duncandahusky: (Default)

Current Location: Sunnyvale, California


Today’s Song: Bruce Cockburn – Train in the Rain


This is a great traveling song, and one that makes me think of making steady progress down the road, which is what yesterday was all about. Incidentally, my friend Five-Toed Sloth Bear is collecting these songs as they are posted into a Spotify playlist:



(Also, there is an Apple Music playlist available as well.)


I started the day in cold, gray Crescent City, California. Breakfast was a tasty ham, Swiss, and egg sandwich.


[tweet https://twitter.com/DuncanDaHusky/status/885506524503724032]

This was a good start but the coffee was kind of weak. It got me through to Arcata, California, which is a highly entertaining town. I first heard of Arcata from graduates of Humboldt State University there, and it did not disappoint. It is pretty much the epitome of the Northern California hippie town, but I liked the vibe. I first stopped by a coffee house that was entertaing primarily because the (tattooed, pierced, and awesomely friendly) barista identified the artist and vendor of my current favorite T-shirt that I was wearing. I adjourned across the street for what was supposed to be a light snack, but it was great anyway.


[tweet https://twitter.com/DuncanDaHusky/status/885542667970527232]

It was a straight shot down to San Francisco from there, where I got to experience the fun of rush hour traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge.


[tweet https://twitter.com/DuncanDaHusky/status/885642721297285120]

Getting through downtown San Francisco at rush hour was everything I expected it to be, but 2 hours later I made it to Ford’s place in Sunnyvale. After chatting for a bit we swung over to his boyfriend Bramble’s and picked up him and his roommate Umbral and went out for a wonderful sushi dinner.


Today will be a pretty relaxing day, hanging out at Ford’s then meeting up with friends for dinner. Having a couple of days off the road is going to be a wonderful thing!


Miles Driven Today: 395 miles


Time Driving Today: 8:15


Total Miles Driven: 2,814 miles


Total Time Driving: 63:05

duncandahusky: (Default)

Current Location: Crescent City, CA


Today’s Song: Colin Hay – I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You


Portland, Oregon was such a wonderful town I hated to leave it, but the road trip must go on! And so I jumped in the car bright and early, hit the road, and…sat in traffic.



Portland is connected to Vancouver, Washington (a large suburb) and many other suburbs by only two bridges, Interstate 5 and Interstate 205. The next closest bridges over the Columbia River are an hour in either direction. This produces traffic chaos like clockwork, unfortunately (and that doesn’t even take into account that I-5 is also an active drawbridge!).


After a pit stop in Salem, Oregon, for gas and a small bite for breakfast (and coffee, of course), it was onward to the coast.



Well, almost. 5 minutes from the coast I stopped in the tiny town of Toledo, Oregon, for an early lunch. I didn’t realize the name of the place until I saw the sign on the door, but it seemed simply perfect for me! I ordered the “Working Man’s Breakfast” which was potatoes, onions, green peppers, and scrambled eggs, covered in sausage gravy. It tasted a lot better than it looked!




Then it was back on the road, and the Pacific Ocean quickly put in its appearance.




(The pedants of Twitter immediately chimed in with all of the locations in the US that are further west than where I was. I ignored them. Protip: If you are about to tweet something that could easily be prefaced with, “Well, actually…” delete it and sit on your hands until the urge to post passes.)


Then it was the long down the coast on US Highway 101, which will eventually carry me to San Francisco. I stopped at numerous beautiful locations along the way, including the spectacular Cape Perpetua, waaaaay up over the shoreline.




Oh, and there were other sights too!]



South of Florence, Oregon I decided it was time to make up some time so no more stops after that. I rolled in to The Lighthouse Inn in Crescent City, California, at a little after 7 PM. With stops, that was about 12 hours of travel and pretty exhausting! I decided to reward myself with a tasty dinner:





Then it was back to my hotel room, which despite its questionable design choices was clean, comfortable, and quiet. I’m glad I sleep with a white noise generator though because there was a lot of incidental noise from the hallway and upstairs.



I drove a lot in silence down the coast, doing some of that Deep Thinking I knew was part of this trip. I got pretty down because I kept thinking that, despite all of the hours in the car, Dan would have loved this trip – seeing old friends, visiting beautiful locations, and just experiencing the adventure of it all. His smile and laughter are with me always. I’ll need to think more about how how all of this makes me feel beyond “sad”, because it is of course it’s much more complex than that.


One good cry and a sound night’s sleep later, I am up and ready to hit the road. Today will take me down US 101 through Redwood Country and then to Sunnyvale, California, where I’m staying with my old friend Ford Shepherd. I’m looking forward to seeing him again!


