The Journey – Part 2. ‘Crossing over’

Hi Bloggers,

Since I last updated you, I spent two days on the road. I left the Des Moines area a bit later than I had planned, with a workout being done and some packing up. I left Snoop Doggs (Sally D) with J Bird and her family, and took to the road. Glad to report that she is getting lots of love in that household with J Birds kids and two other resident dogs – Gus ‘the muss’ and ‘Loco’ Bella (she really is loco).

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Give me some down time and a few loose notes in the dollar store, and this is what you get – a defector….. Please don’t be alarmed I am NOT renouncing my awesome Canadian and Australian Citizenships!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, how was the drive out of Iowa? Hmmm. Um, long, fairly boring really. Interstate highways are fast and efficient, but they generally lack much character. The I80/I90  is a big ribbon of bitumen that runs across the Midwest from Nebraska to the east coast. It’s full of trucks and truck stops, and truckers, and regular people driving across this big continent.

I listened to the radio and in this part of the world there are two very prominent types of radio: country music, and Christian radio. Actually, this may be the ONLY radio in some parts!

The country music all tends to sound kind of the same – about 4 themes involving these key words: pick up truck, girl, tight jeans, drink/drinking, god, my daddy, dirt road, America. There’s only about 3 melody types to go with it too. The alter ego is the female country lyric, which are generally two types: sweet and in love (or heartbroken), or kind of angry and assertive ‘confident woman’ types.

I’m pretty sure you could bust out a country melody (any of the three versions) and fit these words to it, in any particular order and you would have a bonefide Nashville hit:

“girl I seen you sitting there, looking way too good in your tight jeans…

got to get myself another drink….

cause the god I pray to knows I’m doin’ the best I can…

like my daddy showed me how…. 

we go heading down the dirt road …. how we do it in ‘merica. …. 

Boom. No joke this shit is that predictable!!

(disclaimer, apologies to any country music fans or Christians my comments may have offended)… but its true!

Of course America is a great place to explore and it would be wrong to label states as dull or boring – you really need to get off the interstate to explore the back roads – while that is a lot of fun, on this trip, I really need to make the miles. Getting away a bit late put me behind the 8 ball to make my planned destination for the night – Toledo Ohio.

I got on the I80 east and buzzed along, with some mandatory stops at gas stations etc. At about the evening (it comes early in mid winter) I bypassed Chicago. The traffic was heavy and some mist was thrown up from the melted snow and ice on the road. At some point, the I80 ‘became’ the I94. I hadn’t seen a sign for Toledo, but was seeing signs for Detroit. It seems that after Chi town I took an inadvertent change onto I94 – not massively out of way, but a bit further than I needed to go to get to Toledo.

After consulting my map I reckon I had it worked out. I would skim by Ann Arbor and head south and that would take me right in to Toledo. I had booked a motel and I knew it was on the I80 in Toledo, so I had somewhere to aim for.

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This morning I headed off reasonably early… 

It was getting ridiculously late (past midnight) as I headed south to Toledo. I found myself entering the city from the north, and a confusing spaghetti of ramps and curves for different freeways appears.

The thing about the American road system is that it deals primarily in route numbers, rather than destination names. Not always the case because you find reference to places on a lot of signs, but it is extremely confusing to go through this junction and that junction, and that turn off or whatever, and suddenly you see 285, or I29 east or whatever, without any reference for what city or even what direction they go in. Its terribly confusing.

So I got lost, and got some direction from a hotel reception clerk. Without reproducing the story, lets just say that I drove around for an hour. I even saw the damn motel! I couldn’t pull off the turnpike and it sent me 10 miles out of the city before I could reconnect with a road coming back in. It was about 1.30 am before I could actually get into the motel. Damn you American freeway system!!! By the end of the day, I had crossed from Iowa, into Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.

So this morning I took off early enough. Crossing from Ohio, into Pennsylvania, and New York state.

I went into Buffalo, and being so close to the Niagara Falls, I just had to take the opportunity to go and see it!

After that it was back on the road, and I took the opportunity to drive along side lake Ontario. There are some lovely houses and spots along that coast. Some awesome back decks that look out of the massive expanse of blue lake – it disappears somewhere way over the horizon. Of course I got lost again. The roads in that area are a confusing maze and again, not much in the way of town signs for direction but you can find a 198 east or whatever that isn’t even shown on my map!

 

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Today I covered this part of my journey.

