The Slow Crawl to Montréal

I’ve come to terms with there likely being no big trip for me this year. Mounting student loan payments, cyber criminals: it’s been one sudden financial pitfall after another. Luckily, all of the money raised from my Indiegogo campaign a few months back remains in protected form. I’ve got the gear. I’ve got the plane ticket. I just keep finding myself running out of time to get the money that, for one reason or another, keeps being taken by somebody with terrible timing.

Enough is Enough. Time to Go

The thing about travel writing is, well, you can’t really do it unless you travel. While it seems my plans for Spain will be put off until spring 2015, I can take a number of smaller trips over the next few months. Montréal is my first stop. I found a beautiful place on AirBnB near the Old City. At the moment, I only know I want to get some poutine, explore Atwater Market, and meet some interesting new people around a few beers.

I’ll be gone for five days, and since I’m no longer giving up my job, not until that Spain trip finally happens, I’ll be getting paid for three of those. It’s not a perfect situation, but since I can still work, I can travel to Montréal here in a few weeks, hit New York City in September, and explore all that Boston has to offer in November. In other words, this project, set up to be all about travel, will finally have some fresh experience to be filled with.

Now, the next two weeks need to cooperate and start going faster.

Do you live in Montréal, or do you visit often? What are some of the things I need to eat, drink, see, or do while I’m in the City of Saints?

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Prison and Personal Injury, or a Recent Trip to Letchworth State Park

The Fourth of July weekend is coming to an anxious end, and with that ,  it’s only natural that many decide to head to their local parks/watering holes/sports stadiums to get one last bit of life in before work resumes on Monday. Thinking I’d use Sunday to visit a state forest I’ve never been to and hopefully check out some waterfalls, I instead found myself both threatened with arrest and injured — the latter of which occurred when a bear jumped out at me on the trails, causing a rather nasty sprain of the ankle. (That last part might be a lie.) Sonyea State Forest: A Stone’s Throw from a Local Prison Sonyea State Forest is located only a few miles away from the nationally famous Letchworth State Park, just outside of Mt. Morris, New York. The forest has a long history, starting many years ago as a colony for a local community of Shakers, before transforming into a retreat for those suffering from epilepsy. Following the advent of new treatments that effectively reduce the signs and symptoms of epilepsy, the retreat was finally repurposed by the state into the Groveland Correctional Facility. Groveland is a state-level high security prison for male offenders. Having never been to the forest before, I punched it into Google Maps on the trusty phone and sped on my way, the Tallest Man on Earth’s “Wild Hunt” trickling from the speakers, the gentle scents of honeysuckle and grass barely winning their fight with the country air (re: manure) as they pushed through my cracked windows. All signs pointed to a good morning. Continue reading →

Enjoying Independence Among the Trails and the Trees

The U.S. gets pretty loud on the Fourth of July. No, I don’t mean our typical level of noise we tend to make about global politics and whatnot; I mean oh-my-god-why-are-my-ears-bleeding kind of loud. Seemingly from the time the sun peeks its hot little head over the horizon, somebody is outside lighting up a charcoal grill upon which to cook up a week’s worth of tubular meat stuffs — all of them, mind you, to be consumed in one day.

Fourth of July, otherwise known as our Independence Day, is this annual exercise in complete sensory overload. Nostrils variably burn with the thick smoke of spent saltpeter and the charring flesh of some animal, porcine, bovine, whatever. Your ears are left undefended to ford a never ending stream of pop patriotism, belted out, as ever, by a dude with a beard. Fireworks excite the eyes, alcohol taints the blood, flame permanently reworks skin — as I’ve said, it’s all very loud.

I’ve always been more of a relax by the campfire with good beer, good friends, and a guitar to pass around kind of a fella. Despite my daily demeanor, I really don’t like “loud.” So at first light, I went straight for the quietest place I knew within 10 miles: the trails. Continue reading →