Oh sweet fast internet, I thought I'd lost you...
Okay, so bear with me here, this is going to be a big one. Much to fill you in on, pictures to share with you, experiences to elaborate on etc etc.
First things first, Noel's Adventures have now been almost fully updated at Adventures of a Man and His Hat (my non travel blog for those not in the know), which can be found here: http://daveandhishat.blogspot.com
So we are now in Calgary on the final leg of our journey. Its how I would imagine a cold Texas to look like. (It IS the rodeo centre of Canada). It is also -5 degrees, and snowing. Different snow too. All granular, like salt, or sugar. You couldn't make a snowball out of it. We're here until the 30th before we hit the slopes near Banff, so Dad can give me the tour of what was home some 33 years ago. 'Everything's changed' he keeps muttering...
I hope your Christmasses finished up well! It was different for us this year, but no less enjoyable. Once we arose from our sensory deprevation chamber (what the basement spare bedroom has been dubbed at Warkworth...) it was go go go! Lights, food, cameras, toys, giggles, laughs, alcohol and away it went! We got our white Christmas eventually (late Xmas Night/Boxing Day), ate a real cooked turkey (thanks again Bill and Jane for the hospitality), tasted the wickedest baked brie dish in existence, watched football (I could live this life) and had pancakes with real locally produced maple syrup. We now have full stomachs, and probably never need to eat again - I think I now know how beers go through hibernation. But it was oh so worth it... And then before you know it, your on the train again and zooming across the country side.
There are some unique Christmas conditions Canada seems to revel in at Christmas time - including their facsination with JUNIOR world hockey on TV (we're talking 15-16 year olds here folks), which Canada has won twice. (As an aside, Canada's telecommunications company's also share with ours a desire to sell us their product using animals. What. Is. With. That. Are we going to wake up one day and go "Hmmm. That Beaver seems like he is getting a lot of use out of that new motorola. Maybe I should follow his lead..." ?!?!?!?!?!).
But no, its post-christmas where the traditions really kick in, most importantly Boxing WEEK (we Australians are so weak, only lasting a day) and top of the list, REGIFTING. It's not that the concept is completely alien to me, more so that it reaches epic proportions to rival that of a national sport! "Oh, I'll just regift that..." or "If you don't like it, feel free to regift it" are common phrases just bandied about. Amazing. So myself, and two Ottawa students we shared our train ride to Toronto with have decided we should go the whole hog and have RE-CHRISTMAS! Yes, lets let everyone take stock of their supposed crap gifts for a month after December 25, and then just CUT SICK and barter, swap, give, flog, and generally throw away our unwanted treasures. Who's with me? I'm pretty sure I can get Hallmark on the bandwagon for this one...
We also had the whistle-stop tour of Toronto thanks to Greer and David; saw the tower, past the Air Canada centre, visited the arty/bohemian end of town, visited the Bovine Sex Club. You know, the usual places to go. (For further explanation, on BSC, see below. :D Thanks David, Greer and Darryl!)
Seen a few other interesting things. Got my first real glimpse at one of Canada's famous 'Great Lakes', namely, Lake Ontario. Yes, it's quite great in its size. Very large. You turn the corner and suddenly its as if you are looking at the ocean.
You know, I could have sworn there was more to fill you in on. There probably is. I'll check my journal and update it all again tomorrow.
Now, onto the fly-on-the-wall observations that even Borat would appreciate.
The 'We Would Have/Should Have Been There' Award: Us. We missed what 90 000 others at the MCG saw on the Boxing Day tradition which is Test Match Cricket. In his final home test, Warney took 5 to be the first man to pass 700. Sure, we wouldn't give away this trip for the world, but.....
Question Of The Day: Posed by the straight-shootin' 'Macleans' magazine. In nice, large, white letters it asked "Why Do We Dress Our Daughters Like Skanks?" And then we hopped on the plane and watched Little Miss Sunshine. It all fits so perfectly...
Magazine Of The Day: Because 'Macleans' couldn't win it twice, and I thought Sean-Bad would get a kick out of this mags slogan. Its BLACKMEN: For Strong, Caring, Positive Brothers! (Don't google it. You're probably likely to wind up with some unsavoury images...)
Sports League You've Never Heard Of: AA Midget Hockey. Yup, it's big.
The 'I Can't Believe He Died When My Back Was Turned' Award: James Brown. You don't watch the news for 48 hours or so and THAT happens. Man, was that guy talented or what? What right did he have to go dying on me when I was yet to finish hearing his full back catalogue?! RIP Godfather of Soul.
Interesting Interpretation Of The Day: Mega-popular TV show CSI loses something in translation when watched in Montreal I think. There, its known as Les Experts.
Nickname I'd Rather Wish I Hadn't Earnt: The Tummy Tickler. I mean, you go out of your way to keep a dog happy and satisfied, and this is what happens. Wait. I didn't mean it like that...
Great Names For Restraunts and Bars: In Montreal, I saw 'Thai Pot'. In Toronto we visited the 'Shanghai Cowgirl' diner, and explored the 'Bovine Sex Club', one of the city's finest rock n roll venues which has been going strong for 16 years. A fair effort. (Thanks for the tees, Darryl!)
Call Of The Day: After being told quite firmly that Santa had come and delivered goodies in stockings to the household, Dad uttered the immortal words 'Everything looks good in stockings...'
Interview Of The Day: At the sidelines of the Miami Dolphins v NY Jets NFL game, a rather ernest boundary rider had tracked down Venus and Serena Williams and was trying in vain to link their tennis prowess to football. It wasn't going well. Then she came up with this gem: "You two have had a few injuries of recent times, but these guys on the field certainly put their bodies through a lot. Can you even imagine what its like to have ten 300 pound defenders pounding you?" Pause. Silence. Uh, yeah, next question?
Oh dear, this blog has taken an interesting turn. Let's clean it up with some piccies!
First off, Whistler. Yes, this is Whistler PEAK. Yes it really was that close...
...and Daniel, this is how soft the snow was.
This is one of the black runs at Mont Gabriel in the Laurentians. I think it might be double black without the snow...
Bison. Their cute and taste nice. This the before shot (and I think you know what's coming...)
...and this is the after shot, and the cleanest one I could find on my camera. SELF CENSORSHIP!
Moving on to something clean and wholesome - Beer Openers! Historical artifacts at the Church-Key Brewery in Campbelford, Ontario.
The obligatory family shot. Dad and I at Haleys Falls, Ontario, Christmas Eve. I don't care that the thing is man made, it flows fast!
And self portrait, Christmas Day, living it up in the finest red Mountie tradition.
We got our white Christmas too! Sure, it wasn't 200 odd centimetres at Banff, but it'll do.