31 May 2007

NWT Road Trip: Part III

I’m trying to remember Saturday. It was so long ago. We started off the day taking a look at the Rapids of the Drowned. I love places with morbidly brutal names (à la Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump). Unfortunately, I think we should have actually gone down the walkway or something ‘cause all we saw was a relatively calm river.

Next it was on to the Salt River Day Use Area. To get there we had to leave NWT, re-enter Alberta, then re-enter the Park. This location was recommended to us by my labmate who does her field work in the area. It had two hiking trails with interpretive signage. And it had snakes, but I won’t comment any further on them except to say that I only screamed once.

There was a little bit of a gong show when Mika and Cricket took the 7.5km trail instead of the 700m trail that Oz and I took; they were gone for a long time and reappeared just as Oz and I were prepping for a rescue mission.

At some point that day we saw Little Buffalo River Falls, but I can’t for the life of me remember if it was before or after lunch. Whatever, I’m going to put pictures of it here.

We ate lunch at the Salt Flats. This was our view while we ate:

Not bad. Before we ate we hiked down to the flats. The other girls went far out onto them, I stayed behind for whatever reason. I just didn’t want to, I guess. Look how far away they got!

After lunch we did other things. I’m really making this come alive for you, eh? I’m no Bill Bryson, I know. There was a Whopping crane lookout from which I don’t think anyone has ever seen Whopping cranes. Ever. And there was a sink hole and a decommissioned fire tower that they obviously didn’t want people to climb.

After we had exhausted all the Park had to offer, we took off for Hay River for the night. We tried to buy postcards but couldn’t find a single store that was selling them. Tomorrow: the thrilling conclusion of our story…the drive home! Will our intrepid heroines make it back alive? Tune in to find out.

30 May 2007

NWT Road Trip: Part II: Local Law Enforcement

Friday morning we took off from Manning, AB around 8am. Cricket drove first, and then I drove. Four hours of standard road-tripping ensued until we crossed the 60th parallel and passed into NWT at noon. We stopped at the visitor station there to have lunch by a little pond which pleased the ornithologists in Mika and Oz, and made Cricket happy because the frogs were calling. I think we were all high on the idea of finally getting into the Territory.

After lunch we continued north, and stopped at Alexandria Falls. I didn’t have any expectations for the Falls; if I’d had, they would have been blown away. It was this wide mass of churning, muddy water falling over a high ledge and sending mist into the air. Watching the water go over was mesmerizing and I could have stared at it in trance for hours.

This idiot decided to climb down to get a closer look. It was such a blatantly stupid idea, I couldn’t believe it – but it gives this picture some scale so you can see how large the Falls are:

After Alexandria Falls we tried to find the next waterfall on the route, Louise Falls. We followed signs but no dice. We decided we would try again on the way out. By this point Mika was driving and we were heading toward Wood Buffalo National Park. That was when the surreal happened. It began with an RCMP truck pulling up behind us. Mika was worried about getting pulled over for speeding (for the record, I think she speeds less than I do). The cops, however, just pulled out and passed us. We were all happily relieved, until a little bit down the road we saw the RCMP truck had pulled off into a little turnaround on the left hand side of the road. After we passed it, it pulled out and followed us. Shite! There was much “what do we do?” and decelerating, then the flashing lights went on and we were pulled over (going no more than 10km/h over, I might add). Both officers came to the car, one to Mika and one to Oz in the passenger seat. They wanted to see Mika’s license, which was in the trunk. Then the other officer asked to see Oz’s ID. Then mine, then Cricket’s. We exchanged troubled glances while he wrote down our information. The first officer was outside asking Mika questions like who owned the car, where we were from, where we were going, etc. At this point we were beginning to think we’d be okay. The officers were very young, and didn’t seem very familiar with Wood Buffalo National Park – suggesting a newness to the Territory. In fact, they had been confused by our rental car license plate and had pulled us over for that reason. After warning us about bears, they took off leaving us confused and just a little indignant. We imagined them high-fiving each other as they drove away, all proud of their big bad selves for pulling over a car full of chicks. Or something. We didn’t see them again, anyway.

