myself at a very important time in my life. Some big lessons, some small lessons:

1) The Hubby and I don’t get sick of each other. We’ve spent 6 months with each other, with very scant contact with other friends and family, both working from home in a tiny 1-bedroom apartment. Close quarters, sometimes not being away from each other for 24 hours, with and at a certain point with some very significant financial stresses. We never once got angry at each other, and never felt like we needed the other out of our hair. It’s kind of unreal, but I feel really lucky.
2) Despite the above, I don’t do well without my family and friends. My anxiety has skyrocketed here, to the point where I’m suffering some health problems from it (stomach issues, sleep issues, etc). We have a very deep network of amazing people out west. Some of it I inherited at birth, some of it I gained through marriage, but a large part of that network the Hubby and I built through careful selection of awesome people, nurturing friendships, and joining of groups. We came here to see if we could create a new group like that. We did meet some cool people, no doubt, but our Tribe as we like to call them are really exceptional. We don’t just love having friends, we really love our specific friends. We don’t just love having family, we love OUR family.

3) I have growwed up. How the heck did that happen?! Part of coming here was to try and delay becoming an adult. Marriage felt adult enough, and I didn’t think I was quite ready to start saving for a house and kids. Montreal was supposed to be a distraction into that collegiate lifestyle: going to shows, hanging at bars, late nights, and restaurant food. But once we got here, I was far less inspired by it than I expected. I get tired of bars pretty quick. I am less interested in concerts and late nights on a regular basis. I would rather cook food for people than eat out all the time, partially because it’s fun and partially of the serious lack of gluten free dining in Montreal. I’m not as content going out drinking as I once was. Staying in and drinking with board games or instruments, video games or a hockey game is more enticing to me now. Also, things like walks in the park and hiking, visiting the Biodome, and Montreal’s family friendly festivals appealed to me way more than the club scene. I guess it’s time for that transition as I near the end of my 20s, but I didn’t expect it at all!

4) I don’t like being poor. This seems silly to say, because no one likes being poor. And it’s not that I can’t budget – being poor has actually taught me much better budgeting than I had before. The kind of complete paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle everyone experiences as a student, the not being able to afford much outside of the basic necessities, poor because you aren’t working enough. I don’t like it, and a new scene is not motivation enough for me to stick with it. In other words, money and a certain amount of frivolity and luxury is actually a value of mine. I hate admitting it, but I can’t just pretend I’m not that way.

5) A positive lesson: I like the cold! Everyone told me I’d hate the weather once I got bogged down in it. Once it wasn’t new. After the first few snows I’d hate it. It never happened. I know it was an easy winter, but the temperature was low enough that I got enough of a taste for cold. I found out I like it. I like -15. I don’t even mind -20. After -25, things get tough, but that’s because humans are not meant to be alive at those temperatures. When it drops that cold, the thing is, everything is dry. The air becomes crisp. The sun and cold air to me are uplifting. My mood skyrockets. It is the one thing I am not looking forward to about Vancouver. I’ve seen what it’s like when it doesn’t rain for 9 months, and I like it.

6) I belong on the West Coast This lesson is harder to explain than the others. In “San Diego Seranade”, Tom Waits has two separate lines that really hit home: I never knew the east coast until I moved to the west…I never knew my hometown till I stayed away too long. Something about being away has made me appreciate what home really is. I don’t really fit in over here. I feel like I’ve lost my centre. The west coast has a ton of thing I like. I like green things, mountains, salt water, fusion food, mid-century housing, cargo pants, and knee-high boots. I am polite and cheerful but a little aloof. I am very socially and politically liberal, I crave the beach, I pick up after my dog, and I like my city clean. I belong on the West Coast and in Vancouver in particular.

Tomorrow it’s packing everything into the trailer and a short drive to Ottawa. Then on to home!

February 21, 2012

February 21, 2012 – Some Links, More News

I have a few links to get out of the way, and then some big news.

  • Little Green Notebook reminds us of a great way to add subtle colour-punch to white interior doors.
  • The Hubby will definitely get his indoor climbing wall if we can get holds designed like this!
  • The Pasta-Free Runner shows us her home-cooked Valentine’s dinner – I will have to try her salmon rub! Sounds delicious!

Onto the news. Weekend before last, the Hubby and I had a bit of an evaluation of the state of life in Montreal. We had to make a call about how important it is for us to stay here, versus how much it is costing us, emotionally and financially, to stay. The Hubby has much more work in Vancouver than in Montreal, and my lack of French has made finding a job almost impossible. We had to acknowledge that, by staying in Montreal, we would be barely scraping by, not making enough money to actually enjoy the city.

Coming here, we acknowledged, was an experiment. We came, armed with some contract work, and planned to try and make things work. At first it seemed, with lots of work coming in from Vancouver, we would be able to do well here. Had that continued, we would have. But the contract work slowed to a trickle, and we weren’t able to find things here to supplement.

