Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Death Penalty

Hey nerds!

Before I get into the heavy stuff, I have an announcement. My little baby Sean McEwan has started up a pretty rad music blog—you should totally check it out. Click here to do so.

Anyways.

Today I thought I’d tackle something a bit more sensitive: the death penalty.

Today is an audio post, so click below to listen:

Death Penalty Post

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

@CamMParkes

Also, in case anyone is wondering, here are the sources I used while researching today’s post:

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Colorado+shooting+suspect+James+Holmes+faces+formal+charges+court/7011233/story.html

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/movie-guide/Accused+Dark+Knight+gunman+sent+notebook+school+psychiatrist+report/6992986/story.html

http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/07/30/james-holmes-charged-with-142-counts-including-first-degree-murder-in-colo-theater-shooting/

http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/07/26/james-holmes-given-mask-for-spitting-at-prison-guards/?iid=nf-article-mostpop1

If you have an idea of something you’d like me to discuss, let me know.

Cheers,

CP

 

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Timmins or Bust/Homeward bound: days 5 and 6

Sorry for the delay in posting the final few days– I’ve been busy.

Day 5:

I got to sleep in today, because it was only a short drive (four or five hours) to Timmins, and Becca worked till noon and then would need a nap, etc. I got up around 9:30, and realized why the room had been so cheap—no coffee maker. I went to call the front desk to see where I could get some coffee—no phone. I had a shower, got my stuff together, returned the key and got out of there.

It wasn’t the greatest start to the day. I had no cell service so I couldn’t even GPS a Tim Horton’s—although I’m not even sure if this little town had one—and I had a bit of a headache. Also, despite sleeping in, I was tired. I drove with the windows down for the first hour-and-a-half, silently pleading with whatever deity there may or may not be to throw a Timmy’s into my path.

About the hour-and-a-half mark, my day took a turn for the better. My headache suddenly dimmed, my sleepiness suddenly fled; I suddenly realized I had successfully managed to wake up without coffee. I screamed my joy out the window, and the day seemed to grow a little brighter.

The drive in itself wasn’t very eventful; no deaths or anything like that. About 50km outside of Timmins, I saw a billboard with Shania on it. I figured at that point that I must be getting pretty close.

When I got into town, Becca said she’d make dinner if I brought some beer. I’ve been living off of Tim Horton’s and McDonald’s for the past two weeks so I quickly agreed.

It rained twice during my trip—once on the first day, in Wisconsin, and the other time when I got out of my car to go into the beer store. I was out for maybe ten seconds going in and coming out, and I got drenched. Sigh.

When I got to Becca’s, I had to make the third parallel-park of my life, between a car and a garbage bin. Yes, I could have got out and moved the garbage bin, but that would have been the easy way out. Instead, I managed to execute a perfect parallel-park. Satisfied, I loaded myself up with all my bags and trudged in.

After a tour and introduction to her roommate, Becca whipped us up a pretty fantastic meal—sausages, cauliflower and broccoli, and rice. After that, we took a nice little tour of Timmins; here was the best part, obviously (perhaps the only reason to visit Timmins?):

The only reason to visit Timmins, Ontario.

The only reason to visit Timmins, Ontario.

 

Since, like I said, Becca works at 5 every morning, I decided I’d leave with her in the morning—this meant early to bed. Forrest Gump was on TV so obviously I watched that, and then turned in around 11.

Day 6:

I woke up today, around 4:30am, to an interesting call. He didn’t give his name, but he made sure to tell me he was Flappy’s brother (if you haven’t read about Flappy yet, click here to do so). Obviously he was calling to discuss the recent issues involving his brother.

Even though I shouldn’t have, I felt slightly guilty for what had happened, so I agreed to meet Flappy’s brother. He suggested the place (the beginning of the highway leading out of Timmins) for about 5:10am. I dropped off Becca at her station, went and found a Timmy’s (extra-large coffee what up) then set out to meet Flappy’s brother.

So here I am, driving along the highway, straining my eyes in the early-morning gloom for some sign of this mystery person/bird. Out of nowhere, I felt a thump on my windshield and saw something go flying over the car. I turned around but didn’t see anything in the mirror, so I shrugged and continued driving.

On an unrelated note, Flappy’s brother never showed up for our meeting. What a dick.

Besides stopping at a McD’s around 8:30 to grab breakfast and another coffee, as well as one gas fill-up, I basically just gunned it for home. The only really exciting thing about the drive was when I saw a llama. Yeah, it was just standing there but it was still pretty cool. I saw a ton of signs warning me that moose might suddenly jump out in front of my car, but it never happened.

I got back into Burlington around 2 o’clock, and stopped at the bank to see my mom and exchange my American money back to Canadian. I had 108 dollars US, which resulted in an unbelievable 108.02 dollars Canadian.

I have yet to pay all of my bills from this cross-country expedition, but I’m sure that extra two cents will come in handy when I do.

Trip totals:

Distance traveled: 9929km
Hours traveled: 124
Days in trip: 13

And with that, my friends, this trip is concluded.

Follow me for new updates and new stories later on:

@CamMParkes

Cheers,

CP

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Timmins or Bust: days 3 and 4

Day 3

Not much happened during the day Saturday—nothing exciting at least. The night, however, was pretty scary.

