20190703 Day Seven Quebec City

20190703 Day Seven

Quebec City

We woke up for breakfast. It was all uphill from the start.

Just outside our apartment the police arrested a guy on our way to breakfast. I heard a siren behind me. I figured it was a traffic stop. A dirty minivan stopped in front of the crosswalk and two slightly built dudes with guns in plainclothes jumped out and approached the guy next to me. I was like “I am standing behind the guy, the guy with the gun wants to talk to.”

There were two uniformed motorcycle cops assisting. But this looked like some serious secret squirrel type activity. The one guy put the stopped guy in the back of the van via the drivers side sliding door and was talking to him. After we walked up the hill, the dirty unmarked mini van was talking to the suspect on the side of the road.

Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment wanted fancy sit down breakfast with plates and syrup on the table. I picked the biggest and closest place. Unfortunately, it was a coffee shop in a convention center. Mrs. Jon Bruce may have been served the plastic display vege quiche’ display or vegan quiche’. I tasted it and couldn’t decide which. The boys and I had tasty sandwiches with grill marks. I also had a carrot salad. The best part of breakfast was the television and Diet Coke. The Diet Coke was great for all the normal reasons. The television was great because some government type was giving a press conference outside Quebec Parliament.

When we walked back upstairs from the conference center, we could see the press conference concluding across the street at the Quebec Parliament. We walked over to Parliament du Quebec. Quebec has a strong provincial government, but they also seem to be prepared to be a separate country if the rest of Canada doesn’t keep it’s shit together. Also, they like to talk French.

There is a big party starting tomorrow. We got to sit on the seesaws for the big party. The giant see-saw may be a metaphor for checks and balances in government. The seesaws also had safety features so you couldn’t destroy the person on the other end’s tail bone or eject them towards the heavens. The metaphors are basically endless.

We went and checked out the Parliament. There was no air condition in the security line. There was a gift shop and a/v displays. The head of Quebec gets a ceremonial mace that hasn’t been used to hit anyone in several years. It is in a display case until the next time someone needs a whooping.

We went and checked out the scenic overlook at the top of the hill. We were at the bottom yesterday. We started at the bottom now we’re here. I saw some military guys with bear fur hats, a group of guys with drums walking on stilts in funny costumes, and a funny costume group carrying a barrel.

I think the bear fur hats are regular military in parade dress. The stilt guys are like MMA, but on stilts. I am not kidding. There was one guy who was tremendously good on the yellow and black stilt team. He was finally defeated by the Jackie Chan of Quebec stilt fighting. Let me take that back. The Jackie Chan of Quebec stilt fighting was defeated by a guy who coasted until the last match. C’est magnifique! There were a couple of Canada Army guys in dress uniforms. One dude was top heavy from all the awards and citations. There were also some local politicians or something. The pols got to try out the stilts after the champion was decided.

We wandered back to the apartment in the blazing sun. We went in a hat store. I already have a very nice hat so I bought a cravat. I look tres’ chic. I also found a store that sells those striped shirts, but only in Quebec sizes. I settled on a shirt that is similar but pretty much screams. “Je suis le Americain!” The boys were looking hard at the 80’s section. Mrs. Jon Bruce told me there was an 80’s section. I went and looked. The store had an 80s section. There were Vuarnet sunglasses t-shirts in multiple styles. Vuarnet sunglasses were my thing back in the day. Now I have a pair of sunglasses that fit my giant head comfortably. I am now available to fight crime in the United States with or without the cravat.

We napped at the apartment.

For dinner, we went to L’Affaire est Ketchup, Restaurant Pirate. It was like Blendena’s kitchen. Hot, no air conditioning, but with loud music, French people doing covers of Rock and Roll American. We ate everything. Salmon, Caviar, Venison, Duck, Lamb, Bison, Scallops, pork belly bacon, veal sweetbreads. The veal sweetbreads may have been a little too much. Sometimes when you are eating fancy stuff on real plates with syrup on the table you have to stop chewing and swallow.

The L’Affaire est Ketchup has very limited seating,maybe thirty seats. They serve two meals. 6pm and 8:30pm. It was on Charbonneau’s and my list to visit. It was perfectement! But is was also hot. Totally worth the discomfort for the experience.

