Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Do you have a gun?" asks the nice lady

me: "I beg your pardon?"

nice lady: "Do you have a gun with you?"

me: "No, I don't have a gun."

nice lady: "Well, do you at least have a dog?"

me: "Nope, no dog. But I have a cat, left her at home tho."

nice lady: "A cat won't do you any good if you get into trouble."

me: "What kind of trouble do you expect me to get into?..."

Stupid question. Lesson #1 for when traveling through the American midwest: don't ask open ended questions that can draw you into a debate over the right to carry arms. Tu peux pas gagner.

Je peux meme pas trouver les mots pour dire comment je suis heureuse d'etre canadienne. If ever I start to take my life for granted I hope I think back to the wariness I saw lurking behind the righteous gazes of those kind neighbours in Utah. De ne pas etre capable de sortir d'une voiture pour pomper du gaz sans penser si la personne juste a cote volerait mon argent ou voiture au point d'un fusil...

The irony of the whole situation is that I only met this group of people, who were so concerned about the safety of a woman traveling on her own, because of the *kindness* of a string of strangers. I was having clutch problems in Bryce Canyon and managed to find someone online through the Vanagon Rescue Squad who was 100 kms from where I was and who was willing to give me a hand. If it hadn't been for the good will of someone I had never met before, and my willingness to trust that he wasn't a trigger happy bedlamite, my van and I would have been limping along in 3rd, hoping desperately that I didn't have to stop on a hill, for a lot longer while I tried to find a mechanic open on the 4th of July who was willing to touch a Westy.

Si j'avais un verre de vin a ce moment je le leverai a la bonte des etrangers. Thank you Mr B for your all your help and for proving that not all of humanity has gone to pot.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In the interim

There will be pictures, I promise. There will also be catch up posts for highlights of the trip. I wish I could have posted more often, oh well, c'est la!

A bunch of folks have had mixed reactions to the use of both English and French in this blog. All the frustration has been voiced by the anglophones, so this entire post and explanation is in English in honour of you. I contemplated writing this in French, but I'm not that mean. ;)

It has been pointed out to me on many occasions that I am not "truly" French Canadian, and I am not "truly" English. Supposedly I am not "really" from British Columbia and didn't live long enough in New Brunswick (the province of my birth) to be from there either. I lived for 4 years in the States and, tho it influenced my view of the world, I am definitely not from there.

For a while I found it incredibly frustrating, this insistence of one group that I am not a part of their "crowd" while hearing the same thing in a different language from the other group. I've decided to hell with it all. I am both, and if you have a problem with it you can go shit bricks up a tree in a snow storm for all that I care.

So, in an attempt to regain my French (which I have allowed to sit in the back seat for far too long), and to prove a point, I am writing this blog in both languages.

That being said, I am not deaf to the plight of those who struggle with understanding what I have written in French. I am flattered that you care at all. I am no grand orator and what I write can hardly be considered more than one woman's conceit, but I guess that is the nature of most blogs.

My suggestion to those who don't speak French is to find an online translator such as this one: If the answer you get doesn't seem right post a comment and ask me for a translation. Hey, worst thing that happens is you learn a bit of French, and for you Canadians that would be a good thing. We are "supposed" to be a bilingual country after all.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cultural Education

Everything you need to know about a place you can learn from billboards. Hee hee, generalisms. But, seriously, I've been learning a lot about the general mentality of individual states while reading the signs along the road. Get it? Reading the signs?! Ooh, I kill myself!

I started paying attention in North Carolina where someone named Dick is big into seafood. My favourite was, "I got crabs from Dirty Dick's!" Well, duh! Who wouldn't?

Along Florida's panhandle there were plenty of boards making sure that I know that God was ready to talk and that a fetus's heart starts beating 18 days after conception. Then there was the sage advice of, "America, love it or leave it." Figures, ils me disent ca quand je suis le plus loin possible de chez-nous. Peut-etre ca serait mieux de mettre ca plus pres de la frontiere?

