Rules of the Road

In the last few years, I’ve done quite a bit of travel, particularly through the USA. In both 2013 and 2014 myself and three friends (two the same both times, one different) travelled for about two weeks at a time through the USA. These are not your run of the mill “oh lets drive between two states!” road trips. No, we cover thousands of miles, multiple states and we don’t stop much. If you really want to immerse yourself in local culture, I don’t really recommend this as a trip, however, if you want to see a little bit of everything in a short period of time, do it up! Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up through my travels, some are more cliched than others! 

1. Pee when you can

You might laugh at that one, but believe me it’s not overrated. When you’re on a back road in the middle of Virginia and you didn’t pee at the last gas station because you “didn’t need to” you’ll regret not taking this advice. When anyone in your group wants to stop, hit up the nearest bathroom, no matter how sketchy it is, your body will thank you.

2. Choose good travel companions

It’s no good to travel with people who are not roughly on the same page as you are. If your buddy is into 5 star hotels, while you prefer a low budget motel, common sense should tell you it’s probably not going to end well. When we travel, we tend to go the mid-range route. Lots of Holiday Inns, Best Westerns, Hampton Inns, etc. Not exactly high end but very clean, comfortable and budget friendly.

3. The route untravelled is sometimes the best route

The big, popular attractions are popular with good reason, they’re generally informative and fun but they are exactly what I just stated – popular. I’ve stood on top of the CN tower, I’ve toured stadiums, went to hockey games, etc. But some of the best nights I’ve had on the road are the ones you have to look hard to find. We spend a night last year in the middle of the Mississippi Delta, at the Tallahatchie Flats in Greenwood. They are little repurposed servant cottages and they are just spectacular. Sitting out on the little deck that night, listening to old blues music and taking in the sounds of the wildlife, was one of the best nights I’ve had, period.

4. Pack wisely

Even when we’ve rented an SUV to contain all our gear, it’s still a tight squeeze for four people plus luggage. I’m guilty of being a horrible,horrible over-packer, but as long as you stay respectful of space, it’s okay (ie. don’t take 2 carry ons, one huge bag and a backpack, do your best to stay confined).

5. Plan, but don’t over plan

When we road trip, we always know where we will be staying each night. There’s a bit of comfort in knowing that your hotel is secure, you don’t have to worry about things being booked up or ending up in a shady part of time. That being said, it’s not very fun to have things planned down to the minute either.  For instance, when we were in Dallas last summer, we knew we wanted to visit the state fair and that’s about it. It takes some of the fun away to have every detail planned, sometimes you can find fun things when you show up. For example we once discovered a chain restaurant from our province had a franchise in Williamsburg, Virginia, it was so random and weird that we HAD to eat there.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Being somewhat shy myself, I find this a had ‘rule’ to adhere to.  However, my pal Shane, does not. Having someone with you who doesn’t mind talking to a stranger and asking how to get to a particular place is a great asset to have. And, you know what? You’ll find that most people are very, very nice and will go out of their way to help you. Despite what stereotypes may be out there, I’ve particularly found Americans to always be very sweet and kind, and willing to help out a poor lost Canadian (like the time when we had to embarrassingly ask “excuse me, is this the White House?”)

7. Embrace your local atmosphere

If you in Georgia, order up some sweet tea in a restaurant, if your in New Orleans, yes, or the beignets. It might sound cliched, but places are experts on things for a reason!

I love the thrill of discovering new places and trying new things, and I highly encourage all of you to try a road trip at least once. Now that I’ve started, all I want to do is explore the open roads. It’s looking like my next trip will be jaunt through Nevada and California early in 2016 and I already can’t wait.

Weather Misery

It’s no secret that the weather where I’m from isn’t always the best. In the past we’ve been known to have months that were commonly referred to as “Juneuary” and “Fogust”. This year, however, is a special kind of hell. It’s currently the 21st of July and we’ve seen a total of THREE days that have reached 20C so far this summer. THREE. The high arctic has even been warmer than we are.  Check out this extended forecast for the next week and please feel free to weep with me:

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Yeah, that’s right. You see that daytime HIGH on Saturday? Nine freaking degrees. Compound this shitty weather with the fact that our main airport is undergoing renovations and no flights can get in/out if the weather is anything less than ideal, and you’ve got one pissed off population.

Obviously, there’s nothing anyone can do about the weather issues. But when you live somewhere that generally only gets 2-3 months of decent weather a year, it’s depressing to a have a full month that feels just as cold as October.

Please send warm vibes that it changes soon, and socks, lots of socks.

Oh, Canada

As today is the 148th birthday of Canada (I know this offhand as its my mother’s age plus 100 years, sorry to out your nearly-age, mudder).  In honour of this occasion, I thought I’d take a few minutes to reflect on why I am indeed a proud Canadian.

1. I love the fact that you can walk down the street of nearly any major Canadian city and see people that look so very different yet are all very Canadian.  You cannot make the assumption that just because someone is not Caucasian that they are not Canadian.  We literally come from every size, coluor, walk of life, etc and that is definitely something to proud of.

2, I also love the pride you see on Canada Day when you see new citizens being sworn in.  They are so, so happy to call themselves Canadian and if they feel that warm and fuzzy, why can’t I?

3. The Motto of the United States is “In God We Trust” the Motto of Canada is “From Sea to Sea.” I think that says a lot about us as a people.

4. I enjoy that we don’t go to war with other countries – we peace keep and support, but never initiate.

5. For the most part, we are mostly a very liberal population.  Our gay rights are the most liberal of all the Americas and we passed the bill for legalization of gay marriage without much fanfare.  Unlike some other countries we can think of…

6. The right to freely choose our leaders, no matter how crappy they are. This is a right I think we often take for granted as we don’t realize how many people out there still cannot do this.

7. We are unashamed to be who we are.  Canada is the brunt of many an international joke, but say what you want – we take everything in stride.

8. We unabashedly love our hockey.  If you do the adjusted math, more of the population watches the Stanley Cup finals than those who watch the Super Bowl in the United States.  The annual World Junior Championships are a Christmas tradition in many households and I don’t know anyone who cannot name at least all the Canadian hockey teams.

9. Safety. Today I spent the day outside – walking with friends, visiting, eating in restaurants and watching fireworks and never once did I feel scared or threatened in any way, shape form. My only ‘fear’ was that I was to get bitten to death by mosquitos while I was watching the fireplace.

10.  Green space, fresh air, mountains, valleys, oceans, lakes and ponds.  Nature is abundant and mostly well protected in this vast land.

In short, we are a huge county with a relatively small population who are fiercely proud of where we are from.  I shall personally celebrated today by wearing red and indulging in a few Canadian made beers. Cheers to another good 148 years.