L’Affaire called us a cab. Cab’s are still a thing. It was half the cost of the Uber that made us late for dinner. I should have gotten the cab number sooner.

We got back to the apartment. Charbonneau and I went back into Old Town to check out the traditional Quebec Irish Pubs. We went to the furthest one. I had an English Beer that was good. Charbonneau had a Quebec beer called Megadeath. We had Irish car bombs at the second place while listening to a white guy cover Childish Gambino on an acoustic guitar. The third bar was the most promising. There was a jazz combo finishing their set when we walked in. The bass player is now my best friend forever. We slammed our beers and left with a French phrase that “means in a hurry”.

Hotel internet Picture Link
https://photos.app.goo.gl/pw4paPXMwwsakGKp8

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20190702_DaySix Montreal to Quebec City

20190702_DaySix
Montreal to Quebec City

Charbonneau, Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment and I awoke in the morning. We ventured out to see Notre Dame du Montreal. Pope John Paul II decreed it a basilica of note in the 1980’s. (maybe) It is very pretty for a church. The people of Montreal must party pretty hard. There are 12 double sided confessionals lining the walls of the church. Some even have somebody’s name on them. I can only surmise that they must sin a lot, but also donate heavenly sums. The church was about a block from our hotel. Charbonneau marveled at the proximity.

We had breakfast at an expensive coffee and sandwich place on the basilica square. It was pretty good. They make coffee in one of those really nice espresso machines. The guy who runs the machine is very serious. I changed my order three times before he made it. Mrs. Jon Bruce has a Americano Double. I had a latte with very little milk (the barrista poured a misshapen heart in the foam for me). Charbonneau had a double espresso and a beer. We all left with irregular heart beats. Charbonneau had very blotchy skin until the side effects wore off.

We went and checked out a store or two before heading out of town. We made a final stop in Montreal at the Mont Royal. It’s a Royal Mountain offering breath-taking and scenic panoramas of Montreal. We skipped the breath taking climb to the chalet where only the most cardiovascularly fit people can take the most scenic and panoramic vistas. We opted for the turn out accessible via automobile. The vistas were somewhat panoramic, scenic and sweeping.

I missed the turnout turn and drove into the parking lot in the wrong direction. The guy who sells “Water, Pepsi, etc” to the tour buses and his less employed friend gave me the stink eye.

As we departed Mont Royal, my cell service and GPS app stopped working. This gave us some time to explore family dynamics and team work. Also I about had a “Scanners” style aneurysm. We finally got on the Canadian Transcontinental Highway and headed in the right direction. The phone service started working. The GPS worked. Family dynamics and the natural order were restored.

Canada highway signs are very similar to the United States. There are differences. The deer crossing sign has four legs. It looks ridiculous. I suspect that deer is jumping in front of cars deliberately. There is even a warning sign featuring bent and crumpled car road sign and deer roadside crashed together. That deer crossing sign voted against it’s own best interests in the last election.

We stopped for lunch and a break de bathroom at a Scottish restaurant, McDonalds. I gave Merryweather some money so he could order his own food and parley with the locals. I went to the bathroom. When I got out of the bathroom, Merryweather was still at a self serve kiosk and now assisted by Charbonneau and Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment. I walked up to the counter and gave my order to an employee. By the time I got my food and made my own Diet Coke, the other three were standing in line to order from the person because the kiosk lost their order.

You don’t hear kiosks complaining online about hard working humans taking their jobs because they do it quietly and in ones and zeroes.

We stopped for gas some place in the in between. The whole trip I have been using my Apple Watch to pay for stuff. I ask “Can I tap (Achat in french) ?” They says “yes (oui!)”. I pay them with the watch and move on with my life. Smiles all around.

Somewhere east of Montreal things start to get different. First the gas station in Between needs me to come inside and pre-pay. Then about every other transaction requires a card. They ask “credit or debit?”. The level of tappy-ness has decreased along side my digital spending joy.

Allow me to side note… Many restaurants have had portable credit card machines. The waiter brings the machine to the table then hands it to you. You can add the tip directly. and click okay. One receipt gets printed. No wasted paper. It’s not as much fun as Square, but better than what I have seen. It’s everywhere. I can Apple Pay with my watch. Voila!