So I’m driving along through Manitoba and it’s about 10 o’clock their time (so 11 in Ontario), it’s starting to get dark, so I’m looking for a place to spend the night. I come across this trucker motel thing, but I got a bad vibe about it. It was attached to a tavern and there were a bunch of burly men walking around shouting and stuff, so I thought I’d move on to the next one.

Big mistake. I hit what has to be the loneliest section of Manitoba highway there is. Pitch black, winding through a forest. For one of the few times since I got my license, I was driving with both hands, high beams on, eyes straining to see in the darkness. Even with the high beams on, I couldn’t see very far; it was as if the darkness was so heavy that it absorbed the light before it could make it very far.

Signs kept coming up, which were scary. They were deer warning signs. I was scrunched forward in my seat, hoping that I’d be able to see something if it were to jump into the road. Every bush on the side of the road looked like an animal.

At one point I DID actually see a deer—as I roared passed it. If one had taken it into its mind to jump in front of me, it would have been a goner.

I drove like that for the next hour, foot poised above the brake until my whole leg ached; I had to pee so badly that I didn’t have to pee anymore. Yes, that s a thing.

Finally I came to a turnoff for Falcon Lake. I painstakingly followed the signs until I reached the Falcon Lake Hotel Resort. Okay, good sign. It was about 11:15 their time now.

I shamble in, still stiff from my drive, and see no one’s at the front desk. I used the bathroom and came back, and still no one. Some little girls sitting in the lobby were all like “I think he’s in the bar”, so I wandered over there.

In the bar an old guy was singing some karaoke song. I meandered past him and went up to the bar. I asked a lady who I’d talk to about getting a room, and she led me back to the front. Apparently the guy was hiding in a back room, because she went back after telling me “I don’t think there are any free rooms”, and a few seconds later a guy walked in.

He took one look at me and said “I’m all booked up.” I sighed dejectedly and said I understood, and how far was the next hotel?

He studied my for a moment, then said that I wouldn’t get in to any. And he actually had had two rooms booked where the people didn’t show up. So maybe he could take a chance with me, and give me one of the rooms. When I asked how much, he said it was a $275 room. I said I couldn’t afford that, thanks anyways.

Once again he looked at me. He asked me where I was coming from, and I said Yellowknife. He then went off into a story about how he traveled as a kid, yadda yadda yadda. Eventually he said he could give me the room for a hundred bucks. I agreed.

The room was unreal. It had a queen bed, a wood-panelled bathroom, a living room with a futon, TV and DVD player, a kitchen, fridge, stove, coffee maker, a patio with a table, chairs and a barbeque… it was insane.

Apparently the dude forgot he gave me the room, because an hour later the phone rang; I ignored it. Minutes later came a tap tap tap on my door. I opened it, and he looked at me and goes “oh right, sorry” and leaves. Sigh. I went to bed content.

Day 4

I awoke to more tapping on my door. I opened it in just my jeans and a man and his son (?) were standing there. I said, “good morning!” totally not letting on how grumpy I was. The man said that the guy at the front had told him I had checked out or something. I showed him my room key and assured him that I had, in fact, not yet checked out. After he apologized and left, I figured I might as well get going before someone else came to try and get in my room.

I had a good feeling about today. I was off to an early start, the sun was shining…it was going to be good.

WRONG.

About half hour down the road I spotted a Tim Horton’s. I needed my coffee so I pulled in. Drive-thru looked packed, so I thought I’d just run in and grab a coffee. It took TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES.

I worked at McDonald’s for four years. I know shit happens. But this wasn’t that. This was a bunch of teenage kids dicking around, not doing their jobs. I was annoyed. But, I waited patiently, got my coffee, and left.

About 15 minutes later I entered Ontario. It felt good to be back! I knew I was back in Ontario because I saw a bunch of construction sites—and had to slow down for them—but not a single construction worker. What the hell, Ontario?

A little later I was cruising along doing the classic Cam Parkes 110km/h, and, would you believe it, I got pulled over. Speeding ticket! Cost me 95 bucks. Seriously? Doing 110 in a 90. My insurance was also expired. Another 65 bucks.

After that little encounter the Cam Parkes classic became 100km/h. Stupid stupid stupid. Then, to top it off, I stopped at a McDonald’s in Thunder Bay to try and cheer myself up, and they were slow as tits as well! JEEZE.

I took a little breather at McD’s, had my McGangBang, and read my book for half hour. All the above were quite good.

Unfortunately a sad moment occurred getting back on to the highway. I won’t go into my usual detail here, but basically I saw a deer that had just been hit. A couple of cars were pulled over and they were examining the front fender of a truck for damages. The dead one was a male, and his female friend was just scuttling off the highway into the underbrush. I felt bad for it.

Then I took off. I was getting a little worried it’d be a repeat of last night; it was starting to get dark, and the off-ramps from the highway were few and far between. Finally I saw a sign for Geraldton, Ontario, and I took the exit.

I stopped at some motel, I can’t remember the name. But, as if it knew I had had a bad day, the room was only 75 bucks. And yes, that is amazing.

