Roo (or is that Satchel?) is here!

Very different from Daisy (he is a little bit of a scaredy cat) and as good as gold (so far).

After a day that began at 5am, leaving the chalet to fly to Greensboro via Buffalo and Philly, the puppy (who may be called Roo and may be called Satchel) and I arrived home in Hamilton at about 7pm last night.

Although the travel sounds brutal, I had a really good day, chatting up a storm with a couple of really nice women that I met – one on the way to Calgary from Buffalo, and the other on the way back from Philly to Buffalo who shared the same taste in British comedies as I did (we spent the trip quoting ‘Little Britain’ characters and lines from ‘Are you being served?’). Melissa, the breeder, is lovely – she spent quite a lot of time with us at the airport making sure everything about the return trip would go smoothly. She had already given the puppy a temporary name, Satchel Page. Apparently this Satchel was a black baseball player and because my puppy’s mum was called Page, she liked the play on words. Satchel, although Melissa wouldn’t have known this, is also the name of the dog in the cartoon ‘Get Fuzzy’ . From what I can tell so far, Satchel’s personality isn’t that different to our little one’s – so the name may stick.

I can’t really say the trip for Satchel/Roo was much fun, he was evidently not terribly impressed by airports, planes or being handed over to some complete stranger who spoke with a funny accent and did not smell like home.

We had a quiet night together and I have figured out that he is almost perfectly house trained already, does not like stairs or screen doors, loves food and sleeping, and is pretty sure I am OK, but not 100%, as yet. I think that’s pretty good progress and that once he settles he should be fine. He’ll meet his new sister today who was staying at Dave and Mari’s this weekend. It remains to be seen whether she scares the crap out of him or relaxes him a little bit…..

Rob returns today from Vermont with the one working camera we currently own, and so I have included a shot that I took this morning with my Blackberry.

The telly broke!

Just coming off a lovely weekend in Ellicottville. What amazing weather! Keep it coming.

Dave, Mari and Max came down to join us on Saturday morning, full of stories of their adventures at Rock of Ages the night before and giving us plenty of excuses to do Guns and Roses impressions.

We had a great ride up Eagle and around the ski hill. I even managed to stay on my bike for the entire ride. Even though I managed not to land in the middle of any raspberry bushes this time (thank you to Mari for rescuing me last week), single-speeding is still making me feel like I am learning how to ride a mountain bike all over again – I wonder if I am getting too old for this business?

Saturday night after dinner we had planned to watch the movieDogma, one of my favourites. When we turned the TV on, all it would display was a white line running horizontally across the screen. There was a collective sense of “well what do we do now?” and Rob, half joking, offered to do an emergency Walmart run (the only kind in our house, I hasten to add) to buy a new one.

Instead, being the sensible adults we are, we broke out Dave’s 30 year old bourbon and made up names for our new puppy – arriving on 11th September.

Passing quickly through Arthur, Brian, and Graham we got more imaginative as the night went on….Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, Vlad the Impaler, Adolph Hitler, Eeyore…but eventually decided on Roo. Which we even liked when we woke up the next morning.

Amazing what you can find to amuse yourself when the TV breaks, and we still managed to get in a ride on Sunday…

Rain and Riding

So, I still haven’t found the pictures that spurred me to write my first blog post in two years (HINT: Whip It), but I thought our ride home this evening was somewhat  newsworthy.

I recently moved to our spanking new business campus in Burlington. There are many advantages to being in the new building (formally known as the Ron Joyce Centre).   RJCApart from the fact it is LEED Gold certified, has huge amounts of natural light, gorgeous furniture and represents an important development in raising DeGroote’s profile as a North American business school of choice, the other great thing about it is that it’s 5 minutes away from where Rob works and so we get to commute together. A huge bonus, given that during term time we don’t see each other for two days straight during the week because I am going to night classes.

Rob repairing bike Aug 2010

Today was the first day we rode in together on our bikes. It was a beautiful morning, without the humidity we’ve suffered recently and I made it in less time than it used to take me to ride in to Hamilton. I found out the shower at the new building isn’t running hot water yet and the lock on the door wasn’t installed, but these are all minor wrinkles in an otherwise pleasant start to the day. I sang loudly and showered quickly.