Miles Driven Today: 384 miles


Time Driving Today: 8:52


Total Miles Driven: 2,419 miles


Total Time Driving: 54:50

duncandahusky: (Default)

Current Location: Vancouver, Washington


Today’s Song: John Powell – Test Drive (How To Train Your Dragon Soundtrack)


Today’s song is a sweeping, exciting piece that reminds me of my experiences and landscapes so far in this trip, and the excitement still to come. It was also one of Dan’s favorite soundtracks and is one of mine as well, so it provides a touchstone for the journey.


Portland was on the agenda for today, and I had a great time exploring  the downtown and surroundings. The weather was amazing if almost a little chilly to start the day.



Knowing traffic was going to be terrible (lots of traffic + only 2 bridges across the Columbia River = so many traffic jams!), I stayed on the northern side of the river and went to downtown Vancouver for some coffee and a small bite to eat. I tried a couple of places and got my first taste of the ethos of the area.



This was to become a running theme, I found. So many rainbow flags everywhere (which, granted, were probably left over from Pride but the fact they were still flying is appreciated)!


Once I decided to brave the traffic, I took a jaunt out of the way, up to Sauvie Island. I wanted to check out Collins Beach there and wasted an enjoyable hour and a half or so there. By lunchtime it was time to head downtown. Thumper had given me some good pointers on where to park and places to check out, which I made use of. After stopping for a cup of coffee because Portland) I struck out for Powell’s City of Books. I had hoped to wander around a bit and maybe get a nice sweeping picture of a ton of books, but it turns out the place is a rabbit warren of interconnecting rooms, each one stuffed to the gills with new and used books. I did find some amusing signage and fun stuff to look at though.




Next it was off to The Brewery District, because Portland has a Brewery District and how could I not go there? I first stopped by Fat Head’s Brewery but didn’t buy anythign because their menu boasted 6-8 different kinds of India Pale Ales and a few boring, less-hoppy beers. Pass.


10 Barrel Brewery was my next stop. I had lunch, which was a BLTAE (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado, and Egg) sandwich, which was surprisingly quite good. They also had a better beer selection, and true to their name their beer flight consisted of ten different beers.



And what is this I see across the street? The Rogue Distillery and Public House! I’ve been wanting to try their spirits without buying an entire bottle, so…



I took my time walking back to my car so I was good to go when I got there! After a short stop back at Thumper and Kalypso’s to do some laundry, it was back into Portland to meet Drake and Hegdish for dinner. We met at a crazy place called McMenamin’s Kennedy School. They have taken an old elementary school and converted it into an entire entertainment complex, with meeting rooms, a pool, hotel rooms, several different bars, a restaurant, and heaven knows what else! We had a leisurely dinner on the patio and had a great time catching up and chatting. They’re both great guys and it was a real delight to see them again!


Tomorrow has me back on the road again, this time driving to the Oregon coast and heading south into northern California. It’ll be an early start once again, because this could be a long day of driving!


Miles Driven Today: 90 miles


Time Driving Today: 3:34


Total Miles Driven: 2,035 miles


Total Time Driving: 45:58


 

duncandahusky: (Default)

Current Location: Vancouver, Washington


Today’s Song: Explosions in the Sky – Your Hand in Mine


This song captures more of a feeling for me than anything else – the feeling of driving out across the rolling desert hills of eastern Washington, then the grandeur of the Columbia River Gorge.


I slept in a little late this morning, then met up with (carazy Canadian birder friend) Tina for coffee, a pastry, and some more pleasant conversation. I could talk with her for hours, and she is simply delightful company! All too soon, though, it was time to hit the road.


Granted, I didn’t go all that far! Less than an hour down the road I decided to stop at Hermiston Brewing Company for a quick lunch and a beer from a local brewery. On the way I stopped by McNary Dam, which was scenic in an arid kind of way.



Then it was on for lunch! I had a halibut wrap with a salad, which was immediately offset by all of the beer.




The beer was…whelming. Ah well, you can’t win them all. In the interest of speed I then took to Interstate 84 and headed west along the Columbia River.



The scenery started to pick up as I approached the Columbia River Gorge, and the landscape become more and more beautiful.



One nifty random thing along the trip: I popped to the northern side of the river into Washington because gas is substantially cheaper there. After I filled up I chatted with the cashier, who was curious about my Illinois license plates. I explained that I was on an extended road trip looking for cool things, and she directed me a short ways back the way I came to check out Schreiner Farms, a free exotic animal farm where you can drive in and see then animals (from your car). This was a fun, random break in the trip!



After that it was back over to the Oregon side and I received a lovely welcome as I headed west.



Based on Thumper’s recommendation, I stopped at Multnomah Falls and hiked up to the top. It’s a 1.25 mile hike with an elevation rise of about 700-800 feet. A moderate workout, but welcome all the same after sitting in the car all day!