Sleeping in tomorrow, then off to Timmins to see Becca, and then home Tuesday in time for my date. The trip is almost done! Follow me to make sure you get all the updates (when I have cell service, anyways):

@CamMParkes

Cheers,

CP

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Timmins or Bust: day 2

Guys, I found out today that for the entire duration of my stay in the North West Territories, I was breaking the law. Unintentionally. Let me explain.

For whatever reason, the NWT has a law that, when you’re driving, your lights must be on at all times. I figure it’s probably more for when they’re experiencing 24 hours of darkness (PS—Sean, you should probably get a lamp by then you idiot), but everyone does it regardless.

Now, here’s the thing. Bui CK is a pretty smart car. He turns his lights on when he decides it’s dark enough, and turns them off when it’s light enough. Kind of unfortunate for this circumstance.

But also extremely lucky. Just wait for it, I’m getting to it.

Since I never have to turn the lights on or off, I’m not a hundred per cent sure how to. There’s a knob in the car that says “lights Min—Max”, so I figured turning it all the way to the max end would put on the lights.

It did not. However it turned out to be good since, not being used to the whole turning lights off thing, I left them on overnight…two nights in a row. If they had been the headlights, I would have come out to a dead battery—which is not something you want when you’re 5000km from home and on a tight budget.

Instead, all that happened is the interior light was on. No big deal. So today I finally was like “I don’t think my lights are on” and accidentally pulled the knob out.

The lights came on. Damnit! Now that explains all the people shaking their heads at me, or flipping me off, or yelling obscenities at me, or coming up and saying “son, you’re lights aren’t on and they are required to be on by law, perhaps if you pull that knob out they’ll come on”.

Oh well, I figured it out eventually. And then I left them on long after I didn’t need to just to make up for it.

Speaking of breaking the law, some dude totally changed lanes without looking right in front of me. Now, normally I’d blare my horn or something, flip him off, you know? But in this situation it was a transport truck, and I was busy slamming on my brakes to avoid being sideswiped off the road. What happened is that I had changed lanes to pass him (it was one lane each way) and right as I sped up to do so, he want to go around some truck that had stalled. He didn’t look first, and without my borderline-ninja reflexes, I’d have met the same fate as Flappy.

Other than that, the driving went pretty well today. I spilled some chocolate milk on myself, but what’re you going to do. I changed shirts in a McDonald’s parking lot before I went in, causing multiple women to swoon. I apologized to their husbands and hustled inside.

My first stop was the bathroom—and this is what I saw:

Urinal

Urinal

 

Yes I took a picture of the urinal. Wouldn’t you, if there was a hockey net in it? PS for all the ladies, that’s what we pee in.

Speaking of peeing, I almost had a little problem today. I was stopped at a train and had to take a leak, so I strolled over to the side of the highway. The train was doing that stupid thing where it goes by, then stops and reverses, so by now there was quite a line-up. I had forgotten that I had undone my belt because the seatbelt was pressing it into me painfully; I had also forgotten that I was commando today. It was almost a disaster. I grabbed my pants before they could come down though. Heard a few ladies in line go “oh COME ON” or something. Peed and sauntered back to the car right as the train got out of the way.

The trains are kind of scary out here. Well, more so the train crossings. None of them have those rails that come down. Even though that train is the only one I’ve seen so far, I’ve taken to screaming as I approach every crossing, just in case the warning things malfunction and I get t-boned and blasted into smithereens as I drive over. So far, so good.

Now, I have another story for you.

Once there was a young grasshopper named Hoppy. Now, of course Hoppy wasn’t his real name; no one names their kid Hoppy. His real name was Sean, but he hated that name (wonder why) so he got all his friends to call him by the nickname, Hoppy.

It was a good nickname, as all Hoppy liked to do all day was hop around. Historically grasshoppers are known for hopping, of course; but Hoppy did it so often that he was the best hopper around. His friends never ceased to be amazed by how far he could jump.

“It just goes to show you,” Hoppy told them. “If you practice hard enough, anything is possible.”

Then there came the day where Hoppy was to put his talent to the ultimate test; he was going to try and jump from one side of the highway to the other. The highway was only two lanes (one in either direction) so there was a good chance he could do it.

As the moment drew closer, a crowd of bugs gathered to watch. Hoppy stood right on the edge of the highway, eyes closed, focusing. Unnoticed by the onlookers, a trail of dust approached from the west—and it was going fast. About 110km/h I’d say.

As Hoppy bent his legs, just about to jump, the onlookers suddenly saw what was coming and screamed out “HOPPY! NO!”

But it was too late. Hoppy sprung forward with a mighty heave of his powerful legs—right through the window of a beige Buick Century. He didn’t have time to feel anything at all; the world went black.

*******

The driver of the car felt a light smack on his cheek, and looked around to see what might have caused it. On his passenger seat, he saw a small grasshopper laying there dead.

“What the…” the driver muttered, prodding the small corpse. Unknowingly he actually administered bug resuscitation, because the next time he looked down, the corpse was gone.

“Weird,” he said, and forgot about it.

*******

Hoppy’s entire body ached. His eyes were closed, and he didn’t know where he was. With his considerable will, he forced his eyes open, and only grim determination kept him from screaming. He was in a world he had never seen before. He was in the shadow of a large object, and the ground was softer than the softest grass. Forcing his legs to move, Hoppy walked towards the light—and stared at the largest being he had ever seen.

