Wednesday, July 28


My friend Norm (one of the most persuasive of those who had been asking me to do this) told me that he had created a link to the blogsite.  All well and good, but when I checked the link to his web page, I realized how many other people are doing blogs now-a-days.  Suddenly, I feel all trendy.   I must be really out of touch with cyber culture.  Along with alot of other trends, for that matter. [ One thing that I find extremely strange is how John Deere apparel is all the rage in the hip clothing stores.  There's something fundamentally wrong about paying $40 for one of their shirts.  Or the same prince for a crappy net-in-back cap, that used to be only a couple of bucks in a garage back in the day.  I guess I really am beginning to get old(er).   And then again, those red plad shirts used to go for about $80 back when they were 'in'.]

It's been a good week.  Winnipeg ended on a high note, towards the end the hostel started to fill up a bit more.  One of the people that I was hanging out with the most was starting medical school at the University of Manitoba.  What made him more interesting, though, were the stories he told of his rock climbing adventures.  Apparently, last year he had, as he put it, a bit of an accident.  His harness gave out and he fell 50 feet face first onto a rock (!).  Nine times out of ten a person would die either immediately after the fall or a few days later from a brain hemorrhage.  He somehow got off just fine, with just a mild bump on his forehead.  Not even a bit of brain damage, which the doctors considered to be virtually impossible.

As I was getting ready to leave Winnipeg, he offered to drive me out to the truck stop, and after only 20 minutes there, I got a ride straight to Regina.  The trucker himself was definitely a character, originally from Quebec, complete with French accent, but now living in B.C.  The funny part was how much he hated the French language, as well as the French culture in general.  By far one of the most (politically) conservative people that I've talked to in a while, he was a seperatist, but not for Quebec.  Instead, he wanted to see western Canada separate from the east, in order to stop all of Alberta's money being wasted on transfer payments.  Ironic, considering that I'm from the Maritimes.  Still, he was a nice guy, and although my views are a fair bit different from his, I wasn't about to start an argument with him in his own truck, so I went along with it.  He told me towards the end of the trip that he was very impressed to have met a hitch hiker that could carry on a decent conversation about politics and the economy, after which he bought me lunch.  I guess maybe I am in a bit of a unique position.  Once in Regina, he dropped me off right by the hostel door before continuing to Calgary.

Regina was an experience in it's own right.  A few doors down the street from where I was staying, an organic vegetarian restaurant was going out of business.  In order to end with a bang, they were throwing a (big by Regina's standards) party.  As the hostel was completely empty, I decided to check it out.  Not knowing anyone, I didn't really expect much, but everyone was very friendly, and breaking the ice was no problem at all.  There were a few things that caught me off guard, though.  First was that most people were much older than they looked.  I figured most were early twenties, but I was actually one of the youngest there.  But most surprising was that almost everyone had a family.  After talking to someone for a few minutes, they would say that they wanted to introduce me to someone.  It would usually turn out to be there wife or husband, complete with a baby or two.  I was told later that Saskatchewan has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in all of Canada.  Even more surprising was that alot of them were hippie types, and most hippies that I've known tended to shy away from commitments in general. 

Currently, I'm in Saskatoon, which tends to be (as I was told by the locals in both cities) more vibrant than Regina, though still not very big (pop~200000).  Again, the people here are very nice.  Yesterday, I was getting lunch at a Pita Pit restaurant downtown, and started chatting with the girl that works there.  She offered to show me around town a bit that evening, and I'm going to meet her again today.  I find it strange that it was Manitoba that dubbed itself 'friendly' on the license plates, when Saskatchewan seems to be much moreso.

I'll probably head for Edmonton either tomorrow or the day after, and rest up before kicking off the next leg of my trip, Yellowknife.  If it's anything as intense as going to Whitehorse was, I'll need all the rest I can get.  And judging from the distance I'll have to go, it should be at the very least comparable.  Though when I was going to Whitehorse, it was already October, and hence quite cold.  At least this time the weather should be a little less of a drain.