Lift Bridge Aug 2010

The way home was a different story. The heavens OPENED and out came lots of rain. My bike got a flat tire and then the lift bridge went up for a ship and a sail boat.This isn’t that fascinating, but it certainly gives me a good excuse to post two cute pictures of my husband in his riding gear….  The one above is of him mending my tire under the lift bridge as the rain causes little rivers to flow past us on the concrete floor, and the one to the right is of him on the lift bridge waiting for the boat to pass beneath.

I ended the evening pulling out weeds from the garden and helping to clean up our neighbourhood by relieving it of a stack of red bricks from the abandoned house behind us so that I could make a border round a flower bed in our back garden.

Cider Now enjoying a Rekorderlig cider (why does everything that comes from Sweden sound like a piece of Ikea furniture?) that Mari and Dave kindly left behind after having dinner with us last night. Yum.

We Miss Dave Beer

We Miss Dave BThis post is just another excuse to link to Tecla’s Flickr site. We went to Mari’s house in Hamilton for dinner on Saturday night. Her husband, Dave, is still in Tokyo and so we thought we’d send him a Tokyo style “hello” courtesy of Tecla’s photo skills.

A little bit of British Humour

Lately, CBC radio has been driving me crazy in the mornings. This could be down to the fact that my beloved Andy Barrie (I had to look the spelling of his name up, as in Canada, it is said more like “Andy Berry”) seems to be on the air less and less. But I am sure there has been a change in their programming.

Increasingly it seems,the focus of their extended coverage is designed to convince us all that the world is going to s**t and we’ll probably all be dead soon of pollution/gang warefare/positive discrimination. Added to the fact that, in an attempt to reflect the multicultural nature of their Canadian listenership, they seem to have lost sight of what actually consitutes decent music. In my humble opinion, just because some group of dwarves playing the nose flute and six plastic bottles is from Tibet, it doesn’t make them worthy of airtime!!

As such I have been turning to my ipod to keep me amused on the way to work. Thank God for podcasts. I found this one, called “The Now Show” from the good old British Broadcasting Company, and it has me rolling in the aisles. This, to me, is British humour at its best. There’s no political correctness here, and no cultural sensitivity. Mind you, there’s no discrimination here either – everybody gets the piss taken out of them!!!

2 new additions to Team Wanderlust

P1010085During August, my Mum and Dad came to stay. We had a blast whilst they were here. We got the chance to have lunch with Rob’s Dad and Doris and spent the day visiting Toronto Island which was a first for me. Dad fixed my car (it’s running like a dream now, although my efforts to get Rob to agree to me having a new one are now completely scuppered!).

The weekend before Mum and Dad left, Rob, myself and five other friends particpated in the 24 Hour Hot August Nights Mountain Bike Race at Albion Hills (near Bolton). This race involves tag teams and soloists riding non-stop for 24 hours around a 15km mountain biking trail. We start at noon on Saturday and the last rider goes out before noon the following day. So, yes, that means some riders riding through the night with head lights on. What an experience.

Mum and Dad camped with us and kept us going with sandwiches and encouragement, as well as a nice fire when we got back from our respective laps. Most of the photos (I’ve put them in my Facebook album) were taken by my Mum.

I am lucky to have parents who get along so well with my friends and I think everybody really enjoyed themselves.

Most notable performances have to go to Dave Enns who bettered his first lap time (done during the day) by a whole minute during his night time lap. He did 15km in 49 minutes, a whole 11 minutes faster than my fastest time during the day!!! Tecla smoked round on all her laps. In fact, we figured out that our lap times were better than any of those of the other female riders who were part of a five person team.

Dave Scottlander managed his final lap on Sunday inspite of a scratched eyeball, and Matt did his last lap on a bike that didn’t even belong to him after a slight mechanical first thing on Sunday morning.

Mums Cannon 083I’ve included pictures of the infamous “Snakes on a Plank”. The race organizers put this obstacle up at 10am on Sunday morning (when some people who are riding solo or parts of smaller numbered teams haven’t had any sleep) and allow a big crowd of people to watch as you ride over a slippery plank crossing a really nasty pit of muddy water. None of the spectaular falls are from our team, but they are still worth a look!

