Monday, August 13, 2012

A Thoroughfare for Freedom Beat

This is a public service announcement to all Canadian taxpayers: Your government has been stealing from you.

You pay the equivalent of over $4.50 a gallon for gasoline, much of it taxes, yet you have the highway infrastructure of a third world country. Either your government is full of waste, fraud, and abuse (more than even the US government), or the Trans-Canada Highway (which, as far as I can tell is not yet complete) is being built across the most hostile terrain ever encountered by road makers. I’m skeptical about the latter, since they manage to make roads out of ice every year. So boreal forest can’t be that tough to build on.

Yet there I was, paying $63 for a tank of gas when I’d never before paid more than $50, and yet every local road I took until mercifully limping onto the big 104 was as unpaved as unpaved could be. I’d call them dirt roads, but dirt would have been a welcome alternative to the ridiculousness I encountered.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The World’s Your Oyster Shell, But What’s that Funny Smell

Whenever I’m on these adventures, as I think of something I want to remember to mention in that night’s entry, I use the iPhone Notes app to write myself… well, a note, as the thought hits me. The stuff left from last summer’s note includes “open space, self-determination, no deadlines, only chance.” Today, I only wrote down one word: “Punished.”

Saturday, August 11, 2012

You’ve Already Won Me Over, In Spite of Me

Nova Scotia, you’ve been holding out on me. After today, it’s clear that you’ve just been teasing me – showing me your less attractive features so that your best qualities stand out that much more starkly.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pack the Car and Leave This Town

For the most part, this was your typical “driving day.” In a nutshell, I went the 410km (which I assume is about 975 miles) from Halifax to Ingonish on Cape Breton Island. However, since it was an international driving day, there were some extra added dimensions to this leg of the journey.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hello City

I awoke this morning to the dulcet tones of some horrible bird-rodent shrieking in a tree above my tent. This was followed shortly by what I thought was a raccoon stealing the sealed screw-top bowl of Gordo food I’d accidentally left on the picnic table. Much to my surprise, when I peeked out to see how many of the diseased monsters were working on this half ounce of dry dog food, I instead saw a chipmunk trying to drag the bowl up a tree. You know, the way an ant would drag something, if it didn’t have that super ant strength. Rather than throwing my shoes on an chasing it away (I knew from Bryce Canyon trail mix experience that he’d only come back with reinforcements), I feebly tried clapping once to scare it off, and went back to bed. I figured that if it was able to get something larger and heavier than itself up a tree, it deserved the dog food. An hour later, I was a little disappointed to find the bowl still on the ground, but twisted open and emptied of its contents. I’m still not sure how many dozen of these creatures lacking in opposable thumbs it took to open it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

One Does Not Simply Walk Into Canada

Tonight I find myself in the New Brunswick of the north, east of eastern standard time – at site 287 of the Chignecto North campground in Fundy National Park. The first leg of a journey that will largely revolve around the park’s namesake, I consider it something of an accomplishment just to have made it here at all. Whenever I’ve prepared to cross the border into Canada (all 2 times), I’ve developed somewhat irrational fears that I won’t be allowed in. First it was the dog and how I almost wasn’t able to get a copy of his rabies certificate, but I was able to get that straightened out so that wasn’t it. Then it was the thought that the border agent wouldn’t like what I had planned, but his only complaint could have been that my itinerary wasn’t concrete enough and if that’s what he thought, then I would have had serious doubts about the mental faculty of the people guarding this country’s borders. Maybe my failed car inspection sticker would keep me out, but why would an agent of the Canadian government care whether my car’s tire pressure was up to Massachusetts’ standards? After persuading myself that all of these reasons were no cause for concern, about 20 miles from the border I remembered reading about some international car insurance documentation which I didn’t have and obviously couldn’t get at this point. But I’d been to Toronto for more than 24 hours only a few months ago and hadn’t needed it, so why would the rules be any different at this crossing?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Northeast M'Od

What’s northeast of the Northeast? As it turns out, quite a bit! And I’ve decided that exploring that “bit” will be my last great adventure for the summer. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Running On Empty

Today, my 3-day adventure to the land of the Mainiacs ended in grand fashion, with the best weather (and not coincidentally, the best pictures) of the trip.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Water, water everywhere. Except I’m really not that thirsty.

