Our new 9 to 5

We pass through little towns with corner ditches full of signs pitched into the ground looking for CDL drivers, telling you to vote for Mark or Terry or Tom, and advertisements of buy 1 get 1 free, the print too small to see what you have to buy to get 1 free.

In Houston, Texas, we were able to meet up with some friends we’d met through online gaming (if this doesn’t label us as geeks, I don’t know what will) and they introduced us to some really amazing local beer (New Belgian Fat Tire). And even better, we got to sit out on a patio! In April! At night! Without chattering teeth, or the needtexas-beer to prove anything. In Toronto an open patio is a full patio. No matter the weather we will sit out and freeze our arses off to prove that it’s spring dammit! even if the temperature disagrees.

Know this: good beer is the currency of our hearts.

We pass by dozens if not hundreds of abandoned cars, some with tags, some without wheels, some that have fallen into ditches, some that are only bumpers and a few plastic pieces.

Next we travelled to Laredo, Texas right on the border of Mexico. We were told the yard had a shop where we could get our truck fixed but the only thing we found was some old tires and a little Mexican named Ulysses who had a hammer and a screwdriver. He wasn’t able to fix our bi-polar truck but he did introduce us to an amazing authentic Mexican restaurant, the original Taco Palenque.

We spent the night at a hotel sitting around the pool drinking cheap American beer (that you can buy in the convenience store!) chatting it up with fellow truckers.

Trucking is not a career for democrats, sometimes I keep my mouth shut, but it’s more fun when I don’t.

We pass by the word Jesus on churches and billboards and painted on the roof of some people’s barns. What are they trying to say? That if Jesus were to come back this is where he should look for the good people. Or are they just offering him a place to stay? “Hey Jesus! Over here man, we’ve got a spare room.”

I think America is actually two countries trying to coexist as one. It’s like after the Civil war the Confederates went off and raised their kids one way and the Union army raised theirs another and what evolved is a country of Democrats and Republicans. Two ideologies that on paper shouldn’t be that different but when planted in the minds of children it becomes a second religion complete with mythos and dogma.

We pass by highway billboards that assure us we’ll have a good time at Ponderosa, that scream out 5 miles to Denny’s! Arbys! Hardees! With the verse and paragraph of bible passages, that advertise hospital wait times and billboards that guilt trip those who are pro-choice that God knows a soul when he sees one.

How to spot a Republican:

They will most likely have a southern accent.
They will make a derogatory comment about Obama or Obama care or Universal health care within the first five minutes of meeting them.
They will have a visible tattoo of either a gun or a cross, or possibly a cross made into a gun.

Favourite quote:
“God gave me the right to own a gun so I’m going to shoot first and ask questions later.”

How to spot a Democrat

They’re always right. Nope! They’re right!
They will make a derogatory comment about Bush (doesn’t matter which one) or the Iraq war or Afghanistan within the first five minutes of meeting them.
They have a job that takes more than 5 minutes to explain, and when they’re done explaining, you still don’t know what they do for a living.

Favourite quote:
“The problem with America is too much patriotism and religion and not enough education.”

We pass by homes, tucked up in underpasses, the owner’s possessions hidden as they step out to run errands.

Our luck runs out in Waco, Texas and our truck (Franklin, yes it’s a boys name) tells us enough. We deposit him in a repair shop, which closes in an hour for the weekend, and get a room at the Motel 6 next door and spend the next 2 days lounging by the pool, doing laundry and watching way too much reality TV.waco-pool

Who exactly comes up with this stuff? Naked and Afraid must be one of the worst TV shows in history, but we watched it, along with My 600lb Life. These shows are like epic car accidents on the freeway, you can’t help but stop and gape, mouth ajar, eyes wide.

For the weekend our world has shrunk to four square blocks (the distance Chris is willing to walk) which consists of a 7-eleven, a Texas Roadhouse, El Chico restaurant, a Stripes, and a H.E.B. which I found out is pronounced “Hatch eee bee.” Maybe it was the accent. Also I think I might talk too fast.

