Rain, rain

Blood and sand! That was a hair raising nine hours. The roads of Newfoundland are pockmarked like a pre-vaccination era smallpox survivor. And it was raining. Raining very hard indeed. So hard that the satellite connections were going down like victims of the Black Death. Fortunately we were carrying plenty of cash, so paying for food and gas wasn’t the problem it could so easily have been. Did I mention the aquaplaning? Jeebus, I might as well have been surfing. The wheel was almost kicked out of my hands at even moderate speeds, and led to our journey time being extended by at least an hour and a half.

I don’t normally mind rain, and BC but this time the Atlantic weather really chucked it down. I was only mildly surprised not to hear pained miaowing and yapping as cats and dogs bounced off our little tin box while we alternately drove and skidded most of the way from the finger of Newfie-land down to the Avalon Peninsula.

Apparently the Western side and perhaps all sides of Newfoundland are subject to a phenomenon known as the ‘Wreckhouse winds‘, winds so strong they on one occasion, pushed 22 freight wagons off the rails. Local legend has it that these hurricane plus force gusts have toppled parked vehicles and the occasional locomotive over. Whether the Gods of Wreckhouse were active that day I do not know, but do I know that driving conditions were as difficult as anything I can recall, even over Shap Fell on the M6 on a really bad winter day. Possibly even more so. Our little Subaru normally shrugs off wind and rain like they don’t exist, but that day all bets were off.

Anyway, we made our destination, somewhat belatedly, in one piece and parked up in a sheltered place to recover from our travel tribulations over a bottle of Cabernet and a nice meal. The following day it was almost sunshine all the way. Apparently this is average for this time of year. These Newfies must be made of tough stuff if they can cope with this sort of weather.

Newfoundland is a strange place, hostile, then with a twitch of the veil the sun shines and it’s utterly gorgeous. Rather like the North West of Scotland. And the mossies and no-see-ums are just as fearsome as the notorious Scottish highland midge, an insect so aggressive that when one is captured in a jar it will attempt to beat itself to death. However, two Newfoundland midges were reputed to have got into a fight over a particularly tasty moose and laid waste to half a hectare of trees. However, that is supposedly the stuff of folklore, but having seen the real thing I’m not so sure.

Pass the Benadryl and put in a bulk order for Deet. A Lobster dinner is beckoning. For your amusement, please view the following two videos.

Yes Prime Minister Global Warming etc Part 2 from Aris Motas on Vimeo.

How to?

Mrs S and I converse about a lot of things in the car, and to amuse my one remaining reader, I would like to enlarge. Yesterday we were heading south, me at the wheel dodging the plague of potholes on the 430 from L’Anse Aux Meadows when she asked me; “Bill, what sex is an iceberg?”
Caught off guard for a moment I mentally scratched my head before replying. “I have no idea.” I confessed honestly.
“Ships are usually referred to as ‘she’.” My good lady enlarged. “But what about icebergs?”

My wife likes to challenge me with these apparent non-sequiturs from time to time. I think she likes to keep me on my mental toes. As in ‘tenterhooks’. In the German Medieval sense. Nastily inventive people those medieval Germans. The English version comes from around the same period in the 15th & 16th Centuries when torture was considered de rigeur for all those pointed little questions like “When did you last talk to that heretic Luther?”

“Erm. I didn’t think icebergs had a gender. Ships, yes. Even cars. Bugger.” Was the answer forced out from between my teeth as I failed to miss a brace of suspension rattlers.
“Yes, that’s true. As inanimate objects they wouldn’t.” Was she testing me to see if I was getting bored with driving? Okay. I thought I’d throw out a few ideas.
“Upon reflection.” I said as we cleared the trees and the sea, with it’s complement of blue-green masses of ice hove into view like ghosts on the horizon in the mist. “Perhaps icebergs could be described as female. Sedate. Queenly. Even regal.” I averred carefully.
“And cold?” She joked.
“Definitely.” I replied. “At least until they melt.” Maybe there was an oblique message in the original question. Which is giving me pause for thought. We have had cross words in the last week or so and apologies have been made, but I have the feeling all is still not well in our relationship.