Eventually we made it to the Park. Given that it’s the 2nd largest park in the world, it takes awhile to drive through. And given that it’s a gravel road most of the way…it takes an even longer while to drive through. We did see a bison, though. The only one we saw that weekend. I’m not going to post a picture because it was grazing the whole time and we couldn’t see its head. For those poor souls out there who have never seen a wood bison, you can see them here.

We ended that night in Fort Smith, NWT. We spent Saturday exploring the Park. More on that later.

29 May 2007

NWT Road Trip: Part I

When I was deciding what school to attend for my Masters, I made a pro & con list for each school (yes, take a moment to marvel at my anality). On the pro list for UofA, was its relative proximity to the Territories. I had always wanted to see Canada’s north, and had never been in a position to do so while living in Ontario or Nova Scotia. So, when I moved here two years ago I was determined, at some point during my forced sentence in the province, to make it north. This past weekend I fulfilled that goal.

A shout out should be given to the incomparable Mika for taking the initiative and arranging a road trip for a group of us (the “core four”) to travel up to NWT. Everyone pitched in (except me, I really did nothing except forget the stuff I was supposed to bring), but Mika was at the center of it all. Thanks, Miks!

We began our adventure early Thursday afternoon. We picked up the rental car, loaded our crap, and took off west on the Yellowhead. We stopped for dinner in Peace River. I was driving then, and managed to go careening though a light-controlled intersection, having no idea that a) it was light controlled and b) it was a 5-way intersection. Luckily there were no cars around, and it’s even possible that the light was green anyway. We stayed that night in Manning, AB.

I have to say, I had this preconceived notion of Northern Alberta as being flat and barren, with stubby little trees and lots of cows. It completely defied my expectations, however. There were soft hills offering beautiful vistas and the Peace river valley was so lush and verdant. It was a complete shock – but it was beautiful.

Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures. The only pictures I have from Thursday are of Cricket and Oz trying to fix Cricket’s nose ring. (Enjoy them while you can I have a feeling she’s going to ask me to take them down when she sees them here).

Stay tuned for more on the Road Trip.

Happy Happy Joy Joy

I'm gonna be an Aunt! Again! My new niece or nephew is due 20 December!

24 May 2007


I’m not going to be near a computer for the next few days, so I’m going to post this a day early. Tomorrow (25 May) is the 6 Year Anniversary of the 2nd Time I Saw U2 in Concert. In honour of this blessed event, I’m putting some pretty, pretty pictures up.

23 May 2007

It had to be done

This morning I took part in that sacred Canadian rite of passage: waiting in line at the Passport Office. I heard all the horror stories prior to the January deadline. As recently as a few weeks ago I heard of 2-hour wait times. I went prepared: I had my book and my music. I arrived about 20 minutes before it opened, and the line-up appeared long. I went to the end of the line and waited. At 8am the doors opened and people were ushered in to “pre-screening.” At this point they see what kind of application you have (handwritten, on-line) and how many applications, and when you’re traveling. I had done my application on-line and was given the number C007. It seemed like the majority of people there had the older, handwritten applications and would have a longer wait. My number was called quickly and I was out of there by 8:20. Frankly, I’m a little disappointed. I wanted some Passport line-up horror story of my very own that I could tell at parties for years to come. I wanted three hours in line followed by someone telling me my application was incomplete and sending me away. Then I could bitch about the Government and have some great complaining fodder.

Chalk another one up for Fish

Fish just keep getting better and better. I just read of a case of parthenogenesis in a hammerhead shark in captivity. Now there’s evidence that both bony and cartilaginous fish are capable of reproducing without a male partner. Of course, many other animal groups can also do this (birds, reptiles, etc.) but not mammals, so fish are totally better than mammals.

Speaking of mammals, I only recently learned that blue whales and humpback whales can hybridize. It makes sense, they’re both baleen whales, but it seems unintuitive to me. Although, given that there’s like 100 blue whales left, cross-breeding may be their only survival option.

21 May 2007

Computers can be stupid too

Shout out to Annie V., for sending me this awesome piece of computer f**k-uppery in an email forward. The email came with a series of directions, and I thought I'd save ya'll the work and share the reward.