We pass jeeps with college girls singing along to the radio, people texting, people picking their nose, screaming at their kids, eating cereal, doing makeup, destinations unknown.

Trucks at truck stop

In your face spring! We’re going to Texas

As we travel south everything gets greener, the grass, the buds on the trees, like watching a time-lapse film of spring. The snow on the ground back home in Canada makes me think spring is bluffing about showing up at all. Like last year when it RSVP’d but sent summer in its place, fashionably late.

We’ve been travelling in the truck (which if it were a human, would be bi-polar) for six days and have already dropped 3 loads and crossed the boarder twice. This truck, which is now our home, runs in extremes. The thermostat (which has already been repaired once) will only blow blasting cold, when we’re up north, or heat now that we’re travelling south no matter which setting you choose. As soon as we’ve fixed one issue, another pops up in it’s place (we’ve already spent 12 hours in St. Germain, QC waiting for repairs).

The mattress has very eager springs that jab in all the wrong places, although I guess there’s really no ‘right’ place for springs to jab. We’ve flipped it in every direction we can think of but it’s still uncomfortable.

With that said, compared to the van, it’s a penthouse.

Because these trucks (a Peterbilt 387 for those of you who care) are designed for long haul travel they’ve been constructed to make organization easier, and for those organized types, as you know, once you have a place for everything it’s dead simple to keep it clean.

I know we’ve seen America before, but now it seems like we’re seeing it through the back door. Like going to a play but only seeing it from the side curtains. We see a lot of the show from an angle that most will never experience but in a way there’s a lot that we miss because we just don’t fit. Side roads? Forget about it. We’re over 21 metres (73 ft) long which means the only places we can stop are places made for the truck turning radius.

On our first trip out I forgot my power adapter for my computer which meant calling a cab to a closed weigh station and doing a round trip to pick it up because the truck would never fit down those streets.

So here we are barreling through tornado alley heading towards the lone star state hoping our bi-polar truck keeps it together just long enough for us to make it all the way to the Gulf of Mexico and soak in the humidity while our friends and family suck up one more snow storm back home.


Sometimes you have to fail to succeed

I know I haven’t updated the site in awhile but if you’ve read the front page you’ll know that we ran into some roadblocks and needed to restructure our plans for making money while on the road. And the truth is I didn’t feel much like writing for the past few months.

Like most people I hate failure and while part of me knows things happen and if we can’t adapt we’ll never succeed. So in essence because we didn’t quit it wasn’t really failure, just adapting to a new situation.

For the past few months I’ve had to explain what I’m doing to a lot of people, that my boyfriend and I are going to live in a big truck while we travel together across North America. The most common response is that it’s amazing and they wish they could quit their job and travel too. But the truth is anyone can do this. You just have to have the balls to cut the safety cord and start up the mountain. But I don’t recommend doing it without a solid plan in place first.

The second response I get is usually from family and well-meaning friends. But why? Why would you quit your job and give up your great apartment to live on the road in something the size of a cubicle? They assume (wrongly) that I was happy living that life.

And while I wasn’t extremely unhappy there was something missing, a hole that had been building without my knowing since I quit working on cruise ships in 2005. I thought I wanted to come home and set down roots. But as it turns out, I wasn’t ready to do that just yet. When the opportunity to travel came up, my first response after can we really do this? was HELL YEAH! Not because I was pushed into it, but because part of me recognized that this was something I needed to do.

One day I will want tethers that hold me to a place, but before then I want to soar without any strings attached.

Things I’ve learned over the past year:

Research is key
I don’t think I researched U-ship enough before we started out to see if this was a viable way to make a living, I also only briefly looked at competitive sites to see if we could double up on looking for jobs. From the outset, this really looked like a great way to make a living.

Have a backup plan
We did have a tentative backup plan when we started, but that fell through. Luckily we had come up with a backup backup plan, which was to sell the conversion van to put Chris through school to earn his AZ license. And since I do learn from my mistakes I did exhaustive research online before we picked a school and put down good money to start the second part of the plan.

