Saturday, November 25, 2006

à Montréal, encore!

Bonjour toute le monde!!

Okay, I admit it, I sometimes use an online french translator. You know, they're pretty damn good. Otherwise I likely would have said "Bonjour toutes la monde!" I digress...

I'm in Montreal right now. More or less living here with Mel. I'm stopping short from saying living here... let's call it an extended stay? We're a bit like an old retired couple - Mel's not working and only goes to school occasionally and I'm only working a bit. So we work on the apartment, make big batches of chicken soup, hang Christmas lights, play scrabble and contemplate the meaning of life. Actually, she's at school today, so I get to play on my own. And...

I should be working, but instead I've been shopping and bought new lights for the kitchen, a new headlight for my car, memory for Mel's laptop, and very nearly a surround sound system. Yes, I've turned into a consumer. Which is why I should be working. I divide the total cost of my purchases by my hourly rate and figure out how many hours I must work to pay off my indulgences. And then I work, but not one more hour than necessary!! Unfortunately, they gave me the wrong memory for the computer, I'm not so sure about the kitchen lights, my burnt out headlight started working when I giggled it (damn Canadian tire screwed it up when they installed my daytime running lights), and I'm even more confused about the surround sound stuff.

As for travels, they're at an end for the moment. After Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving that is) in Winnipeg and 2 weeks of fieldwork in Edmonton, I flew back to SF to find my car (it was being lovingly-used and cared for by friends in SF). Then Mel flew to SF for a handful of days of sightseeing (some of which on her own while I worked) and then over a period of about 3 weeks Mel and I drove to Seattle, Calgary, Winnipeg and Montreal with many places in between (okay, I did most of the driving). Highlights of the trip were San Fran of course (still feels like home for me, and it was Mel first time in SF), a couple days at a hotsprings (hippie resort shall we call it?) with meals prepared by a chef (not one of the cheaper nights), a hike up a volcano, a beautiful drive (and stays) up the CA & OR coast with redwoods and sand dunes, a great visit with Justin & Erin in Seattle (where I'd never been), great visit with friends & family in Calgary and Winnipeg as always (sorry, too much space on blog already spent discussing Calgary/Winnipeg family/friends), 3 days and 2 incredibly relaxing nights at the cabin with wood stove going 24 hours per day to keep us warm, lots of trees with no gas stations & freezing rain across northern Ontario, and arriving in Montreal 3,931 miles later without a single negative incident (distance provided by MapQuest, though my rough calcs show we drove more like 5,000 miles [8,050 km], probably due to all the sidetracking, etc. - and the car odometer flipped past 150,000 miles somewhere in the NE US and still hasn't broken down, knock-knock).

Here's a quick overview, not showing all the stops, but close enough:

How I Got to Where I Am At Now

You know the question that grates me? No? Well let me tell you...

"I thought you were going to London, Thailand or Africa or something"

Well, no, plans changed and I haven't made it off of the continent (well, except for SE Asia, but that was back in March). So then I feel inadequate because I haven't done anything as exotic as I had planned when departing SF. Yet, I feel like I've done a lot. So anyway, since I was playing with MapQuest (which has this new route planner feature) I started reflecting upon the places I'd been this year. But MapQuest only let's you put in 10 places, so I started with the drive south from Winnipeg in mid July, which had no exact destination in mind, and this is what I got:

Where I Thought I Was Going in Mid-July

Then I got some fieldwork in Connecticut (i.e., near Montreal) and left my car in SF. But the company provided a rental car in CT leading to more fun. So next is a map of my Connecticut roadtripping (actually occurred as several trips over a month, but let's not worry about the details):

Travels in New England in Rental Car

And then I thought to myself, this is supposed to be a travel blog and there is just no flow between all of these maps and they're all out of order!! And I also did the SE Asia trip in March, a trip with my sister and her kids to Tahoe in April, and a train trip out east in June and... it's just so damn incomplete!! But alas, not to worry, just a week ago (at the cottage in Ontario actually) I installed Corel onto my new laptop (aka the boat anchor that resembles a mid-size desktop, but who's complaining?). So being a geek and a perfectionist (some say I am, some say I'm not, but each year during my work performance evaluation they say [I paraphrase] "I should stay focussed on the end product, budget and schedule rather than getting every single detail perfect" - but clearly they don't understand the intricateness of my work), this is what I came up with:

2006 Travels In Summary

Anyone notice that Thailand looks like Florida? I haven't been to Florida in many years, but from what I recall, the food is a lot different than Thailand and the people much taller, thus debunking my theory that Florida and Thailand are one in the same. Perhaps I shall return to Florida in February to see a Nascar race (foreshadowing?). But Vietnam and the Baja Peninsula look very similar and I've never been to either, so I am therefore convinced that they are really the same place and that it's just a government conspiracy telling us that they are really two different places.