Now I know she’s not happy with our current accommodation (And neither am I), and this neck of the woods is a bit remote for her, (and me) but I’m getting the distinct feeling I’m in deep trouble. However, in keeping with my policy for these remoter sections of our epic road trip, I’ve booked us in for a nice spa break near St Johns for the day after tomorrow. Maybe that will get me out of the hole I appear to be in. Or the potholes that have had me swerving like a drunk to avoid our cars suspension being shattered, at the very least.

A few miles later while slowed to avoid yet more of these bloody potholes, we were treated to the spectacle of the RCMP making an arrest on the other side of the road as we drove by. Handcuffs, the whole thing. Which sparked off another discussion. Further questions about iceberg sexing were forgotten.

Icebergs and Vikings

Well there’s a turn up. I’ve seen my first iceberg. Only a grounded tide-rolled growler less than thirty metres across about a hundred metres offshore, but more than enough cold stuff to chill a million Martinis. Oh all right, officially it was a ‘Bergy bit‘ but it was cold and made of ice, so in my book it counts as an iceberg. So there. There’s actually a web site that tracks them, here. Cute or what?

Today we’ve sighted enough ice to keep Vancouver nicely chilled and am still blown away by the sedate blue green majesty of these berg cast offs. On the way back to our hotel we saw a Catalina PBY on display. Right in the middle of a tiny Newfoundland town. And the two Moose on the roadside. One of which stayed still long enough to let Mrs S catch it’s image before doing a lolloping high step into the brush and swamp at the roadside. Pictures will follow as soon as we’re home to my photo-editing software.

Well this is the area first settled by Northern Europeans in the 10th Century AD. At least the first evidence thereof. Other suspected sites have been found further North on Baffin Island and South at Rosee Point, Newfoundland. Indeed, Norse sagas specifically describe three lands; Helluland (Baffin Island) Vinland (Newfoundland) and Markland (Labrador). And if you read this article, a 10th century Norse coin was found at a North American Indian settlement as far back as 1957. Nineteen fifty seven? Sixty years ago and no one’s made a big deal out of it? Bloody hell. That’s like being told the Holy Grail actually exists and gets used as a toothmug by a Mrs E.Thrigg of Acacia Avenue, Watford, UK who picked it up at a bring and buy sale.

Mind you, I can see why the Vikings picked up and left after only a decade. This part of the world is a desolate place, despite Corner Brook & the northern tip of Newfoundland being rated as one of the most beautiful drives in Canada, at least according to the Canadian Book of Lists. Yeah, right. The bumper crop of potholes might put a crimp in that experience. We passed salt burned, stunted trees with blackened trunks, salt marshes and acres of rocks with little or nothing growing. I also hear tell the Norsemen kept on getting into spats with the local tribes over trade, so in the end the Vikings simply called it a day and buggered off back to Iceland and Greenland. Why? Because even in June it’s cold as a witches tit up here in the Northern finger of Newfoundland, with piles of snow still hanging around from Winter, even after solstice.

While I was asking some of the locals about why it was so unseasonably cold and damp, some elderly woman opined, quite seriously, that it must be caused by ‘global warming’. Sorry, but I almost laughed out loud. Some people are so brainwashed and ignorant that they’re inadvertently quite funny. Especially when the there’s more ice in the bay than usual. So tomorrow we’re doing like the Vikings did. Getting the hell out to warmer climes and stuff the scenery.

Bear fifteen

Another Black Bear sighted legging it across the road a scant two hundred metres ahead of our speeding metal box in of all places, Newfie-land. Or rather Newfoundland. A spectacular place in the early morning light. At present drying out like an old time British rail sandwich, but not quite curling at the edges.

Crap overnight ride in on the ferry with no air conditioning. Even in our cabin we almost found it too hot to sleep. The weather has turned summer in a single day, as it is wont to do in this part of the world. The air heavy, like warm wet silk on your skin. So much so that after the morning fog lifts it’s almost suffocating. Scenery a bit like the nicer parts of the north west of Scotland. With even less habitation and warmer weather, at least in Summer.

