Holy crap in a Bundt pan... Due to the recent well-publicized shortage of
amateur websites produced by assholes who consider themselves to be clever, I
have been called into action. My name is Jeff Kay, and I’m an Ugly American living
on the cusp of a mid-life crisis, near Scranton, PA. And I’m here to serve, baby.

The View From Down Here
A journal of sorts, updated every once in a while.

Facial hair of world leaders

August 14, 2007

-- As I type this we have no electricity; I’m sitting at the dining room table using my laptop, and its fancy-pants eBay battery. I’m not sure what’s going on, but everything groaned to a halt about a half-hour ago. And it’s been deader than Kelsey’s nuts ever since. 

Toney says there’s a work crew from the power company doing something in front of Half-Shirt’s house. Who the hell knows? One of those guys probably spilled a Dr. Pepper into something important, and the outage will be classified as “system malfunction,” or another similarly vague phrase.

Screw it. I’ll just make sure to hit the SAVE button every few seconds. Let’s get to the Ottawa
trip, shall we?

-- On Friday we traveled. We (Toney) wanted to leave around noon
, but it was closer to 1:30 before we finally hit the road. It was just a few days ago, but I can’t remember exactly why we were delayed. It probably had something to do with half-assery on someone’s part. I’m just having a little trouble recalling the details. 

Ahem.

As usual, we got bogged down in so-called road construction on I-81. I say “so-called” because we never actually saw anyone doing work on the roads. In fact, we never saw a single worker or piece of heavy machinery. They just had lanes coned-off, for no apparent reason. And this caused me to recite a random sampling of the bad words.

When we finally arrived at the Canadian border, the guy there asked us a few questions and let us through. As border dudes go, this one could almost be categorized as pleasant. Almost.

I had to urinate like Man O’ War, as did everyone else in the car, so I pulled into the duty-free shop. I’d whizzed there once before, and appreciated the opulence of the facility; the joint makes a person feel like they’re peeing the pee of kings.

This is where Andy took his very first international dump, as well. I attached his leash and took him for a short walk. Within minutes he was humped-up like a kangaroo. Once he reached completion he started kicking his hind legs repeatedly, stirring up a great cloud of dust. Oh, it was nothing if not dramatic.

Then we couldn’t get out of there. With horror we saw that there is only one exit, and it deposits you right back into the USA
. What the hell, man? We’d just sat in line for a half-hour to get through customs. Now we’d have to do it all over again??

Toney went into the store and asked the woman if we had any options, and she chuckled and said it happens at least a hundred times per day. She told us how to cheat and jump near the front of the line, so our wait wouldn’t be quite so long.  

But the answer was yes, we’d have to go back through customs. Grrr...

This time the guy wasn’t so nice. It was a younger person, a man with a shaved head, and he was not amused by our shenanigans. He demanded to know why we crossed the border fifteen minutes earlier, and were now crossing again (how’d he know?!). And when I explained it to him, he acted like I was making it up as I went along.

“Now let me get this straight,” he began, “You stopped at the duty-free shop, to use the bathroom. Is this what I’m being asked to believe?” He just wouldn’t let it go, and wanted to see all manner of identification, even Andy’s rabies certificate. Clearly, he was enjoying himself a great deal.

When finally allowed to proceed, we were almost instantly in the middle of nowhere. It looked like there was nothing but forest in every direction, and the road was flat and straight. 

Somebody had warned me not to speed in Canada
, so I was trying to pay attention to it. But it wasn’t easy using the little numbers on the speedometer, and all that stuff. Plus, all the locals were buzzing past and shooting us dirty looks. And even worse, a few seemed to be wearing an expression of understanding, as if they thought I was experiencing car trouble.

Whenever we’d happen upon a sliver of civilization, I didn’t recognize many of the businesses. Or they were places I remembered from when I was a kid, but hasn’t existed since, like, 1971. Esso gas stations for instance. Esso! Do they watch Zenith "works in a drawer" TVs as well? It was all mildly disconcerting.

We arrived in Ottawa
without incident, and took the exit MapQuest instructed. A few blocks into the city we happened upon a business called “Beer Store,” and I whipped the wheel violently to the right.

It was actually a Beer Store/LCBO hybrid. Through the window the former looked like a drycleaner, and that intimidated me. I didn’t see any beer, no beer whatsoever. There appeared to be nothing but a long counter, with clerks on one side and customers on the other. The shit?

So we went into LCBO, which seemed to be more of a traditional Pennsylvania-style alcohol retailer. In the back of the place was a big cooler full of beer in cans. They had many exotic brands, and they were all what we hillbillies call tallboys. 

We saw that folks were using cardboard carriers and buying the single beers as custom-built eight-packs. Confused and feeling stupid, we just did what the natives were doing. And here’s our receipt from that night. We chose four brands, two each, and all were mighty tasty indeed.

One thing that made me laugh was that right in the middle of all those obscure beers, was Pabst Blue Ribbon. And I saw a man sporting a college professor’s goatee place two into his carrier as if he were a student of rare delicacies from lands faraway.   

We found Toney’s sister’s house pretty easily, and it’s a nice place. The neighborhood is charming, and felt completely safe. Folks were out walking, and everyone seemed cheerful and polite. 

So far I liked Ottawa
, it’s a big city that felt like a small town. I’d heard people describe places like that before, but didn’t know how it could be possible. Now I know.

Toney’s sister had a 12-pack sampler of Sleeman beer in her fridge, and insisted we help ourselves. And so, as they showed us around and we chit-chatted, I sampled the original draught (not overly distinctive), the cream ale (ditto), and Honey Brown Lager (now we’re talkin’!). We didn’t even get into our LCBO stash that night, yet drank lots of beer: a wonderful turn of events.

When it came time for us to drag in our luggage, and all that crapola, Andy jumped into the trunk of my car and wouldn’t get out. Apparently he needed a beer as well, and was freaking the hell out. 

He sat way up high on the cooler, and wouldn’t get down. After I physically removed him, he instantly returned and wasn’t about to budge. Here’s a picture I took of “the Woody Allen of dogs,” shaking and shedding hair into the trunk of my car. (You can see the LCBO beer-carrier in the shot as well.)

We finally had to use food to coax him out of there, and he’s still not acting exactly right.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you more about the trip. During our visit we traipsed through Parliament, witnessed the Changing of the Guard, and took a bus tour of the city. Oh, we were tourists, big-time.

Here are some of the pictures I snapped.

And just so you know… the power came back on around But the answer was yes, we’d have to go back through customs. 

See ya on Wednesday.




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01/17/12 12:14 PM

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