After that invigorating hike, I fought my way through rush hour traffic to Thumper and Kalypso’s place. They are kind enough to put me up while I am in town and I am incredibly appreciative! We got a good dinner at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. Great cider, and decent beer too.



Tomorrow I plan to dive into downtown Portland and wander around and find neat things, which is my general approach to new cities. I expect lots of coffee, beer, cider, and who knows what else?


Miles Driven Today: 227 miles


Time Driving Today: 5:09


Total Miles Driven: 1,945 miles


Total Time Driving: 42:24

duncandahusky: (Default)

Current Location: Richland, Washington


Today’s Song: Nickel Creek – Where Is Love Now?



If I could wait here for you

Without hope or knowing what to do

Watch the light fade away

Without fear or knowing what to say

Cry the tears from my eyes

Leave me here long enough to realize

Where is love now?

Where is love now

Out here in the dark?


Yeah. This covers a lot of my feelings over the last few months.


Day 10 found me driving from Kalispell, Montana to Richland, Washington (part of the Tri-Cities, with Pasco and Kennewick. Paging Mercy Thompson…). It brought quite an interesting range of terrain. I got an early start to the day; the drive through the Flathead River Valley along Flathead Lake was absolutely beautiful.








I stopped for lunch in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I’d had a hankering for grilled cheese so I decided it was time to indulge.




I’ve been having problems with my phone’s battery reading fluctuating wildly and randomly shutting down. In the morning I backed up my computer to my laptop and after lunch I found a spot in a coffee shop and sat down to do a full restore. That whole process took almost 90 minutes, much to my chagrin. Still, it was nice to sit and relax for a bit too.


I got into Richland at around 4 PM, and met up with Tina (aka “crazy Canadian birder friend Tina” for those who follow Ursula Vernon). We had a great time chatting and finally adjourned to a local winery/restaurant that was really, really good.




I had the wild mushroom and herb risotto with grilled chicken and it was very well-done – nice creaminess, and the mushrooms were so meaty and flavorful that the chicken was an unnecessary addition on my part. We each ordered a flight of reds and while some were so-so, we found a couple that were quite good, to Tina picked up a few bottles.


After dinner we retired back to Tina’s hotel room and spent the rest of the evening chatting, catching up, and generally having a nice, low-key time. I enjoyed it immensely.


Today, after I meet Tina for breakfast, I will be making the relatively short (~4 hours) drive to Vancouver, Washington, which is right across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. I look forward to taking my time and finding cool stuff along the way!



Miles Driven Today: 386 miles


Time Driving Today: 6:58


Total Miles Driven: 2,104 miles


Total Time Driving: 44:13


duncandahusky: (Default)

Current Location: Kalispell, Montana


Today’s Song: Spirit of the West – Canadian Skye


A great song from one of my favorite bands, this evokes to me the wide open prairies, the exuberance I observed for Canada Day in Winnipeg and the Calgary Stampede. I listen to this and I think of the miles and miles of fields flying by under the wide Canadian skies.


With this I complete my swing through Canada, and I can reveal a bit of an easter egg – following Canadian content rules, all of the artists posted while I was north of the border were Canadian.


This was a big day – my last day in Canada and my first venture into the mountains. The more I travel the more I realize I am just not made for the flatlands. Mountains make my spirits soar. I drove the entire way through Glacier National Park with a big grin on my face because I was loving the drive so much! I took an enormous number of pictures even before and after Going-To-The-Sun Road through Glacier National Park – it took me almost 3 hours to go 50 miles because I was stopping so often. I have some excerpts below, but you can see a map or an album of all of the photos.


I was up and out of Lindsey and Richard’s place in Chestermere by 7 AM. After a brief stop for coffee, it was straight down Alberta Highway 2. The tiny town of Pincher Creek turned out to have a wonderful little coffee shop that had the best breakfast sandwich (the bright yellow yolk shows how fresh the egg was, and it tasted great too!).




The foothills gradually turned into small mountains as the landscape rose up around me.




There was about a 15 minute wait at the Chief Mountain border crossing, but I just had a brief conversation with the officer and I was on my way.




Following a light lunch at a little cafe in St. Mary, Montana, that made a fantastic strawberry-rhubarb pie, it was off into Glacier National Park!




Going-To-The-Sun Road is a 50-mile road through Glacier National Park. It is an engineering feat, and the views throughout are nothing short of stunning. At the gate to the park I found out there is a $30 fee to use the park for a day, or for $80 you can get an annual pass good 12 months from purchase. Considering I’ll be going to Yosemite National Park next week and knowing the dire financial straits of the National Park Service, I was more than happy to purchase an annual pass. Even if I never use it again I feel it’s money well spent!


