My Week In A Rolling Prison

Canada is a vast and beautiful country, emphasis on the vast. Sometimes the elderly drive across it in enormous camper vans. Last summer, along with my grandparents, I decided to take part in one of these pilgrimages. The following is my record of the adventure.

Day 1: Ontario, Somewhere in the Kawarthas

7:00 AM – Whoo Hoo! Road trip with Gran and Granddad. With my grandparents, two Harry Potter books and the whole back of the RV to myself, in essence have the whole world. Also, Granddad hinted that may be able to drive the RV. Am so excited that even the sixty pound poodle half sitting on me in a territorial fight for the seat can’t dim my enthusiasm.

11:00 AM – Stopped for lunch. Was instructed to take both the standard poodles for a quick walk while Gran prepares lunch, is possible that the poodles did not receive the same instruction as both are actively pulling me back towards the RV. Perhaps am just a bad dog walker because is more like a drag.

4:20 PM – Suffering from an extreme case of numb bum. No matter, shall delve into a magical fictional world where the only concern during long trips is broomstick crotch.

5:00 PM – Have stopped for the evening. Granddad insisted on instructing me how to connect the poop hose to the site. May need to shower forever. Will never eat again.

5:20 PM – Gran’s spaghetti! Will have to live with knowledge that delicious pasta and sauce may contain poop particles. Remind self that dirt and therefore feces are good for immune system.

Day 2: Ontario, Sault St. Marie

7:00 AM – Have been told I can drive the RV! Very excited; partly for opportunity and partly because will not have to share my seat with a disgruntled poodle. Am still very excited about trip itself, is uncommon to see such savage beauty whizzing by window.

10:45 – Numb bum has returned. Harry Potter’s world only partially distracting from discomfort.

2:01 PM – Is my moment of glory! Granddad has vacated driver’s seat. Am going to drive forever, may drive all the way to Manitoba, perhaps may drive all night!

2:59 PM – Have been told to pull RV over and that my turn is finished.

3:05 PM – Notice that phone was noticeably silent and without any messages during my hour long absence. Realize that have lost signal.

4:10 PM – Made mistake of looking at GPS. Said three thousand and eight more hours of driving until arrival. Ok possibly not THAT long but was close. Cell phone a useless paperweight. Am effectively cut off from everything.

6:00 PM – Pulled into the loveliest, leafiest park ever. Hiked all of the trails while Gran made dinner. Took poodles who went willingly. Suspect they only came because saw potential for a jail break by simultaneously pulling my arms in opposite directions while dashing for the river.

Day 3 : Ontario, Thunder Bay

8:00 AM – On road again. Granddad promised to relinquish the steering wheel this morning. Have lovely fantasies of flying down the road for hours and hours until arrive at Aunty Betty’s doorstep. Am still enthused by landscape however majestic rock faces are beginning to look a bit alike.

10:02 AM – Granddad has just moved over! Perhaps will be allowed to drive all day!

10:59 AM – Was just informed my turn is up.

11:00 AM – Pulled over and took the poodles for a drag. Either my arms are becoming stronger or they are walking more willingly.

12:50 AM – Ride seeming impossibly long. Forcing myself not to look at GPS because feel as if may have to live in RV forever.

1:00 PM – Lunch! But am sadly not hungry, it seems boredom kills appetites.

2:00 PM – Fear that feeling may never return to my posterior.

3:00 PM – Must not ask when we are stopping for the night. Am an adult, will handle boredom accordingly.

3:01 PM – Poodle has sat on my foot in such a manner as to indicate that it’s looking for a fight. It seems all of the natives are restless.

3:07 PM – Do not wish to be an adult anymore, want to stop driving and run into the bush which looks exactly like the wild brush from a couple of minutes ago which is identical to the brush from a thousand kilometers ago. Screw up determination; am going to really appreciate wild beauty around me.

3:08 PM – Rock, rock, rock, rock.

3:09 PM – Tree, tree, tree, tree.

3:10 PM – Lake.

3:11 PM – Tree, tree, tree, rock, tree.

5:00 PM – Have stopped for the night. Take dogs for a walk then take advantage of Wifi which is inexplicably fast despite there being no cell phone signal to speak of.

Day 4 : Ontario, ?????? (Somewhere is the north, this province is endless- we may never get out)

5:45 AM – Wake ridiculously early and go for a stroll so legs won’t forget how to walk after spending four years in RV. Discover magical park with up ended picnic tables which look like they enjoy galloping around in the night. Pretend to be a ninja observing secret life of picnic tables.