“Oh, you’re still here? I thought you were gone,” the thing said, looking down at him. “Hey, do you want a coffee?”

Hoppy was, of course, a sucker for his morning coffee, so he agreed. It looked to be a bit of a wait though, and so Hoppy told the creature his story—the whole hopping thing and whatever.

“That’s pretty cool,” the thing said to Hoppy. “Listen, I actually don’t have enough money to get us both coffees, so, uh…”

And with that, the giant slipped a piece of paper under Hoppy’s body. Hoppy had used up all his energy just talking to the thing, so he couldn’t even resist.

“I’m just going to set you gently out here,” the voice boomed. Hoppy felt the air fly by him as he was suddenly propelled forward.

The ground rushed up to meet him, and he knew no more.

 

Yeah, I found that grasshopper from yesterday chilling in my car today. I…escorted…him out.

I’m currently in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. I’m planning on trying the continental breakfast tomorrow. But…I probably won’t get up in time. Oh well.

Follow me on Twitter!

@CamMParkes

Cheers,

CP

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Timmins or Bust: day 1

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with animals?

Let me make a list of animals I almost killed today:

  • several herds of bison
  • another bird
  • a duck

Okay that’s it, but still. Some BISON ran into the road and I actually had to swerve around them. What the hell, bison? After I cursed at them and sped off, I was actually glad I had seen them though. I only saw one lone one on the way up, but today I saw six different packs of ‘em, ranging from a solitary guy to about 30, all in the trees and on the road and stuff. I got a pretty decent picture:

Bison

Bison

 

Pretty cool to actually see them and not just their shit all of the side of the road.

Oh and yeah, Flappy’s brother almost met the same fate as him today. I was just cruising along and this like, flock of birds swooped in front of me. The one was so close I actually yelled “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”, already picturing what people would say if ANOTHER bird committed suicide on my car. I thought I hit him for sure, but I didn’t see his twitching corpse on the road behind me. So I drove along for the next hour thinking “oh shit he’s wedged in my grill isn’t he oh shit oh crap crap crap.” I stopped to get gas and hesitantly looked. No bird. Just dozens of dragonflies.

Oh yeah, my windshield is once again a mass bug grave. Also, two somehow got into my car. The first one hit my face and just landed on the passenger seat, dead. I prodded him, unknowingly performing some sort of bug resuscitation I guess, because all of a sudden he got up and just kind of wandered onto my backpack. I was fascinated by the little grasshopper-type thing. At this point however, I realized I hadn’t looked at the road in about a minute and a half, and knowing my luck there was just some baby bison waiting to fling itself under my car. So I glanced forward. When I looked back, the grasshopper was gone. I  went “huh” and forgot about it. Shortly after, half a mosquito landed on my hand. I say half, because I don’t know if it got cut in half in the air during some epic mosquito ninja fight and just landed on me, or if the impact between his body and my hand was enough to disintegrate the lower half of him. Either way, I flicked the corpse out the window.

Oh and also, at a rare point where there was another car in front of me, he totally almost killed an eagle, guys. This eagle (I swear it was an eagle) was eating some road kill, saw the car approaching, and flew somewhat in its path. The dude braked, and the eagle took off into the sunset, raucously screaming a piercing call of defiance.

Yeah. Anyways. I made pretty good time today. Went all the way from Yellowknife to Manning, Alberta (I’m actually in the same hotel I stayed in on the way up—the wi-fi logged in automatically!) in a little over ten and a half hours. I could have probably made it to Peace River, but I was a bit tired, and my phone was dead.

At this rate I figure I’ll reach my next stop (Timmins, to see Becca) sometime Monday evening, and will be back home Tuesday afternoon.

And guess what? I already have a hot date planned for that night. WHAT UP.

Follow me on Twitter; I tweet some pretty hilarious stuff, and pictures sometimes too:

@CamMParkes

Cheers,

CP

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Yellowknife– the visit.

Well, I’ve been in Yellowknife for about a full day now, and it’s…certainly not what I expected. I don’t know about you, but I had this image of the North West Territories. Basically, it was covered entirely in snow, and people walked around in those Eskimo coats. You know, the fur-lined ones or whatever?

Even when Sean told me I didn’t have to bring a coat, just some sweaters, I didn’t clue in that maybe it wasn’t as cold as I had pictured. There also weren’t any igloos. Oh well.

So! After I got in and Sean left for work, I kind of relaxed. Got caught up with you dudes in my post, played some NHL 12 on Xbox 360—I’m running the league already—and just sitting around NOT driving.

After Sean got home, he said he was going to take me to his favourite spot in Yellowknife. Because he’s explored the whole city already.

Anyways, we went walkin’, and I had a sweater on, and I was comfortable. Yeah. Apparently it’s about 37 degrees back home? Well, it’s 16 here. And it doesn’t get dark. Even at midnight it’s still bright enough to see.