If Captain Planet were real (don’t tell Don Cheadle it’s not), the girl with the 4th ring would have loved today, because it was all about water. It made its presence known before today technically began, by way of a massive rogue thunderless storm whose path was trained directly on Mt. Desert Island from 10pm until about 3am. I know because it woke me up and kept me nervously checking the corners of the tent for the water that never did manage to get inside.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lights in the Darkness

In New England, if you don’t like the weather, just wait an hour. Even though I hear it all the time, whenever I visit one of the region’s natural landmarks (Cape Cod, Mt. Washington, the Berkshires…) it seems to go out of its way to affirm it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Downeaster Adventure

Early tomorrow morning, Gordo and I will be heading up to Maine and Acadia National Park for a few days. Since I turned off the mobile hotspot on my phone (I'd rather have the extra $20 a month), and since I'm already stretching each day to at least 18 hours, I won't be able to update from our tent, but I'll write something every night and I'll post it all when I get back.

Watch this space...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's Always Mothra, Mothra, Mothra!

Horseshoe Falls

Bridalveil Falls

American Falls

American Falls

From the Observation Tower

One of many hobbit holes

The smurfs come marching in

From Maid of the Mist

Maid of the Mist

Maid of the Mist

Maid of the Mist

Maid of the Mist

Maid of the Mist

American Falls from Skylon Tower (in Cananda!)

Horseshoe Falls from Skylon Tower (in a whole nother country!)

His brother Mothra always gets all the attention!



Thursday, April 12, 2012

This Trip is to Cananda, C-A-N-A-N-D-A

(For the record, that title should be read in the style of Gwen Stefani's Hollaback Girl).

Just a heads up that tomorrow, along with my friend Lindsay, I'll be embarking on a little trip to Niagara Falls and Toronto (which, from this point on, will never again be spelled correctly). I'm not going to take the time to write real entries, but I'll do my best to post some pictures every night.

Now, back to packing and cleaning.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I Saw Below Me That Golden Valley


After a week of delays, my Great Dixie Adventure culminated with a visit to Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, which was once again open for business. Well, at least the road was open for business. From what I could tell, I seemed to be the only person who knew about that, because I only saw 7 other people during my day in the park. This helped to provide an added measure of privacy and seclusion, because those are two things that Shenandoah, through an unfortunate accident of geography – doesn’t really have going for itself, most of the time.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Country Roads, Take Me Home

Most of the time, I love my Copina Jr. She reliably gets me from point A to point B, only ever getting confused at times when it doesn’t affect (there’s that word again) my directions. She can usually figure out where I’m trying to point here, even if, like today, all I tell her is to find “Grandfather” near “Newland, NC.” Her “warnings” about traffic conditions are largely useless, but we’ve come to an understanding on that point, and I no longer hold it against her. She can even perform slightly better than a blind toddler when GPSing in Boston.

But sometimes it becomes painfully obvious that Copina Jr. a machine and doesn’t comprehend the emotional impact of sending me through, say, 25 miles of hilly southern Virginia farmland via windy backwater roads on a day when I’ve already traveled 300 miles and still have another 150 to go. When we can manufacture a GPS that takes this into account and offers “least frustrating route” under its options, then we’ll know that we’ve truly created an artificial sentient being.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blue Smoke

Have I mentioned that mountain weather changes rapidly? If not, you should know that mountain weather changes rapidly. In addition to doing things like closing Skyline Drive in 13 minutes, today I saw firsthand some more results of the strange confluences of moisture and strong winds that occur in places like this. And once again, nature did its best to foil my plans. But today I was not about to be defeated.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Can’t You Just Feel the Moonshine?

This morning I awoke in the east, and now I am in the uttermost west. Well, probably not the most uttermost, but there are several 6,000-foot peaks between Asheville and my current home: The Comfort Inn & Suites at Dollywood Lane in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Let’s parse that name for a moment, because it’s perhaps the greatest place name in the history of mankind. Dollywood Lane does, in fact, refer to the theme park based around the large-bosomed country singer. Dollywood is right down the street, and while I don’t plan on going, Ms. Parton has infiltrated much of this town, for better or for worse. Her ghoulish likeness is on my room key, advertising “Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede,” which is apparently some kind of strange animatronic dinner theater production. I bet if I tried hard enough I could come away with at least a life-sized cardboard cutout of her. But wait! We haven’t even talked about the name “Pigeon Forge” yet! Picture, if you will, a pigeon forge. Is this an iron smelting forge fed by pigeons? “Quick, Larry! Throw some more pigeons on the fire before that metal hardens!” Or maybe it’s a forge that makes pigeons? Who knows.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Snow & Opulence

Really only one thing happened today: The Appalachian mountains became larger, closer, and more picturesque; going from this:
 to this.