We arrived in Quebec City along the St. Lawrence River. Today I learned that the St. Lawrence Seaway is the great lakes and the St. Lawrence River. When I told this to Charbonneau, he laughed mightly. “No man could paddle a canoe that far in his lifetime.” I says to him “No, c’est vrai” (This is true) The drive was very scenic. There are scenic mountains or hills in the background, scenic water along the side of the road. I made a scenic illegal u-turn over a scenic median.

Please note that Old Quebec city is very old and very old world in scale. I will tell you more about it in a minute but the good descriptive part fit better later in the story. You will understand.

You could hear my teeth grinding as we drove towards the apartment. I was attempting to drive the Overland Rig through tiny streets in rush hour traffic. Additionally, there was an underground parking accessed via a side street. I thought she said it was diagonally, but Mrs. Bruce clearly explained it was called Die-Gone Alley. I missed the turn. I went the wrong way on several tiny streets. I was shouting at Charbonneau and Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment for metric conversions on the length and height of the truck. It was very obvious that this would be an issue shortly. Charbonneau didn’t appreciate my desire for Six Sigma decimals places in conversion until we pulled into the garage. I had both mirrors folded in. On the second turn, I had three inches on the front left bumper. Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment had stopped looking because the right rear quarter panel was about to be sheered off. I don’t even think two spotters is legal in Jeep rock crawling events.

Thanks to Zeno and his paradox, the truck cleared the corner. The parking space was directly down the ramp. There is enough room for two water molecules to stand abreast between the front of the truck and the wall. The back of the truck sticks out slightly further than where the asshole in the Porsche SUV shit parked his stupid car next to me.

I really like my truck. A lot. I know it is unwieldy in urban situations. My imagination was unprepared for the prospect of trying to drive it in a 400 year old French City in Canada. I actually looked it up. The Ford is bigger in every dimension than the Honda Ridgeline. The scale of this place makes a Smart car seem awkward. This is the second and hopefully last time that I will be wishing we had driven a smaller car. It was super stressful.  My family is very supportive and helpful despite the fact I insist on communicating with hateful swearing and personal attacks.

We got parked. We checked in. The apartment is triangular. One wall is all glass. ALL GLASS. If you have ever seen a 1000 sq ft apartment display at Ikea. We are staying in that. There are even furry pillows and furry throws and a weird shaped very red pot or sculpture. Except it is a triangle with a KICK ASS view of Quebec and the St. Lawrence seaway.

We did laundry immediately. I picked out a restaurant on the other end of god’s green earth for dinner. We walked all the way there. Merryweather was coerced into wayfinding and google map using. This is not the clever French street design of Indianapolis, nor the clever French street design of even Washington DC. This is the street design of Jean Val Jean in Les Miserables or the  Hunchback of Viant Quebec City Dame.

Many a travel writer will use up all their adjectives talking about Old Montreal. Many a travel writing career has end as those unfortunate souls get their first glimpse of Old Quebec City. I was very lucky indeed to have only said.

” Words can’t do it justice.” – Jon The Bruce

Old Quebec City is twice the “Words can’t do it justice.” as Old Montreal. It’s hillier, it’s twistier, it’s turnier. You can hear knee joints grinding to dust on the cobblestones. But only if you listening closely, and drown out the buskers and street musicians. When we first entered Old Quebec City on foot, there were two girls on saxophone playing that song you would expect to hear in some French city along cobblestone streets. It was perfectly timed. Perfectly. I gave them money, because.

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.” – HST

At one point near the bottom of our despair and the bottom of the hill, we looked back. There is an elevator/funicular/tram that goes up and down the hill.

