Two wheels, a rainstorm and moi

So, I decided to test out the Bixi system of Montreal yesterday...Bixi stands for "bicyclette" and "taxi" and the idea is that you can borrow bikes from stations around the city and return them to any other station. It costs $5 a day for unlimited rides of up to 30 minutes a pop. If you have the bike for longer than 30 minutes, they charge you a little bit more. This bike-rental system combined with an amazing network of bike lanes makes for a good urban biking experience....one that would have been even better had it not rained!

In any case, I rode out to a sculpture park waaaaaaayyy out on the St. Lawrence River, which was a lot farther away than it appeared on the map. It really felt like a million miles away as well...just the sounds of water lapping on the shore, the cry of seagulls, the loud grinding of my bike, and the squealing of my quadriceps. Apparently, the Bixi bikes are not all in the best of shape...nor am I!

So I survived the trip, returned the bike to another station, which just happened to be near a market...quelle surprise! In fact, it was lucky I happened upon the market because the rain started pouring down...it was nice to have some tents to huddle under to keep dry. My thighs seemed to enjoy the break too.

Cinérobothèque personal viewing pod
However, the rain kept coming and I was getting impatient, so I got another bike and braved the rain biking along the Canal Lachine to the Old Ports area and onward to the Latin Quarter. Since it was still raining and I was getting pretty soggy, I dropped the bike off and hit the Cinérobothèque...coolest invention ever! You reserve a personal viewing pod and choose from hundreds of films to watch...all for free! The chairs were cushy with headphones that wrapped around from behind and a touchscreen that allowed you to choose what you wanted to watch. Now, these were not big budget films that you'd see at the movie theater...they were smaller documentaries and short animated films. In any case, it was a fun way to get out of the rain.

Kind of hard to see, I realize, so squint!
After the Cinérobothèque, the rain had stopped, so I explored a few parts of the city I hadn't visited yet. I also poked my head into a few stores...why oh why is the American Dollar so weak?? I remember when buying things in Canada was like getting a 50% discount!! Where have those good old days gone? In any case, I managed to restrain myself, but made a mental note of places to return before I leave. I figure if I still want something in a few days, I'll treat myself :)

Off to Quebec City this afternoon to poke around a bit more and hopefully catch a free version of Cirque de Soleil...keep you posted!



So, I've experienced three big adventures between my arrival in Montreal last night and this morning!

The severed head (aka exploding Coke can) with some other Canadian delicacies.
Adventure #1: First, as I was falling asleep last night, I was suddenly awakened by a loud, violent bang on my door...it was so loud and so sudden that I leaped up about 2 feet in the air from a prone position on my bed! After landing and as I lay there trying to restart my heart, I heard a weird dripping noise. Having just finished a mystery novel in which the detective found a severed head on her doorstep, I became convinced in my half asleep state that someone had thrown a head at my door. Somehow, I swallowed my terror and got out of bed to peek out the door and stepped straight into a puddle on the floor of my room. Suddenly, it all became clear. I had put a can of Coke in the freezer of my mini-fridge to chill faster and had forgotten about it. It exploded with such force that it dented the inside of the fridge...shhhh don't tell the front desk.

Adventure #2 - Yesterday afternoon I went on a treasure hunt and found copious treasure in the form of mid-century modern furniture. Wow! This is the place to come for furniture shopping. I have a feeling I will have to physically restrain myself from renting a moving truck to drive myself and all the treasure I would love to own back to Chicago in a few days. While I was in the neighborhood, I explored Le Village Gay for a little while...lots restaurants, bars, boutiques, etc. They were getting all prettied up for the upcoming Divers/Cité festival this weekend, but things hadn't really gotten crazy yet. When I was passing by this afternoon, the techno was pumping in preparation for tonight.
Le Village Gay

Indie's costume. If only Harrison Ford were modeling it...le sigh!
Adventure #3: This is the big one! I went to the exhibit "Indiana Jones: L'aventure archéologique" at the Science museum. Very cool! They had lots of props and costumes from the movies and tied the movie stuff into information about real archeological expeditions and findings throughout the years. The exhibit was super-high-tech...everyone received a little iPod touch that you could key in codes to get information, video clips, etc. read to you. To make it all the more fun, you could also participate in challenges to uncover pieces of an "artifact" on your little screen...I got all the pieces except one. Bummer...but it was fun anyway!

My handheld guide!

And, just for fun...a forest of air fresheners :)


And...we're back!

So, back in Montreal and the land of the internet connection...I spent a wonderful, relaxing few days with my family in northern Ontario and am just about ready to tackle the big city again.

My grandparents have an amazing cottage on Lake Joseph in the Muskoka Lakes region, an area known for beautiful scenery, quaint (and not-so-quaint mansion-like) cabins, water-related fun, sun, and the good life. We call it "God's Country"...and I call it home...the place where I feel most myself.
I've been visiting this personal paradise every summer since I was 4 months-old...only missing two summers along the way. My dad has been coming here since he was a little boy and ditto for my grandfather. There's tradition here. There's history. There's family. This house is over 100 years old and the Evans family have been it's caretakers for only a fraction of that time...hopefully we will continue in that capacity for a long, long time.

This is where I really relax. I catch up on my reading, I sail, I swim, I waterski, I nap (a lot), and I space out. It's easy to lose track of time. One minute you're eating breakfast and the next time you glance at the clock, you realize that it's already Happy Hour. From sunrise to sunset to the middle of the night Muskoka is beautiful...see for yourself. Here are some previously classified images of the secret Evans family hideaway...enjoy.

He wants to know what happens too!
Tough game of Probe.
Not a Probe fan...
I was the only one to tame the wild bucking bronco swan!!