Watching the UK news in the comics can make you shake your head in despair. Buildings with cheap ‘green’ insulation going up in flames, all to save two squid a square whatever. So much for eco-friendly, eh? Not the Tories fault, more the housing association and local functionaries from what I can make out. Shonky upgrades made the building vulnerable, so with Grenfell the worst has happened. Rather like with Ronan Point in the 60’s.

This is the thing about the state taking responsibility for more and more. Eventually you get total wankstains like Corbyn blaming the party in power for anything and calling for a ‘coup’ just days after his party failed to gain an electoral majority. Oh the faux-outrage, oh the virtue signalling, oh the posturing. Makes you want to vomit.

On the BREXIT front, the Brussels mafia have scented blood in the water and are going to offer less acceptable terms from their kamikaze negotiating team. Seriously, if May hangs on in there and is forced into a ‘Hard’ or no deal pull out, the EU will be hurt ten times as much as the UK. But that won’t matter to the Eurocrats. Their global ambitions have been snubbed and pride wounded by the rebellious Brits, so they want to punish those perfidious albionites. Someone should remind them about the meaning of a pyrrhic victories. Frankly the story is this; in the case of a ‘hard’ BREXIT the UK can simply set up shop as a free market and offshore banking haven right on Europe’s doorstep and the money will flood in. If Madame Tracey has the guts to do it. Short term pain, long term, big gain.

As for that bloke from Wales giving back what has been dealt out by radical Islamists, like the radical Islamists he went for the entirely wrong target. Colour me un-surprised. The radical Islamists take it out on UK civilians and everyone acts all surprised when there’s a backlash? Don’t they understand the nature of the native British? Britain, like most European nations, is a seething pot of low level resentment. Give them enough of a sting and they’ll turn on you. Of course running down people in the street was a stupid act, but so were the terrorist attacks that gave him the idea. Quid pro quo, Clarice. Quid pro quo, said he in his best Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter impersonation.

The remedy of course is in the hands of ordinary Muslims. They must be more active and vocal in outing the radicals. Same as any other minority group must be. Disown the radicals publicly, turn in the crazies to plod and in turn assimilate. Which means no more calls for ‘Sharia’ law etc, if they want to live under that regime there are plenty of hard line Muslim states to move to, or they will burn in the resulting inferno. And that fire will burn worse than Grenfell Tower.

The rewards for assimilation are great; the penalty for irritating a host population greater. Hey, but I’m just a blogger. An over fifty with a keyboard and a set of hard formed opinions. No one’s going to bother to listen to someone like me who bothers to read history and has seen a lot of this stuff before.

Stuff it. This morning we’re off northbound to the turnaround point on this epic road trip. Into the land of Northern Lights, trees, sea and yet more Bears. Of which, in the words of Otto Hairybreeks, Skald to Leif Ericcsson when they first set up in this neck of the woods; “But boss, there’s bugger all here but Cod and Skraelings, and too much seafood brings me out in a rash.” Ericcsson’s reply is not recorded.

Five Bears and a Moose

Have made it across Ontario , dodging the occasional item of wildlife that’s forgotten their membership of the Tufty club. Bright sunny skies, rocks and trees as we scootled Ottawa bound for a brief rest stop and pause for breath before launching into Quebec.

Well chums, we’ve crossed a lot of Ontario and it’s still full of trees, rocks, lakes and the odd human. As far as the insect life is concerned, there’s been a lot of that too, and those little suckers are hungry. Indeed we’ve woken up on several mornings to find the outside of our hotel room windows plastered with famished looking mossies and no-see-ums crooning softly to be let in to feast on our winsome flesh. It’s also quite eerie to see them clustering in clouds around our wing mirrors at traffic stops attempting to get at us like zombies coming over for a meat feast special.

