October 25, 2011


I was going to post pictures of this past weekend, but my camera bag was a recent casualty in the organize my life campaign and is among the missing. You would think this campaign would produce things, not hide them, but sadly, that is not the way it works.

This matters because the camera bag holds the cord that connects my camera to the computer. It is about the only thing my camera bag holds. Occasionally, when it has no where better to be, my camera lowers itself to rest in the camera bag, but generally it is floating around the house waiting to be used (by me) or broken (by the kids). Some houses have floating ghosts, but we go in for floating cameras--more functional.

So instead of anything recent, I will hark back about 2 months and do a post about our trip to Montreal. JoAnna already put up a lot of pictures on facebook, but I am not afraid of redundancy.

When JoAnna was out visiting for a week and a half at the end of August, we all got the brainy idea to go to Montreal. Ashley, JoAnna, Olivia, and Tori wanted to go, and being the spoil sport I am, I decided to tag along and bring my three kids. Oh yeah, I am that cool. Since there were 8 of us going, we couldn't travel in one vehicle, which was sad AND annoying. Still, JoAnna remembered Dad's walkie-talkies, so it wasn't too bad. Walkie-talkies are so much more conversational than cell phones. None of this finding the number, dialing it, and THEN talking. You just press a button and voila! you are talking. Since I was in my car with my kids, I used it a lot more than they. I felt they were having interesting conversations in the van, so felt my need to horn in on them and hear it too.

Of course, I wouldn't feel the need to blog about this 2 months later if things had all gone smoothly. They didn't. Our first ker-fluffle was at the border. I remembered everything, EXCEPT a note from Justin saying it was okay for me to take our kids across the border. And once I say I forgot it, I can't exactly forge it. No, my conscience does not hinder me from forging in a good cause. So they took Justin's cell phone number and told us to wait over there. Over there was a little shed facing the raging English River. This river flowed through the Douglas farm, so it was mildly interesting to look at. Particularly, since it was a LOT higher than it normally is. And the Raging English are always interesting to watch. Anyway, after calling Justin, the border people must have decided we were legit. (A side note, Justin was working with Evan, David B, and Owen that day and for the rest of the day, when there was a lull in the conversation, someone would think up a witty remark Justin could have made to the border patrol people that would have got me in a lot of trouble.)

So off we went across the Quebec countryside, pointing out points of interest to each other. (Mom was born there, the turn off to their town is there, etc) As we got closer to Montreal, we got in a lot of construction traffic. Fortunately, we were pulling out of that, when the tire on the van decided to blow. This tire had gone flat a few days earlier and had been patched/fixed after the girls sat beside the road for hours while Dad tried to get the spare tire out. Apparently the spare had never been used, since it was rusted into it's position and refused to come out. If the tire hadn't gone flat that day, it may not have gone flat near Montreal, but also if Dad hadn't finally managed to get the rusted spare out, we would have been majorly in trouble trying to get it out then. JoAnna is a remarkably resourceful girl and between her, Ashley,Tori, and Olivia, they had the broken tire off and the spare on in a matter of minutes. Very impressive.

And that is the event we have the most pictures of in the entire day. Look, they managed to not get their clothes greasy and dirty. The plan was to walk around Old Montreal for awhile, have poutine for lunch, possibly drive by Notre Dame, go see the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, go to Ikea,  and drive up Mont Royal. For some reason we did not add in an hour and a half of trying to find each other. I was leading the way, which was a bad idea, since I was not accustomed to the signs in Montreal. When it says Vieux Montreal above one lane, I think, we should stay in this lane. Nope. You should actually be 4 lanes over. NOW. I didn't think that they should try this in the van with a donut spare one, so I told them we would take the next exit, not even trying to get over four lanes. They did. And they managed to get off exactly where they were supposed to be. With neither driver being familiar with Montreal, it took us an hour and a half to be reunited. I think JoAnna was about to check me into a mental institute by the time we were together again. They parked in front of this huge domed building with a noticeable green copper roof. Should be easy to find right? Not really. Not when the streets are all one way, you don't know the name of the green roof building and you can't even see it half the time. Then we decided to meet at the Palais de Congress, for which there were lots of signs. By the time I got there (it took me awhile to get back to signs for Palais de Congress) they had decided to go back to the green roof building since they couldn't find a parking spot. Finally, we met up and decided to all ride together in the van with someone holding Orianna on their laps. By then, most of us were sick of Old Montreal and didn't want to walk around. so we found a poutine joint and got take away. We drove up to Old Montreal for a picnic by one of the lakes. It was gorgeous!

(Joanna's picture)
The green roof building I was incapable of reaching. The V-something.