I am one with the galloping picnic tables. (Photo Credit : Gran)

I am one with the galloping picnic tables. (Photo Credit : Gran)

7:30 AM – After Granddad disconnects poop hose, a task which was mercifully excused from helping with, we are back on road in my gigantic rolling prison.

7: 37 AM – Press face against window and think happily about a time when the world didn’t move and used to do things like run around. Turn cell phone off to save it from uselessly searching for a signal.

8:30 AM – Start to read Harry Potter but even J.K. Rowling can’t fight this much ennui.

9:30 AM – Resist urge to start marking days and hours on RV wall with butter knife.

10:30 AM – See something strange in distance, is weird and rectangular shaped, like a rock face but with ninety degree angles.

10:32 AM – Is most definitely not a rock face nor the Canadian Shield because there is nothing growing out of it.

10:34 AM – Is gigantic building! Have reached civilization. Would drop to knees but would squish poodle that has taken up residence at feet if did so.

10:44 AM – Watch as building approaches.

10:54 AM – And approaches

11:04 AM – And approaches. Had forgotten it was the prairies, the place where people watch their dog run away for three days. Fall back into despair again. May never leave the RV.

1:00 Pm – Gran says are only an hour from Aunty Betty’s! Is such good news cannot believe it. Cell phone signal returns.

2:30 PM – Difficult to say who tumbles out of the RV faster- me or the poodles. Throw self to the ground so happy to be freed from RV and not in a moving vehicle any more. Was beginning to get bedsores from seat belt.

2:35 PM – Hug Gran and Granddad goodbye, say thank you for driving and wheel my suitcase into Aunty Betty’s house. Success!

Advertisements

Short Person Problems and Pterodactyl Cries

I just finished my school semester, but before this, life was pretty hairy. I was up to my ears in everything. Which is saying less than if I was a giant basketball player, however it was busy. At one point I asked my father for help. He said no. So I shored myself up and internally encouraged myself by saying “If you won’t help me then I will help myself. To your alcohol.”

So I did. It was a fantastic idea. Or at least I thought so until I got dropped off at the subway station and had to carry my bootleg bounty down the stairs. Up until that point my father had very kindly transported my bag for me from the house to the car and then from the car to the sidewalk in front of the station. All the while wondering out loud what I had packed in my suitcase. “Rocks Dad, rocks, and heavy, knowledge-filled textbooks.”

It was only when I was faced with lifting all of the Baileys from my father’s house down the metal subway stairs, along with all of my other belongings that I began to question my coping strategy.

Luckily subways are located underground so between my spindly arms and the force of gravity, my bag and I clumsily made our way to the bottom of the steps.

That was when I saw it- the turnstile. On the best of days turnstiles hit me somewhere around the sternum. But to top off the theft of my father’s liquor cabinet, I also had a giant backpacking bag with me that I was hauling home in preparation for a forty kilometer hike through the woods. Being a bright soul, I had jammed it full of apples and actual books. An excellent choice for one who normally complains about carrying heavy pillows.

Crossing the ticket barrier with the Mini Cooper sized backpack alone would have been a feat, but trailing two bottles of Baileys, some ice wine and couple fingers of scotch in a suitcase, it was looking impossible. However, this was not my first small person rodeo, so I shimmied up to the turnstile, holding onto my subway token before I was sure that I could make it through. As the arms of the barrier caught both my stomach, back and knapsack simultaneously, I let out a cry; “NiieAH, gRAh!” Far from being past the metal obstacle, I was now stuck. “HuhYEie” I called as I struggled to move the bottom of the backpack up so it was sitting on the turnstile rather than wedged with me in between the two metal boxes.

A combination of a jump/twist/fall wedged the giant backpack on top of the barrier. Having attached myself to the enormous bag, I was also yanked up, so my options were standing on my tiptoes or allowing the waist strap to cinch me into a size zero. The last option would have been more comfortable if not for Jeremiah, my burgeoning food baby. Balanced on my toes like some sort of pack-mule crossed ballerina, I attempted to drag my overly heavy suitcase into the turnstile with me, while continuing to emit pterodactyl sounds “Nrah! SHuuueee”.

At last, with my person, the giant backpack and my stolen booze trapped in the turnstile, I was poised to pay. Dropping my token in turned the metal arms and I fell sideways, however the backpack was still sitting atop the barrier and my heavy suitcase refused to allow my falling body through. “EeeeNYah” I cried, triumphantly yanking myself and all my possessions sideways, regaining my balance just before my face hit the subway floor.

After making my way down the escalator to the subway platform, I decided to celebrate the moment with a photo.

Photo Credit: Confused stranger inthe subway

A skirt is always the obvious choice when hauling mass amounts of heavy goods. Photo Credit: Confused stranger inthe subway

Not pictured- my attempt to stand after sitting in the subway. There may have been more pterodactyl cries.