At the very next point nearer still to the assuredly bottomer of our despair and the bottomer of the hill, we looked back. There is an elevator/funicular/tram that goes up the hill and a majestic castle looking thing. It was breathtaking. (Thanks to Mrs. Jon Bruce for noticing and pointing it out)

At the very nextest point nearest still to the assuredly bottomest of our despair and the bottomest of the hill, we couldn’t find the restaurant. Words were exchanged. Heatedly. Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment was entertaining the idea that I had lead the whole party astray, on purpose. Merryweather had disappeared like a ghost tour of haunted Old Quebec City. I confidently checked Google maps. We were 72 feet away. I wasn’t sure in which direction. Charbonneau went downhill another cobblestoned block to scout. No luck. I turned around in a circle to orient the GPS and figure out which direction to run away. I went uphill one block. I found the restaurant, but there was a 20 minute wait for a nice table outside. They recommended I go back down the block to the lower section of the restaurant for a table catty corner from the spot where I couldn’t find the restaurant.

Charbonneau ordered a pitcher of Sangria. It was delicious. So was the pizza. and the dessert tray. and the caprese salad and the bread and the decorative garnish.

The team decided to Uber up the hill. I walked. I have heard that the funicular is $3.50 CDN per person. One way. The next time you are in Dubuque, tip the Fenelon Place Elevator for providing such an excellent value. The one here is stand up, with glass walls and a view of the St. Lawrence Seaway and historic QC.

Bad Internet Picture link –
https://photos.app.goo.gl/scKAyMHPStR6JqgB9

20190701_Day Five Montreal

20190701_Day Five
Montreal

Mile 0
We woke up and got moving mid morning. We uber’d to Fairmont Bagels. Montreal has famous bagels. We ate some. They were perfect. We walked down St. Laurent BLVD about a gazillion miles. We stopped at a convenience store and got a Budweiser Prohibition Brew(non alcoholic). It was really good, much better than actual Budweiser. We stopped to have lunch at Swartz’s which was pretty good.

We kept walking. We found a rock and roll t-shirt store. I could name off some of the band names. I was into them before they had merch and quit listening when they went mainstream and got popular. One of the shop owners asked where we were from. He said “Oh , that’s a red state” We agreed. The other owner apologized, “We don’t normally talk politics in Canada. I don’t even know who my sister voted for. He (nodding over his shoulder) is not like that.”
We kept going and walked through the Quarter Chinois (Chinese Quarter). Merryweather found a bubble tea place. All the places were bubble tea or had signs announcing that bubble tea was coming soon.

I saw a woman putting up posters with glue and a roller brush like you see in major cities. I have never seen anyone actually doing the work. Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment reports that is hard on work on your shoes. I got a copy of the poster she was working. In French, Jerry Lewis doing his Chinese character. It couldn’t have been bizarre or more perfect.

We continued to the hotel. Charbonneau, Merryweather, and Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment cranked the AC and took naps. We had walked about four miles.

I went back to Quarter Chinois. I went to a grocery store. I found Butter Caramel Cookies and Brown Sugar Fudge. They are excellent alone, but dipping butter caramel cookies in brown sugar fudge is better. It’s only a problem if I can’ stop. I will run out of cookies and fudge at some point.

I ended up in the Palais des congres de Montreal. Apparently, Palais means mall.

Canada was lousy with Canada themed clothing on Canada Day. I went to another palais in search of Canadian goods. Le Gap and Le Old Navy were both closed today. The mall was open but under construction and the streets surrounding it were closed due to construction.

I wound around back towards the hotel. I had walked another 4 miles.

I took a nap.

We got ready for dinner. We pivoted on dinner. There is some amazing french food in Montreal. I suggested a fusion taco place instead. Merryweather reminded me that he is a teenager. Charbonneau suggested dim sum. We found a place close and walked. Jiao is kind of fancy dim sum eatery. I was the oldest person in the place. We got a table and the food meandered out to the table over the course of a couple hours.

We totally lucked out. Our hotel backs Vieux Montreal (old Montreal). We hadn’t adventured there yet. Jiao is on the first block of the old town. When we exited Jiao we headed towards the waterfront. Since it is Canada Day, the police had blocked all auto traffic into Vieux Montreal. We got to walk on the streets through a real ancient French city. It was like Disney without the gift shops. Words can’t do it justice.

We got to the waterfront and joined a huge crowd. The band would have been perfect for a French or Quebec version of every 80s John Hughes movie. I might even try and figure out who it was.

