Wednesday, June 30, 2010


So an early post. I last posted on my way from montreal. Today I write from you when I am about to board a bus for NYC. So it must be about 6 days since I last wrote (give it was an over night bus ride and I have done two days in Boston and three in Washington dc.)
Well its been quite a sedate pace as far as the bus travel has gone
But I havnt been slacking.
Boston – I like you a lot. A very nice city, sitting on a harbor, with a wonderful trail which you can follow to explore some of the American war history stuff. Is quite interesting and a good area to explore. The freedom trail gives you a perspective on the history of some of the wars in Boston and some of the conflict that the Americans went through. There are another two walks and I recommend checking out the National Parks Service of the united states, for information on these tours. These guys are the bees knees and know their stuff and know how to help you get around!
As I said I like boston, and I like the east coast of the usa a lot more. The people hear arnt afraid to mix and there isn’t as a pronounced segregation as what is seen in the Midwest. There are a few other ktichy thing I liked and I watched the aussies last game of the world cup at the bar that inspired cheers! Was a good option.
Well after the ride down to Washington DC and a bit of a drama finding a hostel that had space (eep) I found a bed for the night and stayed there. It’s a odd little place called dc lofty hostel, about the same price as the HI but not quite as nice and as secure. They decided to install locks on the doors last night, but the guy who installed the one on my bedroom didn’t know what he was doing so I had to help him break in to get us back into the room.
DC has been HOT and HUMID. I have been drinking 2-3 liters of water a day and then some! Not what I call fun unfortunately and made getting around a bit tougher as dc is a walking city. I can say this much, hit dc during a low period, not peak summer season (starts early June runs to the end of August). But its amazing. I have fallen in love with the magic and history of the Smithsonian. Unfortunately a lot of the buildings in dc all follow the same architecture pattern and it makes them all kind of blur in together after a while. Lots of roman pillars and temple like structure. Interestingly the white house and the capital have similar architecture, externally. And also they have a great footy/cricket oval, that they put a ruddy great big tree in the middle of :-P.
Dc has a high homeless population and they are fairly well hidden from the public eye. But without much difficulty you discover them. That discovery can be quite confronting and is defiantly not a comforting situation. And I can say that its not a cheap place to visit. It may be cheeper than NYC but not by much. But it is deefinaly one of those places that you have to visit if your in the region. You could easly spend a week ehre exploring free attractions and only paying for food and accomidation.
Now its time for the big apple, New York City. Three more days of madness, with an accomindation change in the middle, and a trip to broadway on Monday night. I don’t know what to expect. But its time for me to get ready for the next bit of my trip.
I leave north American on Monday week. I will have been on the road (not counting skeeter) for six full weeks. No home, no base, lots of friends, lots of amazing experiences & some very very lonely nights and days as I have sat on the greyhound, crossing this continent. I will calculate how far I have travled in the next few days. All I know it’s a bloody long way!
Ok so here is the estimate on distance
Week 1 &2 - 3029
Week 3 - 2467
Week 4 - 2794
Week 5 - 1495
Week 6 – 2202
Total  = 11,977kms (give or take a few) or  - a blooooody long way!
Musings and pondering of the trip to come probably later in the week on my next off day (in Ottawa in 4 days if my body holds out)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Some times there just aren’t words