As the title implies we’ve sighted another five Black bears. A mother and yet another two cubs in a culvert at the side of Highway 11, peacefully munching away. Another likewise indulging it’s appetites. (What is it about ditches and Canadian wildlife?) and a fifth legging it across the highway like all hell was in pursuit, forcing the car in front of us to brake heavily to avoid a radiator full of Ursine panic. A young Bull Moose was spotted in broad daylight. Sorry no pictures, but I haven’t any decent picture processing tools on this laptop. I’ll create a new set of pages when we get home with some of the pictures and observations.

Watched the UK election campaign with interest. Was amazed Corbyn’s Labour party even got in the running. But considering the campaign run by the incumbent and her party’s policies, is it any surprise they missed an open goal? Now the UK has a hung parliament, which fortunately means little bill passing, so if they don’t focus on BREXIT, the Tories are toast. With old school radical labour in the wings coming to trash the economy. Not an edifying prospect.

It’s cost me money of course. On the near Tory defeat the pound took a three cent tumble, so I ‘lost’ about $20,000 on the exchange rate, but markets always panic like stereotypical teenage girls in a slasher movie. When the fuss is over, by the end of the month things will stabilise, and my ‘loss’ will disappear. Put not thy faith in Prices, young Bill. The Bear market isn’t over by a long chalk, and the obese person of gender has yet to start practicing for her aria.

Well, Mrs S and I are currently enjoying the louche charm of Quebec city now, having paused in Ottawa for a quick tootle round the usual sights. Lots of construction going on in the federal capital. We can see where the money is being spent. But honestly I prefer the slightly scruffy, quasi-French charm of Quebec. Paris it ain’t, but at the moment, with all the trees in leaf, it’s a very pretty place.

One last thing; in a business conversation the other day about west coast matters, I was introduced to the amusement of the New Age Bullshit generator and it’s more corporate counterpart, the corporate buzzword generator. Both produce complete and utter woo, but the only problem is that there are far too many room temperature IQ’s who uncritically believe in that sort of thing. And what’s worse is that they have actual political and financial power. Horrified shudder.

Oh well

Catch ya later.

Oh by the way, if you want to ‘cite’ a scientific looking ‘paper’ to generate even more lefty-think nonsense try this bullshit generator which can conjour up all manner of pseudo science. Just one thing; it does look eerily similar to the real thing. Oo-er.

Ontario

Well we’re well over half way now to Newfoundland now and in the same time zone as New York. With a scenic Rocks and trees. Trees, rocks and Muskeg while making frequent stops and transatlantic phone calls to assure ourselves that Youngest and friends are all fine. I think the news is so far so good.

So here’s a quick musical interlude describing what Northern Ontario is still like. Even if some of the small towns we visited on our first run across in ’07 have had an upgrade, and some a downgrade. Some of the places I can recall exactly where we stayed, others have changed so much that they are little more than a blur. The rocks and the trees persist.

Oh yes, and we saw our first Moose grazing in a heavily shadowed patch of swamp at the side of highway 17. That and a red 18 wheeler on its side on the other side of the road with an upside down trailer. Five klicks on two Police cars were spotted incoming followed by two ambulances and two fire and rescue vehicles. As we paused at a gas station half an hour later the second Ambulance was seen returning to base, which probably meant there wasn’t more than one casualty. Hope the truck driver wasn’t too badly hurt. It didn’t make the online news, so I’m assuming he got off with a few bumps and bruises at worst. Which is a good thing. Mrs S tried to warn oncoming drivers to slow down by flashing our lights. Which isn’t much, but sometimes ‘not much’ is the best you can do.

Oh the humanity

In Winnipeg this morning touring the ‘Canadian Museum of Human Rights‘ where I feel they were missing an exhibit. A small headstone inscribed thus; “Free speech in Canada. Killed by M103 and Bill C16 May 2017. Let ’em Bleed.” The last phrase in that epitaph being borrowed from our current PM’s daddy talking about the heavy crackdown on Quebec separatists back in 1970. Which reminds me somewhat of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. It should be noted that junior is not a patch on daddykins. Although he’s quite capable of getting us into a similar mess.