Anyways, we walked around town, fighting off giant-ass bugs that are really aggressive, hiked up a bunch of stairs and then…looked out into forever. The view was extraordinary. Here’s a picture of Sean and the vast nothingness that is Yellowknife:

Sean

Sean

 

I took a bunch more pictures and Sean and I caught up on top of this rock with no railings or anything to prevent a long fall to your death. Then our bellies rumbling, we decided to walk back and get a healthy dinner at McDonald’s. We parked and were walking up and some random dude comes up to us and is all like “hahahahahahaha the lobby is flooded, a pipe line burst and it’s flooded.” So we went through the drive-thru.

We headed back to Sean’s apartment, gorged ourselves until we felt sick, and watched TV. Sean explained entire first season of Teen Wolf to me, and then we watched the Jimmy Fallon show.  I was pretty tired after my marathon stint of 11 hour driving days, so after some TV we went to bed.

Tuesday Sean scared the shit out of me waking me up. It’s because he pretty much screamed my name and I bolted awake. He left for work and I went back to bed for a bit. Didn’t do much throughout the day—just played NHL 12 and whatever—and basically waited for Sean to come home from work. We decided to have a pretty chill night, so we got some Timmy’s and rented a few movies. Then, we went to Shopper’s Drug Mart (yes, there is one in Yellowknife) and got some snacks. I decided to get a 4 litre jug of chocolate milk. Woo.

Then we settled down to a bro’s night. We watched American Reunion, which was actually pretty funny. The whole old cast was in it, and while somewhat predictable, it was a good movie.

Next, Sean introduced me to his favourite movie—Jeff, Who Lives at Home. It has Jason Segel, Ed Helms, and Susan Sarandon in it, and while it was kind of weird, it was actually really good. We both were pretty much fighting back tears at the end of the movie (I won’t spoil it).

At this point I was about 9/10ths of the way through my chocolate milk, and feeling a biiiit sick. We decided to put on some Louis CK so we could laugh away our un-cried tears, then little Seany-poo was tiiiired so he went to bed. I stayed up for a bit and mucked some NHL, but soon went to bed as well.

Wednesday dawned and we had shit to do. Sean woke us up extremely early for some reason. We went and got the oil changed in Bui CK—he definitely deserved it—and got some Timmy’s coffee to wake up. Then Sean put some money on his laundry card and basically demanded I do the laundry. I was like WHAAAT? Luckily for him, though, I needed to do some too.

Soooo basically I was a stay-at-home husband (no homo) today. While Sean worked, I did laundry, made sandwiches, and sat around—I did finish my chocolate milk though! When he got home, he surprised me by saying we were going to go out for dinner!!! We walked over to the video store and returned the videos, then went to Boston Pizza.

This was a pretty entertaining outing. A guy that totally kinda looked liked Stephen Harper sat near us. It was interesting. Sean choked on his water while making a pretty funny joke which I can’t write here.

After that, we came back, watched some more Louis CK, and then Conan.

I leave at 9:15 this morning.

#BurlingtonOrBust

Follow me for my tweets on the way home:

@CamMParkes

Cheers,

CP

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Yellowknife or Bust: day 6

Guys, I’m an honest dude. It’s the way my mama raised me. And, being completely honest, this morning I really, really wished I wasn’t honest.

I didn’t go into much detail last night because I was tired as tits, but now I’m rested and ready to type. The town I stayed in was called Eczo Rae.

“Town”.

I had stopped a little earlier in Fort Providence to get gas, and asked where the next hotel was. There was one there but it was only 7 o’clock, so I didn’t want to stop for the night yet.  The cashier indicated that it’d be about two hours to Rae and that there was a hotel there.

There was, but it was almost impossible to find. I had to ask at the local general store. Once I managed to finally find the place, there was no one around to talk to, and the office was locked up tight. There was, however, a button marked “Call”. So, thinking what the hell, I pushed it. A lady came on and agreed to come over to the hotel to rent me a room. She showed up about five minutes later and seemed pretty nice. I indicated that I wanted the cheapest room she had, although kind of hesitantly—the whole hotel looked very run-down from the outside.

She told me that the room would cost $136.50 for the night. I cringed. She shrugged. I slumped my shoulders and said okay.

Then here’s what got me; she said “okay you can pay tomorrow. I’ll be here around 11” and took off.

I opened the hotel room with some trepidation, and was pleasantly surprised to see it was actually really nice. Minus the fact that there was no cell service and the internet was shoddy at best. But it was okay. I was close, oh so close.

So that brings me to this morning. I woke up at 9:30 so I could be ready for the lady—Sheila—to come and let me pay. I had coffee and pop tarts and watched some game shows I’ve never seen before. Eleven came and no Sheila.

So now here I am, wanting to get on the road, and no one to pay. The temptation to escape $136.50 richer was there, I won’t lie. But, like I said, my mama didn’t raise no thief. I went to one of the rooms where I think a lady actually lives, and asked her where I paid. She gestured vaguely down the road and muttered something about a building, I couldn’t miss it. So I drove off. When I got to the outskirts of the community without seeing anything like an office, I pulled into the handy gas station and asked where I could pay for the hotel. They kind of shrugged, and then the girl said “go to the main building. It’s that big one with the pointy top right beside the hotel.”

So, I drove back the way I had just come from. I got to the building they were describing and went in.

“Hi, I’m looking for the place where I can pay for the hotel?”