 

I’ve stopped just short of my target of Syracuse, NY. Tomorrow, more of the same madness!

 

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Niagara Falls !!! 

 

 

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The Journey – Part 1

I am in Iowa. Finally.

Friday was a scramble of removalist loading things, cleaning bathrooms and fridges, downsizing clothing and bagging stuff for the clothes recycling centre. I had to get my phone sorted out because the battery was going flat after a very short time of charging. I had to put together some travel bags for my trip and the time I won’t have all my household goods in my new place. There was some other stuff to do, but among all that it was really just wait for the furniture and stuff to get put into trucks so I could get on the road. 

I left Saskatoon at about 7 pm or so. It was cold, windy, dark; winter in Saskatchewan to be more descriptive. I had a very long drive ahead of me. I picked up a map of the United States just before leaving. I ended up taking the dog with me because one friend who said she would take dog did not come by to pick her up. I have plan B for the dog so I wasn’t worried, and I could really use the company anyway.

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Snoop dogs: co-pilot, navigator and bestie! 

I drove south to Regina, about 3 hours. I passed through town and got on the highway south. At some point, maybe 10.30pm or so I was feeling tired, and I needed a rest. I had packed a pillow and blanket. I pulled into the back streets in a small prairie town and parked the car. I got out to give the dog a run and was buffeted by a bitter cold wind. Getting back in the car I lowered the driver seat and, with a toque (beanie, hat) on and gloves, with winter jacket on, I set up for a roadside sleep.

 

I drifted in and out of light sleep, before falling asleep proper for a little while. I had set my clock alarm for an hour. I woke 3 minutes before that and then got on the road again. I benefited from the sleep but did not feel exactly ‘fresh.’ My next goal was the border. I got there about 1.30 am. A border guard asked me a few routine questions, and I was on my way again. 

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Options… 

 

I drove into North Dakota. At some point I needed fuel and found a gas station. The lights were on but there was no one at the store. Damn! I thought, realising that that pumps would likely be off, and I was essentially stranded, with not enough fuel to get to the next town, and no where else to fuel up. I drove off to the side and allowed the dog to run for a while. Soon after a guy turned up at the pumps. I was going to go over and see if he was able to fuel up. Sure enough, he was putting gas in his car, and I only then realised that even though the store was closed, you can use your credit card in the pumps and they operate! (duh! and thank goodness!!!).

I continued down to Minot, ND. My eyes were drooping, I could hardly keep them open. Once in a while I would catch myself drifting out of the lane. I needed to sleep, as I was a danger to myself and other road users! It was about 4.30 am by now. I found a turn off that entered a restaurant/mall type area. I found a place in behind a fast food joint that was closed. I again set myself up with pillow and blanket. This time I slept hard – like totally checking out to somewhere else. It was a good catch up sleep and I woke about an hour later.

I got going and saw a sign for Bismark (south) which I wanted to take, and the Air Force base. I continued to drive. I was so tired. I just couldn’t get it together, feeling all groggy etc. About a half an hour up the road, in some deserted location, I pulled over and yet again set myself up for a nap. I got that done, then kept driving. I ended up at a junction and realised much to my disappointment, that I had been driving north! Fek.

I checked my map, and headed back the way I came. 37 miles, shit. Back track, back in to Minot. I swear I drove right around the whole town then came back to the same fucking intersection – past the place I first stop to sleep etc. That was two hours before! I was pretty upset about that. I got some McDonalds breakfast, and got on the road, the right way! img_0007.jpg

The next whole day was spent driving through the Dakotas, North and South, and into Nebraska, then Iowa. There’s not much to show in the way of nice scenery. It’s pretty bland really, (sorry ND and SD). Just lots of snow and highway. At least in the day time I could drive and feel relatively awake.

Eventually, as night came again, I entered Iowa. I still had some 4 or 5 hours to go to make it to my first leg of my journey stop, near Des Moines.

After lots of coffee, many refuelling stops, way too many occasions of nodding off, losing focus, and correcting my steering, I had arrived!

I just drove 2,065km in just over 24 hours. Holy shit!

 

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My journey so far.. 

 

 

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Orange highlighter shows my planned route from Saskatoon to Fredericton. 

 

Ramble On

Hi Bloggers,

So the time has come. The removalist packers were in today. This is happening – now! I went to eat tonight and despite having food in the freezer and fridge, I have no cutlery, or knives and forks. I found myself heating up a frozen veggie packet in the micro wave and a frozen pizza. I don’t even have a tray for the pizza!