I hate to do this but it’s crazy late and I have to be up early in the morning; I will refer you to my Twitter feed for photos (and videos!) inside the park. The trip was incredible and one that I hope to repeat when I have more time (those lakes beg for some quality kayaking time!).


Tomorrow I am off to Richland, Washington. Not much there, but it’s a good stopping point along the way, plus I will be meeting up with a friend for dinner. It should be a great time!


Miles Driven Today: 331 miles


Time Driving Today: 8:26


Total Miles Driven: 1,718 miles


Total Time Driving: 37:15

duncandahusky: (Default)

Current Location: Calgary, Alberta


Today’s Song: Shark Tank – Out For a Rip (NSFW!)


This song speaks to the quintissential Prairie Province Canadian. Yeah, redneck as all hell, but who cares?


Today was crazy busy, but I had so much fun! I started out the day at an auto glass repair place, where they replaced the windshield on the Mustang in a little under 90 minutes.




Next, I joined Lindsey, Richard, and Lindsey’s father at the Aviation Row Hoedown BBQ to celebrate the arrival of the Calgary Stampede. This took place in one of the hangers at Calgary International Airport, and they had pulled up a Beechcraft 1900D, a BA RJ100, and a Bombardier Dash 8 for everyone to walk around, go in, and check out from top to bottom. It was a really nifty experience! (Love the jet-shaped grill too!)






And then it was time for the day’s main event: The Calgary Stampede!




To crib info from Wikipedia, the Stampede “attracts over one million visitors per year and features one of the world’s largest rodeos, a parade, midway, stage shows, concerts, agricultural competitions, chuckwagon racing and First Nations exhibitions.” Think the Texas State Fair with a bunch of stuff added. To say it’s enormous is an understatement. We spent 6 hours there today and saw maybe a quarter of the grounds. Still, we had a great time! We met up with two great guys from Edmonton, Thallanor and Tiggs, and enjoyed goofing around, eating terrible food, and drinking a bit more beer than was probably wise. Also: a fun dog exhibition that was definitely geared to kids, but it’s always great to see dogs having great fun as they run through their paces.








And now I’m back at Lindsey and Richard’s place. They are en route to the airport for an insane quick weekend trip to Montreal (their flight leaves here at 1 AM!), so it’s just me, the cats, and Kiska (who smells much better after her bath, by the way!).




I want to thank Richard and Lindsey for their wonderful hospitality. I know that they had a lot going on this week between work and other plans and it really meant a lot to me that they were able to take the time to put me up in their oh-so-comfy guest bedroom and hang out. I had so much fun, and I was reminded again that Calgary is a wonderful city, and I am blessed with some very dear friends here.


And so my visit to Calgary comes to a close. Early tomorrow morning I hit the road bright and early, going south out of Calgary and headed back into the United States. Ideally my travels will take me to Glacier National Park and Going-To-The-Sun Road; we shall see how that works out. I have multiple possibilities in mind just in case. From there it’s on to my destination for the day, Kalispell, Montana.


Miles Driven Today: 20 miles


Time Driving Today: 0:51


Total Miles Driven: 1,387 miles


Total Time Driving: 28:49

duncandahusky: (Default)

Current Location: Calgary, Alberta


Today’s song: Life Is a Highway, by Tom Cochran


Life’s like a road that you travel on

When there’s one day here and the next day gone

Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand

Sometimes you turn your back to the wind


Yeah, this song speaks to me as I drive on this trip.


No long-distance driving today! Instead, I wandered around Calgary and found cool stuff, which is what I enjoy doing in interesting cities.


Breakfast was at a nifty espresso/wine bar. I decided to forgo the wine since it was 9 O’Clock in the morning.




While getting breakfast I got a call from the guy I rented the Mustang from (Budget/Avis in Lake Zurich, IL – highly recommended!). He told me to go ahead and get the windshield crack repaired. This was good since I noticed that the crack was continuing to travel the length of the windshield. My next stop was to the most highly recommended windshield replacement place on Yelp (hey, you’ve got to start somewhere!). There were extremely helpful and ordered the replacement to arrive tonight. I’ll be there at 8 AM tomorrow to have them install it.


My next stop was Nose Hill Park. This is a gorgeous park that rises just to the north of downtown Calgary and offered great views of the city and surrounding area. I slathered on some sunscreen and went for an extended walk around.




From there it was lunchtime. I was in the mood for something light but filling. Pho it was!




A few more stops around town later and it was back to Lindsey and Richard’s place to relax a bit and shower to get all the sunscreen off. I rested a bit in the afternoon and got caught up on social media and laundry.