Alabama was a beautiful contrast of prolific, almost weed-like sproutings of advertising for casinos where there is a tonne of cash just waiting to be won just by me, "... Honest."

Now, Louisiana puts Dick to shame with their love for all things crustacean. Homard, crevette, crabe... ils l'ont tout ici. Et, ils savent comment les preparer dans des milliards de facons.

Since I will not be partaking of the gumbo I am on the hunt for another traditional delicacy called a beignet. French for doughnut, it is oh so much more, including more calories. My thighs are already thanking me.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Strangers... Family

K... La probleme avec ecrire une blog c'est qu'on a besoin d'un ordinateur. There is a tonne of wifi along the route, but, unlike everywhere else I've traveled, internet cafes are few and far between in Canada and the US. Oh well, le temps que je ne pouvais pas passer ecrir j'ai user pour relaxer and the money I could have used to buy myself a laptop or a blackberry gizmo went towards van repairs. Priorities.

J'ai beaucoup vu pendant ma voyage, pour la plupart c'est positif. Il y avait des gens souriants en chaque province (ok, maybe a bit less in Ontario, but the rest made up for it) et etat que j'ai traverser. But, how is it that family can be so harsh with each other, so incapable of understanding? If perfect strangers can find a smile for each other, figure out how to show genuine interest in each other's perspectives, why are family members barely able to tolerate each other? I know, I know, we don't get to chose our family, but come on people!!! It really isn't that hard!

The van is getting a lot of attention. Some highlights have been: 4 beefy farm boys hanging out the windows of their pick-up-on-steroids hauling a trailer with enough horses to keep a race track busy for a week and yelling, 'Whoo Hoo!!! Yeah, Woodstock!!!' in New Jersey; the kid at the gas station who asked me where the weed was; the 2 beach boys stopped next to me at a light in South Carolina, 'Hey! Isn't that the Scooby Doo van?' And of course let's not forget all the older guys who walked me through their glory days when they had a bus or van of their own.

Had I know 10 years ago that owning a Westy would get a girl more attention than a large chest and tiny waist I would have bought a van much earlier and eaten as many cookies and pie as I wanted. ;)

I'm sitting less than 100m from the ocean and the waves are calling to me. I am weak, no will power at all, must obey their summons. Qui sait quand j'aurai l'occasion d'ecrir encore? Pas moi. =)


Monday, June 7, 2010

Rollin', rollin', rollin'

Remember what I said about not listening to people tell you that changing tires is difficult? Well, turns out you shouldn't listen to them when they say to tighten the bolts only as far as your body weight will take them either (especially if you weigh less than 130lbs).

Ever wonder what it feels like to have a tire come loose while driving at 80-90 kms/hr? It's kinda wobbly, there's a lot of swerving, and a few "Oh shit!"s are generally uttered while you try to pull to the side of the highway in one piece. Here's some sage advice based on my new found hands on experience: when changing your own tires, if you don't have one of those fancy air gun doohickies they use at a shop, find the heaviest, strongest, meanest mother fucker you know to reef on those suckers until the sweat starts to bead on his forehead. Then give him a big kiss and tell him about how strong and sexy he is.

I don't care if I have to throw my back out trying to undo the bolts should I have a flat tire. A sore back is better than a broken back from a high speed accident due to a tire deciding it wants to go on a different road trip than the rest of the van.

Aside from that, I have found my new favourite stretch of highway in BC. The 5A from Princeton to Aspen Grove is divine, especially in the late afternoon with the sun low in the sky painting everything with gold.

Now, off to mow a friend's lawn and drink mojitos! Don't know which I'm looking forward to most, getting to do lawn art while driving circles using one of those little tractor mowers or sipping on fresh minty nectar while watching the local wildlife. Should probably do the lawn first...