I ate by hand, opening the veggie packet up a bit and shoveling into my mouth with fingers. It felt mildly stupid and a bit primal. I had to cut the pizza with my cheap knock off leatherman tool. At least you can feel relatively normal eating pizza by hand.

Tomorrow, the delivery truck will arrive early, and my furniture will begin it’s cross country journey to the Eastern Provinces. I found a place to live last week – a Victorian era two bedroom apartment that used to operate as a lawyers office, and more recently as a quilt shop. It’s got lots of character and history.

I talked to the T bird by phone tonight, it seems we might finally be moving towards making things amicable, but we will wait and see how things pan out. I also talked to my squids. It was nice to hear their voices. Sometimes, that’s enough, that’s all I need.

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I’m gonna miss you, sweetheart. Got a kiss for Daddy? Don’t be a teaser!

 

So snoop dogs, or ‘Sally D’ as I like to call her can’t come and live with me. I will be sad to give her up but I won’t be living in a house with a yard so I am finding her a home locally. She’s a real sweetheart. The removalist packers were all like ‘oh you’re giving your dog up? I’d love to take her… etc’ She melts every heart that she meets.

 

 

 

 

Ramble on – Led Zeppelin

Leaves are falling all around
It’s time I was on my way
Thanks to you I’m much obliged
For such a pleasant stay
But now it’s time for me to go
The autumn moon lights my way
For now I smell the rain
And with it pain
And it’s headed my way

Ah, sometimes I grow so tired
But I know I’ve got one thing I got to do

Ramble on
And now’s the time, the time is now
To sing my song
I’m goin’ ’round the world, I got to find my girl
On my way
I’ve been this way ten years to the day
Ramble on
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams

 

Opening up… tears in the basilica. High and Dry.

Hi Bloggers,

I don’t cry often, but when I do its normally a big kind of relief. With all the changes in my life I have felt a whole spectrum of emotions – from resentment, to guilt, to shame, to embarrassment, to anger, to love, to lust, to feeling inspired, energetic and optimistic, to the lowest lows I have experienced, such that I have been genuinely fearful for what I might do such was the feeling of rejection and hopelessness.

But don’t worry – this is not a helpless, depressing post, it’s one of release. Healthy release! 

There is no one singular theme here, its been an ups and downs kind of a ride. In short, I feel more open, more myself, and more content at this point than I have in years;  even if it has essentially cost me my job, contact with my children, a lot of money, and a tremendous amount of turmoil.

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In my time in Montreal, I visited the Basilique Marie-Reine-Du-Monde. From the outside it’s impressive, but not really beautiful, at least in the way I like. On the inside, it’s simply magnificent. High ceilings, paintings in every corner and ceiling space, carved columns, and statues. I’m not particularly religious, but I was really taken by the impressive interior. There is a main area where the priests deliver the sermons, and its a four column masterpiece of sculpting and design.

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I stayed for the service, ate the flesh of Christ, and took a moment to take it all in. I was overcome by the beauty of this place, and the sense of loneliness I experienced in that moment. I shed a few tears, then took a seat on one of the side pulpits. That’s where I really opened up. I sobbed. For a good long while. The nice thing about churches is that people leave you alone, to grieve or worship or do what you need to do. I probably wept for a good 10 minutes there.

I let my tears fall – a lot of them, onto the marbled floor at my feet. It felt good, knowing that a part of me, would be left there in Montreal, in that sacred space. 

Afterwards I took a candle lighting stick and lit two candles. I wept openly. Some other people were doing their own thing – lighting candles or whatever. I found an enormous freedom in letting it out, and I was not ashamed to cry openly.

Now I have the feeling of having resolved some of the immediate issues in my life. I feel like the storm has passed, somewhat. I really needed to let it all out, and the Basilica was the ideal place to allow myself that space.

If there were a themesong for this blogpost, it would be High and Dry by Radiohead. Not really because I feel left high and dry so much as its just poetic and beautiful, because its Radiohead. 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review – Unfu*k Yourself – Gary John Bishop

Hi Readers,

I occasionally trawl the bookstands, and this one jumped out at me purely because of the title. The first time I saw it I thought it looked good, but it was a little ‘gimicky’ and I didn’t want to part with the cash at that time.

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So on a recent two-leg plane journey I caved in and bought it, as I was mostly done reading my other books I have at the moment.