I was quite intrigued to see the mass murderer Che Guevara lauded in said museum. Someone missed the memo there. Old Che was a nasty piece of work, more in the category of oppressor than oppressed. More Pol Pot than Mohandes K Ghandi. He may be a favourite on your student unions wall, but read up on what he and Castro really did to Cuba. Guevara ended up shot in Bolivia, which couldn’t have happened to a more deserving case. Castro garnered a fortune from the suffering of the Cubans under communism. Don’t believe me? Look it up.

Yes, they included the Holodomor, the name given to the deliberate starvation of 7-12 million Ukrainians 1932-3 by Stalin, but the Holocaust or Shoah 1938-45 which is credited with around 6 million deaths gets way more shelf space. Maybe the Nazis had better press agents than the Communists. I don’t know. The slaughter of Poles in events like Katyn and various other bits of extreme WWII nastiness were omitted, maybe through lack of space. And if the museum had a section on the Rape of Nanking I must have missed it. Yet it’s not as though the museum is short of space. Space is what occupies it.

Overall the museum itself is an architectural masterpiece more inside than out. Beautiful open spaces lauding those historical figures who demonstrate the best part of humanity with the aforementioned exception scumbag Guevara. The garden of contemplation could have done with a few more Japanese elements in my opinion but generally served as a quiet place to stop and think about the general thrust of the exhibits. Mostly about the lack of books in the gift shop. Now for a museum of human rights I’d have stocked it with the works of every related volume on the law code of Hammurabi through Socrates, Aristotle and Cicero to Tom Paine and Bertrand Russell. Did we see anything but lip service to these noted thinkers? No. Just toys and the usual gift shop tat. So in that sense it left me a little underwhelmed and only served to cement some of my own thinking about the absolute need for freedom of expression as enshrined in article 18 of the fundamental declaration of human rights and in particular article 11 about the right to a fair trial, which is something lacking when it comes to the CHRC. Human rights, huh? Whose? For a country that purports to believe wholeheartedly in the rights of the individual, such a court of the star chamber should be a mark of shame.

After visiting the very top of the central tower for a quick dose of vertigo but splendid views of the city, we dodged out as the freak show (Pride week) next door got properly underway. The one thing that struck me was the majority of the attendees appeared young(ish) and predominantly female(ish). There were a few children there too. A few corporate sponsors cashing in on the Pink Dollar, well the more well-heeled attendees tend to have a high disposable income so why not?

Lots of bright colours and balloons like an attempt at a kind of poor persons Mardi Gras. Very festive. Although not the kind of thing I’ve ever been interested in. Doesn’t matter what I think about it anyway. They’ll all have died out in fifty years or so. Maybe these proclivities are natures way of editing the gene pool? Lots of unconsummated sexual activity means that those who don’t breed die out. Anyway, that’s all rather academic unless some form of politically mandated cloning comes about.

However, the one thing that really struck me about Winnipeg was the state of the roads within the city. Winnipeg is a beautiful city with much to commend it architecturally, fabulous green spaces, lots of trees, a superb foot bridge just across the way but when you get up close and personal it’s crumbling kerbs and poorly maintained city streets which tell the real story of low infrastructure investment of a city in real decline. Once we got back out onto Highway 1, we could see Federal money being spent on resurfacing the main highway, but inside the huge square ring road, the rot was obvious, like a tooth dying from the inside out.

Which is a shame.

Cruise control and wide open skies

One of the things that we don’t generally use on our car is the cruise control feature. Until yesterday when I was getting bored with the unending flatness of rural Manitoba and clicked on the ‘cruise’ button on the steering wheel followed by the ‘Set Coast’. There was a sense of the accelerator pedal developing a mind of it’s own, then as I gingerly pulled my right foot off, our little Subaru took over, taking care of all the throttle controls, leaving me nothing else to do but hold onto the steering wheel. Now when it comes to driving I’m a bit of a control freak, I don’t like not knowing exactly how much pedal goes to the metal or which gear I need to be in.