Montreal waterfront is huge. There were a lot of people, but they had a lot of location choices to spectate. We were pretty low stakes. At this point, neither Charbonneau nor Merryweather is prone to throwing a tantrum over glow bracelets or cheap light sabers. We sat on a curb. We could hear the sound track and the fireworks started.

The fireworks were a very nice display of civic pride. There were hearts and smiley faces and flowers and booms. My neighborhood in Elkhorn, Nebraska had a more sustained, more expensive, more shock and awe than Canada Day fireworks. The advantage of Montreal is that the display lasted about ten minutes and then everyone moved on with their lives. I suspect there will be no month long, jingoistic, late night artillery shelling displays.

We walked back to the hotel via the Notre-Dame de Montreal in Vieux-Montreal. Magical.
10.2 miles
I opted to skip any more, anything and get some rest.

20190630 Day Four Toronto to Montreal

20190630  Day Four

Toronto to Montreal
We woke up earlier to check out of the hotel for a travel day. Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment and I snuck our bagels and cheese and vodka infused salmon to the breakfast buffet. It was excellent.
I recovered the truck from the bat cave a block away. It was unmolested. The radio antennae is maybe six inches higher than the rest of the truck and it slaps along the ceiling of low parking garages. This one was no different. Still patting myself on the back for the new bed rails.

I dodged the half of Toronto heading to the beach ferries. We loaded the truck and joined the remaining half of Toronto on the drive out of Toronto. Traffic is pretty tame. There was a pickup and a Mercedes SUV following much to closely for 120kph, but they were travelling together. They seem super polite. It may also be the case that my Missouri plates indicate that I may be carrying a rocket launcher. Lane discipline was better than average. (Lane Discipline = keeping right except to pass)

We stopped in Kingston, Ontario. It was the closest Beavertails. Beavertails or Queues de Castor is like an elephant ear with toppings. They are amazing. Normally I would say that this is over the top or cloying, but I tried three or four different kinds and they were all delicious. The other patrons were very happy when our food arrived and I stopped taking bites off of their plates. Kingston as you may remember is the town where the Tragically Hip performed their last show. There is a street bearing their name.

Kingston also has a pop up market most days. I have never seen so many snow shoes available for purchase. One of the vendors must have spent weeks looting cabins in the vicinity. Merryweather got a hand carved Don Quixote which is missing it’s lance. Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment got a book. I bought a wool blanket that may indeed be ugly enough to be an actual Bruce plaid. I will have to re-exam if after the dog hair has been cleaned off.

I got outted by more whole family for attempting to buy some dietary fiber at the drug store before we left town. There is little privacy on a Bruce Family expedition.

We crossed into Quebec. Quebec is like Ontario in many ways. Quebec is also different. Everything in Quebec is EN FRANCAIS (in French). Merde! I actually have enjoyed it so far. I am sure every interaction I have had is as horrible as the border crossing, but it’s fun. Our hotel room number is Huit Vignt-et un (or something like that).

Our hotel swimming pool is in a weird location. We found it on the way to dinner.

We dined at La Banquise. There was a line out the door. The back up restaurant that the hotel concierge suggested also had a giant line out the door. We stood on line. It was kind of a circus when I got there. Some weird kid slammed his electric bike into a parked car, seemingly on purpose. All manner of locals were doing local stuff. We saw a kid with dreads walking a dog with dreads. Three guys were carrying a speaker to somewhere. An aging hipster guy was practicing skateboard in front of the police station. LA Banquise is directly across the street from the police station.

La Banquise serves poutine. French fries, gravy, cheese curd. I imagine it was invented in the Dubuque, Iowa area first, but Quebec is famous for it. Like Iowa is famous for loose meat sandwiches. La Banquise serves every conceivable variation. I have a personal limit on fries, gravy and cheese curd. Mrs. Jon Bruce and I shared. Charbonneau and Merryweather went fancy. Poutine is amazing. (Though I would recommend some supplemental fiber if you eat this kind of thing daily on vacation. ) The beer was excellent.

We exited the restaurant and ordered an Uber. Merryweather and I sat down in front of the police station on a bench to wait. out of nowhere, one of the locals came barrelling towards us on a bike. Leapt off the bike, slamming it onto the curb. He grabbed the top package of left over poutine from the trash can next to us… and started eating.