Saturday, June 5, 2010


It's been a while, hasn't it? Oops. =)

Well, I've come a long way since my introductory turns around the parking lot. Which is fortunate, since I leave tomorrow. Can you imagine how this may have turned out if I had been unable to master the art of the stick shift? A VW van would make one very large paper weight. I'm actually quite proud of my ability to drive standard, but don't tell anyone else that. And for the rest of you ladies out there, changing tires is a breeze, don't let the guys in your life try to convince you otherwise.

I feel like I've been getting ready for this trip for months and here I am, midnight the eve of departure, and I'm just getting to packing. Well, technically I'm typing this blog entry at the moment, but I'm surrounded by piles of stuff that I think is necessary for my hiatus from reality. My darling kitty, though lounging among the piles of necessities, will not be coming with me. I think it's for the best. She will be pampered as a princess of her stature should be by lovely Miss H. Thanks H!

I have company for the Vancouver to Montreal leg of the drive. Monsieur R has the privilege of putting eastward for over 5000 kms of adventure with me. I needed to find a replacement copilot since kitty has opted to stay home. R's not quite as fuzzy, purrs a little funnily, but he does make me smile. I'm sure he'll do.

Here's a photo of the van just after the new floor was installed:

Oh, wait a sec...

There's the floor!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's Mine!!

I bought the 86 Westy I looked at last week, I can still barely believe it's mine. The previous owner, the angel that he is, drove it to my place. My stick shift experience is limited and rusty, so I'll be doing some parking lot practice before I try to tackle Vancouver's hills.

On Sunday I finally found some time to start scrubbing down the inside. It's not bad, but since I can't drive it yet I figured I might as well do the one thing I can for the moment, make it sparkle. Et, c'est un peu comme avoir un nouveau amant, I just can't seem to stop touching it.

I had a friend with me who happily sat in the "Queen's Throne" (desolee D, c'est mon westy, cet siege est pour la reine), drank ciders and windexed a window or two while providing sage advice like "Frotte plus fort!." Good help is hard to find these days.

The one downer to the whole day was the theft of the roof rack. Le van m'appartiens pour moins que 24hrs et deja quelque chose a ete voler! I leaned the rack against the fence just beside the van and while I had my back turned scrubbing cupboards someone waltzes away with the bloody things!!! Grrr. All I can say is thank the gods I kept the brand new tires in the trunk. I'm going to put up a sign, something along the lines of "Hey, you! Yeah, you. The one with the sticky fingers. I'ld greatly appreciate it if you would bring my roof rack back, you fucker. Thank you kindly." I don't think my chances are good, but I'm sure it'd help me feel better. I believe the word I'm looking for is 'closure'.

On a positive note, tomorrow is my first date with the parking lot. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Hunt

La chasse a commencé. Hier, je suis aller voire ma première VW van. Après des semaines de recherche, j'ai décidé qu'un Westy serait le meilleur choix... yes, even when I'm making an impractical choice I do so with piles of documentation behind me. =)

I have decided that this is the summer for a roadtrip. A massive, transcontinental affair between me, Canada et les Etats-Unis. Tu vois, une de mes cousines va se marier cette été. Elle sera la première de la famille. And it's in Florida. Now, I could fly down, but where's the fun in that?

So, me, one lucky Westfalia, and possibly my cat (entirely dependent on how receptive she is to the idea over the next couple of months, stay tuned) will be the cast of this summer's action/adventure blockbuster hit. However, with what I've been reading about VW vans, there's a good chance that this theatrical release could just as easily be shelved with the tragic comedies.

J'ai pensé que ca prendrait plusieurs semaines a trouver la meilleure van pour mon argent. Mais, après hier soir j'ai beaucoup de misère a imaginer un spécimen plus méritant pour transporter me fesses d'un océan a l'autre. I know, I know, I'm bringing it into a reputable mechanic before I make my decision. Merci monsieur D et monsieur R pour votre aide avec la première round.