Bike Touring – Bruce Peninsular

P1010097All these next few posts are going to be in the wrong order. I am enjoying a lazy Sunday (one of the first for about 2 months), catching up on photos and blog posts and continuing to try to figure out how Facebook works.

After saying ‘goodbye’ to my Mum and Dad who stayed for 10 days during August, Rob and I decided to spend the long weekend touring round the Bruce Peninsular. We drove to Owen Sound and road up the East coast of the Pennsinsular through Wiarton and Lionshead, then crossed over the top and down the West side through Tamarac, Sauble Beach and back to Owen Sound.

I think I have found my favourite part of Ontario. The beauty of the Bruce Peninsular on the west side near Lions Head would rival anything you would see in Europe. The water is a perfect colour of azure and the Bruce Trail is as rugged and remote feeling as elsewhere in Ontario.

We lucked out with the weather and were able to “free” camp both nights although the first night hauling our bags along the coastal Bruce Trail path was a bit exciting, but worth it for the views of the sunset over the water and the feeling of isolation.

On Saturday night we came across The Tamarac Inn at Stokes Bay, purely by coincidence. An old, old hotel, converted by a former New Jersey lawyer, Bill Shultz, to a cosy bed and breakfast with a big open dining room that he invites local jazz musicians to jam in on Saturday nights. We were treated to the sounds of Miles Davis, as well as classics like ‘Summer Time’ and ‘Autumn Leaves’, whilst we had a few post ride beers.

It was a gorgeous weekend and we spent the whole trip home looking through real estate magazines to see if we could find a piece of lake front property near Lions Head that we could afford!

I’ve posted the photos of the trip in my Face book photo album and Rob will no doubt be adding a trip review complete with route guide and map on his touring page.

Virgin Music Festival 2007

P9080227I wouldn’t exactly call it a festival. My idea of festivals (I am both a Glastonbury and a Burning Man survivor) is where you go to an event, that allows you a relative amount of freedom with respect to your comings and goings, so you can watch music and relax.

Having paid $75 per ticket, I had hoped to spend most of my time watching music, having a couple of drinks and taking in the vibe. What we did instead was spend at least half of the day in a queue. We queued to buy tickets for drink and/or food. Then we queued, with said tickets, to be allowed into the beer area (laws in Ontario dictate that people who are drinking in public have to be separated by a fence from the rest of the world), so that we could then queue to swap those tickets for a beer. On average one beer took 40mins to actually acquire. If you didn’t like beer, you were unlucky. If you didn’t Budweiser beer, yup, unlucky. If you didn’t like paying $6 for one can of Budweiser beer, you were SOL.

Upon running low on money, having paid almost $40 for four beer and two chicken wraps (not eating hot dogs, hamburgers or pepperoni pizza, we were a bit limited in our options) we thought we’d better find an ATM to make sure we had enough money for the whole day. RBC had not envisioned the complications involved with setting up an ATM on an island and the ATM’s that were supposed to be supplied for the day, weren’t working. The good people of the Toronto Island Tourist Village opened their one ATM (which, given the speed at which it worked, I think is wind powered) for our use and, once again, we queued for 45 minutes to be able to get money so we could go and queue another 40 minutes to get another drink.

Once we’d actually resigned ourselves to being ripped off and to the endless queuing, we actually had a really good time. We arrived at 3pm just in time to see K-Os, who absolutely live.

The Arctic Monkey’s were typically “British bad boy” in the way they performed (not much interaction with the crowd, a lot of farting about with dark sunglasses and ostentatiously drinking bottles of Stella between songs), but they were still awesome live and I am glad to have had the chance to see them. My only regret is that I didn’t know about them before they got so famous – the energy they perform with would be great in a small venue.

I think the absolute highlight of the day though, was Bjork. Not because I particularly liked any of the music she played, but just because her set, her backing entourage and her sound were just SO strange. Strange and beautiful. The sound she creates just with her voice is incredible. Dressed in a big frilly gold lame dress and silver tights, she lept about the stage and performed a set that was kind of choral. She had at least ten backing singers and a full wind section (French horns, trombones, cornets). She also had a huge green laser that beamed out from the stage and made patterns on a huge tree located at the back of the arena. Unfortunately our pictures didn’t catch her performance too well, but I have included them anyway.