Like with riding a motorcycle, you are not really a rider, your machine should really become no more than an extension of your own body. Your hindbrain takes care of the weight distribution, line into corner, throttle, gear and so on, and the bike provides the power and grip, letting your higher brain functions enjoy the ride, occasionally making conscious decisions like trying to scrape your sidestand on a particularly fast left or right hand bend. Depending on which side your sidestand is fitted of course, unless of course you own a particular model of Vincent, which is one of the few motorcycles ever to be fitted with two sidestands. Saw one back in the 80’s on the ferry to the Isle of Man TT races. Something to do with rapid wheel changes as I recall. The guy who owned it did admit his machine had been modified, and joked about it being one of the ultra-rare ‘White Lightnings’. Although I think what he really had was a repainted Black Shadow.

Any old road up, after that brief sashay down memory lane, back to the main thrust as it were.

It’s a bit disconcerting to find yourself sailing up hill and down dale at the same speed without your right foot being involved. But after a while you get used to it. It even becomes fun. So after the initial discombobulation I simply sat back and enjoyed myself cruising across the (very) flatlands of Southern Manitoba until we arrived for tonights stopover in Winnipeg. Holding on to the steering wheel, for want of anything else to do, chatting idly to Mrs S as the scenery rolled on by under magnificently cloud decorated skies, chasing the coat tails of a recent storm.

In our hotel we checked the news as is our wont, and were greeted by the grim item of another couple of terrorist attacks in London. So we got on the phone to Youngest to check that she was okay, which she was. Reading further I noted with grim satisfaction that the attackers sponsors both for Manchester and London, are about to get a very nasty shock. The real dogs of war have been set on their trail, no doubt with orders not to mess around and dispose of any evidence without fuss. I would not like to be in the Islamists traditional dress right now. A lot has been learned since the Gibraltar Fiasco, when three IRA murderers got offed in public on their way to attack an army band giving a concert. I am led to believe matters are dealt with a little more discreetly nowadays. While the PR team do the flashy stuff like jumping out of helicopters for the cameras, the hard core specialists will be down at street level disposing of the garbage.

At which point I’m moved to comment that sometimes society at large needs the protection of its meanest sheepdogs, and with the Daesh facing annihilation in their current domicile, they are lashing out in desperation, exposing their UK operatives and networks with these last ditch terror attacks. Of course the terrorists eventual demise will be no comfort to their victims, or the inevitable collateral damage to the innocent, but digging out a cancer like the Islamists can be a messy business and not always possible without amputation, even with the best of surgeons. Sad but true.

Just hope Youngest doesn’t get caught up in the resultant mess, that’s all. Despite the fact that she’s old enough and wise enough to make her own life choices, we still worry. Why? We’re parents and worrying is part of the job.

Anyway, it’s past bed time and my presence in same is being demanded.

TTFN

Back roads and pizza

Alberta is a completely different place to the one we first experienced when we did this trip almost ten years ago. Did I mention I’ve driven the trans-Canada end to end before? Must have done. All the way from Port Alberni in the far West of Vancouver Island to the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in the east. And it’s the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary since Canada began the process of confederation. About seven thousand five hundred Kilometres or a shade over four thousand seven hundred miles. Each way. In a ten year old Ford van. Mrs S, me and the dog, sleeping on an inflatable mattress on top of our worldly belongings. Beating up the highways and navigating with an out of date Michelin road map book across the flatlands.

Today found us scooting along arrow straight secondary roads past farms, woodland and fields in a six year old Subaru, (would you believe we’ve had it since new?) Mrs S at the wheel having all the fun. This part of Alberta isn’t as flat as it is along Highway One, on more northerly routes the land undulates gently like a gentle swell on the ocean. It’s a perfect landscape for a certain sport. Like God had decided this is where he wanted all the golf courses put. Not much traffic, but the cops were around so we stuck to the speed limit. Not that we would ever break it, heaven forfend. It just gets a little bent sometimes. But only slightly, honestly officer.

