I’m going to Nova Scotia…

…and you probably aren’t.

I never thought my work would take me to Canada’s ocean playground. Surprises are nice. I’ve already envisioned a scenario where Chris Murphy from Sloan is home in Halifax visiting family, we meet downtown, he decides he likes boys, we fall in love, and I get another chance to immigrate to Canada and go on tour as a band wife.

Since that probably won’t really happen, I’m just going to be excited about hitting three new provinces in a part of Canada I might not otherwise have visited.

Holiday travels

I’ve never been much for holiday travels. I rarely came home for the holidays when I lived in California, preferring to visit in January when things were calmer. That said, I’ve really come to love my annual post-Christmas trek to Virginia Beach over the past six visits.

I started this “new tradition” in 2012. The university is closed that week, so I always have the time off. That year, i decided that Virginia beach would be a good option. I’d been threatening to do a week there in the winter ever since a mildly drama-laden trip to the area with the ex a few years earlier. I figured I could get a nice room pretty inexpensively and just hang out reading, relaxing, and looking at the ocean. I like the beach in winter–and really hate it during the summer. My regular vacations tend to be anything but relaxing; I’m pretty actively exploring most of the time with very little downtime. Plus, Virginia Beach offered a nearby urban setting were I to get bored with all that relaxation.

It seemed perfect. And it was.

I still look forward to that my holiday beach trip every year. I strike a good balance of inertia and activity, and I’ve found a few restaurants I really love (notably this one). I usually polish off a book or two and often end up seeing a movie at the Naro. And I watch Perry Mason reruns on MeTV. It’s great and gets me in the right frame of mind to start the new year at work.

It’s strange how that whole area has almost come to seem like another home base to me. It joins Toronto and Los Angeles in that elite group, though its two big brothers are sexier and more exciting.

This year, I popped back via Richmond so I could do some research there. I always enjoy being in Richmond too, and have always thought it might be an interesting place to live should the opportunity ever arise. Ironically (since it was the capital of the Confederacy and all) Richmond feels to me like the specific point where the South stops being the South and starts being the urban Northeast, with rowhouses, walkable neighborhoods, and a different cultural feel. Of course, many might disagree with me on that and suggest that its a very vanilla sort of place. Sorry…

But yeah, I like it. And evidently, I like holiday travel a lot more when it’s not cross-country and doesn’t involve airplanes.

 

Providence…

…is that rare city that neither disappointed me nor exceeded my expectations in any way. It was pretty much exactly what i expected: very cute and a little dull. it was good to see it, but I feel no compelling desire to return soon. Interestingly, the “what it might be like to live here” curiosity I get in so many cities never quite hit with Providence.

Random thoughts:

  • I actually had trouble understanding a few people here, which is unusual for me.
  • This hotel (which I did not book nor pay for myself)  is a grand triumph of style over substance. It tries so hard to be all hipsteriffic and trendy that it ultimately just ends up being uncomfortable and dysfunctional (and overpriced). I’m sure some people would love it. I am not one of those people. And what the fuck is the appeal of rain shower heads? To their credit, though, the staff is great.
  • I could have done without the extra, unplanned night, though American Airlines did foot the bill.
  • Why would someone pay $35 for a cab from the airport to downtown when there’s a $2 express city bus?
  • Everything really is close to everything else in Rhode Island.

Exploring

Having spent four lovely days in the warm and fuzzy embrace of Toronto, I’m now exploring Kitchener-Waterloo. I spent a few hours here several years ago, and I decided I would come back for a couple of days at some point. That point has arrived.