“Oh yeah, go down the highway like your leaving the community (the way I had just come back from) and go past the gas station, you’ll see it, it’s a two-story construction company.”

So I set out a final time. Found the building they were talking about. Asked if it was the right place. It was. Thank god.

I go in, see Sheila, and announce I’m there to pay for it. She goes “okay, if you want”.

I paid and got the hell out of there.

A sign told me I was a mere 95km from Yellowknife. “Oh,” I thought, “that’s less than an hour!”

Wrong. I will never take Ontario highways for granted again. The road from Rae all the way to Yellowknife was just bump after bump. I could go 110 for stretches but mostly had to do about 70 to avoid going airborne.

A couple hours later, I felt my phone buzz. Service had returned! Annnnd it kept buzzing. Ten texts, seven emails and two tweets later it finally gave it a rest. Then, it updated its weather thing:

Yellowknife, baby.

Yellowknife, baby.

I had made it. I had made it to Yellowknife. It only took me a few minutes to find Sean’s apartment, and a few minutes more for him to make his way over from work. After a fierce bro grab, we carried his stuff up, he headed back to work, and I creepily took photos of his apartment to put on Facebook. Here’s my favourite one:

Bro love.

Bro love.

Now I’m sitting here waiting for him to get off work, and then we’re gonna go explore Yellowknife. I’ll let you know what I find!

Trip totals:

Days spent traveling: 6
Total hours driven: 58
Total distance covered: 4,935km
Total spent on gas/hotels: Way too much

Bears seen: 1
Bison seen: 1
Birds seen: 1,000,000
Birds killed: 1
Bugs killed: 1,000,000,000+
Hitchhikers seen: 1
Hitchhikers picked up: 0 (my mama didn’t raise no fool! HA)

map

map

Follow me on twitter for updates from/pictures of Yellowknife!

@CamMParkes

Cheers,

CP

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Yellowknife or Bust: days 4 and 5

Holy crap, today was long. I’ll do this update though since I know you’re all probably whining for it.

Day 4:

So day four, which was Saturday, started somewhere in Saskatchewan and ended in a place called Manning, Alberta. It was a pretty alright drive—I got to see Edmonton which was cool. After I got out into northern Alberta though, I quickly came to realize something:

Nature is like a woman. Beauty alone isn’t enough.

WOW that’s pretty wise isn’t it? What I mean by this is that, although the scenery in Alberta was breathtaking at first, it was the same thing for kilometre after kilometre, and eventually it just got boring. Peace River was a delight; a tiny little city around a river of the same name, spanned by a cool bridge. The only other cool thing that happened was that, at one point, four cars passed me in a line; one each from BC, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and I was Ontario. Yay!

Day 5:

Today was a pretty long day, like I said, but it was also pretty cool.

I managed to get away at a pretty good time. There’s basically nothing in Manning, so I just had coffee from the hotel room and ate some poptarts. Gas was incredibly cheap though. Only 111.5 or something. UnREAL.

As I got further north, the air became very smoky. And I could smell fire. A helicopter passed above me several times, but made no move to stop my progress so I continued on. Eventually I came to a line of cars all stopped, waiting for a guide through some construction. Everyone was out of their cars so I got out of mine too. The guy in front of me immediately asked where in Ontario I was from, and I told him; turns out, although he’s lived in Alberta 30 years now, he was raised in Toronto and his wife lived in Oakville. Weird eh?

Another guy came up too, and said that there was apparently a large forest fire relatively nearby. The town of Zama, according to this guy, had been evacuated, and it was only 56 km off the highway. We were worried we were going to have to be rerouted, but it turned out to be okay and we carried on.

Along the way I actually saw some animals—a bear lumbered across the highway just in front of me, probably trying to commit suicide, but I deftly avoided him.

I entered the North West Territories mid afternoon. I stopped to take some pictures of the border, as they had a pretty cool sign. I also took some pictures for some tree planters, using all three of their cameras. What a nice guy.

From there I trucked on, and saw like 50 bison. None were real though. Just signs. Signs saying “bison crossing”. Signs saying “please leave dead bison alone”. Random signs shaped like bison.

Then finally I saw a real one. It was…amazing.

Anyways, one really cool part of today was the ferry. It’s the only way into this part of the NWT without flying. It’s free and only takes 20 minutes. The lady let me get out of my car to take lots of pictures…none of which I will be including in this post.

Right around then, though, I lost service in my phone. And I still haven’t got it back. I’m in some shitty little town that I don’t even know the name of. No cell service, barely any internet, and this hotel room is the most expensive of my trip. Oh, and NWT made up for my cheap gas in Alberta. It was 145.3 per litre. UGH.

But…I’m sure I’ll survive the night. I’ll do a better update one I reach Yellowknife in the afternoon.

Follow me for tweets along the way, once I get service back:

@CamMParkes

Cheers,

CP

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Yellowknife or Bust: Days 2 and 3

First things first: you’ll all be excited to hear that I got asked out. Yes, you read that right. And I said yes. And yes, it was the gorgeous girl I mentioned in the previous post. Her name is Sharleen, and she’s a babe guys. Seriously. How did I get so lucky? Who knows. I’m certainly not questioning it!

On to the trip:

 

Day 2

So you know how (in Ontario, at least) you’re always driving by construction sites but you never see any workers?