We will thus be heading back across the country to home, and we will be coming soon – April 1st. We are a touch disappointed, mostly that some of our travel plans won’t happen, and that our days in this beautiful bilingual city are numbered. I will miss the French most of all, I think. In the end, though, Vancouver and our friends and family there, are truly home. We always knew we had it great, and now we’ve discovered exactly how special our life there is.

We took our potential last trip to Ottawa this weekend – saw some sites, ate a Beaver Tail (my stomach will be in gluten-recovery for the next few days, but totally worth it), and hung out with Jm and his crew there (such wonderful people!). The weather was too warm to skate the canal, but it was nice for some good walks around the capital city.

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October 8, 2011

Days 9, 10, and 11

The good news is we’re finally out of the Prairies. The bad news is that the Prairies have take the wind out of our sails a bit. We’ve basically been packing camp, on the road, or unpacking camp for the last 6 days, pulling 10 hour days. We’re sick of driving. Our bodies are sore from being in the car for such long hours. We haven’t slept well in 2 days because the last 2 campsites we’ve stayed at have been near train tracks – and let me tell you, the Canadian Railroads are in what seems like constant use! We’ve been feeling isolated because of the lack of cell phone service (not something we expected to encounter).

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October 5, 2011

Day 8: Regina to Winnipeg

I don’t think you can fully comprehend the magnitude of the Prairies until you drive through them. If you live in the Pacific Northwest and hop in your car for 9 hours, you get to a place that is supremely different from where you started. If you go northeast 13 hours from Vancouver and you get a 90%-wonderful drive to Jasper. 12 hours from Seattle is San Francisco., the only part of which sucks is the boring stretch from Olympia to Portland. 13 hours from Portland is Salt Lake City, ad that drive even avoids the stretch in southwest Idaho. Well, 9 hours from Edmonton is Regina, and 9 hours from Regina is Winnipeg. And while the cities themselves are vastly different, the loooong, 17 hour stretches between the cities are exactly the same.

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October 5, 2011

Day 7: Lloydminister to Regina

Day 7 was the drive from Llyodminister to Regina, via Moose Jaw. The border of Saskatchewan and Alberta is Husky Oil territory. We ended up passing by a lot of oil fields, which were kind of eerie, and a giant smoking refinery plant just outside Llyodminister. The Husky Oil Company has their operations plant in Llyodminister as well, and it stands cold at the end of the city strip, all 1960s modern with a Bauhausian ominence.

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October 4, 2011

Photos from the mid-point

Geographically, we reach the midpoint of our trip tomorrow in Winnipeg, MB.  As far as time goes, we are also around the midway mark.  We hope to be rolling into Ottawa for Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday, which will put us in Montreal on Tuesday.

With that in mind, here are some of the nicer, less “hipsta”, non-iPhone photos! Sorry for the formatting (still getting used to WordPress, and it is past bedtime!). Click on the small version to see the larger version!

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October 3, 2011

Day 6: Edmonton to Lloydminister

Just pulled in to camp after Day 6 on the road. We left Edmonton this morning. Our first stop was in Glendon, at the 54th latitude, which makes it officially the furthest North the Hubby has ever been (I reached my northern-most milestone a long time ago, around Avola). Glendon is the home of a giant, 8 meter pierogie statue, which obviously made it worthy of a detour. It was also just in time for lunch, pierogies, of course!

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October 3, 2011

Day 4 & 5: Edmonton


It’s been a busy couple of days, first the drive from Jasper to Edmonton, then a walking tour of downtown Edmonton all day yesterday. We are currently leaving Edmonton via Wayne Gretzky Drive, which takes us past Rexall Centre, home of the Edmonton Oilers. Here’s a rundown of the last few days!

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September 30, 2011

Day 2: Kamloops to Jasper

Day two was the drive to Jasper National Park. Our first stop was Little Fort, where the signs on the highway promised us a UFO photo stand. Alas, it had been shut down. So we fueled up and continued on our way.

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September 29, 2011

Day 1: Kamloops

Only one day into the trip, and we’re already rethinking our timeline a bit. First of all, Uhaul gave us 13 days instead of or anticipated 11 days to get to Montreal. We intend to use every extra day we have!
Secondly, driving with a full truck and trailer is slow going! Our top speed is 80 km, which wouldn’t be so bad, except that uphill our speed is more like 50 to 60 km. It will be a long haul getting through the Rockies, but we had already decided to try and not drive more than 6 hours per day, so it should be fine.
We stayed in Kamloops with the Hubby’s childhood friend and his dog. It was nice to have a relaxing evening, play some crib, have a few beers, and decompress from a hectic day packing our life up. The Dahgs got along great and provided some good entertainment, although there were some disagreements over rawhide bones!
Today, Day 2, is the drive into the Rockies, to Jasper National Park. We’re leaving early enough, we should get there by the time the sun goes down. But we’ll see!