A few initial impressions that I may or may not expand on later:

  • It seems a lot more like American cities here. It’s very sprawling, and there’s not the grid that you see in Toronto, Ottawa, or Montréal. Development patterns just look a lot more like a small- or mid-sized American city. (EDIT: Speech recognition added a “good” to that last sentence that didn’t belong there.)
  • It also seems a lot more white and Anglo (and Germanic) here. A quick glance at the areas demographics on Wikipedia confirms this suspicion.
  • I wonder how people here react to the fact that most of their broadcast media (TV at least) is based in Toronto, and that there’s nothing really local. I guess there never has been, so they probably don’t notice the difference. That said, this would be a pretty decent sized market in the US. (EDIT: There are apparently local stations here but they were not on my hotel cable.)
  • They do have their own newspaper, though, and like most Canadian papers, it seems a trifle healthier than most American papers.
  • I really love the converted shopping center on University Avenue that’s become sort of a big international food court. I ate there last time I was here and returns tonight as well.
  • I also love my room, and I’m reconsidering whether I want to leave.
  • Canadian public libraries rock the universe.

Pigs and pumpkins

I went to the fair for the first time since 2010. We saw the giant pumpkins and the pigs and the assorted cakes that were already past their prime and starting to look a little worse for the wear. We marveled at the “most effective use of a gourd” winner. Many of the youngsters’ art projects had a very encouraging urban feel to them. I made wry comments as we walked past the Republican party booth and the “right to life” booth (which was, of course, staffed only by men) and I had Methodist hot dogs and cobbler. I somehow too no pictures. My “date” won a ribbon for a dress she made. It was nice.

Canada Saturday for the annual Thanksgiving trip. There may or may not be updates from the road here and/or on the various Twitter accounts.

That’s 16 in prime number years…

Celebrating Rosanna Arquette’s birthday in St. Catherines, Ontario.

Revelations upon hitting age 53 that I forgot to post last month on Rosanna Arquette’s birthday:

  • At some point in the aging process, your beard gets grey enough that neglecting to shave no longer makes you look sexy and scruffy–assuming it ever did to begin with. It just makes it look like you forgot to wash your face that morning.
  • How do people live without obsessions hobbies to take over their lives keep them busy.
  • Just like giving up smoking and leaving San Francisco, getting rid of cable is a decision I have never once regretted.
  • Travel is a much more enjoyable vice than bar- or bed-hopping. I know from experience that it is possible to combine all three, but I would opt for doing the former (and doing it alone) if I had to choose.
  • I enjoy many of the perks of being middle class, though I haven’t necessarily absorbed all the values.
  • Life is a lot more fun when you concentrate on things and people you like rather than on things and people you don’t.

Hi, honey. I’m home!

IMG_3754

Yes, I realize you probably didn’t know I was gone, but I’ve been to Albany/Schenectady, Rochester, and Buffalo (not to mention cameo appearances in Cleveland, Erie, Niagara Falls, St Catharine’s and even my very first sleepover in Delaware). And I’m older now, too!

Pictures and details to follow.

Charleston revisited

IMG_2018

I’ve been threatening to make another roadtrip to Charleston for several years now. This weekend, accompanied by my new car, I did it. Frankly, it hadn’t changed all that much since 2008.

But I took pretty pictures!

Nine years. One waterfall. (OK…two waterfalls…)

IMG_2089

3177927842_e552c908a8_o

Almost nine years ago, the ex and I did a road trip to Charleston and Pittsburgh that ultimately had lots of implications, but for now, I’ll just mention that we took what was always my favorite “couple photo” on this trip, at a waterfall by the side of Highway 60 somewhere near Gauley Bridge, West Virginia. I’ve been threatening to do another weekend in Charleston ever since, and this was finally that weekend.

More pictures to follow, but yesterday, I happened to take that same back road home because I wanted to shoot a couple of old Kroger stores along the way (and because I fucking hate that stretch of the West Virginia Turnpike between Beckley and Charelston), and I happened upon that same waterfall. I thought it was time for a new photo. I think I’ve held up pretty well over the years. Almost no evidence at all of decomposition…

And for the record, I found a new waterfall I like even better, because the nature is kept at bay by the pair of creepy old buildings adjacent to it.

IMG_2075

Again, more pictures and thoughts on Charleston to follow…