Monday, July 19

Winnipeg Encore

I'm still in Winnipeg, and I'll likely stay for a few more days before heading for Regina.  It's been nice to have the chance to catch my breath, but for a city this size (pop ~ 600000) there's really not much to do at all.  Aside from two short streets, there isn't any sort of a classy downtown.  Just urban sprawl.  The residential areas are pretty, apparently there's alot of old money here, but that hasn't rubbed off on the commercial areas whatsoever.  And Xin, you wern't kidding when you said that this place is full of redneck assholes.  Last night I was walking around the main street, and every fifth car was a pickup full of drunk yolkles.  The drunk part includes the driver, and the full includes the back of the truck, which had at least five of these morons stuffed in it.  Why the cops don't do anything is beyond me.  Of course, I don't think I fit in so well here, as one of the drivers slurred out something about me being a fucking hippie, and that I should go fuck myself.
Still, the hostel here is nice (for those of you who don't know, hostels are like boarding houses, most of the bedrooms are shared with about five to eight beds, with the other rooms being like an ordinary house, with living room etc).  It's been a while since I've been in a hostel that was doing decent business, and the international mix is always fun.  Although most of the people here are Canadians, there are some Swiss, Germans, and Danish people, among others.
The trip from Thunder Bay to here was surprisingly easy, the night before I was set to leave, I bumped into an older lady in the place where I was staying.  She mentioned that she was heading to Banff, and offered to drop me off in Winnipeg.  I offered to pitch in for gas, but she wouldn't have it.  She also turned out to be quite liberal.  More than I am, which surprised me, since she'd already said she was doing contractual work for the government in some sort of marketing.  She also told me stories of when she was younger, before she had her son, when she used to travel all over Europe and India.  Now that her son is grown up, she's planning on travelling around alot more, and this time was on her way to the rockies to stay with a friend for a few months.  She was hoping to get inspiration for her writting while she was at it.
Hopefully someone here at the hostel will feel up for a movie tonight.  I still havn't seen Spiderman 2 or Fahrenheit 9/11, and it would be a nice way to kill the evening.  Last night I didn't do much of anything.  Saturday was nice, as the girl who works at the front desk here invited me to a party at her house.  She's from Trois Riviers, Quebec, but living here for the summer in order to learn english.  The night before that I went out to a bar with three of the hostelers, one guy from Britain, another from Australia, and a girl from Denmark.  Still, the pub scene here isn't exactly stellar.

Thursday, July 15

Back in a big city

Well, I finished my tour of Ontario, and I'm finally in Manitoba.  Ontario is a helluva lot longer than I ever imagined, being about 2200 km from Ottawa to the boarder with Manitoba.  On top of that, I took the long way around, going through Northern Ontario, way up in Kapuskasing and Hearth, the last true French speaking holdout in Ontario.  Most of the places in the area were depressing, dirty, and generally not very interesting, but for whatever reason, Kapuskasing was very pretty.  Granted, I only spent a few hours there, but in a town of 9000 people, it was enough to see most of the sights.  Timmins and Sudbury are the bigger towns in the area, which are a few hours south of Kapuskasing.  They're the depressing towns that I mentioned, and are pretty anglosized as well.
After leaving Northern Ontario, I spent a few nights in Thunder Bay, which was overall pretty boring.  A few interesting things about the town (the only interesting things?) were that they have a pretty large Finnish community, as well as a very large aboriginal, First Nations (or whatever politically correct term is used now-a-days), population.  The Finnish population is the largest in Canada, which makes me wonder why in the world most of the Finnish immigrants choose to go to Thunder Bay.  If anyone has any idea, please share, because it beats the heck out of me.  They have such a large community that the Finnish section of the public library was bigger than the French, which for an Ontarian town is really saying something.
The thing that did impress me about Thunder Bay was that in a town of 100,000 people, about half the people that I saw on the street were aboriginal.  On top of that, the whites and aboriginals seemed to be getting along just great, which struck me as being amazing.  I've given this rant a few times in the past, but I think that reserves are downright horrible, and should be abolished.  After seeing the conditions on every single one that I've ever been to, and taking into account that most of the their youth are complete alcoholics, or even more charming, sniffing glue on a regular basis, the rigid preservation of culture may have to take a back seat if there's any hope of saving their future generations and giving them a chance at a decent life.  And in Thunder Bay things seemed to be just that, with an integration of the aboriginals into the city's society.   All of this is just my opinion, but I really do wish that the rest of Canada was moving along the same lines as Thunder Bay.
I was reading in the news that Canada ranks fourth this year in terms of standard of living.  I'm not entirely sure what factors are taken into account for, but it really surprised me.  We were leaps and bounds ahead of France, among other Western European countries, yet I see a
she!teload more homeless in the big cities of Canada, many more than I saw in Paris or any other major French city.  The only way that I can think of to explain it is that there must be a slew of other obscure factors that contribute to a country's ranking.  Then again, I've heard tales of how Muslim immigrants live in France, in areas known as les cities (needless to say, deplorable), but I've never been there.  So this may have also dragged down their ranking.
I'll probably stay in Winnipeg for a week or so to rest up after the exhausting last 8 days of going through Northern Ontario, tirering mostly due to having to hitch backroads which had hardly any traffic.  Unfortunately, it was the only way that I could see the parts of Ontario that I was curious about, since the bus service there was pretty much non-existent.  It also gave me a chance to meet and shmooje with the locals.  Sometimes a local would pick me up just to hang out, like one girl that stopped just to ask me if I wanted to smoke a joint with her.  It's gotta be pretty freakin' boring up there, especially for teenagers.  She had sort of a raver style going, but spent her days fishing, on account of having nothing else to do.  Still, it was her home and she said that she didn't have any desire to go anywhere else.
Still, standing for hours in the blazing sun while being eaten alive by bugs was a little draining.  Thank god for truckers, and the nice long distances they travel at very high speeds...  At any rate, Winnipeg means that I'll be around computers more, so I should be more punctual with emails.