Dinner was a delicious Mexican dinner at Salt and Pepper, followed by a stroll through the Inglewood neighborhood. We stopped by a lovely little liquor store that had my number: “Oh, that gin looks interesting to you? Here, I have some you can try…”




In case you were wondering, it was astounding. I bought it. And then came, “Oh, if you want to try a really high-end gin, how about this…” I did. It was So. Damn. Good.



So I bought it, of course. Whoops!


And tonight? I see hot tubbing in my future!


Tomorrow is going to be busy. Lindsey has invited me to join her and Richard at a Stampede BBQ at her employer (y’all will love the pics!), followed by meeting up with friends and going to the Calgary Stampede where there will be so-so beer and copious terrifying food!


Miles Driven Today: 111 miles (lots of driving around town!)


Time Driving Today: 2:09


Total Miles Driven: 1,367 miles


Total Time Driving: 27:58


 

duncandahusky: (Default)

Today’s Song: The Last Saskatchewan Pirate, by Captain Tractor


Current Location: Chestermere, Alberta


Today’s song speaks for itself, I think ????


Today had me driving from Regina, Saskatchewan to Calgary, Alberta (Well, Chestermere – close enough). It’s an easy 7-hour drive if you take the TransCanada Highway. I, of course, did not, and so it took me over 9 hours.


I woke up WAY too early (5 AM) and decided to shower and hit the road. After finding coffee and a quick pastry for breakfast I was off, heading northwest out of Regina. After a few hours, I stopped for a true Canadian experience that everyone had been telling me I needed to do.




About halfway to Saskatoon, I turned due west and proceeded overland, through field after field of canola and rapeseed.




Unfortunately, I also experiences what I am told is one of the common pitfalls of driving in the prairie provinces. As I approached Rosetown, SK, a passing truck kicked up a rock, which smacked right into my windshield.


 




I’ll need to keep an eye on it and if it gets worse, I may need to do something about it. Unfortunately that may mean them asking for me to swap cars, and OH HELL NO.


From there it was a pretty uneventful drive to my destination. I had hopped to maybe stop in Drumheller, AB to see the museum there but between delays, traffic, and construction I had to pass. I arrived at Richard and Lindsey’s in time for Richard and I to go out for dinner and drinks. The rest of the evening was a nice bit of relaxing and unwinding from the day.


Tomorrow: On my own wandering around Calgary!


Miles Driven Today: 469 miles


Time Driving Today: 8:22


Total Miles Driven: 1,725 miles


Total Time Driving: 34:11

duncandahusky: (Default)

Today’s song: Not a Lot Goin’ On, by Northey Valenzuela


Current Location: Regina, Saskatchewan


Today’s song is, of course, the theme song to Corner Gas, a Canadian comedy set in the fictional Dog River, Saskatchewan, a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. It’s a very funny show, and I need to watch more of it.


On Day 5, I rested. Today has been a very low-key kind of day and I definitely needed it. It doesn’t help that my hosts’ household is fighting off a nasty cold and they didn’t have a lot of energy. This was just fine by me though!


I woke up entirely too early, 5:30 AM. The change in time zones caught up with me, coupled with the light outside seeming so bright that’s I assumed it was 7:30 or so. Nope! Fortunately I had gotten to sleep moderately early last night so it wasn’t too bad. This gave me time to hang out with Lydia and Andrew’s dogs, Jasper (darker brown) and Zoe (lighter brown).




They are both complete and utter sweeties, and need lots of petting!


Once everyone got rolling, we took the dogs over to the Legislature Building and walked around the lake and gardens. It was a beautiful day, and the views were lovely.



After a nice lunch (I enjoyed by Ahi tuna salad) we came back and just relaxed around the house. I think Zoe and Jasper had exactly the right idea.



Dinner time brought a Ukrainian feast, courtesy of roommate Chris. Pierogis, nalysnyky, beetniks, borscht, shishliki, and double garlic kovbasa. Absolutely delicious, and a lovely dinner al fresco.



Also, I was happy to be able to share a champagne toast to Dan with friends who weren’t able to make it to previous memorials.




We chatted and relaxed after dinner, then I called it an early night. Tomorrow: an early start, and a drive to Calgary via the scenic route. Well, as scenic as Saskatchewan can get, anyway…


Miles Driven Today: 5 miles (a short shopping trip)


Time Driving Today: 0:15


Total Miles Driven: 1,256 miles


Total Time Driving: 25:49

duncandahusky: (Default)

Today’s Song: Run, Runaway, by Great Big Sea


Current Location: Regina, Saskatchewan


Today’s song is a fun cover of the classic by Slade. It’s perfect driving music, which I needed because I did a LOT of driving today!


I started out the day with another visit to Fools and Horses Coffee after checking out of my hotel.