Even so we arrived at our next overnight on the Saskatchewan border two hours early, dined on very nice pizza and red wine and my policy of booking really good hotels after long and otherwise dull journeys paid off. This nights stopover put us in a King bedroom suite no less with two TV’s we don’t have to switch on, an absolutively bloomin’ big bed with a sod off big leather sofa in case either one of us snores too loudly.

Which turned out well. Unlike the UK election debate. What happened to Madam Tracey? I read in via my FT subscription that she was a no-show and had sent along the Home Secretary and even then Corbyn was fashionably late? What on earth is going on over there? Does Tracey want to miss an open goal? Are the UK Conservatives pacing themselves for a last minute surge? Or is this just tactics? There’s not enough information available to reach meaningful conclusions, especially as we’re on the move.

The other big news story as we speed across the midwest of Canada is Trump pulling out of the hideous Paris Climate accord which is the biggest wealth transfer con in history. I’m inclined to describe the Paris accord, without hyperbole, as the crime of the century, asset stripping the productive world to give a few powerful people and their proxies all their disposable income. Well, because it’s only fair, innit? It’s why certain Billionaires have been observed to be funding their own networks of advocacy groups. As well as funding media whores like Bill Nye and David Suzuki to push their message in a touchy-feely way. Which begs the question; when is a crime not a crime? To which the answer is; when politicians do it.

Arrgh!

Woken at ugodly hour by the hotels fire alarm making an ear piercing, screeching noise that propelled me out of bed down to reception. Then there was the additional sound of running water inside the wall between our room and the bathroom. Jesus H Christ on a Speed Twin! I thought the damn wall was going to come in. This morning I felt like I had a serious hangover. Tired, woolly headed and seriously out of sorts. Checked out of the hotel with only an insincere apology from the staff and got the hell out of Dodge. However, an hour, two coffee’s and one Red Bull later I began to return to my usual irascible self.

Eventually we found that the cause of the issue, and thus my lack of blessed repose, was down to a compressor failure on the sprinkler system caused by a lightning strike on a remote power line. The surge had caused the sprinkler system compressor to fail and the failure had set off the shrieking alarm. We were lucky it hadn’t triggered the bloody sprinkler system. Heavens to Murgatroyd! This was a newly built hotel. Had the hotel builders never heard of surge protection? Especially when their electrickery comes from the storm-prone Rockies. Argh!

As an aside, I’m beginning to take a distinct dislike to most hotel ‘breakfasts’. Rubbery scrambled eggs devoid of any real taste and something supposed to be cooked ham, but might as well be salty tofu. In establishments that advertise themselves as having three stars no less. It’s like this particular standard of hostelry are trying to shave more and more off the bottom line and are trying to tempt people in with the promise of a free meal. Better that they didn’t provide anything at all. Tim Hortons or McDonalds provide much better fare. Anyway, we’re moving on, and leaving such unpleasantries firmly in the rear view mirror.

On the plus side, on our way to our next port of call we discovered one of Alberta’s hidden secrets; lake resorts. Small communities off the beaten tracks where there are beaches and water sports facilities hundreds of miles from any coast. Quite smart little places with everything from grocery, drug and liquor stores to their own Police Station. Restaurants, bars, all that is necessary to refresh the hungover traveler. We sat and enjoyed the view at one such, just sitting and reading in the shade. Me ploughing through Ernest Hemingway’s ‘Death in the Afternoon’ and Mrs S enjoying what she calls ‘a right bodice ripper’. I think it’s called ‘Outlander’ or some such. It makes her laugh anyway.

Also on the positive side there is news of a successful temporary treatment for Autism from a group of researchers in San Diego. It’s not a cure, but the old treatment for Sleeping Sickness, Suramin, has proven to bring positive effects for all of those given the treatment in a double blind trial. While it’s not a real cure, what these human trials have achieved that there is hope for the 1 in 68 afflicted, and once they’ve identified exactly which brain chemistry triggers are responsible for ASD, a better and more permanent treatment can be developed.

Despite a rough start, not a bad day, all things considered. And the sun is shining. Yeah.

Expatriate expostulations from Canada; a.k.a. A Sarcastic man abroad trying to stay in the middle of the road without getting run over.

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