Travesty Tuesday – Tricycle Rides and Unfortunate Sleeping Arrangements

The Great Unwashed- “I’m putting up a Travesty Tuesday post.”

Roscoe- “But it’s Friday.”

The Great Unwashed- “You know that saying “It’s five o’clock somewhere?” Well it’s Tuesday somewhere. It’s a time zone thing.”

Roscoe- “That’s not how time zones work.”

Red onion slices

These account for approximately 60% of the New Zealand diet.** (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Great Unwashed – “It’s Tuesday in New Zealand. Honest. And it doesn’t even matter if it isn’t, New Zealanders do things backwards anyways, they call every second Wednesday “Girdle” and only eat raw onions.”

Roscoe walked out of the room after that. He does that sometimes.

Here is an email I sent to my youngest cousin Candy*. She came to visit me just before leaving to go to college. It’s my guess that she robbed multiple convenience stores and the judge gave her the option of going to Juvie for a month or spending time with me. I think Juvie was looking pretty sweet after she read this.

Oh well you can’t win ‘em all, right Candy?

 

 

Dear Candy,

 

SURPRISE! We’re going camping. Nothing big, just the local park and only for one night. To celebrate this momentous occasion my truck is in at the mechanics getting both the flap thingie on the front fixed and also the SCREEEEEEEE noise that it’s been making any time I turn it on.

The parking lot in front of the garage was packed full of broken-down cars. The mechanics seemed doubtful about when they would be able to return my truck to me.

English: A man is repairing a tri-cycle who se...

Candy, I think you over packed a little. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As such it’s my recommendation to you Candy, to practice core muscle exercises for the next few days. Not only will these assist with paddle boarding which we shall be trying at the park but it will also help in your transport to the house from the bus station. My current plan is to ride a tricycle over and have you ride on my shoulders the three kilometers home. You will have to carry your suitcase on your back obviously.

This is a hugely popular transportation method in India just so you know.

We will be sharing the giant self inflating mattress while camping because I can’t be bothered to bring and blow up two separate ones when I could punch and kick my way through a night next to someone who is obligated to be nice to me by virtue of sharing just over 12% of my genetic code and staying in my house.

I also suggest you bring a sweater, a bathing suit, sunscreen and a UV shirt*** if you own one. Otherwise I’ll make you wear one of my UV shirts which are so used and stretched out that they’d look more appropriate on a fashionable orangutan.

Or maybe not, I feel like a fashionable anything would refuse to wear a UV shirt.

I have all necessary other camping items although I suggest you remind me to bring pillows. I often forget this item and no matter how I arrange the pile, firewood never seems comfortable to sleep on.

Lovingly, awkwardly and always on three wheels, your cousin,

The Great Unwashed

 

*Candy is as sweet as her made up name. She would never burn down convenience stores. She is frequently forced to visit me, a severe penance for crimes she doesn’t commit. At least I don’t think she commits crimes. I was covered in highly flammable oil during her visit though.

 

** I wouldn’t necessarily trust my knowledge of the world. I garnered most of the facts I know about New Zealand from Wild Buttercup. However I only looked at the pictures so I don’t know how reliable my information is.

 

Also I’ve never been to India. However I would like someone to ride on my shoulders while I peddle a tricycle. As a young child I was prevented from attempting this, I can only assume that sort of fun is illegal in Canada. India seems like a fun loving place. I bet mothers allow that sort of thing there.

 

***For those of you who don’t go red and shrivel up in the sun like a raisin a UV shirt blocks ninety to one hundred percent of UVA and UVB rays. For near albinos like Candy and I this type of clothing is a necessity for all outdoor activities. We combine it with 110 SPF sunscreen and then complain about feeling burnt. The Irish are fun to kiss but you probably shouldn’t procreate with them if you ever want to sit out on a beach.

Birthday Wish List: Violence and Misery

This isn’t a funny story. It’s more the type of story where you think it can’t possibly get any worse and then it does. There’s an element of humour in there. There’s a lot of humour if you don’t like me.

For Roscoe’s last birthday he had a very traditional Canadian request; he wanted to go to a Leaf’s game. So I acquiesced and purchased tickets for him. That’s a lie. I would have had to use the internet to do such a thing. So Roscoe purchased the tickets, but I paid for them.

I digress so it’s the day of the hockey game, Roscoe and I drive up to Buffalo. The two of us often attend NHL games as a part of either his education because the med class enjoys going out together or as a part of my Dad’s Christmas gift to Roscoe. We cross the border just fine, check into our hotel then walk to the game and everything is good.