There are times when what you want to say cannot be translated into words. There are things you see that cannot be described. There are things that a photo will never do justice too. Unfortunately those are things you can only keep in your mind. No number of words would do it justice. And sometimes I get to have those moments.
So this week I have made two border crossings and I have made my first visit to the USA on this trip. And I have to say that I do really dislike the USA, so far. The people tend to be more self cantered, ruder and pushier. Minneapolis was kind of cool though. They have a wonderful above ground network of bridges to enable you to go around the city in the middle of the cold winter without ever going outside. And unlike the cities that put it underground you still get to see the outside world. Chicago was cool merely for the fact it’s GOTHAM CITY!!!!!! And I had a few happy fan boy moments. They also have a wicked bean, which is great for photography. Biggest problem is the smog. It is horrible. And I was kind of glad to be out of there. I also got to see 1 million US$ in $1 bills in a cube at the Federal Reserve. Curiously the Federal Reserve would let me in with my bag but the Chicago public library would not!
I had a choice to make on Wednesday. Detroit in the USA or Windsor, just on the other side of the river. I had planned to spend half a day in both but when it turned out that I couldn’t do that on my greyhound pass a plan b came into play. After reading and talking to some people, I decided to head to Windsor. Everyone I spoke to warned me of the fact that the down town of Detroit is rough. The burbs are all that are ok but apparnrlty the down town is horrible. Well I decided to go to Windsor. Visited the home of Canadian Club, got some fabulous photos of Detroit from over the river and explored the town.
Thursday I celebrated my 25th birthday. In original planning I was spending the day by myself, but I was fortunate that one of my friends, based in Toronto was able to spend the day with me. This was a good thing. After a 06:00 call to home to speak to my parents, we used the TTC and headed out to his place. We then headed to Negara Falls. This is one of those times that words and photos will never do it justice. We did the walk behind the falls, where you get closer than the maid of the mist and you can go at your own pace. Its, well, amazing. The sheer power of the falls. The falls themselves are largely untouched by commercialism; the same cannot be said for the surrounds. Some of the most garish and ridiculous tourist attractions great you in Niagara fall.
To be completely honest about Toronto, besides the cool sports venues and unique designs and the CN tower, it’s quite a dull city. But hey, it’s the biggest in Canada.
Well it was then on the road again the following day after some comedy & beers in the evening, this time to Perth ON. We have jokingly said that I got lost. Wrong Perth and all that jazz. To enhance the joke I kind of want to visit Melbourne FL but that’s an awfully long way away. I was greeted by Darrel and Chris in Perth and we headed out to camp Opemekon. Once again, another time where I think I am kind of lost for words to describe the sight and do it justice. The camp site is a fairly standard scout camp, with high ropes, kitchens, fire pits and cabins. But the view out onto the lake and the bay that it sits on is magnificent. The Opemekon Rover Crew cabin was being opened offiacly on the weekend, and that was part of the reason for me being there. Well I helped a little in the construction of the sign to go up on the building and helped with some touch ups to the paint job. It was good to use that part of my skill set that have kind of been neglected for a while. After a lovely weekend at the camp site we headed to Ottawa and explored some of the sights and took in some of the views of the city. Ottawa is a nice place, with lots of cool architecture and one hell of a skating rink during the winter months. It is defiantly worth a visit in my opinion, even just for the war museum, which I visited in 07.
Well today I had another day where I think the words for today probably just don’t do it justice. I headed from Ottawa to Montreal. For anyone who knows me, my French is limited, to say the least. Well it turns out that I can generally muddle my way though signage and figure out what is written. But more interestedly I think, is the fact that a number of times today, when I greeted some one with bonjour they rattle of a string of French at me which I have no idea what it means. Well in one situation I was able to figure it out and just kind of played along and completed a retail transaction without speaking a word of English. It was quite surreal!
Well I am now sitting on the bus zooming along the road to Boston. The references to Drop Kicks and Great big sea come to mind, but I do quite look forward to visiting such a historic town.
The other thing that I realized is that I have apparently seen the northern lights. The light in the sky in Alberta and Saskatchewan at midnight I have been informed by some Canadians recently that I have witness them. Well once again I thought it was odd and I couldn’t find the words to describe what I saw. Well I guess that’s what happens sometimes.
Well two weeks left of this madness, and the last 5 days of the madness isn’t actually all that bad. Sort of. If you ever want to hear some different parts of stories elaborated let me know and I will do my best to do so.
Some times, there just arnt any words, that could do justice to this world.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This looks familiar strangely familiar

Large hills, the sun cresting over the horizon, as it breaks through the clouds in the mountains, as the city lies asleep, ready to awaken and welcome the new day. The gentle rolling hills, fields of grass for miles and miles and miles and miles, the farming, the crops. The Rockies to the prairies, the Great Dividing Range and what you are greeted by when you cross over it & Gippsland. It’s surely. Here I am in the middle of a country, after people telling me “don’t waste your time with the Prairie Provinces, there is nothing there” and I reminded so much of some regions of Victoria. Whilst it’s not quite the same, the beauty is in the land, with the gentle rolls and dips along the way. This past week has seen me cover approximately 3,500 kms. Here in lies the chronicle of this past week.