I found them. All of them.

They are ALL in Minnesota. Particularly along the I-69. I swear, I wasn’t out of a construction zone for more than ten minutes before I’d go back into another one. And they were ALL WORKING. Frustrating, but also so…inspiring? Whatever, I don’t know.

Not too much exciting happened on Day 2. I went through a place called Bonanzaville. I laughed at that. Made it another 990km which is pretty good. Total drive time for the day was about 11 hours, bringing it up to…a lot. I stayed in a hotel in Valley City, North Dakota.

Day 3

Today was…interesting. Let’s just say, if I had a Wikipedia page (and I checked, I don’t), it would be updated to read “mass murderer of bugs”. I washed my windshield in North Dakota while I was getting gas, and by the time I reached Saskatchewan about four hours later, there was about 10,000 bugs-worth of guts on it. Some were yellow. I swear they were doing it on purpose. I…I don’t feel any remorse.

Actually, on that topic, I have a story I need to tell you. Buckle up, it’s a tough one.

….

Once upon a time a baby bird named Flappy was born. He was brought into the world in the usual way (something about bees I think) but he was always a little special. His mother, recognizing this, tried to protect him by keeping him sheltered. She brought him all his food (in regurgitated fashion of course) much longer than all the other young birds received theirs. She kept Flappy in the nest all the time and never allowed him to venture out. However, eventually the day came where he had to go to…bird school.

Flappy, understandably, was very nervous. Due to his over-protective mother, he had no friends, and no social grace whatsoever. However, he was very anxious to leave his nest, so when the day arrived he mustered up his not-inconsiderable courage, and hopped down the longest branch in his tree to the school-house (which was actually a birdfeeder).

Now, at this point, most people ask what birds learn at bird school. Well, they learn quite a few different things—they learn what food is good to eat (up until now they’ve depended on their mother, remember); they learn how to whistle melodies; they learn how to get up early to get worms and the like; and most importantly, they learn how to fly.

And this is when something amazing happened. Flappy, although he had never been out of his nest prior to that day, was called upon to try flying first. And, much like Harry Potter, he found he was a natural at it. He plunged off the branch into a complicated series of twists and turns, loops and twirls, and when he landed in front of his awe-struck classmates and teacher, they all chirped him. For birds chirping is actually good, because they can’t talk or cheer so it acts as everything. Anyways.

This display of athleticism caused Flappy’s popularity to jump from non-existent to through-the-metaphorical-roof (birds don’t have roofs). He quickly gathered a following of friends, admirers, and occasional lovers.

But with popularity comes consequences, as Flappy soon learned.

One day, one of his friends acquired some hard liquor. Now, Flappy had never drank before, but his social status demanded he partake, lest he fall from the graces and return to his old, unpopular self—and this, he was not willing to do.

With the first sip, he was hooked. Time went on, and Flappy drank more and more. Slowly, the admirers and lovers drifted away. Flappy didn’t notice. Eventually, it was only his two closest friends that hung out with him, and even they were beginning to get worried with Flappy’s obvious drinking problem.

And so time passed. Flappy was drunk most of the time, and oblivious to his dwindling popularity—the very thing he began drinking to save. Finally, one day, his best friend couldn’t take it anymore.

“Flappy, you’re acting like a damn fool!” he said, quoting the famous Adam Sandler flick Happy Gilmour but changing Happy for Flappy.

This was still early on in the day, so Flappy hadn’t reached his usual rip-roaring drunk state yet. He looked around slowly, and for the first time seemed to notice that his covey of bitties and gawkers had vanished. Desperately, Flappy shouted out for everyone’s attention.

“Guys, I’m still cool! I…watch me do something wicked awesome!”

Tipsy, Flappy took off from his branch. His takeoff was much shakier than usual, and if someone had noticed that things may have ended differently. But they didn’t, so they didn’t.

Flappy flipped and twirled and ducked and dodged and swooped and soared, and while the other birds were relatively impressed, he saw he’d have to take more drastic measures to win them back. Through booze-blurred vision, he saw a trail of dust rising from the nearby highway.

“Watch!” he shrieked, and took off in that direction.

I’m not sure if anyone knew what he intended to do, even Flappy himself; all I know is what happened, and I’ll tell you.

Flappy swooped out over the highway, angled around in a tight U-turn, and flew head-on towards the oncoming car. The birds in the tree cried out in unison:

“FLAPPY, NO!”

At the last second, Flappy suddenly saw clearly. With cold precision he realized exactly what was about to happen, and what he had to do to avoid it. He banked upwards and away from the car—but the beige Buick was traveling at 110km per hour (which was the speed limit; Saskatchewan has weird highways) and Flappy struck the windshield going about 80km per hour in the opposite direction.

He was dead before he hit the highway behind the Buick, and the dust settled on his mangled body seconds later. The driver of the Buick looked in the rear-view mirror, and muttered something that sounded like “damn suicidal bird” to himself. Soon the car vanished, and the birds from the tree gathered around the corpse of Flappy.

Death is inevitable and the birds knew this. It was a way of life for them. And though they were sad, they all agreed on one thing.

Flappy had gotten the attention he wanted.

….

….

….