I wanted to make sure that driving trucks was a viable way to make a living, but I also went on forums and read what people had to say about the lifestyle. Some of it was sobering but most of it was very positive.

Since Chris has started at his company he’s met lots of other couples who do this and all had nothing but great things to say about living like this.

Less is more
Keeping things simple is one of the most important things when travelling and the same is true even if you have a home base like a van or truck. The less you take with you the less you have worry about.

When we packed up the conversion van we brought so much with us, including a camping stove, coffee supplies (which seems essential but really isn’t) and a million other things that only ever took up space but were never used. So my advice is this, when you’re packing items, only pack those things which you would need to use every day. Will you use your toothbrush everyday? I hope so, your hair straightener? probably not.

The other downside to having so much stuff with us is that every time we went across a border we got searched, which meant taking everything and I mean everything out of the van and having a dog sniff around our stuff. It was usually a two hour ordeal every time it happened.

If you have forgotten something that turns out to be essential, you can always get yours sent to you or purchase another one.

Cruising around eating

View from shipAs mentioned in an earlier post, every two years my family takes a cruise somewhere. We’ve been doing it for 10 years now resulting in most of my family becoming obsessed with cruise ships.

Cruise vacations typically centre around food. The activities and amenities on board are just filler between feedings and after living in res and working on cruise ships myself, I have a very low tolerance for buffets and mass food prep. Also, don’t bring a chef with you, you’ll get to hear the minutiae of why some of the food is so bad. I sometimes wonder if these ship’s horns put off a mating call for whales (and I don’t mean the kind that live in the oceans. See what I did there? Insert drum accent here.)

When I worked on a ship out of Houston, every second door had one of those electronic scooters parked outside just waiting to escort the occupants to their next stuffing. I used to think the motto for Texas was: ‘everything is bigger in Texas,’ and many residents have taken that to heart because Houston was the only place I saw such girth. Turns out the motto for Texas is ‘friendship’ which surprises me, because I’ve been to Texas and they don’t want anyone to mess with them. Guess they decided to make friends with food instead. Anyway, enough picking on Texas.

Cruising is like being on a moving resort, if you didn’t like the last destination, just wait, you’ll be in a new one by morning.

As soon as you get on board they hand you a plastic card and tell you it’s money. Then push you towards the bars. The drunker you stay during the trip the less you’ll notice prices. Which is good because there’s no point in ruining your vacation with a heart attack.

The bigger the ship, the more there is to do and the less it feels like a ship. We Haiti beachwere on the Freedom of the Seas which used to be the largest cruise ship in the world (for about five minutes until they built a bigger one). It’s ridiculous how big these ships are getting, they’re even talking about expanding the Panama Canal so the larger cruise ships can fit through. As Jessica Simpson discovered, there is such a thing as too big.

With all the bitching I’ve just done, I obviously like it or I wouldn’t spend so much of my hard earned cash to go on them. But after having worked on ships I know how hard working and under paid the crew are and it makes me feel guilty to spend so much money to go on them when they get so little of it.

So if you do go on a cruise remember that for every crew member you see, Chris underwaterthere are probably 100 below deck that you don’t making $500 a month to send home to their families. They work anywhere from 6 to 10 months at a time with no days off. So be polite, tip well and tip often and experience your vacation with the idea that there is no such thing as perfect. Take what you are given and enjoy what you have.


The week of living retired

This week Chris and I learned what it’s like to be retired. Holed up in a condo in Wellington, Florida, our highlights have become our daily excursion to the grocery store. We spend our days laying like grapes by the pool, letting the sun prune us into raisins, and playing gin. This is what retired people do, right?

I grew up when TV meant 13 channels and two of those were French. But we had a giant tree in the backyard, that’s all you really needed as a kid to photo 1entertain yourself, one thing that your imagination could turn into anything. A pool for instance could be so many things: an ocean whose treasured depths were waiting to be explored or the arena for an epic game of Marco Polo but more often became a game of who could hold their breath the longest.