I had spotted him earlier when we were on line. He was unremarkably sketchy. I was non-plussed and agreed with him that it was in fact delicious as he ate off the sidewalk “just like mother’s home cooking”. Merryweather was steady but not impreturbible. He exited stage left. Of course, the more compassionate patrons rushed over to offer him their much fresher leftover poutine. I walked away to join Merryweather at the request of Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment. Our new friend disappear as quickly as he had appeared.

I thought the whole thing was some brilliant pan handling performance art. Way better than the lady in Chicago who needs some money to get a bus pass. I am not going to lie. I bet the leftover poutine at the top of the trash can is delicious. If you don’t mind some cooties.

We rolled back to the hotel. Merryweather retired for the evening. Charbonneau went off to meet another scout. Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment and I went to watch the LowDown Brass Band at Montreal Jazz Festival. #FIJM #FML This is an event I have heard about many times. I have heard recordings from Montreal Jazz. I still can’t believe that I was at Montreal Jazz. I didn’t do a lot of research for this trip besides food. LowDown Brass Band played fun stuff, Snoop, Dre, and originals.

Afterwards, we met up with Charboneau and had a drink. Charbonneau recalled our conversation from Thurday when I said “Charbonneau, you still like jazz, because you haven’t listened to enough of it.” I have said many strange and horrible things to him about jazz. If he ever tells you an outrageous anecdote, it’s probably true. I don’t like jazz, because I have listened to a lot of it. I had a blast tonight listening to some of it.

We tried to Uber back to the hotel. The driver couldn’t find us despite dancing in the street to get his attention. We ended up walking.

Three things happened.
We got to see some art work. There is a gallery close at hand with some holographic art that sparks conversation.
Calvin got to see a rat. There was a mouse incident at the market yesterday. Mrs. Jon Bruce and I got to witness it. The boys of course had a rat meme dance video to go along with our rat anecdote. Our RAT ratatouille level was already really high. Weird local eating out of the trash can had already become a part the Bruce Rat Meme. and now after a long day we see a LIVE RAT. It was a giant LIVE RAT. It was also tame. The rat handler was a nervous scurrying type.

And then the third thing… Two Canadiennes celebrating Canada Day / Jour du Canada. Indiscretely, in a suprisingly clean and well lit alley. “True Patriots Love” indeed.

Bad Hotel Internet Picture Link
https://photos.app.goo.gl/QkbbDLHH4gNybhUe6

20190629 Day Three Toronto

Toronto

We brunched at the hotel. It was pretty excellent. They had really good bacon and smoked salmon.
We assigned navigation to Charbonneau. We got to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Only part of the museum is on street level. The majority of the Musee de Hockey is on the lower level. Down the escalator behind the food court. To clarify, the Tim Hortons is not the whole hockey hall of fame. The Stanley Cup display was not updated for the St. Louis Blues, but nearly every other exhibit was up to date with the Blues Stanley Cup win.

There is a Stanley Cup here. I took a couple of pictures with it. I calculate I am about one Kevin Bacon away from getting to see the Cup while it spends the year in St. Louis. In the mean time, I went to freakin’ town with Stanley Cup pictures.

We went to St. Lawerence Market. It’s a big building with lots of vendors. Like City Market in Indianapolis, if you are old enough to remember that. Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment and I got bagels, fancy soft cheese and vodka infused lox. We walked around and snacked on that. I also had some fresh clams from somewhere. It was all pretty good.

We walked over to Scotia Bank Arena. Home of the Leafs and Raptors (sport ball teams). They have a jersey customize machine. Pick a number, pick any name, jersey color, Captain / Alternate. $50 CAD for the stitching plus the jersey. AND they will do it live on site for the Leafs. WTF?! I want a totally custom jersey made while I watch,but not a Leafs jersey. Canada is very advanced.

We took a nap.

We went to WVRST for dinner. It is another recommendation from TV. It was pretty excellent german-ish brats/sausage/pretzel/beer. Charbonneau and Mrs. JBE got sampling flights of beer and cider. I got a stout in a tiny glass that was approximately 200 proof. We walked part of the way back to the hotel. The rest of the way was via light rail/street car. Mrs. JBE veto’ed letting the young people find their own way home. We rode together.

