Canada’s capital and the wilderness.

On Thursday morning, it took Yann and I nearly three hours to pack for our camping trip. Why did it take us three hours? We decided to fully load the Jetta wagon with everything from Alcohol to Zing Tarp, and install the bike rack so that we could incorporate cycling into our three-day adventure in parc national du Mont-Tremblant.

The cats know when we’re about to leave for an extended period which, in this case, was 21 “cat days”. Right before I left, I found Enfoiré (aka the fat one) laying underneath the side table in the living room looking indignant. I put my hand out in preparation to give him a “goodbye” stroke, and he bit me!

It warmed my heart to know that he cared that much. Enfoiré isn’t a mean cat nor the type to bite hard. He bites to “communicate”, and in this case he was saying, “Fuck you for leaving us again.”

It’s true: Yann and I had only just gotten back from our overnight stay in Ottawa. Surprisingly, the purpose of our visit to Ottawa was neither recreational, nor political: it was a work trip. Yes, Yann and I are both bike mechanics. Oui, we drove two hours to Canada’s capital to fix bikes. With our presence, we were undoing the carbon footprint these Ottawa cyclists were trying to save.

The bike shop in Ottawa is affiliated with the one we work for in Montréal. They, like us, have a service standard of four days but had fallen so behind that they needed the extra four hands. The day Yann and I arrived, we worked on jobs that had come in on May… 3rd. (!!!)

When the idea of going to Ottawa for work was proposed last week, Yann’s initial reaction was, “Fuck that.”

What? The guy doesn’t like opportunities?! As somebody who doesn’t get very many opportunities, whenever one comes up that doesn’t seem completely awful… I VOLUNTEER AS A TRIBUTE!

They were also offering a rental car, a food allowance, paid lodging, and a bonus on top of our regular hourly pay. It was nothing like the Hunger Games. Our food allowance was even $70 per person per day. The hotel we stayed at was the Best Western… PLUS. We couldn’t figure out what gave this Best Western that extra something.

A quick Google says: “Our upper-midscale Best Western Plus hotels focus on providing guests with that little something extra.” Even their employees aren’t sure.

I don’t stay at hotels very often, but when I do, I check to see if there is a bible in the nightstand. Not because I need one, but because I wonder how essential the bible is still considered in the hospitality industry. In the case of Best Western Plus, it *is* essential.

A trip to Ottawa can’t end without the compulsory photo in front of one of the parliament buildings, right? Well, this one did. If you’re a believer of the “pics or it didn’t happen” premise, then I guess Ottawa never happened, and those bikes never got fixed.

This, however, is proof that Yann nearly dumped me over a tarp: the $500 MSR Zing Tarp.

Yann has no zing for the MSR Zing.

We’ve been together for long enough that we have arguments over things like my inability to attach the guy lines from this weird-ass 8-point tarp in a way that the nylon won’t suffocate us.

As Yann quickly discovered, the setting-up of this particular tarp wasn’t intuitive after all.

What I love about camping is how I lose that constant sense of urgency to get things done. The wilderness is the one place where I am able to meditate, and I wasn’t going to let an extremely expensive (but borrowed!) tarp ruin that for me.

Anyway, the canopy was eventually deployed and Yann stayed dry as he cooked me some misshapen Mickey Mouse pancakes.

Mickey Mouse and a circle made from flour and water.

It also helped that it didn’t rain while he made me these pancakes.

The dry weather meant that the ranger went around on Friday yelling, “NO CAMPFIRES UNTIL NEXT RAINFALL” (but in French). Having arrived on Thursday, we were able to spend one night in front of a fire.

That night, Yann learned about my “Deaf Survival Instinct” where visual cues mean everything. Whenever Yann heard something, he would spin around to investigate, and I would then demand to know the result of his investigation.

“What was that?” was a question he had to answer repeatedly.

“It’s just leaves.”

“Our campsite neighbours are using an electric toothbrush.”

“Just raccoons fighting.”

He didn’t understand why I was reading his every reaction as if we were in danger. Try being outdoors and only being conscious of things within the light of the campfire! Hearing people have no idea how often I use theirhearing.

I don’t just use hearing people, I also use hearing cats. The cats I have may be far from being certified assistance animals, but when I’m home alone, I know when there’s someone at the door just by observing the cats’ reaction. The cats even have a specific reaction for when it’s Yann who’s at the door.

We weren’t in danger that night, but I found amusement in the couple from Vermont’s electric toothbrush. I was also secretly jealous because I had forgotten my manual toothbrush, and had to borrow Yann’s. I was grossed out, but found it to be slightly less gross than going to sleep with s’more residue on my teeth. My teeth received only a very brisk bristling out of concern that Yann’s DNA would become permanently embedded into my gums.

As I mentioned earlier, we brought nearly everything else, including our bikes.

Plage de la Crémaillère.

The above photo does not show a bicycle, but trust that I don’t just visit beaches wearing my cycling clothes.

I was able to add two new bruises to my collection five kilometres into our first ride. My front wheel grazed a foot-long stick, causing it to spin into the air before jamming into my rear wheel. I unclipped like a pro, leapt over the handlebars at 15km/h and magically landed on my feet. I think this happened to compensate for the embarrassing fall I had last weekend.

This camping trip had it all: love, pain, anger, and fighting raccoons. I’m happy to be back home with the cats, and they are happy we’re back.

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