Yesterday, Yvette and I ventured up to a tiny village north of Ottawa to watch our favourite guitarist, Don Ross perform. The show was absolutely amazing, as always!
It took a while to decide which vehicle to take for the trip. Bob, our winter Samara, was sounding like a small airplane because of an exhaust leak. I didn't want to go up there in the boomy Niva after driving it for a week (we've had a lot of snow here lately). My wife's Corsica has been making some strange popping sounds under the hood. This was our first dilemma.
After some thinking, I realized that the Samara was definitely the best car to use. Other than the thundering roar of exhaust, it was in fine trim for the winter (and has the best radio - wink, wink).
I can now say that I've shopped at Frank's Lada in Ottawa! And, for the first time in my life, I actually had car work done at a garage! Okay, so it was only five minutes of car work and I never took my eyes off of the mechanic... but it's true. Realizing that we would be going through Ottawa, I called Frank's and found out that they had the two half-collars I needed to clamp the catalytic converter back on to the exhaut down-pipe. We left Montreal early enough so that we could stop in and pick up the parts. 13$ apiece, 30$ including tax for the two parts. Unfortunately, with only 5 minutes left on the clock before closing time, Frank's couldn't bolt them on for us.
Yvette was ready for dinner, but I was pretty sure that a nice crisp 20$ would motivate some garage owner to put our car up on his lift and replace that clamp. And so it was. We drove a mile down the road and stopped at the first garage we found. The youngfellow was helpful, although he didn't understand why I was so possessive of our fragile little ruby! In theend, he let me stand in the service bay as his mechanic knocked of the old collar and bolted up the new one. Phew... now the car was civilized again.
We had dinner at a fabulous Moroccan place around the corner from the Lada shop. The Dar Tajine on Preston. If you like tasty foreign food, they have a buffet dinner that is wonderful. It's whimsical and very colourful inside. We've been there before because we've attended theater at the GCTC around the corner.
With our bellies full, we headed off to the nearest Canadian Tire to take care of problem number 2... the flickering brake fluid light. It's amazing how much of that stuff I've used up over the last two years.
Our next hurdle turned out to be finding Quebec highway number 5 heading north. We went around in circles over the bridges for a while. This was the worst part of the trip for us. Ever notice how much anguish getting lost can cause! I really wish now that I had Stef's GPS in the car with me last night. Anyways, after asking a policeman (yes, it's true, I stopped and asked a policeman) we were finally on our way up 5. At least for a short while until we got all confused about the 5 and the 105. But then we figured that out and finally we were on our way. And even though we had tons of time to spare when we started out, it now looked like we'd be watching the show from the parking lot because we were way, way late! Way! Late! Curses!
And suddenly, all the lights went out! Oh, no, I'm sorry, I didn't mean our lights. Let me rephrase that. And then, suddenly, we're driving through the most desolate scenery that I've ever never been to. We're in some forest, going up some hills, and there isn't any human construct or form anywhere to be seen! Now I knew what the big gray area on our Yahoo Map printout was...
We're in some National Park or something. On a dark and cold winter's eve. With deer and moose signs all over the place. And we're late. And we're go ing uphill. I almost turned around. Do your cars go up hills any faster than 80km/h? None of mine do. Cursed 1.3L engines!
I have no idea why Wakefield, Quebec exists. The best I can imagine is that it's because of the ski hill. Finally getting out of the car, we were treated to a couple of very! interesting sights. Every light in the village seemed to shoot straight up into heaven. It was so absolutely fantastic! At first I thought that the pub had rented a searchlight and was pointing it up as advertising. There was a beautiful shaft of white light going straight up into the sky... and pointing to all of the brilliant stars above! Wow, stars! Stars! More stars! And more light beams? Many more light beams! The more I looked, the mroe I saw... both of stars and "searchlights". This was a very, very wonderful moment for me.
After a while, I figured it out. We were looking at the ski hill in the distance and noticed how all of it's lights were shining through different patches of moving fog. Lots of fog. That was weird. Why would there be fog? It finally dawned on me, they were using the snow guns! The snow hill was being sprayed with snow... and the very fine crystals were floating over the whole town. And the lights were all difracting up into the sky through the crystal fog. Very, very cool indeed.
So, Yvette finally pulls me into the warm pub. We notice that it's very, very full except for this one little table sitting right in front of the stage. The hostess tells Yvette that it's being used by the band, so we go off to the side and sit right in front of a four foot tall speaker. I'm not too worried about this. Don plays what he calls "Heavy Wood". The man is a genius with an accoustic guitar. In my opinion, the best guitarist on the planet. But he's not going to blow out our eardrums. Nonetheless, I mention this to my sweetie. And that was our saving grace. Yvette got friendly with hostess and the little table was ours! Yahoo!
Great, great show!!!
And then, at 1 o'clock in the morning, as planned, we get into our hushed up little car with our newly autographed CDs and we start making our way back home. The car starts well, runs like a dream. Bob was the right choice for this trip. Perfect. Wonderful. We gas up at the only station in Ottawa that's selling under 70 cents and we get on to the main highway for the two hour run to our home. A little coffee has warmed us up and is keeping me alert. Perfect. We're well out of the city and on our merry way. Perfect.
Except... all of a sudden... what's this?... why are we getting cold, cold air coming through the vents? Fiddle-fiddle. Yank-yank. Fiddle-fiddle. Oh no. No more heat. I tried all of the tricks. Tweaked all of the moving parts by hand. No heat. Thank God I bought that 12V heater at Canadian Tire for the Niva last week. Thank God it's in the back seat.
So, we plug in the little heater. It'll keep us from turning blue. We continue on our homeward journey. This isn't so bad. The windows are clear enough. We're agree, we're only mildly uncomfortable. No problem.
The little heater and the little fuse didn't get along so well. One of them died. A quick look at the blacked-out radio made it clear which one. So much for electric heat. I'll probably run some straight wires in to the cabin for this in the future.
Miraculously, a tiny trickle of heat was eking it's way out of the car's vents. I'm guessing at this point that our thermostat probably died. We perservered. Our feet got cold as we drove under blankets of shifting fog in the night but someone was looking out for us on our little adventure and we got home safe and sound at 3:15.
Lots of fun. Wonderful.
Irregardless of all the troubles and the excitement, the confusion and the strain... we both had a ball!
Oh yeah, and then Yvette lost her fabulous bracelet...
But, wait, this story can't end on such an unhappy note, can it?