In summary, I’d say that this is a good book. The author is really trying to shake us out of our slumber. Without going into verbatim, I will summarise some of the key messages, that really stuck out with me. I took a pen and made notes after each chapter:

  1. You mind is always talking to you, constantly, and if that dialogue is full of negative bullshit then your subconscious is putting this stuff out or receiving it or whatever and you essentially become the negative portrayal of your thoughts, so become aware of that dialogue, turn that dialogue around and empower yourself to change the message you are giving, er, receiving, to, er, yourself. I know seems crazy but I get it. Try it, please. Try it now!
  2. You have the life that you are willing to put up with. Whether that’s a shitty relationship, no money, stalled career, DUI charge or whatever, you’re there because you are willing to put up with it. The trick is to say I am Unwilling to live with this situation therefore I must change it. Are you willing to change?
  3. Take action, do something, just do it. Thoughts are thoughts, and if you just think about doing stuff, you are going nowhere. Also, do something different. Challenge yourself. Go another route home or eat something different or meet new people. Just take action on something.
  4. Whatever shit storm you are facing, you will get through it. You have before.
  5. Disappointment and upset is often a product of failing to meet expectations. The expectations you had in others, situations you are in, or endeavours that you have started. If you don’t have expectations, you won’t be so disappointed. Doesn’t meet you have to accept shit or abuse, it does mean that without expectations you are free to deal with issues as they come up. You can still plan, you can still hold people accountable, but without expectations, you can experience a situation and deal with it differently.
  6. Success is born out of discomfort, uncertainty and risk. Nothing is certain, so be ok with that.

Anyway its not my objective to reproduce the book! I just think that this guy’s got some really good points. I’m glad I bought the book, and I will keep it for reference, or hand it to someone who I think could benefit from it.

I give this book 4.5 unf*cks out of 5!

 

 

Treat – the daily post prompt

Via The Daily Post – Prompt

Treat – conjures up images of wicked sin. At least, it does to me. Have I been a good boy? Am I going to get looked after? Will you take care of me?

Have I deserved a treat?

You hold a power over me. Yet, you wield it gently, caring, tenderly. You can be controlling and sometimes get under my skin, but I’d do anything for that treat.

Wrapped in lace and sensual fabrics, you slowly move your body to give me glances. A hint of colour, a flash of flesh. I am ready for my treat. 

Teasing, caressing, tender touch. Soft fleshy parts mesh with firmness. It’s a wonderfully delicate dance of anatomy. My mind goes to mush, endorphins flood my brain, and I am lost, in your treat.

Look out, honey, I got a treat for you, and here it comes! 

 

 

 

Daily Prompt – Reservation

Via Daily Prompt – Reservation

Here I am, experiencing life, yet I have made no reservation. It’s like when I turned up in Fredericton this week, no reservation, no idea where I was going to stay. I’d come looking for a place to live. A few days in the city. It was cold. A cold snap. Jesus it was cold. But then, everywhere in Canada and the northern US is experiencing some sort of a polar blast right now.

I parked the rental car in a sort of snowbank-cum-parking lot at the front of the hotel. I didn’t have a reservation for the rental car either. I wasn’t sure if I had made one, so I asked at the first counter. ‘No, we are sold out, have been all week’. She said. Uh-oh I thought to self. Luckily, the second counter had cars to rent. Would have been a long walk into the city.

I slipped and sloshed on the snowy ground as my boots tried for purchase on the uneven surfaces. A gentle breeze more akin to a slap in the face with a bucket of ice whisked past me, maybe more so through me.

I was greeted by a very enthusiastic guy at the Crowne Plaza, actually the first hotel I came across – just about any hotel would have done. I had flown across Canada that day to be here. Luckily, there were rooms available.

The guy was very friendly, and soon he was joined by a work colleague and they both seemed unnaturally happy to be receiving a new guest. It was nice. They referred me to some pubs and I got a card to play an hour of free pool at Dooly’s.

No reservations. That’s how I like to travel sometimes. It can turn out great, and it can be a cluster of disappointments and turn-aways. I’ll take my chances!

 

A first post for the new year …

Hi Bloggers,

Happy new year. So, last night I intended on going down to the Old Port in Montreal to see the fireworks display. I did go down to the port, but I did not stay for the fireworks. It is Montreal’s 375th anniversary, so that’s as good a reason to celebrate as any, I guess.

