Jun 21, 2007

Are we in Canada yet?

As I was saying before, headed through Maine, and I believe at last stop we were in Portland.

The Maine coastline was nice, but I wanted to see inland Maine, since my perceptions of "Water Edge" are forever spoiled by driving up the Pacific Coast Highway a multibillion times and nothing can replace it (awwww). Nice people though, see?

Meaning it was onto Canada!

This required a jaunt through inland Maine, which likes to place arbitrary figures on the toll portions of the turnpike, thus ensuring you can never have exact change.

Inland Maine is gorgeous, but tends to feature sweeping landscapes that make it hard to find a focal point for a picture, particularly near the Vermont border, but for effort:

But then... what's this??


Okay, it looked like this:

But hey, my special effects were better than Alien Autopsy's. Take that, Fox! Can you tell yet that I like pictures of buildings? If that's not proof enough for you, we came across this awesome little town that's either in Vermont or New Hampshire, and I don't remember which. Predictably:

Man, New England sure knows how to do churches, eh? Though one of those is a museum.

So at some point, it was time to finally head to Canada. I would have taken a picture of the border but didn't want to get shot by customs, so resigned myself to the subterfuge of grabbing kitch from the souvenier shop on the way back. The road between the border and Montreal was pretty, but fairly empty, though I did love all the stop signs with Arrete written on them because I'm a doofus and stuff like that amuses me.

So, Montreal!!

Hey! WTF? Canada looks like New England!! I could have stayed home... how is anyone even supposed to know I'm *in* Canada?

All right, all right, that's pretty convincing. But how is anyone supposed to know it was *French* Canada?

Hoooookay... and naturally, I'm referring to the fact that some of the fliers are in French and not at all to the fact that the scene looks like an odd addition to a French Canadian circus whose name I can't spell and can't be bothered to look up. The rouge is a nice touch though. Aren't pipers supposed to wear traditional outfits? Moving on.

Fortunately, Montreal (too lazy for the accent) gave me an opportunity to practice a language I'm always trying to increase my aptitude in: Spanish. Yeah, I was surprised too, but I used it to negotiate for a cd of some excellent music being played on the street featuring a piper (different kind than the one above) and a cute little song called "Amigo".

Actually, I loved Montreal, we got there during a huge street fair, which was massively cool, and it's a complete melting pot of a thousand different cultures and styles, and seems to be tri or quadlingual. I was scared when I went there because my knowledge of French is nowhere near passable at anything except asking where the bathroom is, but it turned out to be relatively unnecessary, so I didn't have to play ugly American by making my point the only way people in other countries can understand: by speaking loudly, slowly and if the recipient is an idiot. Mwa ha!

The street fair:

This was the main stage and along that street (which was closed to street traffic), and the entire street was lined with tented merchants, outdoor cafes, music, good smells, good sights. I'd have had more pictures of it, but trying to take pictures, sans tripod, of tons of people partying at night really sucks.

After a nice meal of elk steaks, and the dog getting to walk on that sweet sweet French Canadian pavement, it was time to go... or so I thought.

As I discovered, the same strategy I employ to get out of San Francisco works for Montreal as well. If you are patient and have nowhere you need to be, drive around aimlessly until you see a sign for a freeway. Any freeway. That's right, folks, I navigated around Montreal, finding a street fair and numerous groovy stuff AND got out again all with only a map of the United States that included a few freeway continuations into Canada and a lot of luck.

Of course, that luck turned into a scenic view through Old Montreal which I'd meant to see, but didn't think I'd be able to find. Nothing says awesome like creeping along the narrowest streets I've ever seen, surrounded by things that are pretty, while stuck behind, you guessed it, a horse and buggy while driving, at some points, on cobblestones! It's just like how the Romans used to drive their cheap Korean cars!

I wanted to take a different route back than the one I came in on, and that got a little scary, because if I thought the route in was deserted, it PALED in comparison to the one going back. I cannot understand why a map of the United States, which has limited numbers of roads it can put on there, would mark what is, at times, a two lane highway going through nowhere featuring gas stations that close at 8, tule fog, and no light! And since my gas gauge was a bit low and I had no idea how far it was until I could rectify the situation, that had my knuckles a little white. Darn Canadians...

I crossed back across the border (Oh, and going in, they wouldn't stamp my passport; what up? I thought one of the only benefits of tyrannical and incompetent homeland security was that I got to get stamps for countries I previously could wander in and out of unchecked??) around midnight, which I thought would get me strip searched, but the guy just waved me on. Woo hoo!!! Now I can go back in safely with the 10 million in sweet Canadian diamonds! Er... or a tshirt, some maple sugar candy (I know it's not really uniquely "Canadian"; I just love the stuff), postcards and other things to bore my friends and family with.

Was planning on spending Sunday in the White Mountains, but discovered I'd planned this little shindig when the entirety of Vermont and New Hampshire had graduation... and I had a dog in the car... this translated to no motels. Or hotels. Anywhere. Even ones that didn't take pets. I had a lead at one place where after I said that the dog could sleep in the car since she had ONE room left and allowed no pets; I just needed a place, first insisted that I park where she could SEE the car since I was clearly going to sneak him into her room at first opportunity even though I didn't have to tell her I had a dog in the first place, and then, as someone else came in behind me, gave the room to him and said she "couldn't have a dog on the property", otherwise known as an uber-bitch. I'm hoping, that as a favor by the universe, an entire pack of dogs muscles their way into her home and soaks her mattress in urine, but I'm not vindictive or anything about having to drive until 6 in the morning because there were no other places for any price. Not at all. So I went home. No white mountains for me!!! But I recovered Sunday and did surgery Monday, which was awesome! So you'll hear about that later.


Anonymous said...

i'm glad you had a wonderful trip! hehe! the pack of dogs going visiting! and the piper!

waiting patiently to hear about surgert!

Jean said...

"Arret", not "Arrete" :)

Nice to read about my city from a visitor's point of view. We can be a little interesting after all.