When asking Google Maps for directions from Nova Scotia to London, England, you get the following map:
Along with the directions:

They start out okay, taking the MacDonald bridge is better than taking the 102 all the way out. However, after heading towards the Airport, the directions tell you to head West, away from the Airport (and London, for that matter). Then, they take you all the way into the States and down to Boston!

That, however, is not as absurd as Step 24 in the journey from Nova Scotia to London:

Is this for real? Or is this the Google Staff's way of having fun? Like all those artists at Disney who put dirty jokes in kid's movies?

18 May 2007

Happy May 2-4!

This weekend is the May 2-4. The 2-4 has always been my favourite long weekend. When I was a kid it was a given that we’d go to the cabin on The 2-4. Since The 2-4 is the official start of the short Canadian summer, we’d perform the rituals of opening up the cabin for the season. This included taking the canoes out of the cabin (where, for God knows what reason, they are stored for the winter), taking the battens off the screen porch, and putting away the things that were stored in an absurd “mouse-proof” manner.

The weather is never the greatest on The 2-4, Muskoka in May is still pretty cool. Even if the weekend was cold and rainy, it was always such a relief to get back to the cabin after more than 6 months of being away. Back then, waiting out the winter to get back to the cabin was sheer torture; nowadays, I’ll go years without getting up there and in the summer I find that to be unbearable. That place means more to me than the home I spent 19 years of my life in: I never get homesick for my childhood home, but I will ache for the cabin. In honour of happy 2-4 memories, I'm gonna post some cabin pictures. Isn't it beautiful?

On another note, how quaint is it that we have a holiday nicknamed for a case of beer?

16 May 2007

The Mystery of the Bunny on the Desk

Sometime on the morning of 04 May someone came into my office (which was unlocked, and open because my officemates were in there) and left a little plush pink bunny on my closed laptop. My office mate claims she didn’t see who put it there, and so one else will admit to it. My current theory is that it was Cricket and she’s just being uncharacteristically good at lying about it.

If anyone has any information, please contact me. I really want to know why someone gave me the bunny and then didn’t own up to it.

14 May 2007

Joel Plaskett is Awesome

Somehow I managed to go and get myself sick. It happened last Thursday. I woke up and made it to my 7am yoga class on time (no small victory, let me tell you), and I felt fine and normal. By lunch I had that getting-sick taste in the back of my throat and by the time I left school I was very obviously sick. By Friday my raw, angry throat had become the bane of my existence. I went out on Saturday night to a Joel Plaskett concert and paid for it on Sunday when I had almost no voice. I think I’m getting better now, but my throat still hates me and, oddly, my ears and eyes are sore.

Enough of my medical drama. Let me tell you about how awesome Joel Plaskett is: he’s very, very awesome. I didn’t care much for the venue: it was insanely crowded and I don’t like crowds (read: people); it was excessively loud, to the point where even JP made a comment about it. But the show itself was great. They played all the songs I had wanted to hear, and even the songs I don’t really like were great live. You could tell he was having fun: he looked like he could play all night and never tire (they played for 2 hours as it was). I would recommend that everyone see him live if they get the chance. You don’t know what you’re missing.

11 May 2007

Something new

I feel the need to post, having not done so for a while. Yesterday was Bono's Birthday. I tend to ignore this fact as I hate to admit to myself how old he really is.

My best friend of 16 years is visiting from Ontario, so we've been doing our thing. Our Thing is essentially watching movies and TV shows and creating fictional storylines and being snarky. We've seen some good movies (Little Miss Sunshine) and some bad, bad, oh-so-bad movies (The Covenant, The Return). The bad ones are fun to talk through, the stuff we make up is so much better than the crap in the movie. When we're together we also tend to go to used bookstores and buy too many books in a fever of bibliophiliac compulsion. I also swear a lot more when I'm around her; we're really very good influences on each other.

I want to send a belated Birthday Shout-Out to Annie. I'm really bad for forgetting/missing her Birthday. Happy Birthday Annie!! Below is the only picture I have of Annie (in yellow) and myself, and you can't even see her face! It was taken on a field trip during our first year at Dalhousie.