Sunday, 6th June 2010
We left Camrose, and returned to the “big” city of Edmonton, for me to board a bus. I still had not decided which bus to take or where I might be headed. I arrived at the bus depot in Edmonton with 3 tags from the greyhound ticketing guy, one for BC (White), one for Alberta (Yellow) and one for Saskatchewan (blue). After sitting there considering the bus options (all leaving around midnight) I chose the bus that would take me 5 hours down the road to Jasper, Alberta. I almost got on this bus and stayed on it all the way through to Prince George (the tar sands in fort McMurray also were an option but no…) but I decided against it as I discovered that my exit strategy from Prince George was not quite as simple as jasper (5 or so buses a day versus 1) so I boarded my bus, after saying Farwell to Sam, and headed towards a new bit of the world. Well I had visited jasper briefly last time I was in Canada.

Monday, 7th June 2010
After sleeping on and off for a few hours, I stepped off the bus in jasper at approximately 04:30 local time. The city was asleep, the roads deserted and the pre dawn was in the sky behind the mountains to the east. Light cloud cover prevented any break thoughts but it was majestic. After watching the sunrise in jasper, I boarded a bus at 07:00 for Edmonton. I arrived back in town around lunch time and after doing some of the boring work, such as closing bank accounts and cancelling telephones, I spend a number o hours exploring around the heart of Edmonton. To be blunt Edmonton is a dirty city and is probably the most unpleasant city I have visited, in all honesty. But the staff at the bust depot is fabulous. That night I boarded yet another bus, with a 12:10 departure time, from Edmonton to Saskatoon, SK.

Tuesday, 8th June 2010
I arrive in Saskatoon to approach the guy at the ticket counter and asked what time bus I could take to Regina with my greyhound pass. He then informed me that I was unable to us that pass to travel from Saskatoon to Regina, my options were to head one of three ways, Calgary, Winnipeg or Edmonton (Saskatchewan is one of the few provinces that maintain an independent bus service to the greyhound). I figured I would go and explore Saskatoon for the day and then worry about where I was going that night. After being pointed to the town hall for tourism information and then being informed that the information I desired was at a different location, I moved on and got some information on where to go and what to see. I walked up to the Art gallery in town, appreciated some very fine and not so fine pieces of work, wandered alongside the river, visited the Anglican cathedral, which is a magnificent building, continued in my walk alongside the river, found a museum about Saskatoon and why it was formed and settled (it was a temperance colony separate from Toronto) and explored the town. I then visited the library to do some writing and update my blogs and to catch up with my emails to keep me up to date. Unfortunately as there really is only a half day of things to do in town I then decided to cash in some of my free movie points, dropped in at the cinema and watched Russell Crowe play robin hood. It was nice to fell normal for a short while. Then it was back up the bus depot and on to a bus to Alberta (headed back the wrong way) to Calgary, with STC, the Saskatoon transport company.

Wednesday 9th June 2010
Calgary, what to tell you about Calgary. Well for one it rained almost all day. Good place to visit if you got money, but on the cheap they don’t really want to know you or deal with you. That being said I like Calgary. It’s got lots of nice things through the town, it has a big city feel with a real country vibe, but they were warming up to the Calgary stampede. But there is a lot to like about it, you can in fact go thought a lot of the city without touching the ground, using the +15 network in Calgary. Whilst not comprehensive and not all internal, it’s quite good and covers a large portion of the down town core. Also within the city centre, the C-train is free and you can use it to shuttle yourself from one end to the other. But be careful once you are outside of that core, because penalties are then enforced. After visiting the china town area, and a large number of other parts of the city, I decided it was time to head back to the bus depot and freshen up. It was at this stage I realized what I had managed to forget in Camrose, my toiletry bag & sewing kits. Well I have since replaced what I need to and I have carried on but it’s one of those “DAMIT” moments when your realize that the stuff you really need is in a different city. But it was onto another bus and into another town, this time Regina, SK