Now more than anything a pool is just a body of water that attracts both germs and screaming kids. Instead of a pool using my imagination to conjure up pirate ships and sunken treasure, it conjures up urine to water ratios.

I can understand why they say socialization and activities are the most important thing for retired people, without something to look forward to or live for, you become the type of person who keeps telemarketers on the line for hours, just so you have someone to talk to.

We’ve been in a holding pattern for the past several weeks waiting for bids to go through so we can work and make some money. But every time we seemed to get a bite the person would either not buy the thing they wanted shipped or would cancel the shipment entirely. And then we discovered that our insurance didn’t cover the trailers we were hauling, only things in the trailers, like boats or cargo. We tried so hard to do everything legitimately, expecting a few setbacks but have instead come up against a giant bureaucratic wall.

And now we’re in Florida, all we really did was change the location of our boredom. Which if you ask me, is a much better place to be bored. We have a pool, palm trees, blue skies and humidity, give me a good book to read and I’m set. Chris on the other hand is going stir crazy, give him another day and he’ll throw on a pink tutu and go dancing in the grocery store parking lot.

On Sunday we’re boarding a cruise out of Port Canaveral with my family, a trip that’s been planned for almost two years. Last week we picked up a jet ski coming to Jupiter, Florida about 25 minutes from where we are now, which paid for our trip down here.

My world, as I’m sure most others do as well, revolves around vacation time not work. (Why wasn’t I born in some European country that gets ten weeks(!!) of vacation?) It’s a sad world that revolves around just two weeks of the year (although I guess it’s better than Santa Claus whose life revolves around only one day a year). Therefore, those two weeks, usually split up into two one week chunks, become my intense focus and anticipation as I slog away at tasks that make me want to rip my eyeballs out and glue them to my desk.

But all I’ve been doing for the past couple of months is driving or sitting watching someone else do the driving (unless I’m napping). There’s been no desk involved, no story boarding, no render times to anticipate, no computer crashing at the wrong moment. This doesn’t feel like work. Which has cheapened this whole vacation thing a little bit.

Rodeo Drive, I just wanted to see it, we didn't actually go in any stores

Los Angeles: city of thugs

As the third most populated city in North America, Los Angeles is known for View of Los Angelesits celebutants and toxic smog. When originally founded in 1781 the city had a longer name than most actor’s careers: El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de la Porciuncula,’ which translates to ‘Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angeles of the Small Portion.’ Another interesting fact about L.A., next to Amsterdam, it has the second largest porn filming industry in the world, with Montreal coming in third. Go Canada!

Also, animals are banned from mating publicly within 1000 feet of any school, tavern or place of worship, I would think they should be banned from mating in public period, but that’s the great thing about travelling, you get to experience different standards.


When you think tourism, you don’t generally think L.A., San Diego has the

Rodeo Drive, I just wanted to see it, we didn't actually go in any stores

Rodeo Drive, I just wanted to see it, we didn’t actually go in any stores

zoo, Anaheim has Disneyland (granted it’s only 30 minutes from L.A.) and San Francisco the wharfs and a big bridge, but there are a lot of fun things to do on the cheap (which is always the goal on our tight budget) in Los Angeles. Besides the obvious of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre or Santa Monica pier which are both horrible tourist traps there are a lot of places in L.A. that let you explore the culture without being trapped in it.

Beachwood Canyon Drive: ($0)

This is the view from the hills above Los Angeles

This is the view from the hills above Los Angeles

Take a drive up the hills, not only is the scenery fantastic, it’s completely free! At the top there’s a place to park with trails that take you to the top of the hills for a fantastic view. And you can see the Hollywood sign from there (albeit, it’s tiny) but there are a lot less crowds than around the more popular Hollywood Hills trails.

Randy’s Donuts: ($10)
Grab a bag of assorted donuts (avoid the coffee if you like your stomach lining) from this famous landmark in Inglewood and drive over near LAX for a sugar and thrill fix. If you find the right spot you can see the planes fly right over you.