It was very cold out, my phone weather app said it was -22C (without the wind chill). I took a subway down to the nearest station, and walked down to the port. Having spent much of the previous afternoon and evening walking in the city, I knew it was going to be cold as fek, so I layered up – with a pair of thick long tights, some thermal long johns, and my khaki hiking pants, and on top two shirts, a hoodie and my parka. I had a toque (beanie, hat), on, plus a kind of neck warmer balaclava, as well as my parka jacket hood on. Oh, and of course my new CAN-ADA gloves.

That should have been enough, you would hope. Well, after two hours of standing outside – the cold seeps in. No matter how much I jumped around, etc, I could not shake the cold. I didn’t pack my regular winter jacket because I am travelling light. I had to chuckle to myself, some people heading down to the venue didn’t have good face coverage on, and one young lady had a pair of those jeans with the rips in them where you can see lots of bare skin. Big fucking mistake, sweetheart, I chuckled to myself. Seriously though, people in this part of the world should know better! A lot of people were totally rugged up for artic conditions, though, because, they read the forecast, and they’re smart!

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Of course, it would be tempting to drop a few nice quotes and anecdotes about positive thinking, good intentions, and other wise shit, but I’m going to keep it simple. I’m looking forward to a better year than the last one. For fucks sake, can it please be better than the last one, lol?

I’m going to keep meditating, keep exercising, keep eating good nourishing food and settling in to a new job in a new town. I have found a place to live, and now just working through the logistics of the move.

Thank you to all who have been ‘witness’ to my journey so far. I thank you for your feedback and support, and I look forward to continuing my blogging with you in the new year.

Namaste.

 

Big Love – Book Review – Scott Stabile

Hi Bloggers, I just finished reading this book today. It’s an easy read. Our author, Scott Stabile takes us on a journey of heartbreak and loss, with his parents being shot to death when he was a teenager, and later in life losing a brother.

He’s very humble and honest, perhaps to a fault. He wears his heart on his sleeve, for sure. It’s endearing if nothing else. He’s had more failures than some of us out there, and he’s a habitual starter of new endeavours but apparently not much of a finisher.

He’s gay, and as much as he’s honest about it, he has a kind of self consciousness about it – which he appears to have come to terms with, but still suffers the occasional pang of shame. About a lot of things, apparently.

This book is a good read. I really enjoyed it. Its up front, unapologetic, but not rude or abrasive. The guys are real nice soul, without a doubt.

I recommend it for a light read, and I give it 4 hearts out of 5!

Big Love: The Power Of Living With A Wide-open Heart by Scott Stabile

Bonjour Montreal

Hi Bloggers,

Today I’m in Montreal. First time for me. My impressions? Its big. Its cosmopolitan. It’s French. Its all the things you would hope a modern Canadian city would be. It’s the first place I’ve seen with those winter coats with the coyote fur around the front – in blue. Not sure if I’m seeing a new trend and its everywhere, but I thought it looked great.

One of the biggest highlights was the cathedral on Rue Saint Catherine. It had the most beautiful stained glass windows. The real feature though, was the stone carvings – especially the ones right up the back. I did not think that this type of wonderful detail in stone carving was even possible. It looked like something computer generated and carved out of a machine. It’s truly a wonder (there are some photos below).

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It was a about -20C in Montreal today. With a breeze that freezes your skin after a short while. I had to grab a neck warmer from the dollar store to keep something over my lower face. I had the rest of me covered up pretty well.

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I took a walk down Rue Saint Catherine. A long walk, all the way to the village. There are a lot of shops and food places. As you get into ‘the village’ at the far end from where I started, it gets very gay. It was a novelty to browse in the ‘speciality shops’ that cater to all kinds of kink and fetish.

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On the way back, I found my way into the subway system. I was able to negotiate – I think that’s the right word – in a mixture of English and French that I didn’t understand – my way to the right platform and onto a train that took me back the way I came. At some point I realised I lost a glove when I was juggling the ticket, my phone, a toque, neck warmer and other stuff. I realised that getting a new pair of gloves was a very high priority based on the frigid conditions. I walked, with one hand in my jacket pocket past store after store that had closed for the evening.

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I jumped off the subway at a stop that i knew was well before my stop. I surfaced through a miriad of art gallery type shops. I wandered, lost for a while, but laughing along the way, and found myself in china town. I found a pair of cheap gloves, but of course, the store didn’t take plastic, so my search continued. Eventually I found one of those souvenir shops and now I’m the proud new owner of some woolen CAN-ADA gloves (letters on the front and back of the gloves).

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