Thursday 10th June 2010
There are days where you just don’t know how a town can be this good. And I mean that in all seriousness. Regina, the capital of the province, I expected very little from. Well I got off the bus, with my bag on as always, having checked with the clerk as to when my bus was that night, and walked out into the street. As I stood in the street looking to get my bearings (as I had looked up the location of the tourist info place), a gentleman approached me and asked if I knew where I was going. I told him and he offered to show me around the town. Whilst talking to strangers is not advised I was willing to trust this guy and it proved to be a good morning for me. After taking a walk down the main mall, exploring the Victoria bridge and the Legislature and the surrounding grounds, walking up to the area of town called cathedral, discovering that the “ Cathedral” Church was closed and public couldn’t go in to see it we called it a day. In 4 and a bit hours this gentleman had showed me a large chunk of what the city had to offer. The only thing left on my agenda was a walk down to the home of the Rough Riders, a CFL team. After a short library stop, I started wondering down to the stadium, armed with directions and I knew where I was headed. Well I came to the intersection where I was going to cross over to see that stadium when a car pulled over and asked if I knew where I was going. Well I told them where I was headed and they said to me that it wasn’t in the best bit of town and they were more than happy to take me down there. Turns out that they are in broadcasting and work in the stadium all the time and where able to get me into the stadium to have a look. So to say the least, I (Regina and think it’s a fabulous place. Also the province of Saskatchewan is doing their best to turn Regina and Saskatoon into wireless hotspots, so as I waited for my bus, I was able to access the internet and watched 3 episodes of TV from the internet (so I am only a few weeks behind on Dr Who and have caught up with everything else). The on the bus yet again this time bound for a few day of R&R and companion ship with Dwayne in Winnipeg

Friday 11th June 2010
Well what to say about Friday. Not a lot really. I got to see the 4 legislature building, in my fourth province, I got to walk around the down town core and explored the heart of the city, visited the Forks Market (seriously these people don’t know how a market should be) visited the train station, explored the tunnels and bridges that link building throughout the city and just had a nice afternoon. After cooking dinner I kind of crashed and SLEPT for which my body was grateful.

Saturday 12th June 2010
Well a late start to the day and it was into the car. We drove about an hour and a half to Dwayne’s cousin’s place, a dairy and beef farm. Well as soon as I got out of the car I was hit with this smell of COWS. They smell the same, dogs behave the same and horses look the same. The only biggest difference was the barn, where the cows live during the cold and harsh Manitoba winter (I wouldn’t want to walk in there after curry night). After exploring and seeing the farm for a while it was back to town, Aussie Style Hamburgers for dinner and damper for afternoon tea.

Sunday 13th June 2010
S is for sport or so I would like to think sometimes, Sunday, the day for spiritual reflections a lot of the time. But this time it was a sport Sunday. It was off to a CFL game for me. Whilst it wasn’t a regular season game, I can now say I haven to a CFL game, I understand the rules and the calls, and I would rather watch CFL than NHL or NFL. The game is better flowing; more consistent calls and the rules make sense (for the most part). Well the Winnipeg Blue Bombers accounted for the Montreal Alouets rather comfortably and it was time to head to lacrosse training. I assisted with some of the drills with being a physical body, who they had to roll off and play off and I even took a shot at throwing and trying to catch the ball, which I was, begin to get the hang of. But I think Lacrosse is a good sport and I would like to try to play a game at some stage. But the lacrosse sticks are a lot more difficult to use than the softcosss ticks that we use in schools in Australia. But I am glad I age it a crack
On Friday I had discovered a minor challenge and a need to figure out a solution. The bus from Winnipeg to Chicago only runs on Tuesday, Thursday Saturday and Sunday. But I wanted to travel on Monday. Well the solution was simple it turned out. I was re routing, going through Toronto and not doing border crossing and all these things, but Dwayne offered to drive south to Fargo, in the USA so I could take the bus from there.