L.A. is a city of cars, or as Chris explains it, a city of rims. And that city is lined with freeways. If you don’t have a car, you’re not going very far. The traffic is constant, however, not nearly as bad as home. According to a recent study Toronto ranks as one of the worst gridlocked cities in the world, worse than Montreal, Berlin, New York and L.A.. Having personally spent an equivalent of 165 days of my life already sitting in traffic with only crappy radio to keep me company, this makes me kind of heartbroken.


Perhaps it was where we were staying in Inglewood, but it seemed that L.A. was populated by thugs, little baby thugs. This is probably not true, I’m sure there’s a wide diversity of people living in L.A., and I’m sure most of them know that your pants should start above your ass crack.


For me, it’s all about the weather. Everyone seems to jump on the fact that it never rains in L.A., like that’s a good thing. It’s true it gets less than 308mm a year compared to Hilo, Hawaii which gets 5100mm. But that makes L.A. more like a desert and less like the tropical weather I’d like to become accustom to. That, coupled with the lack of greenery makes L.A. unlivable for me. But is definitely a great place to visit.

Halifax: manual drivers nightmare

The first thing I notice whenever I come across the bridge into Halifax is that it doesn’t really look like a city. Its tallest building, Fenwick Tower, is overshadowed by the Royal York Hotel, a building that for Toronto standards hasn’t been the tallest building since 1931. But then it’s not really fair to compare Halifax to other cities because it has something they don’t: friendly people (except the old gentleman who gave us the finger after running a red light – he must be a tourist).

Halifax from Beacon HillHalifax, to me, is a reflection of the maritime people: unassuming, welcoming and simple. And by simple I mean they don’t complicate life with ostensible panoply, that’s for other cities. When you come across the bridge you are instead entering a world where people say what they mean (even if you can’t always work your head around the grammar) and generally like people, which in itself is unique. Be honest. When was the last time you went somewhere on vacation (in North America) and met people who were genuinely happy to hear where you were from?


As far as attractions go, Halifax is a city best seen in the summer. Those two weeks at the end of July known to the rest of North America as the middle of summer, but to Nova Scotia, as summer. Otherwise you’ll end up running from one museum to another trying to avoid the wind and bitter cold, which is a shame because you’ll miss the beauty of the harbour.

We didn’t have a lot of time or money to spend so we decided on the Alexander Keith’s Brewery tour (oldest still functioning brewery in North America or world, I can’t remember, they gave us beer) and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. I would recommend both, but for different reasons.

maritime museumThe museum is cheap ($5) and has a great collection of marine artifacts from the wars, as well as the Titanic and the Halifax explosion. You can take your time or move through it as fast as you want. Plus it’s just down the street from the brewery so it’s a cheap time killer if you’re waiting for a tour to start.

The brewery is a fun tour if you don’t mind a bit of schlock (they make believe they’re in the 1860s), but if you can bend Keith's Breweryyour imagination it’s an entertaining way to see how they brew Keith’s, and have been brewing it for almost 200 years. Plus they give you beer. Although the last half of the tour seems to be a bit of a time suckage to justify the $20.95 price tag.


Before you even get close enough to the harbour to smell the salt, the streets plummet towards the wharf at an angle that would rival San Francisco. Having just learned stick last year all I see are mini panic attacks at each light and stop sign. You generally don’t notice the steepness of the roads unless you’re biking up or forced to imagine how much it would cost if you rolled back in a manual too far.

It’s sad, but any city above the 30th parallel north is going to have more potholes than empty seats at a Blue Jays game. Halifax is no exception. You’re almost better off making a game of slaloming around the craters for points, it distracts you from getting pissed off.


You can always tell when you’re on a flight to the maritime provinces, it’s the only time you’ll see groups of strangers interacting, it’s a culture of talkers. When we stayed in St. John’s the hotel manager seemed reluctant to give us our keys. He was so genuinely happy to have someone to talk to he didn’t want us to leave, in fact, he kept asking questions as we slowly edged down the hallway. Halifax is like this only within a city.


