I left off in my cross Canada ramblings having departed from Toronto, loaded up with Erin’s Musser M-55 vibes and a bunch of my mic stands which had been sitting in a basement for the last 4 years. I had a leasure drive to Montreal where I stayed with my great friends Anne and Julian and their cutie Tessa. They are wonderful and seem to have become my default hosts when ever I’m in Montreal. The next morning Anne scooted out to St. Viateur to grab 3 dozen bagels. 1 dozen to eat for breakfast (there was a remainder there) and 2 dozen to take back with me to my Montreal bagel loving family. The sweet smell of fresh bagels emanated throughout the car for a good portion of this days drive. I’m not sure what Furnando the hamster must have thought about this. Oh wait, he was asleep the whole time.
My driving goal for the day was to finish off the the epic driving portion of this adventure and land on the Long Reach, Kingston Peninsula, NB.
There Erin awaited my arrival… Grace and Norah had left earlier that day to hook up with their cousins to go see Anne of Green Gables on PEI. As soon as I crossed over into New Brunswick, a wicked electrical storm hit. I had to stop as the visibility was terrible with the pounding rain. When it let up I hit the road and the sky quickly opened up. One thing about New Brunswick is the sky is incredible. The variety in texture and colour when you look up is amazing.
Erin, Bill and Geri (Erin’s Mom and Dad) greeted me when I arrived. I’ve rolled into the Long Reach many-a-time before and felt elated to be there… but this time was different. I was arriving in the Maritimes which was about to become my home one again. I left the maritimes in 1987 for Montreal. Almost a quarter of a century later (yikes!), I return. Never thought of it that way. Makes me think of what I’ve done in the last 25 years! A LOT!
What better way to arrive in a region that will become your next home, than by family with big smiles on their faces: My Mother and Father in law, the next day My Mom and Dad, my kids, my nieces and nephews, my sister (visiting with her family from Bangladesh), my brother and their partners. What a welcome.
Now that my drive is done I’m wondering where this blog will go. It’ll certainly go in a direction that will reflect and comment on the new home Erin and I have chosen. We move in on August 2nd and there are a million little details that need to be figured out and sorted away before really feeling grounded. Actually I take that back. I already feel grounded. Grounded by familiarity; grounded by Family.
This was an insane amount of driving to do in one day. As a result of my previous days lolly gagging I didn’t get as far as I wanted. My plan was to make it to Toronto by July 10th. This meant passing through 4 states: North Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. After all the relaxed prairie drive as I approached Chicago I sensed a heightening of driving intensity. I white knuckled it though and made a b-line to Flint, Michigan. There, I stopped at a Kroger and as requested by Erin, bought a pack of yoghurt tubes… the ones which have jokes printed on them. Yup, Erin got a gig writing joked for kid’s yoghurt tubes. I thought it was somehow appropriate that I stopped in Flint to pick them up. The store seemed empty.
On my way thorugh Canada Customs / Immigration the border guy asked me where I live. I had to think about it for a second. I said “Nova Scotia” although I was thinking to myself “I don’t really have a home at this moment in time.” Probably a good thing I didn’t verbalize that thought.
After 15.5 hours of driving, I finally stopped at Mitch and Janet’s house: cold beer, whiskey, and dear friends make a good combo. You know how you have some friends who are as familiar and +++ as family? The McBurney / Lewis family are like that. Even the pets were bonding (although I’m wondering if the lizard wanted to eat the hamster).
I miss my girls.
I’m posting from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I really wanted to stay in Elk Mound, but there didn’t seems to be any roadside lodging… only an adult specialty shop!
I made my way from Medicine Hat to Minnedosa Manitoba with a quick stop in Moose Jaw to return this dumb iPhone FM transmitter I bought. It sucked and TOTALLY didn’t live up to my fidelity standards. Luckily I bought it at The Source in Medicine Hat and I returned it down the road at The Source in Moose Jaw. I decided I’d spare Fernando the hamster the anguish of listening to my mixed up mish mash of music: I had the Jensen sisters playing, The Hearbroken, Ozzy, some unknown Irish music that Dave Whitla gave me, Jonsi, Bjork (gotta get those wacky Icelanders in there), The Police, Bob Marley. I cracked out the Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones. Decent isolation from road noise and superb quality! I also stopped in Grenfell, SK where my great uncles used to live (actually their farm was in the middle of nowhere but Grenfell was the closest town).
My reason for popping up north of the Trans Canada to Minnedosa was to visit and stay with my Auntie Gail and Uncle Vern. I also was really happy to see my cousin Nancy and her 2 kids whom I’d never met before. That was fun. As a kid I’d spend a decent amount of time in Minnedosa as this was where my Gramma and Grampa Southern lived when they were alive. Gail and Vern took me for a little tour around town to see all the familiar spot. They also took me to the cemetery where Gramma and Grampa are buried. It was really nice to see their headstone and say hello.