We got the chance to watch the sunset over the Toronto skyline and I got some serious people-watching in. So it really was a good day. I just wish the organizers of these events weren’t so bloody greedy and small minded when it comes to the provision of all the peripheral stuff that also adds or detracts from the experience.

I’ve added my photos of the day to my Facebook photo album.

Very Disturbing

salad-fingers.jpgLast night Rob and I were poking around on YouTube and we came across a series of cartoons called Salad Fingers. We ended up watching the first seven episodes. They are WEIRD – I’d like to meet the strange person that thought them up. Here is a link to episode one, the rest are available on YouTube. Watch on – if you dare…

Mad Dogs and Mountains

We’re back…”we” being Rob, Tim, Kevin and I, returned from our Adventure Race in Virginia last night at around 8pm. We’re all walking like someone tried to bugger us with a toilet brush, but apart from that (oh, and the fact that Kevin found a tick on his leg yesterday on the way home and is now convinced he’s going to get Lime disease) we’re all intact, if a few brain cells lighter than on Friday morning when we set out from Burlington on the 11 hour drive to Roanoke in Virginia.

The race started at noon on Saturday and we finished a little over 20 hours later on Sunday morning. if I never see another Cliff bar or Hammer Gel in my life again, it will be too soon. I know that the race photographer took some photos of our team so I’ll either post them here or add a link to them once they have been published.

The race went roughly as follows:

– 1 hour trail run
– 2 hour mountain bike
– 1 hour road ride
– 2 hour trek
– 9 hour road ride
– 3 hour orienteering section
– 3 hour paddle

The long ride was through the night and was up and down the mountains in Virginia, we covered 8500 feet of elevation. The orienteering section was also done in the dark. Rob never ceases to amaze me how he can find stuff like a “re-entrant” (I didn’t even know what one was) in the middle of the night after no sleep and 15 hours of constant activity.

Virginia is gorgeous, and we were rewarded with some spectacular views from the tops of the mountains and ridges that we climbed.

Adventure racers are a great bunch of people and we had a good laugh with the various teams that we encountered on the way round the course – including one lady from Kentucky who was doing the race solo.

I will say, though, that some of the Virginia natives are a little bit strange. Take, for example, an incident that took place just as the sun was setting during the long biking section. A dog came dashing down the driveway of a farm just ahead of us, followed by a little old man in a golf cart with blazing headlights. We smiled politely as the man shouted that his dog was harmless, whilst it weaved dangerously between our bike tires and snapped at our feet. As we carried on riding, the man followed us, in his golf cart, headlights on full beam behind us, watching his dog run at us. Eventually Rob turned his bike round to ride back towards the man, at which point he 180’d his cart, headed back to whence he came, and called off his dog. Leaving us wondering what on earth he was up to?

On another occasion we were standing, checking the map, near to a big, rural, house when a lady came out to talk to us, curious about what we were doing. She had seen a couple of other teams pass by already that day. We explained the race and, telling her that we had run out of water and were getting dehydrated, we asked her if she knew where we could buy some water. “Oh no” she said “there isn’t anywhere to get water from around here…” I guess Virginians must use beer or something to wash their dishes.

Anyway, we were attacked a couple more times by crazy dogs in the night time – one big black dog made me scream, it gave me such a fright leaping out from the shadows of it’s yard. It felt quite good to make that much noise involuntarily. Kevin gave it a kick on my behalf as he passed by and I think it may have had a bit of a headache the next morning.

Roanoke city centre is a colourful place too. On the Friday before the race, we went out for a drink and something to eat downtown. A police cruiser passed by every 30 seconds and we watched from our patio vantage point as a man armed with a huge rifle wrapped in a silver blanket, got out of his car and was escorted across the road and into a building on the opposite side of the square in full view of the bar where we sat. I think I am a bit estranged from US culture and to see so many guns is bizarre. Guns and churches, Virginia seems to have a large helping of both, and I can’t really say that it is doing them any favours from an outsiders perspective.

Despite all the strangeness, we had an amazing time and I can’t wait to do it again. There’s another 24 hour race in 2 weeks in Guelph and I am trying to convince Rob we should go for it…