We hopped off a stop or two early and checked out a night market. The vendors must be very good negotiators or space scientists. Their prices were astronomical to start.

We had a cocktail at the hotel and retired peacefully.

Spotty hotel internet. Picture link here
https://photos.app.goo.gl/of6DRiUnaLAozAtc7

20190628_Day Two Pelee Point to Toronto

20190628_Day Two
Pelee Point to Toronto

I awoke at the crack of dawn. I went back to sleep. I posted. We got cleaned up and headed into town for lunch.

We went to Tim Horton’s. We got donuts. I got a BELT. Bacon, Egg, Lettuce, Tomato on a bagel. I got a donut decorated for Canada Day. Charbonneau got a box of donut holes. He solved the mystery of what happens to the center of all those delicious donuts.
They were pretty good.

We went to our first national park. Pelee Point NP is the southernmost point on continental Canada. It was sunny. We walked sur la plage. (on the beach). It was pretty warm and humid and hazy and sunny. So we felt right at home. We got back in the car and headed to Rondeau. Rondeau is a provincial park. It was just as exciting to visit as Pelee Point, but closer to Toronto.

The warm and humid and hazy and sunny part of Ontario we drove through is a place were tomatoes and marijuana are grown. Their green houses are for tomatoes and cannabis. Last night I was worried it was an “invasion of the body snatchers”/Terminator/Matrix human pod people situation. There are a LOT of green houses. Today there were strawberries. We bought some from a roadside stand. They were excellent, but smaller and seedier than the ones from Costco in the USA. We kept a keen eye out for a roadside cannabis stand… They don’t exist yet.

We then headed towards Toronto. Suddenly, all of Canada realized it was a three day weekend and got in their cars to drive to Toronto. Our three and a half hour drive turned into a four and a half

hour drive. Then there was an accident. Then there was construction. Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment and Merryweather landed. They taxi’ed. They cleared customs. They got their own ride to the hotel.

The whole STL Bruce clan reunited an hour later. The valet informed me that all the truck spots were full. I was given a map of Toronto and had to self park around the corner. I did an awesome job parking.

We got sorted out and headed to Chinatown for dinner. I had selected another amazing place with great reviews and appearances on CNN travel/food shows. We used lyft. They sent a Toyota Corolla for the four of us. We don’t hardly fit in a Toyota Corolla even if one of us is driving. We got to the restaurant. It was vegetarian. Charbonneau picked a new restaurant based on his extensive research that it was next door to the place we had originally picked. It was not Vegan Vietnamese. It was Carnivore Korean. We cooked part of it at the table ourselves. Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment picked some kitchen prepared food that was excellent. We passed everything around.

Since we were in Chinatown, I suggested a dessert place nearby. We decided to conduct a team building exercise on navigation. We eventually found the right place. I noted that I had walked by a spot on my to-do list. I went and hit Thirsty and Miserable while the gang got dessert. It was maybe the darkest bar I have ever been in. This includes the Hub, when closed, after all the lights are turned out. The beer was perfect. The bartenders are perfect. The gang went to Cosmic Treats. Charbonneau got a cashew-based chocolate gelato. It was pretty good.

Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment ordered a Lyft XL for the ride back to the hotel. She is smarter than me. Doesn’t mind showing it.

20190628 Day One – St. Louis to Pelee Point NP

I left St. Louis in the early morning hours on Thursday. Merryweather added some of his own supplies to the truck, then bid us farewell. Merryweather is on a different journey this year. He will be missed. His excitement at not joining the land expedition this year was palpable.
 
This season I am ably assisted by Charbonneau. A scout of some regard who has been to the great white north several times. He has a tremendous passion for the north. He has visited many times via canoe. He also has studied the culture and peoples extensively. Charbonneau loaded his gear, the water rations, and some sundry supplies before settling in to sleep for 4 hours.
 
We had a funny incident early in the trip. Charbonneau was soundly asleep. I was listening to a radio play from Audible. Towards the end of the radio play, the damsel in distress gave a blood curdling scream. Charbonneau leapt awake. i almost wrecked I was laughing so hard.
 