On one of my loops of Old Montreal

(JoAnna's picture)

The Poutine place was across the road. We parked in a lane of traffic. I had discovered in my driving around that people generally stop for you if you are stopped in a weird spot. Like the delivery van blocking two lanes, the guy trying to pick up a friend when he was in the middle of 5 lanes, like me driving gaily down one way streets the wrong way. Plus we had the added advantage of being a stupid American. It really frees you. There is none of this trying to be sophisticated or urbanite. Well not for me anyway. I liked having everyone know I was a stupid American and would do exactly as I pleased, which was probably the opposite of what right thinking Montreal-ians would do. They just look at you and sort of pardon any stupidity you may have managed to get yourself in by saying, "Oh they are American." No further explanation needed. I am probably a part of the reason America has a bad reputation internationally, me driving down one way streets and parking in front of the palais du Justice in a car lane.

I think this was some Oratory thing. I forget. Impressive whatever it is!

Orianna and Lily were fascinated by the lake. Running back to us for an occasional bite of poutine.

Poutine was yum.

Ashley and JoAnna trying to keep my kids from falling in.

JoAnna helping them fish out their votive candleholder. They saw this pink thing in the water and were determined to get it out. 

A dark picture of us without Ashley.
Joanna has a better one from facebook. Lighter, but doesn't have JoAnna.

The glass votive thing they finally managed to get out. In my mind, I was thinking about someone throwing that in the lake in a drunken orgy of remorse that so and so who bought them this would never love them again. Or holding a candlelight vigil for some unknown person. I was all in favor of them throwing it directly in the trash. An old man walking by saw all this and stopped and said in a slow, old man way, "Let them keep it. After all that hard work, let them keep it." Which seemed wise. So I did. They still have it and cherish it. 

Taking pictures of the girls and their hard worked for and get to keep glass thingy

Huge old trees!

While at the park, we noticed the donut was flat. So we stopped to get it pumped up. We borrowed the gas stations guys pliers to get the cap off and he was most kind. 

After Mont Royal, we went to Ikea and spent some time there. It was great. We ate supper there, Swedish meatballs. Someone spilled water by our table, which made me slip and spill more water. We tried to get someone to come mop it up, but they were very unconcerned about it. So we spent the rest of our meal watching people slide around in it. I parked the stroller right over it, thinking people would have to walk around it, but it seemed to complicate things and make people give us dirty looks. One slip-ee dumped her soda on top of Gilbert and I. It was a very interesting meal. We laughed a lot. No one suffered lasting damage. As we were leaving, JoAnna said she was going to run to the bathroom and would meet us outside. Or at least that is what I thought she said. Instead, she said she would meet us at the cafe inside. So we waited for her outside for half an hour. Olivia and Ashley walked all over Ikea looking for her. They finally found her sitting patiently at the cafe like she said she would be. 

After a day like this, of mishaps after mishaps, you would think fate would be done with us and just chuck us home as fast as it could. But no. A few miles outside Montreal, my car started overheating. We have had a really slow leak in our car that Justin had not been able to pinpoint. It wasn't a big issue, since we just checked the fluid every once in awhile and added more water. Since Justin was busy working in Tupper Lake, he forgot to check that morning. And being a stupid, enabled girl, I never think of checking. Finally, after filling it with water, limping it to a gas station and pouring in a few liters of ice cold water, and driving slowly through the cool night, the heat dropped and stayed at normal. I think it was about this time that the girls in the van thanked their lucky stars that I came with them. Otherwise, the day would have been a lot less interesting and much more enjoyable. 

Finally, finally, we arrived home. Despite all the whosy-whichits, it was a very nice day. I really enjoyed being in Montreal much more than in Ottawa. That might have more to do with the time of year or having Ashley and JoAnna with us, but I would choose to go back to Montreal before Ottawa. 

And that is our saga of Montreal.


Verity Earl said...

I especially enjoy the old man telling you to let the girls keep their little votive candle holder and Lily attempting to climb the tree. She looks so tiny! Ikea is so overwhelming to me in general, I'm not sure how anyone suffers through that store. I don't know what other Ikeas are like, but the one in Pittsburgh has a trail that you have to follow through the entire thing before finally getting to the end. Seriously. They make you walk through every department before getting to the boxes. It's insanity. Poor Joanna! So glad you found her waiting patiently! She is a real trooper. :)

Olivia Vaughan said...

Your camera bag is in our van, along with a bajillion other things you left in it.

Olivia Vaughan said...

Oh and the V building was the Viger. And you left out the part about me and me headache and my crying and Joanna laughing at me and crying. :D

Cecil and Amy said...

Sounds like an interesting day. It is a good thing no male was with you. He would have thrown himself to the mercy of the English River. Thanks for the laughs.

Evan and Clover and Co. said...

This day still has the ability to make me laugh so hard I snort water out my nose. I am SOOO sad we weren't up there in time to tag along (big, fat, fake crocodile tears roll down my cheeks.) Anyway, I would love to go to Montreal with you sometime. When the youngest kid is 15. And I drive. And we take Clarissa as a driving guide. And we all are in one car. And I like Amy's idea of what a male would have done if he had been trapped with you all.

Sheena said...

Love how all you girls changed the tire...and documented it all!