Monday 14th June 2010
So Monday. That’s today. I am sitting on a Jefferson bus lines coach that has power, satellite radio and wireless internet capabilities and TVs and guess what. None of them work as yet. I believe that it is one of the first of their new generation of buses and they are waiting until they can offer it on all services on this route prior to turn on all the switches but it is a bit frustrating to realize that I could be surfing the internet at 80MPH (stupid imperial system) but such is life. The seats are comfortable have miles of legroom and each seat has a seatbelt, which I am using.
Crossing the border was fairly routine, the boarder agent was surprised to see and international coming through their neck of the woods. Well after everyone saying I had to do an ESTA and be pre approved before boarding my plane, they were wrong. I still had to fill out the green card. After the slow and tedious process of them talking to you and trying to trick you into saying something so they tell you to get out, I was granted entry into the United States of America. I have three stops this week planned for the USA and 2 stops planned for Canada, so I will have another border crossing later in the week to deal with. We shall see how I go.
Well that’s it from the road at this stage and I guess it’s a bit of a long one because I acutely did and saw quite a bit. From the bus on its way to Minneapolis so I can go “building to building to building to building to building” and trying not to see the “outside world” as much as possible, this is Richard “Gonzo” McCoy signing off. And for the love of god, don’t do anything I wouldn’t.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I guess I have been a bit slack on the posting side of things in the past week. I have a number of entries in my journal, but no real posting to speak of to chronicle my journey. I should possibly blog about why that is but it really isn’t that important right now. After leaving Vancouver on Tuesday, I headed for the hills, literally. Through the Rocky Mountains I went. Just before hitting the most famous of ranges, I spent a day in salmon arm and went and did some great 4wding with Neal and explored the lovely town with Neal and his mother. Another overnight bus ride and it was into Banff. What I have discovered is that most tourist towns don’t start opening until at least 7 or 8 am, which is generally well after when the bus gets in. tells you how well traveled my path is!
After ducking through over night and seeing the beauty of the Rockies, I jumped off the bus in Banff. Now Banff is a tourist town and makes no apologies for it. They know why they exist and they seem pretty dammed proud of it too. The entire township was established because they found a mineral hot springs, and could get the Hoi Polloi off the train and squeeze some more money out of them before they continued on their way! But is a beautiful spot and would not mind returning there to play a round of golf on their course.
I then jumped on the bus, headed into Calgary and spent the evening hanging with a scouting friend. Was a good chance to catch up, but I really disliking cigarette smoke? Friday I jumped on a bus, headed to Edmonton, met up with Sam, and we drove down to her home town of Camrose, a small pokey place about an hour to the south ish of Edmonton. It happened to be the weekend of a community festival called jaywalkers, where a large number of community groups put on sales as do stores and the carnival comes to town. All in all it s a pretty big deal. Interestingly the prize games and rides were almost identical to the one that you get back in the good old Land of Oz!
Well after a fairly basic weekend, including a trip to the cinema to see Shrek 4, we returned to Edmonton, explored an area called white ave (I think) and then went our separate ways. I had decided to jump on a bus to Jasper, after debating between that and places called Fort McMurray & Prince George. Jasper is another little pictures rocky mountain town and Fort McMurray is the home of the tar sands. Don’t ask me what is in Prince George, I didn’t get that far down the decision making process before I struck it from the list. So after spending a few hours in jasper and watching the sun come up (arrived at 0330 departed 0630) I headed back to Edmonton. I have spent the day wandering the town and seeing what there is to be seen. Which to be honest isn’t a hell of a lot! The convention centre is pretty cool as it has been cut out of the hill and built underground and the tunnels linking buildings is pretty awesome, but that’s about it. If I headed out into the burbs I could go to the “west Edmonton mall” but I have been there once before and to be completely honest, it’s just a mall.
Well tonight its back onto the bus and it’s off to Saskatchewan & Saskatoon & Regina. Then I am going to try to make it as far as Thunder Bay and then back into Winnipeg for the weekend.