After waffling a bit on my route for the day, I made a snap decision to take the scenic route through Riding Mountain National Park. I’m so glad I did! I stumbled across a brewery along the way, so of course I had to stop. The beer was nothing to write home about but shockingly the alcoholic pink lemonade was pretty good, so I bought a six-pack.


From there it was up to the eastern gate of Riding Mountain National Park. When I plotted out the route, Highway 19 seemed like a nice route through the forest. I did not realized that it wasn’t paved. Adventure! Fortunately it was a beautiful drive. The park is the eastern edge of the Pembina Escarpment and rises above the surrounding (very flat) farmland by 300-400 feet. This leads to some absolutely fantastic views. The drive took me through boreal forests and meadows. It was long but definitely worth it.






After a brief stop in Wasagaming (think pretty mountain resort town that is absolutely flooded with people), I turned my attention to getting to Regina as quickly as possible (4.5 hours away). The drive was uneventful, though I am so happy I have audiobooks to carry me through he stupefyingly boring prairie. I rolled into Regina and was welcomed by Lydia, her boyfriend Andrew, her roommates Chris and Jason, and Chris’ girlfriend Desiree. Lydia had prepared an absolutely delicious homemade dinner for us all, consisting of shrimp gumbo and rice, broccoli salad, cornbread muffins.




And for dessert: Berry tiramisu, also made by Lydia!




After such a fantastic meal, and the fact that I woke up WAY too early this morning, I’ll probably be going to bed very soon. Tomorrow: touring Regina and Ukrainian food!

duncandahusky: (Default)

Today’s Song: Oh Canada, by Classified


Current Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba


Today’s song is a fantastic take on “O Canada”, Canada’s national anthem. It’s irreverent, funny, and yet patriotic at its heart. (“Our national mascot’s a damn beaver!”)


This was an excellent day, and much appreciated after yesterday’s long day of driving. I stayed in Winnipeg today, getting the Grand Tour from Sarah and Dave. I have found Winnipeg to be a perfectly charming city, with a whole lot of neat things to see!


I had a nice lazy start to the day, which was needed after yesterday’s late night of fireworks and fun. After grabbing coffee and an incredibly delicious maple pecan scone from Fools and Horses Coffee, I met Dave and Sarah at their place and off we went for a delightful brunch at Prairie’s Edge Restaurant, a restaurant in the middle of Kildonan Park.




From there it was off to Lockport, Manitoba. A relaxing drive up the Red River brought us to the St. Andrews Lock and Dam. The dam is a unique structure called a Caméré dam, where the dam has movable curtains that can be raised in the spring to let the river ice pass.




We then headed out to Assiniboine Park, the largest park in Winnipeg. This has many attractions including a zoo (which we didn’t have time to visit). We did walk through the  conservatory featuring a variety of tropical plants, and the Sculpture Garden.




We enjoyed a nice long walk (interrupted by a stop for a milkshake!), then returned to downtown Winnipeg to check out The Forks, which was remarkably less crowded than last night’s Canada Day festivities. An observation: Canada fell on Saturday, July 1, and Monday, July 3 is a holiday for most workers here. If this were America I would expect lots of 3-day festivals and the like. Here it appears that they had a big celebration on Saturday then swooped in overnight, cleaned everything up, and returned to business as usual on Sunday morning. Judging from the picnickers we saw in all of the parks and people with their families, the rest of the weekend seems devoted to personal celebrations/relaxation. I could get behind this.


The Forks is a nifty marketplace with all kinds of shops and restaurants. They have a beer garden in the middle of one of the buildings that we of course had to inspect to make sure it was good enough.




We grabbed a quick dinner at a restaurant that we all agreed was pretty whelming (a BBQ restaurant with a pulled pork sandwich on the menu and the rest burgers and sandwiches? OK then.) I was able to get my first Gin Caesar of the trip, but I think this will require further investigation to make sure that there are acceptable versions. (What is a Caesar you ask? Read this! And all I ask is that you try it before you saw “Ewww!” 🙂 After a walk around the Government House and the Manitoba Legislative Building (aka “The Ledge”), we made one more ice cream stop at a Winnipeg institution, we returned to my hotel room and chatted over the tasty pear eau de vie from Wollersheim Distillery.


Tomorrow, it’s off to Regina, Saskatchewan. I have laid out a couple of possible routes for tomorrow, depending on which way I want to go and how long I want to drive. There’s the straightforward route on the Transcanada Highway, or the scenic route through Riding Mountain National Park. We’ll see how I feel when I wake up (and how late I wake up!).


Miles Driven Today: 10 miles


Time Driving Today: 31 minutes (Getting coffee, then to and from Dave and Sarah’s house!)


Total Miles Driven: 846 miles


Total Time Driving: 15:04

duncandahusky: (Default)

Today’s Song: Balto, by Enter the Haggis


Current Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba


Today’s song came about because I associate Minnesota with winter, winter with sled dogs, and the idea of pushing forward on this trip. That, and it’s a damn fun driving song too!