Gail and Vern run a farm with 300 acres and 30 head of cattle (I think I remember that correctly). They used to have much more but have been scaling back as time goes by. They are beautiful people: strong, hard working, content and generous. Vern uses Monsanto seed for his Canola crop. I’ll have to get into it with him next time we’re together!
I miss our friends in Banff.
Today I took some time to stop and look around. It felt good but now I have to go like crazy to get to Toronto to hang with friends. Here’s some stuff I saw:
Fernando is going to have a long day tomorrow so I’m currently letting him run around in his hamster ball in the hotel room.
Man, moving is such effort. We did it. We packed up our Banff apt and got it all on a truck… not without some drama, though. Here we were, waiting for the truck to arrive the morning of July 6th and the phone rings. It’s the moving company we hired. “The truck got into an accident and won’t be able to make it”. OK, whatever you say, but when is the truck arriving? They subcontracted a moving company out of Canmore to pickup our stuff and take it to storage until they “fix” the truck. What is it with moving companies?! No matter how much you research and use one’s instincts to pick a outfit that won’t burn you for every penny you have, something will come up and they can’t deliver. Oh well. We loaded up the car and drove to Calgary to have dinner with Tiffany Stones.
Can’t forget about the night before, though! Our friend Stacy-Jo set us up with a fancy suite at the Rimrock hotel (where she works) for our final sleep in Banff. On our way up from a long day of packing and stress and not enough food, I’m totally zonked. We walk into our room and there is Stacy with a chocolate cover strawberries and champagne on ice. Wow! That night we had a few friends over to our room and had a great time. We’ll miss our friends so much.
So Tiffany fed us and sent us on our way. Erin and the girls to the airport for a red eye to Saint John and me on the road to get a a head start on my drive across the country.
Oh, it’s not just me driving across the country. Furnando the Hamster is coming with me. That’s him in his abode.
I left Calgary around 10pm or so with the goal to get to Medicine Hat so my drive to Manitoba isn’t to crazy long. Made it. Saw a cool electrical storm off in the distance as I was driving…
One missing element – Music. Music will be an important part of this drive. In order to efficiently realize this in my somewhat technologically vintage 2002 Honda CRV, I ordered up one of those FM transmitter that can plug into my iPhone to get into the car stereo. It never arrived so I need to go hunt one down before I leave the metropolis of Medicine Hat. My one big concern is how will Furnando the Hamster deal with the music? I might be cranking it at times. Will he be disturbed since he sleeps during the day? Should I ease him into the music by introducing him to the idea with a little Jazz then as the trip progressing get into the Ozzy?
I begin my personal blogging with a post logged a few days before I end a fulfilling chapter of my life and embark on a new and somewhat unknown chapter. After 4 years and 2 months of living in Banff, Erin, Grace, Norah and I are trekking over to the other side of Canada to Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia to set up shop. There, we will be closer to family, closer to the Atlantic ocean where we both grew up, and ultimately where we will pursue a dream. One that will allow us a rich environment of family, nature and education. It also affords Erin and I an expanded space for work… after year and years of operating our independent artistic and business pursuits out of our home space, our new homestead in Mahone Bay has a separate out building which will be our work studios.
Banff… There is so much we are moving away from: friends, community, environment (complete with bears and cougars), mountains, beauty. We found a comfortable place in this unique town. We found people who had similar values; People who had lovely families; People who liked what we liked. We had an amazing home for the last year and a half perched up on top of Harmony Lane with our mountain views and on board hot tub. Yes, we will miss Banff. You know, it’s leaving the people which makes me even question the decision Erin and I made for our family. Why would we do such a thing? Why would we leave such a beautiful place? Why would we choose to leave this lifestyle? These are questions that rattle around in my head every day. I guess what ends up distilling out of all that brain chatter is an instinctive feeling of hope for something better. Not better people, but a more rewarding life. Risky, eh?! When we land in Mahone Bay in August we won’t know a soul but we dearly hope to connect with those people and families that welcome us, converse with us about meaningful things, make us laugh, make music with us and give us and expanded sense of self.
Bye Banff. With all your quirks, with all your beauty, with your proximity to nature and outdoor fun, with your amazing view of Rundle, with your corporate predominance, with your convenience, with your over abundance of tourists, with your bears, cougars elk and dear, with your school cut backs, with your hot springs, with the amazing friends you’ve brought me together with. Bye Banff. See you later.