Friday, July 9

Northward bound...

Well, I've spent the last few days in a small town near Hamilton called Waterdown, with two of my father's cousins (does that make them my second cousins or first cousins once removed? I can never keep that straight). I've always gotten along with them very well, much more so than a lot of my more immediate family. It was good to see them and to rest for a few days before heading towards Northern Ontario, which I'm hoping to cross by the end of next week. I'll probably make a few short stops around Sudbury before heading for Thunder Bay, taking a break for two or three days, then finishing this leg of the trip by heading for Winnipeg. Tonight I doubt I'll get much farther than Barrie.

I ended up hitching from Ottawa to Toronto on Tuesday, after missing the bus and taking into account for the nice weather (sorry Debbie, I know it's dangerous...). In the end I made better time than if I'd waited for the next bus. One of the people that picked me up was an old hippie lady, which made for interesting conversation. She was telling me about all the positive energy she'd been feeling going into this trip, and how she was still trying to figure out exactly where she wanted to go. She was heading west, which was pretty much the full extent of her plans. But then again, I can't say that I'm much more organized.

I'd ramble on for a while longer, but I'm at a (fairly expensive) internet cafe, so I'll cut things off here. But before I do, don't be shy about leaving comments, it makes doing these a lot more fun :)


Saturday, July 3


Here are the Reagan quotes that I'd mentioned. The originals can be found at

In comparison to these, even Dubya might seem to be on the ball...