I woke up way too early this morning (after waking up for an hour between 3 and 4 AM), early enough that the free breakfast at the Hyatt Place wasn’t even ready to go yet. Fortunately they were kind enough to let me jump in for a light, simple breakfast.




It was a pretty straight shot up I-94 to Fargo, then turning north on I-29. I was hoping to stay on local roads as much as possible during this trip, but sadly sometimes sacrifices must be made in the interest of time and sanity. I did start up a new audiobook, The Lightning-Struck Heart, by TJ Klune. I’ve read the book before and really enjoyed it – it’s a farcical take on gay romances with knights in shining armor, a clumsy, love-besotted wizard, and a sassy gay unicorn with a serious attitude problem. The narrator, Michael Lesley, delivers a jaw-dropping performance, pretty much the best audiobook narration I’ve ever heard. This is definitely worth checking out!


At lunchtime I was coming up on Grand Forks, North Dakota, so I detoured to a brewery I scoped out the day before: The Rhombus Guys Brewery. They have a respectable beer menu and tasty food (with enormous portions). I had the Dark Matter Imperial Stout, which was delicious!






I also had a chance to walk around downtown Grand Forks, which is right on the Red River. It’s really quite lovely!




From there it was a short trip to the border, where I was waived through after a series of brief questions. Then an hour more brought me to Winnipeg. I checked into my hotel and arranged to meet Dave and Sarah (aka Plonq and Atara).






Dave and Sarah picked me up and brought me over to there place, where we shared a delicious meal of Thia and Italian chicken sausages, fresh tomato salad with basil, and grilled vegetables. Dessert was Vinaterta made with Saskatoon berries by a local baker. Yum!


After dinner we headed downtown, back to my hotel. From there we walked over to The Forks, in the middle of the Canada Day celebrations. It’s a really neat place that I’m told we will be revisiting tomorrow when the crowds have died down a bit. The night was capped off by a spectacular fireworks show that we watched from the other side of the river.


And now I am back in my room and quite exhausted. I can sleep in tomorrow, as we’re not meeting up for brunch until after 10 AM. After that It will be a day of taking in the sights around Winnipeg and spending time with great friends!


Miles Driven Today: 470


Time Driving Today: 7:32


Total Miles Driven: 836


Total Time Driving: 14:33

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Jason Kellerman’s life revolves around his eight-year-old daughter. Teenage curiosity with his best friend led to Maggie’s birth, her mother tragically dying soon after. Insistent on raising his daughter himself, he was disowned by his wealthy family and has worked tirelessly to support Maggie-even bringing her west on a dream vacation. Only twenty-five, Jason hasn’t had time to even think about romance. So the last thing he expects is to question his sexuality after meeting an undeniably attractive park ranger.


Ben Hettler’s stuck. He loves working in the wild under Montana’s big sky, but at forty-one, his love life is non-existent, his ex-boyfriend just married and adopted, and Ben’s own dream of fatherhood feels impossibly out of reach. He’s attracted to Jason, but what’s the point? Besides the age difference and skittish Jason’s lack of experience, they live thousands of miles apart. Ben wants more than a meaningless fling.


Then a hunted criminal takes Maggie hostage, throwing Jason and Ben together in a desperate and dangerous search through endless miles of mountain forest. If they rescue Maggie against all odds, can they build a new family together and find a place to call home?


Road to the Sun, by Keira Andrews


I picked up this book because my travels this summer will take me to Glacier National Park, so it seemed particularly relevant. I’m glad I did – the setting for the story is lovely, and Andrews gives a nice sense of place. (The fact that Andrews renamed Going to the Sun Road to Road to the Sun for the book title makes me twitch a bit, but I’ll get over it.)


This was a nice story, and plot-wise it flowed reasonably well, though it tended to slow down a bit toward the end. The biggest issue I had with it was the pacing of the relationship. Yes, Ben and Jason went through a lot together in a very short time, but 7 days from just meeting to True Love Forever is still rather a stretch. Likewise, Jason jumps from “I admire men in the locker room only for their physique” to “Hey, I may not be so straight after all, let’s have anal sex our first time together!”


The characters are well-defined and relatable. Ben is the strong, stoic type, still recovering from a bad breakup. Jason is a hardworking single father. Maggie is a precocious eight-year-old, though not obnoxiously so. About the only problem I had was that I wanted to smack Jason upside the head for his indecisiveness and worrying, but even that was understandable given his past.