We stopped in Indianapolis to traded with the natives. I traded a cooler for some stitching work, I have a extravagantly big down blanket made of two much less extravagantly sized ones. Grandma Bruce also provided us with melons fresh from the fields. It was much better than the McDonalds we got at the last gas stop.
 
From Indianapolis, we headed north. I-69 north of Muncie, Indiana is probably one of my least favorite roads. I-24 from Fort Wayne to Toledo is even worse. I got caught in a speed trap in Defiance, Ohio about 25 years ago. I am still pissed off about it.
 
At my urging, Charbonneau had selected a restaurant in Detroit for dinner. I actually said, “Anthony Bourdain a restaurant in Detroit on Google”. What I meant was find a restaurant that has been covered on one of Anthony Bourdain’s shows. Charbonneau laughed at me in a charitable way. He picked a spot. I plugged it into my GPS.
 
I lived in Detroit back in the 90’s for about five minutes. It was not a nice place. Until recently, it wasn’t great and got steadily worse. I rented a room in a house behind the house where Edsel Ford was born. Right in Detroit. When the neighborhood was built in the early 1900’s it was fancy, tree-lined boulevards, fancy roofs. Some of the first homes in America with electricity. In the 90s, it was a proto-hipster, barely hanging on. The woman I rented the room from was an artist. Some of the neighbors were bachelor uncles sharing a household.
After the last recession, #thanksobama, one of the homes was available for $100. All the plumbing and siding had been stolen. Another burned down. Now a days, there is a sign that says Boston Edison Historic District. The neighborhood is still hanging on, but in need of a fresh coat of paint.
 
The restaurant Charbonneau picked out was in an decrepit industrial areas. It was awesome. Cutter’s Bar and Grill was a treat. The crowds was loud in a fun way. Our bartender was really nice. We tried a local beer. Charbonneau had a stuffed hamburger. I had Steak bites. The Detroit Tigers were probably not when on TV. Marvin Gaye was playing on the jukebox. If you like Motown and R&B, the jukebox at Cutter’s is a can’t miss. I am pretty curious to rewatch Bourdain in Detroit and get the scoop on the place.
 
Detroit downtown is pretty awesome. There is a bunch of nice things. There is light rail. There is shopping and amenities and culture. There is a giant sculpture of two characters in Mickey Mouse pants with funny heads that I didn’t stop to find out more about. According to Google is called “Waiting” by an artist named Kaws. Charbonneau remarked that he could drive around and take pictures of street art all day. He is correct. Detroit seems to be in that sweet spot where creative people can afford to live and create things.
 
We crossed into Windsor, Canada via the tunnel. Charbonneau was pretty entertained to be driving underneath the Detroit River into a new country. The tunnel was less leaky than 25 years ago. The Canadian Border Protection agent was unimpressed by my french “Je Parle Francais petit cochon”. I am pretty sure cochon doesn’t mean puppy judging solely by his reaction.
I just looked it up.
Je parle français comme un(e) cochon(ne)
I speak French like a pig.
When I left out the “comme”, I said “I speak French. Little Pig.”
He was extremely polite and professional. He asked a lot of questions about firearms. The truck has Missouri plates. He even asked follow up questions. We left all the firearms and bear spray at home. We were carrying less than $10,000 in financial instruments. We didn’t have any agricultural products. He waved us in.
Charbonneau remarked that Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment might have enjoyed that interaction. I thought he was correct. Apparently, Ryan Reynolds works border security between films.
 
I have grave concerns about the language skills of the whole party on this trip. We most certainly will be visiting places where we don’t speak the language.
 
Our phones wouldn’t switch over to the Canadian network. I didn’t have ANY navigation aids. We stopped at a McDonalds for a fresh pastry and a liter of soda. About the same time I got the maps downloaded for the next destination, the network switched over.
 
So we drove for another hour towards Pelee Point National Park. We stopped about 5 miles from there and got a hotel. It is fish fly season near Pelee Point. It wasn’t as bad as Dubuque on a bad day, but bad. There area we drove through seems to be mile after mile of green houses.
We are meeting Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment and Merryweather in Toronto on Day Two.