As much as I love Halifax for the people I could never live here for the simple reality of the weather. Nova Scotia gets two weeks of summer at best. I remember being in Juneau in July, it was about 15 degrees and everyone was walking around in shorts and halter tops grinning like they’d won the lottery. That was their best.summer.ever. This is what Halifax reminds me of, I like heat and humidity too much. I would disappear under fifteen layers of clothes if I lived in Halifax and I just don’t own that much clothing.

Winter comes for a second time this year

When people (non-Canadians) imagine us Canadians, the gamut runs from igloo living, parka wearing dogsled riding to beer guzzling, hockey playing, toque wearing but always courteous, rosy cheeked, friendly people. If this were the truth, I would make a very bad Canadian (except for the beer guzzling part). The truth is, we don’t all love winter, in fact some of us have had fantasies about sneaking up behind it with a hockey stick and whacking it in the head so hard it never comes back to life.

This is one of the main reasons I lived in Toronto, we rarely get snow or overly Waterfallcold weather. Except every few years we get a bitch of a winter that just wont go away, like those unwanted house guests that wont give you a leave date (kinda like us now). This was one of those winters, which made us doubly happy to ditch our winter tires and head down south to Los Angeles. This decision came back later to wave hello.

When we hit North Dakota we couldn’t believe they still had snow, in April! Snow should have the good manners to leave before the end of March. We were picking up a power boat in Minnesota and dropping it off in Sudbury, Ontario. The driveway we picked it up from was a hill of snow, which led to our second bumper mishap this year. Let’s just say all-seasons don’t do well in the snow, we had to have the boat towed out of the driveway for us after a half hour of making tiny ice rinks under our tires.

It’s now almost May and we just drove through the worst late season blizzard I’ve ever seen. It’s almost like we’ve been chasing winter around North America for the past two months, you’d think I had a crush on it or something.

Despite our best efforts the only shipments we’ve been able to find are to the east coast and for any of you from the east coast you know maritime winters aren’t like winters anywhere else, they’re like those fat cows you can’t push off the road.

Our next load took us to Boston where we picked up some extra passengers then Boston Buskerback up to Ottawa. In Boston we found some buskers, who I’m assuming were there banking on the crowds for the Boston Marathon. We had some really great pizzas at a place called Crush Pizza. It’s no Buddha Pie but then nothing ever will be.

The next day we picked up a little power boat and two extra passengers heading to Ottawa. For once I thought our border crossing was going to be quick since we had the owner of the boat with us. At first it did look that way, but she had brought her brother’s health card with her, which is against the law. So we were held up and they searched the van again. Although nothing beats the time Chris left the gas pump lid at the gas station right before we crossed the border, he had to run back and get it. He shows up half an hour later, completely out of breath, and announces he’s never doing that again. Ya think?

Seriously, if it doesn’t get warm soon I’m going to invent my own weather bubble and live in that.

And now we have aliens to worry about

It’s kind of a crazy life we’re leading. One night we’re lounging by a pool in LA, the next we’re at a craps table at the Flamingo in Las Vegas and the next we’re sitting in front of a fire in the middle of some mountains in Utah, not a soul in sight.

After Vegas we decided no more hotels so I found us a free campsite in Utah near Utah campinga place called Patowan Gap. We drove through these two small mountains and ended up in this valley, with nothing around except a guy setting up for target practice. Miles and miles of nothing and we decide to park next to the guy with a gun. I guess it’s true what they say about humans, we really are a pack species, it’s very hard for us to go out on our own and stay that way.

As much as I’d like to say I’m an adult and not afraid of the dark anymore, sleeping out in the middle of a deserted valley with nothing else around, is creepy. As we’re falling asleep in the van Chris decides to mention how spooky the fire looks playing against the window of the van, and wouldn’t it be freaky if: in the middle of nowhere someone came up and knocked on the window. Then he decides to mention that this is exactly the kind of scenario where people are abducted by aliens and never heard from again. Or show up three years later wandering around the New Mexico desert with a memory gap and metal objects in their bodies.

