Sunday, February 21, 2010

Winnipeg - Soo - Toronto

Once again I've been slack about this blog stuff but that's teh way I am.  Anyways, thanks for popping in and I hope you enjoy the last few episodes of my travels in North America.  Last time we were together I'd just finished playing cricket in Winnipeg and was heading off on the Greyhound heading east.

I'd spent my last night in Winni over a few beers and a game of German Bacgammon.  Can't remember really how it went but at one stage I had to give Schultz a strudel so he wouldn't do anything about Newkirk dressing up as a General and me using Klink's car for a trip to the Hammelburg Beerfest with young Hilda in tow.  Next morning I was off again with my green mate Gumby perched on the window and the promiuse of Ontario in the wind.  But it was still a way off so I stopped at St Sault Marie (Soo),  near the edge of those big bits of water which straddle Canada and Yankeedogland I had a sore foot again and needed to rest up for a couple of days.  The area is pretty much a winter tourist place but while I was tehre I went on a boat trip around the Sault locks which link a couple of the aforersaid big bits of water (Lake Superior being one of them).  It was impressive enough and kept me off my sore foot for half a day.  The youth hostel inlcuded a small library where I swapped books, I was going through them at a great rate on the long bus trips.  I left behind a Heinlein and a Kerouac and took on board Micheners' "The Drifters", a rollicking tale of ratsackers in Europe in the late 60's.  Hmmm, been there, done that.

In Soo I was down at the shops getting some tucker when a bloke from Bankstwon (south-west Sydney) heard my accent and introduced himself.  He was  a Canterbury Bulldogs supporter and to celebrate we held an impromptu meeting of The Bulldogs Overseas Supporters Squad at the first bar we came across.  This lasted most of the night and Dave and I were in fine form as we attempted top paint the town blue and white.  I remember getting rejected twice, slapped once and developing a tsate for Canadian Club (not the one used for hitting seals).  I must have developed a few other things because next morning I was feeling pretty rancid.  Those Hangover Gorillas had struck again with vengeance.  I put off continuing my bus trip and stayed another day in Soo, looking at the water, looking at the sky and wishing to fuck that I hadn't met Dave.  Dave by the way had somehow insinuated himself into the arms of a local dress shop worker and it was mid afternoon before I saw him again.  I congratulated him on his success and wished him all the best for his trip over to Vancouver.  The late afternoon saw me at a local museum checking out the artifacts (indigenous, historical and lake type stuff) and felt like a refreshing beverage to steer me through the evening.  As with all good museums there was a pub nearby, so lickety-split to the Victoria Inn.  Cold beer, a good steak dinner and another beer lifted my spirits considerably and I started chatting to a few people watching a baseball game.  There were two girls and a guy so I my thinking was that I could even up the odds a bit.  Then I noticed the damned wedding rings on all of them.  Still, we sat around and talked and drank and were joined by another two of their friends. I started putting in some spade work on one of the new girls, Katie.  I also made sure she wasn't going to get thirsty in a hurry.  The evening was great, the Canadians were fine party company and Katie became the most beautiful girl in the world, so I told her that.
By jingies, it worked!  We did all that cute holding of hands and sly frotting stuff before I discretely asked her if she'd ever seen the Soo submarine races.  So we went off to see them.

When I woke up at around 7.00 refreshed and pumped I didn't know where the hell I was but Katie soon let me know.  Should I stay or should I go?  Well, faint heart and all that and Katie was keen so I delayed my departure for half an hour to take care of business.  We went to a cafe near her place for breakfast and she gave me a lift back to the hostel.  She even waited while I packed my gear and then gave me a quick tour around town before dropping me off at the greyhound terminal.  I don't know what Katie Did Next but I'm sure she did it with style and generosity.  Thanks K!

The 12.15 took me to Sudbury, within spitting distance of Toronto.  I stayed at Sudbury overnight wondering why I'd left such a find as Katie in my wake.  Wasn't the first time, probably not the last either but it did make me think a bit about such quick liaisons.  The bus journey was made more tedious by these unbidden ponderances on the emotional life of a traveller.  Fuck it, time to get sorted.  In Sudbury it was shitfight from the Greyhound depot to the hostel where I sat watching the Copmmonwealth Games and cheering for Oz, Canada and even the Kiwis ( I was eyeing off a lass from Christchurch seated at the same table).  Thehostel manager didn't agree with my thinking that drinking was okay in thehostel common room.  Something about kids being present.  Must have been worried that they'd nick my beer.  Our tabel left to pursue our alcoholic needs outside, but it was a poor substitute for a comfy room and TV sport.  sudbury sucked, so it was with great joy that I left the prison the next morning and soon after midday was on board a Greyhound, destination Toronto. I wondered if Doug had received my letters and postcards but then I'd already booked a hostel bed in case he'd suddenly developed common sense and put me on the unwated list.
So it was late afternoon when I phoned Doug from the hostel in downtown Toronto and an hour later he walked in grinning his grin and howling with laughter at Gumby, perched half out of my pack, waving his tiny green arm.