Okay yes, I had to fill in a bunch of the story I didn’t know. But I think it’s pretty plausible. Anyways, a bird totally committed suicide and used my car for it today. It was super lame.

Moving on. I crossed the border into Saskatchewan and it literally took 30 seconds. It was amazing. About two minutes later I found a Tim Horton’s and my LIFE was made. I didn’t realize how much I missed it while in the States.

The rest of the day was pretty boring and flat. I mean, I’m a tall guy, and I can literally see all of Saskatchewan from any given point. Whatevs, it was still gorgeous in areas.

I’m now holed up in a place called North Battleford, Sask., where I paid a ridiculous amount for a motel room.

I passed the halfway mark sometime today though. Halfway THERE, anyways.

In total, I have now traveled 2,860km in 32 hours of driving, over three days. Not bad.

That’s all for now. Follow me to stay updated:

@CamMParkes
@CamAtGazette

Cheers,

CP

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Yellowknife or Bust–day 1

Alright nerds, I know why you’re here, so I’ll get to it quick. Thanks to Becca for the title of this post/series of posts, PS.

But first: in the last week some interesting stuff has happened. I went on three dates; one was a sushi outing with Moira, the other two were with a gorgeous lady who allowed me the honour of taking her out. Hopefully there’ll be more to tell you about with that in time.

I also got to go to Amanda’s cottage—basically picture a pristine lake, the only disturbance a tiny ripple as an otter or something swims by. Now picture that serene silence being broken by me flying by on a Sea Doo screaming my head off. That’s pretty accurate. We, along with my doppelganger Scott, had some great Mario Party/Mario Kart games that digressed into flinging obscenities at each other.

All in all, a pretty swell weekend.

OKAY now on to the trip, day one.

I had everything loaded into the car and was pulling out of my driveway at 9:30 this (Wednesday) morning. I only got about 6 hours of sleep due to an aforementioned date—but it was worth it, you guys. Anyways.

The first three hours of the voyage went by pretty quickly. I had to stop once to pee, probably due to the fact that I chugged a couple coffees or whatever. But other than that, smooth sailing—until the border.

Apparently it’s not a very believable story that I’m driving to visit a friend in Yellowknife! First of all, they didn’t even know where that was. One guy got close when he said “isn’t that near Alaska”, but they didn’t really grasp it. Anyways, they searched my trunk, asked me 30 questions or so, then sent me to secondary inspection.

Secondary Inspection.

I had to go in and fill out some forms and answer more questions, and a lot of the same ones. The lady ended up asking me for a copy of my lease, or work contract, and of course I didn’t have them. Why would I? Every other time I’ve been to the States I zip through the border. But yeah, at one point she goes “would you be able to get a lease if I sent you back?”

“…..yes ma’am.”

Thank god it didn’t come to that. I would have lost six hours and been f-f-f-FURIOUS. But, after she made me sit on a chair for 30 minutes and went out and personally searched my entire car, and then asked me 30 more questions, the lady said she was going to let me go through. I was, as you may have guessed, extremely appreciative. And then she totally won me over by letting me use the bathroom.

Crisis (x2) averted.

After that, I basically just got on Interstate 94, flicked on cruise control, and ate up the highway. I stopped a few times to stretch and eat, but mostly just kept on going. I had the honour of being stuck in a Chicago traffic jam—it was pretty much the same as any other traffic jam I’ve been in, except it was in Chicago!!!

Today I drove for a total of 13 hours, minus about 1:40 for the border and a few stops—so 11 and a half hours, give or take. I covered 1007km, and am currently in a nice little hotel in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin. I’m pretty tired so this won’t be too long, but here are some things I noticed about the US:

  • While driving
    • Billboards! Holy shit. Everywhere. I saw about a thousand billboards for an adult superstore, and ten thousand for trucks and beer. They were really entertaining
    • Not only do people talk on their phones, signs actually encourage them to. Like to call certain numbers for certain things or whatever
    • I saw a bunch of motorcycles, and 95 per cent of their riders were not wearing helmets. Bad ass?
    • Cars look really weird without front license plates, and most of them don’t have them
    • Accommodations
      • I have to hand it to the States—their highways and rest stops are better than ours. At least, the ones I’ve seen in Ontario. Every exit on the Interstate 94 has three signs: one telling you what gas stations are in the immediate vicinity; one for food; and one for lodgings. Every time I needed to eat or pee, it was the simplest thing ever. Same with my hotel tonight. It literally took me less than a minute to find it after I got off I-94. And I also stopped at a rest stop in Indiana. It was amazing. Whereas ours are just buildings with several fast food joints in them and a gas station or seven, this one was a small building with washrooms, and then the rest was outdoors. Picnic tables, trees, areas to stretch and walk your dog—it was great. I sat and read for twenty minutes; when I had arrived there I was very sleepy, but after just that brief respite, I was able to do another three hours or so. Not bad.
      • Sights
        • Like I said, I got to see Chicago. For quite some time, actually, since I was stuck in that traffic jam
        • There is a place called Kalamazoo for real. I drove through it.

That’s all I can think of for now. 1007km down, about 3700 to go. Check back for daily updates, and to make sure you don’t miss them, follow me on Twitter:

@CamMParkes
@CamAtGazette

Cheers,

CP

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