Timeless quotes from former President Ronald Reagan
"Facts are stupid things.."
—Reagan, '88
"...a faceless mass, waiting for handouts."
—Reagan, '65, describing Medicaid recipients.
"Because Vietnam was not a declared war, the veterans
are not even eligible for the G. I. Bill of Rights
with respect to education or anything."
—Reagan, '80
"Taxes should hurt. I just mailed my own tax return
last night and I am prepared to say `ouch!' as loud as
—Reagan, '70, after approving California's largest tax
increase in history. Reporters soon pointed out that
Reagan didn't pay a cent on state taxes that year. For
all his talk about shrinking government, California's
state budget more than doubled under his governorship,
from $4.6 billion to $10.2 billion.
"I know all the bad things that happened in that war.
I was in uniform for four years myself."
—Reagan, '85, justifying laying a wreath at a Nazi
cemetary in Bitburg. Reagan spent WWII in Hollywood,
making films.
"They haven't been there. I have."
—Reagan, '85, justifying his policies on Nicaragua.
Ronald Reagan had never visited Nicaragua.
"They have eliminated the segregation that we once had
in our own country..."
—Reagan, '85, praising the government of P.W. Botha in
South Africa, during the height of Apartheid.
"I cannot recall anything whatsoever about whether I
approved an Israeli sale in advance or whether I
approved replenishment of Israeli stocks around August
of 1985. My answer therefore and the simple truth is,
'I don't remember, period'"
—Reagan, Feb. '87
"Mr. President, why don't we openly support those
7,000 guerillas that are in rebellion rather than
giving aid through covert activity?"
"Well, because we want to keep on obeying the laws of
our country, which we are now obeying."
"Doesn't the United States want that government
"No, because that would be a violation of the law."
—Reagan, ''87. At the time of the press conference,
the U.S. was giving the indiscriminately murderous
Contra guerillas covert aid, in direct violation of
the law. Reagan's lie was so obvious that members of
the press corps laughed loudly and openly at his
"A few months ago, I told the American people I did
not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best
intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts
and evidence tell me it is not."
—Reagan, Mar. '87
"If the question comes up at the Tower Board meeting,
you might want to say that you were surprised."
—Reagan, '87, accidentally reading the notes for his
stage directions aloud which told him to act surprised
should the issue of arms-for-hostages come up.
"They are the moral equivalent of America's founding
—Reagan, '85, referring to the brutal Contra rebels in
Nicaragua, who indiscriminately attacked civilians.
" example to the world of the ideals we hold most
dear, the ideals of freedom and independence."
—Reagan, '85, praising the Afghan Mujahaddin. These
"freedom fighters" included prominent leaders of Al
Qaeda, such as Osama Bin Laden, as well as many of the
leaders for the Taliban.
"Hollywood has no blacklist."
—Reagan, '60. FBI records have since shown that this
was a lie, and that Reagan personally informed on
several actors, later shown to be innocent, destroying
their careers in the process.
"I would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of
—Reagan, '66
"If there has to be a bloodbath, then let's get it
over with."
—Reagan, '69, prior to having national guard soldiers
break up a peaceful protest on the UC Berkeley campus.
The protesters were teargassed and fired upon with
buckshot, killing one protester and wounding at least
128 others.
"... a tragic illness."
—Reagan, '67, desribing homosexuality. When two of his
aides were found to be gay that year, he asked for
their resignations.
"Maybe the Lord brought down this plague [because]
illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments."
—Reagan, '89. Reagan didn't even mention AIDS until
1987, by which time it had spread into the
heterosexual population and over 25,000 Americans had
"What we have found in this country, and maybe we're
more aware of it now, is one problem that we've had,
even in the best of times, and that is the people who
are sleeping on the grates, the homeless who are
homeless, you might say, by choice"
—Reagan, '84.
"For the first time ever, everything is in place for
the battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of
Christ. It can't be too long now. Ezekiel says that
fire and brimstone will be rained upon the enemies of
God's people. That must mean that they will be
destroyed by nuclear weapons."
—Reagan, '71
"It's silly talking about how many years we will have
to spend in the jungles of Vietnam when we could pave
the whole country and put parking strips on it, and be
home by Christmas"
—Reagan, '65
"Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do."
—Reagan '81
"A tree is a tree. How many more do you have to look
—Reagan '66, opposing expansion of Redwood National
"I have flown twice over Mt St Helens out on our west
coast. I'm not a scientist and I don't know the
figures, but I have a suspicion that that one little
mountain has probably released more sulphur dioxide
into the atmosphere of the world than has been
released in the last ten years of automobile driving
or things of that kind that people are so concerned
—Reagan, '80. At its peak, Mt. St. Helens released
1/40th as much sulfur dioxide as cars do every day.
"All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant
can be stored under a desk."
—Reagan, '80. (In fact, a single nuclear power plant
can produce up to 22,000 cubic feet of of radioactive
waste per year.)
"There is today in the United States as much forest as
there was when Washington was at Valley Forge."
—Reagan, '83. The US Forest Service estimated only
about 30 percent of forest lands of 1775 still existed
208 years later.
"80 percent of air pollution comes not from chimneys
and auto exhaust pipes, but from plants and trees."
—Reagan, '79



A few people have asked me to do a blog, mostly to keep track of my travels. Honestly, I wasn't sure if it was a good idea, since I might not have enough stories to tell to keep this thing interesting, or for that matter, the time to tell them. Although I find these trips amazing, I'm not sure how the stories will be when they're sprawled out on a blog. And another big problem is that I don't have a digital camera with me (or a camera at all, for that matter), so there won't be any pictures to go with them.