This was a fun, if not particularly deep, read. I’d give it a rating of 4 out of 5. I would be happy to read more of Andrews’ work in the future.

duncandahusky: (Default)
In a little over two and a half weeks I will be packing up the (rental) car and hitting the road for a three-week solo road trip across the western US and Canada. Major stops will include Minneapolis, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Glacier National Park, Portland, San Francisco, Denver, Kansas City, and St. Louis (the full route is here). Oh, and the rental car will be a Mustang convertible, because hey - go big or go home!

I can't begin to say how much I'm looking forward to this. I have always loved long road trips and wanted to make an extended trip like this. Due to various health issues Dan simply wasn't able to do it, so the dream waited. Now, in part tribute, in part reset button, in part just getting out and living a little, I'm making it happen. We were supposed to do a two-week cruise earlier this spring which we had to cancel with Dan's initial spinal surgery. This gives me both the funds and the vacation time to take this trip. Plus, Dan's mom is sweet enough to watch the dogs for those three weeks for me. The fact that she adores them doesn't hurt!

There's a lot to do between now and then, though. This weekend we're taking over a hotel near O'Hare Airport and throwing a memorial/celebration of life/wake to remember Dan and all of the good that he brought into the world. Then there's a party some friends are throwing next week, as well as the Chicago Pride Parade. Side note about that - For the past several years, Dan organized the Siemens Corp. group's appearance in the Chicago Pride Parade. This year, one of his co-workers contacted me and asked if I would march with them again, in Dan's memory. Damn, that's so sweet.

On June 29 I pick up the rental car, and early on June 30 I hit the road! I will be taking lots of pictures and probably posting like mad to Twitter (@duncandahusky), and posting day-by-day wrap-ups to my blog as well. I have archives of my years and years on LiveJournal (all archived as part of my person blog); I've realized that I really like being able to go back and read about past vacations and experiences.

This is gonna be great!
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Book Review: Werewolves of Chernobyl, by K. A. Merikan and L. A. Witt


— Being kidnapped by two werewolves is an adventure after all, right? Right?! —


Quinn


If Quinn wants to get the best photos for his travel blog, no gate is too tall, and no ‘do not enter’ sign actually means he won’t go in. What he finds in a hidden exclusion zone by Chernobyl blows his mind. Mutants? Monsters? He doesn’t know, but he is bound to find out when not one but two of them break into his hotel.


Too bad the rules and attitudes they have toward sex don’t match Quinn’s at all.


Dima


Born with a disabled hand, smaller than the other werewolves, Dima is the lowest of the low in his pack, but when he meets the loveliest human he’s ever seen, he knows his luck has changed.

The last thing he expects though is his beloved friend Nazar turning on him once Dima’s affection for Quinn deepens, and he refuses to be mounted by Nazar anymore.


Nazar


Nazar is a high ranking soldier in his pack, but in his powerful body hides a gentle soul, and all he wants is to escape the pack with Dima. But once Dima claims Quinn as his, secrets Nazar has so far kept hidden rear their ugly head.


The werewolf language doesn’t have words to describe what they crave, so Quinn might be the only one to help them solve the puzzle of the desires that go against the rules of their pack.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Prior to reading this I was unfamiliar with the Russian concept of bodarks, and how they differ from the standard Western version of “werewolf”. It’s not a big difference but it helps to understand the goings-on a bit more. That said, I really enjoyed this book. The shifting points of view were fascinating, from the American Quinn’s familiar outlook on events to Dima and Nazar’s foreign view, both Russian and strictly pack-hierarchical. The difference between the two provided a great contrast too: Dima, the submissive bottom who longed to be dominant, and Nazar, the strong dominant who wants to let someone else take control but is forbidden by the pack structure


The overall story is pretty basic, though there are some interesting twists and turns along the way. There was a bit of insta-love and development of relationships and trust a little too quickly. I was able to overlook that because holy cats, this book is SMOKING HOT! The scenes of Dima and Nazar, Dima and Quinn, and Dima, Quinn, and Nazar were amazing and well-written. I was also pleased that there were definitely places that the book did not take itself too seriously, with some observations by Quinn that completely cracked me up.


The net result:

3.75 for the story

+0.25 because werewolves (hey, I know what I like)

+0.25 for laugh-out-loud moments

+0.25 for being incredibly sexy

Total: 4.50 stars


I loved it!

Whoopsie

Jun. 11th, 2017 04:14 pm
duncandahusky: (Default)

Note to self: Do not set up WordPress to crosspost to Tumblr when Tumblr is crossposting to WordPress. Sorry about all the spam! 🙂

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I repeat, we have Squirrel Sign. This is not a drill!

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On the road again with Charlie and Nora! (at Volo, Illinois)


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A post shared by Tom B. (@duncan_husky) on





Nora is on the hunt! #bordercollie #husky #dogsofinstagram (at Lakewood Dog Exercise Area)


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