We spent the night boozing it up with Doug's room mates.  He and a couple of other blokes (Yug and Rob),were buying a house in one of the traditional working suburbs and it was their home.  Three young blokes sharing a house.  It was known bythe rest of their crew as The Clubhouse.  The reunion with Doug was a blast.  We laughed at some of our antics in Europe and I pretty much eased into this circle of young Torontonians.  The second day we went to The Beaches, hung in a couple of bars and the guys showed me around Toronto.  The next week pretty much blends into a blur of parties, pubs and sightseeing.  I also met up with Phil, an acquaintance from Sydney who'd worked in teh same governemnt department as me.  I'd met him once during a weekly Squash tournament a few other colleagues and I indulged in.  I liked the game because it was a balance to soccer training and was a good mid-week muscle stretcher and thirst builder.  Phil was married to a Torontonian and we were due to hook up with Jerry.  Jerry was one of the blokes who missed a rendezvous in Basel which led to my meeting up with Doug 'n  Dave with whom I launched into some amusing adventures in Europe. So a couple of years later and we'd finally get our shit together, this time in Canada.  Jerry was living in London on a 2 year break from Oz, working in a hotel frequented by B list celebrities.  He was due in Toronto at the end of my first week there.

A day later Doug took me to a home game of his baseball team.  He was the captain and seemed pretty serious about it to me, especially when I offered to bat clean up.  His team mates were mostly from where he worked so it was good for company morale that Doug led them to a good victory without my help.  We ended up at The Unicorn, an English style pub, drinking Blue and mucnhing on ribs 'n wings.  We organised to get to a Blue Jays game at some stage.  The following day I went to Phil's place and met up with Jerry.  The silly bugger actually made it!  Phile and Adele supplied a splendid dinner and I supplied wine and beer
Jerry and I reviewed our plans, thinking that NYC and places south would be good.  Doug resuced me from sensible talk by coming around and picking me up then driving me back to the clubhouse where I rooled up some hash I'd procured.  The deal had been that I'd meet this guy, lined up by one of Doug's friends in a bar a mile or so away from Doug's place.  We didn't know each other so to put a stop to any confusion and mystery I simpl wore an Australia t shirt.  Took about ten minutes, thirty bucks and a beer.  Easy.  Back at Dougs we launched into the hash, a few beers and laughed uproariously at Letterman.

The following day Phil, Adele, Jerry and I ended up in Centre Isle where we rode bicycles (anything to build up a thirst) and then went to Harbourfront for a few beers.  Back at Doug's the boys had a bbq parrty lined up so I went and bought some more Labbatts Blue and a bottle of Jack.  Then we cooked burgers and dogs, drank Labbatts, smoked hash and I attempted to talk to a few of the girls.  I had no hope.  They'd been told all sorts of bad things and didn't want to know.  All I did notice was Doug and the boys laughing uproariously whenever I received the cold shoulder. Nothing elese to do but join the dance and party on!

The next day I cooked up the breakfast and in the afternoon ws taken to Chick'N' deli for beers, wings and a blues band.  I was reeally enjoying Toronto but eventually you have to do something so Jerry and I hit the road the following day.  This time it was on the train and we went to Niagara to see what all the fuss was about and to see if any of the honeymooning brides needed help.  The Falls were spectacular, The Maid of the Mist tour was okay and near the youth hostel we found a cheap bar which was showing a Blue Jays game live,  all in all, an excellent.  The return to Toronto was filled with discussion about where to go next.  We decided on Quebec, Montreal, P.E.I. and whatever else we found on the way then Boston and New York.  Back in Toronto it was time for another bbq party at the Clubhouse on a Saturday night.  Sweet. 
It was a major blow out with beers, Jack, hash, burgers, dogs and even more bullshit than last time.  at least the girls didn't freeze me out totally this time as my natural charm and manly attraction started to impose themselves.  Okay, so it was the booze, but at least I was dancing with them and getting hints of future action.  Thaty action would have to wait a while becasue the next day we went with phil and Adele to Ontario Place and then back to their place for dinner.  I even celebrated the final night in Toronto by taking along a dozen Carlbergs. It must have been imporessive because I wrote it in my journal.  Doug popped around to say bye-bye and help us demolish the beers.  He tried to get Phil and Adele to adopt Rob's cat but they wouldn't be in it.  He even said the cat would die if it wasn't adopted.  They thought he was kidding but I wasn't sure so I told them he was most likely serious.  Luckily that was the lsat night I was with Phil and Adele, they weren't impressed with the thought of a cat being euthanased.  Its okay though folks, the cat was fine last time I saw it.  But all this meant that I was going to have another hungover departure for the next morning we were heading to Montreal.  On a train.


  1. Congratulations, for yours is the first blog post I've ever seen that mentions Sault Ste. Marie and the Soo Locks! That part of the world has some great outdoor areas for fishing, hunting, canoeing, etc.

    You got some distance on your spitting-Sudbury's up near Georgian Bay, off Lake Huron. Quite a way from Toronto! Sounds like a good time is being had by you. Actually I'd be surprised if we or the Canadians would have you back after the swath you've cut through North America!

    Good post, and looking forward to the rest of your trip.

  2. Dr Y - thanks
    YD - maybe not spitting distance but it seemed as though it was close to Toronto. Took a day on the Greyhound from memory. I've never been back even though the U.S. had tears in its eyes when I left. Tears of joy I imagine.

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