With that out of the way, I'd like to say one more thing before I cut to the bloggin'. I'm not planning on making this into a travel log. This is going to be more of my brain poured out onto, well, whatever this is. Though this might mean that the blog will end up rambling on about nothing, I'll do my best to keep it interesting.

That said, let's begin.

I'm in Ottawa till the beginning of next week, staying with my cousin. She's a few years older than me, and already in the middle of raising of a family. Her oldest son is 3, and although it's been almost 6 months since I saw him, I'm told he was very excited that I was coming. I was surprised that I had made such an impression on him, not only because my last trip here wasn't very long, but also because he was so young. Kids are really surprising, and the reason that this is weighing so heavily is that so many of my friends are either in serious relations, married, or already having children. It's hard not to think that before I know it, I'll find myself in a similar situation. When the hell did we grow up, anyway?

I should probably be making some sort of plan as to where to go next, seeing as I'll be leaving here in a few days. I've been trying to get ahold of my uncle in Kitchener, but he's either extremely busy or not wanting to be found. The only phone number that I know of brings up a woman's voice that sounds (to my imagination?) confused that I called, and tells me that I should call back at a certain time. When I call back at said time, no answer but the voice mail, and when I leave messages, no return call. Since I haven't seen him in 5 years, my plan was to go to Kitchener after I leave here. But now it's looking less and less likely that that plan is going to pan out. If not, I should probably try to cross Ontario, but that's not such an easy thing to do. I'll end up breaking it into a few mini-trips, making three or four stops in northern Ontario, as well as Thunder Bay. I've been told that Ontario is quite boring, but seeing as how I don't have much of plan for this trip to start with, it seems silly to be in a rush to get nowhere...

As I'm sure that most of you have heard by now, Marlon Brando died on Thursday. It made me think of the insanity that his life had been for the last 20 years (living in pretty much total seclusion, his son is in jail for the murder of his daughter's finance, said daughter committed suicide shortly after the murder, not to mention how weird Brando had become even before the shooting of apocalypse Now). Something that I've been wondering for a long time is if it's really necessary to be completely fucking nuts to be any sort of an artist. Though I'm sure that I can come up with a few exceptions, the norm seems to be the crack pots. Slightly related is that after watching a TV special on the Red Hot Chilly Peppers (Television! It's been a while!), and after hearing them say in very soft and mushy voices how much they love each other, the music, having the chance to do what they love, having good karma, how much they love each other, being able to perform for the fans, how much they love the fans, how much they love each other, and last but not least, how much they love each other, my questions about insanity and art are running through my head more than ever. And it's not just the new interviews that are like that, either. Granted, they did alot of drugs, but they're saying that they've been clean for a few years now. Hearing them reminded me of talking to people tweaked out on e.

Something that broke my heart yesterday was reading how John Kerry was quoted saying that he would support Sharon's 'wall' in Israel as being necessary, and would not negociate with the Palestinians until after Arafat was either removed or imprisoned. A Kerry policy being farther to the right then Bush's stance scares the hell out of me. One can only hope that he was misquoted, or at the very least, that it was taken out of context. At this rate, all of those cynical blowhards that keep saying Bush and Kerry, and for that matter, Republicans and Democrats, are exactly the same will sound less and less like the jaded, angry little pessimists that they probably are. On a quick sub-rant, for all of those who say Bush and Gore were the same, economics, similar, but environment and international policy were miles apart. I'd make a comparison between Kerry and Bush, but it's true that Kerry doesn't seem to have many set policies...

While I'm on politics, after being bombarded with the goodness of Reagan for the last month, I found a very nice listing of the many times Reagan shoved his foot straight down his throat last night, but unfortunately, I can't find it now. The closest I could come was this...

If I can find the other, which is much better, I'll post it later.

Keep in mind that this blog is probably longer than what the rest are likely to be, mostly due to my cousin having taken her family to a friend's place for the night, leaving me alone in her house for the day.