I've always wanted to see what a rainstorm looks like from the outside, and I finally did, twice; once driving across Manitoba the first night we got out of Ontario, a cloud smearing downwards in a rather disappointing way, but Joy assured me that was rain and she was right. The flight back was better; I could see almost a full circle rainbow as we passed over the cloud that was raining, and the rain looked much better from above. It helped that I was listening to the end of Drums and Guns
; for some songs I think the slowly passing, almost-static view out of a plane window would make a good video, and "Violent Past" definitely qualifies.
It was, of course, a very long car trip, made slightly longer by the fact that Joy had family to visit the first few days. Sunday we woke up early, got going by the appropriate time (read: too early for me), and headed up to North Bay to see Joy's brother Bryan, before stopping at her dad's place in Sudbury for the night. Monday we headed over to Sault Ste. Marie (the Canadian one) to visit her brother Shane and some old friends of hers who kindly provided supper (as did her dad the night before), and then Tuesday we made it to Thunder Bay in one of the worse days of driving we had. The next morning more than made up for it, as minimal traffic and swathes of gorgeous yet dangerous fog made the stretch from Thunder Bay to Wawa one of my favourites. We made it to Portage la Prairie in Manitoba, had disgustingly greasy Pizza Hut to celebrate (we mostly stayed away from chains) and then had our most successful day, booting it from Manitoba to Alberta (Medicine Hat) in record time (~950 km, the most we tackled in a day) at a moderate 130. That was a lot of fun to drive, but of course boring to not-drive for; even people as talkative as Joy and I were out of words by the praries (they make your brain go slower, we swear) and there's not a whole lot to look at once you adjust. So we basically skipped Saskatchewan.
Friday was frustrating; after leaving Medicine Hat and hitting insane traffic after Calgary, we got bogged down in BC just because it felt like we were going so much slower than before. We stopped in Revelstoke for the night, which was lovely, and the next day pushed on to Vancouver. Those last three days were easier as we gained an hour a day, but we were still pretty exhausted (nights were basically getting dinner and then either swimming in the hotel pool briefly, catching a movie (Ratatouille
, about as good as you'd expect) and then Joy passing out while I tried to find somewhere to read for a bit. I cracked Neal Stephenson's epic The System of the World
(the closing volume to his even more epic Baroque Cycle) at Joy's dad's house the first night and by the time I flew back I was around 100 pages from finishing it (it's around 900, and in paperback consists of three volumes, so I read two-and-a-half 'normal' novels, really). Once we got to Vancouver and Joy's new apartment (nice, if a bit small for two people!) we hied ourselves to the Ikea in Coquitlam for her to get a mattress, sofa and other essentials. The sofa etc were being delivered, but at least we had something to sleep on.
Sunday her cat Zombie was being flown in, and getting to and from the airport and picking up cat supplies was a day in itself, to say nothing of how terrified the poor guy was when Joy got him home (this would be just after I find out Ben has gotten a cat while I'm gone; luckily, Frank is a pretty wonderful cat and I like the species in the first place). That was also the night we went to see Live Free or Die Hard
(fuckin' a), and I ate what was apparently award-winning and definitely delicious sushi.
Monday we spent playing Half Life 2
waiting for Ikea to arrive, then Joy realised she needed a screwdriver so we made a supply run that took a couple of hours. Then I left Joy to her desiredly solitary labours (her reasoning being that people assembling Ikea furniture together fight about it, which I believe to be true; we got along quite well for the duration, to be honest, although of course a few odd spots of tension among two people walled up together in various small boxes is to be expected) which took more hours, before we headed out for Denny's in order to be able to eat before sleeping (my childhood, Florida memory holds up: Great milkshakes, shame about the food). Then it was 4 1/2 hours of sleep for me, a groggy drive through empty streets, the airline confiscating my incredibly harmless Swiss Army mini-Knife
(I know, I know - if I hadn't been so zonked from lack of sleep I would have put it in my luggage and I wouldn't have had to pay $10 to get it shipped; if it never gets here I think I want this one
anyways), me realising I forgot my very interesting magazine in BC (I forget the name, but it was full of trivia and interesting facts and brain teasers, that sort of thing; I hope Joy still has it), and then four hours over Canada (well, the states mostly) and then back into the bosom of my family, my province, my apartment.
Joy and I switched off on choosing albums to listen to, and here's what my half way (in no real order):
Belle & Sebastian – Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant
Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited
Elvis Costello – Armed Forces
The Good, the Bad & the Queen – S/T
Interpol – Turn On the Bright Lights
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
New Order – Substance
Phoenix – It's Never Been Like That
Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense
Tamas Wells – A Plea en Vendredi
Van Morrison – His Band and the Street Choir
The Walkmen – A Hundred Miles Off
Blue Rodeo – Five Days in July
David Bowie – Low/”Heroes”
(vocal tracks only, out of deference to my companion)
The Delgados – The Great Eastern
Horse Feathers – Words Are Dead
Hot Chip – The Warning
Idlewild – 100 Broken Windows
Maximo Park – Our Earthly Pleasures
The National – Boxer
Nick Drake – Way to Blue
Rachel Kiel – Table Manners
Paul Simon - The Rhythm of the Saints
Mountain Goats - Zopilote Machine
(bought in Medicine Hat for cheap)
Teenage Fanclub - Grand Prix
And on the plane back I fit inThe National - AlligatorLeonard Cohen - New Skin For the Old CeremonyThe New Pornographers – Twin CinemaLow - Drums and Guns
It was a good trip, if particularly exhausting, and I'm glad we did it. Plus, coupled with a trip I took with my family when I was a kid, in a van out to P.E.I., I have now driven or been driving across the length of Canada and at least dipped my hand into both oceans. That's kind of cool. I worked the day after I got back, and I've been exceptionally busy between girlfriend and job and, err, the Lego Star Wars video game, but hopefully things will return to normal now.