But the problem is I’ve purchased the tickets, not my Dad or another person from the med class with equally deep pockets so we get to the game and start climbing to our seats. And climbing. And climbing. Then two rows away from the very top of the arena we stop and sit down.

I’ve worn one of my nice skirts for the evening, it’s a favourite of mine by a designer from Montreal who has the silhouette of a curvy woman on her labels. I’m also in heels. This seems like a poor decision at the moment because of the stairs and the fashion choices of the fans around us. Many people are in sweatshirts and jeans and one man is in a Frosted Flakes cartoon costume.

“Why is he dressed as a cereal mascot?” I ask Roscoe.

“The Leafs are playing the Sabers, he’s a saber-toothed tiger.” Roscoe is already into the game and his beer, thus he is very focused and does not appreciate my questions.

For the record, during the game you are supposed to look at the ice. Not at the stands. This is a part of hockey that Roscoe reiterates to me often.

For the record, during the game you are supposed to look at the ice. Not at the stands. This is a part of hockey that Roscoe reiterates to me often.

 

The tension in the arena was incredible. Judging by the number of Leaf’s jerseys in the rows in front of us, we were not the only Canadians who had driven down. The roar when a goal was scored got progressively louder as the game went on. Jeering comments were shouted back and forth between groups in the stands. Roscoe and I watched as an older man started a fight with a fellow fan in a section below us. Their yelling escalated and the large security guards just stood idly by.

Finally it was the end of the game. Roscoe and I stood up getting ready to leave when all of a sudden we see a young man with a bloodied face tearing towards us in the row above. And not two feet behind him was a three hundred and fifty pound man, his face red and screwed up with rage. The young man tripped and fell to the ground, partially over the seats that Roscoe and I had just vacated.

I bolted, not wanting to become a target for the larger man’s rage or his girth which I had no doubt could break at least a few of my ribs if I was to break his fall. I turned around expecting to see Roscoe right behind me.

“No!” I screamed as I watched Roscoe dive into the fray. For the past three years while my husband was in medical school I’ve been the primary breadwinner. By my estimation I’ve poured about ninety thousand dollars into his head and had no desire to see his educated mind mashed or knocked about on the arena floor. Panic rooted me to the spot and I started to cry from fear and the feeling of being completely out of my element as I watched Roscoe attempt to restrain the obese man’s powerful arm. By this time the men who had been sitting around us jumped in, helping pin the punching, furious limb to the ground.

Seeing that there was no longer any danger, security rushed in removing both of the ruffians from the section swiftly. The smaller man’s face was completely bloodied by now. Roscoe picked up his jacket and walked over to me.

“I didn’t want you to get hurt!” I sobbed into his pea coat. “I know but the larger one would have mangled his face. He just kept throwing uppercut after uppercut” Roscoe said while hugging me.

After five minutes of having my hair petted and soothing words whispered into my ear I was calm enough to walk. The fan’s energy and anger still flowed through the crowd as we moved out of the arena towards the hotel, heated exchanges were shouted as Leaf’s fans passed Saber’s fans. On our walk we saw a large art installation and I ran over to hug it, believing it to be the only piece of beauty left in Buffalo.

In turbulent times even art needs love.

In turbulent times even art needs love.

Just as I had wrapped myself around the giant Christmas ornament and was about to wish some good back into the world a voice barked at me, “Hey lady! Don’t touch the art.”

Back at the hotel, I spent twenty minutes trying to rinse the blood out of Roscoe’s cream coloured sweater. His coat had been splashed with blood too and would need to be taken to the dry cleaners.

“Happy Birthday?” I said to my husband as I handed his damp sweater back. Shortly after, just before eleven we climbed into bed and fell asleep to the sounds of revelers celebrating the Saber’s win.

“DANGER. DANGER. FIRE. Please make your way to the exit. DANGER. DANGER. FIRE. Please make your way to the exit.” In the darkness of the hotel room, it took me a moment to remember where I was. And then a glance at the clock confirmed my sinking realization. We were at a hotel, and someone had pulled the fire alarm at three in the morning.

The voice coming from the ceiling was so loud it interrupted my thoughts. Roscoe was already out of bed pulling on his jeans and blood stained coat. The voice continued to boom it’s urgent message in the hall and then down the stairs.

Shivering in the parking lot, I turned to Roscoe. “I’m sorry, I will never ever buy you a birthday gift ever again.”

The next morning we both woke before six after freezing in the parking lot for half an hour and returning to bed at three thirty am. To say that we were both grumpy would be laughable. We were the kind of disgruntled that leads people to sacrifice goats and other small farm animals with their teeth. We drove back to Canada in silence, not stopping once for coffee or breakfast until we were safely two hours away from Buffalo.