So I spent the rest of the night thinking about someone coming up to the van and knocking on the window with some Jack Nicholson grin on his face and Chris worrying we would be abducted by aliens. I think this describes our two personalities perfectly.

If you’re wondering how we manage to live in a van but look like we live in a home (at least I think we do. We’ve both come to the conclusion that we can’t tell whether our van smells or not) it’s thanks to the many many truck stops littering the North American roadways. They have showers! And laundry! So for less than $15 we can smell and look clean. And it beats bathing in a river.

We’re definitely not winning any awards on the food front. If a doctor (or alien species) were to examine our diet right now they would probably be equal parts disgusted and worried. The only time we see vegetables is when we’re passing them in the fields, or that token piece of lettuce in between two meat patties. Chris has permanently vetoed Subway and I’ve done the same with Tim Horton’s. That doesn’t leave us a lot of options if we want to stay away from becoming tabloid stores. “Couple so fat they get stuck in their pimped out conversion van!”

*Just as a side note, people have mentioned it’s odd that while our blog has us supposedly still in LA we’re also back in Toronto having dim sum with them. This is true, and since we can only be in one place at a time, I apologize that the blog is a little bit behind. Which I hope to fix this week.


Welcome to the golden state

We woke up this morning in Arizona hoping that the ghost mountains looming the night before would still be around. Instead we were greeted with the flat bush lands leading to the mountain ranges bisecting Arizona.

It’s amazing the diversity of scenery we’ve seen on our way down. We went from hibernating trees to flat ranches bearing the fruits of future meals, from beige landscapes to snow capped mountain ranges. The only thing we haven’t seen yet is the ocean, but thatIMG_1172’s coming over the next couple of mountain ranges, once we pass over San Bernardino it’s a quick shot towards the Pacific.

We haven’t seen much wildlife besides Canadian geese (Hey! They do migrate! Although you wouldn’t know it driving along Lake Shore where they’re so thick you can barely see the yellow grass), cattle and strangely enough thousands upon thousands of monarch butterflies which polka dotted the van in a lovely green and red motif.

I’ve noticed the further south we go the more men open the door for me. In fact they refuse to walk through a door opened by a woman, they insist on holding it for me. By the time we made it to Texas I didn’t have to open doors for myself at all. To the extreme that there was actually a gentleman who jogged over from the other side of the gas station just to open the door for me. I’m not even sure he had to go inside.

Where I’m from, the first one to reach the door opens it and depending on how much of a hurry you’re in either holds it open and waits for the person to pass through or gives it a good shove so at least the person behind them wont have to open it all the way. There’s also the handoff, where you’ve already stepped inside but leave your arm behind holding the door open to handoff to the next person who will most likely do the same for the person behind them.

But the worst, and I hope this is just a Toronto thing, is the handicap doors. Those people who are too lazy to open the door, and even if they have nothing in their arms and certainly aren’t handicapped, just hit the button and let technology do all the work. (Deleted: diatribe about lazy ass Torontonians and the fall of human kind from over reliance on technology and energy waste.)

The first thing we do when we get to LA is give the pedophile van an oil change and a wash, because according to Chris, you can’t drive around LA with a dirty car. IMG_1123And in LA it’s all about the clean cars and badass rims. Chris spent 20 minutes on each one. At least he’s finally interested in cleaning our home, even if it is a pimped out conversion van.

We decided to splurge on a hotel, for $40 a night, it’s totally worth it, not only does it have a pool, it has laundry! Of course the reason it’s so cheap is because it’s in Inglewood which is right next door to Compton. All the liquor stores have plexiglass barriers and all the baby thugs really do look and sound like the cliche.

We spend the next three days playing around the pool, looking for shipments back, doing the tourist thing before we decide it’s time to head back home.IMG_1159