RANDOM DETOUR NOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - going to Cow town tonight instead, and then to regina and winnapeg. i will figure out what next in the next few days!!!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Boats, Buses & a lack of sleep - Victoria - Naniamo - Van - Salmon Arm - Banff

ok, so when i last wrote i was in Naniamo (well on my way) after having a good weekend exploring victoria, haning out with mates and even got to see a bit of cricket. becaause of my bus pass, i headed back to vancouver via Naniamo, which meant that trip took 7 hours total. then it was good bye to the rover crew & a trip to the pub, good bye to vancouver the following day & good bye to my travleing compaion untill i see her in Dublin.

well it was on the bus to salmon arm. after dozing throughout the night and not realy sleeping i arrrived in salmon arm. its a nice town. lovley hills and on an great lake. it has a beatiful array of bird life and had a good afternoon out 4wd with neil. after waiting for my bus that was about 30 minutes late, i left the peacful surronds of salmon arm for the tourist mecca, but still quiet town of Banff. there is still snow on the hills out here and after a quick frenshen up it aws time for a walk. i walked out to the falls and to the Fairmont, a fairly old but very majestic hotel. this town was BUILT as a tourist destination, with gondala rides, hot springs and a very luxurious vibe through the town.

well i am on the bus again in aoubt 3 hours, so i will explore a bit more and then head to Calgary, whihc i have been infomred should be refered to as cow town.

want to see where i have been? check out the MAP OF DOOOMMMMM

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Postcard #3 – 10080 Minutes, give or take a few

After leaving skeeter (a scout camp) I headed with a friend up to Campbell River. I was meant to spend the night in Nanaimo but I decided to head straight for Toffino, the western most point of my trip. Toffino is a very touristy town, with some awesome beaches but everything there is overpriced and to tell you the truth I was glad to get out of there. I stopped in a quaint little town on the way back Nanaimo called Port Alberni, which I keep pronouncing wrong, because I speak like an Aussie! Lots of cool things that you really needed a car to access but I was able to visit the train station & visited the water front and the museum. Unfortunately as its low season the steam train that operates in the town wasn’t out and about but such is life sometimes.
I then spent a few days with brad in Nanaimo. Nanaimo is curious. It’s the gateway to the island in a lot of ways and is the hub to the tourist destinations but there isn't a lot to see in the town it’s self. But it’s a nice place and the surrounds and the area it is in is beautiful. Well actually I recon most of Vancouver Island is quite spectacular and reminds me a lot of back home, in the hills just outside of Melbourne, you around Marysville and healseville.
I went to a small town called chemanius, whose two main claims to fame are their theater & the murals that are though out the town. But there was also a quite fabulous little sweet shop which had all kinds of wonderful things. But the main thing there is the murals.
I spent the weekend in Victoria, BC the capital of the province. It’s odd. The capital of provinces seem to not always be the main city (Edmonton in AB, Victoria in BC and so on). Any way because it’s the capital, all of the strikingly beautiful buildings that come with a province of this age and the house of power and government houses are here along with all of the trimmings. So that makes Victoria a place to visit. Interestingly you can see the USA from Victoria on a clear day and you can take a ferry from the downtown core of Victoria to the states, you can even take your car on one of the ferries. I recon it’s kind of cool. There are lots of nice parks, a cute china town area and some beautiful gardens in Victoria and is quite a nice place to go visit. Interestingly they have a massive cruise ship terminal, which seems to be fairly well used.
Well it’s back to Vancouver today, via Nanaimo, and I am headed through the Rockies on Wednesday and Thursday, and headed up into the heart of Alberta on Friday. I will write again soon and will call soon.
Authors note: I’m addressing postcards because I think its fun, and are indeed to make them feel different to my regular postings about where I am in the world.