Monday, July 26, 2010

5 Telltale Signs You've Been Traveling Too Long

Sometimes it takes months and sometimes only a week or two, but eventually even the hardiest traveler breaks down. If you are guilty of any of the following, it might be time to unpack your bag and stay somewhere awhile:

1. There's an amazing cultural event going on or you are mere blocks away from a major sight but you decide to stay at your hotel and watch Dumb and Dumber for the third time instead.

2. You are confused by all the emails clogging your inbox that seem to have come from another time space continuum. Bosses? Friend's relationship problems? Dogs dying? I think they're serving dog at the restaurant next door . . .

3. One or more items of your clothing is being held up or held together by safety pins, duct tape or dental floss. Bonus point if one of these items are your underwear.

4. You no longer speak normal English but say everything very slowly, enunciating simple words in un-grammatically correct sentences so that everyone will understand you, even when talking to other English speakers. You say "very" a lot.

5. You look anything like the above photo and think you're normal. Yes, that's mud on my face and a snake in my hand. When you start to act like jungle Jane (or George), it's probably time for a break.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Experiencing Halifax Pride at the Annual Dykes Vs Divas Softball Game

Being from San Francisco, nothing makes me like a city more than a good gay pride event. I'll only catch the first few days of Halifax Pride Week, the third biggest in Canada but lucked out by being here for one of its highlights: the Dykes Vs Divas softball game where butch lesbians are pitted against drag queens.

I know nothing about softball and baseball other than the fact that I'm bad at it so it was a treat to see a game where the players were as clueless and un-talented as me; add high heels and wigs on the Divas and it was pure comedy.

The divas began by setting up a hibachi grill at third base and a make-up station at second. As outfielders many chose not to use mitts but to try to catch the balls with their handbags instead (and it worked once). The highlight for them was obviously before the game when they got to pose for pictures and sell and sign their own signature baseball cards. All the proceeds go to local charities.

Once the game was in full swing it was obvious the divas were going to get obliterated by the dykes. The dykes, being nice girls at heart started giving extra innings to the divas and a couple of them even went out and played outfield for them while their macho sisters were at bat. Soon though the tables were turned when the divas discovered if you're hurt by the ball you gain a base so they would just let the ball hit them, drama up some pain then sexy-saunter up to first.

A picnic got set up in the outfield and the Divas kidnapped a dyke and forced make-up on her at first. The very camp MC was getting progressively drunker and no one could remember the score. On a few good plays "Heidi" dressed like the St Pauli Girl, slid into base loosing her wig. The comically skanky "China White," started loosing her shorts nearly exposing her "mangina" much to the horror even of her own team. The ball jokes were degrading and the idea that that was supposed to be a family event was loudly questioned.

At around this point I was getting brutally sunburned so I left before the game was over. Perhaps this was journalistically unprofessional but no one else was taking themselves seriously so why should I? I have no idea who won but it didn't seem to matter. The point was to generate an audience and create an event where a diva could change costumes numerous times. The dykes seemed happy to just play ball.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Loveliness and Ugliness of Anne

Never in my travels have I been to a place that is so personified by a fictional character. Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada's smallest province, is as sweet and red-headed (thanks to iron oxide in the soil) as Anne Shirley, the lively heroine of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series. Cavendish, Lucy Maud's home and the setting for the books, is now the province's biggest attraction.

Anne fans from around the world make the pilgrimage to Cavendish looking for the down to Earth country spots described in the books, often with Anne's made up place names like "The Lake of Shining Waters," and the "White Way of Delight." The irony is that nearly every place in PEI lives up to these dreamy expectations of bucolic bliss except Cavendish. Sure all of Lucy Maude's old haunts are there from her birthplace and home to her grandfather's house - and these are lovingly restored to be quaintly beautiful - but somewhere in time, tourism went wonky and someone decided to set up a tacky tourist strip not unlike San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. Spread out along a well-spaced out strip of highway there's a Ripley's Believe It Or Not, an Anne theme park, a water park, amusement park, indoor blacklight mini-golf and a wax museum to name a few. In between are the charming houses of yesteryear filled with old photos and small town stories of a talented woman who loved her island for its simplicity and natural beauty.

Lucy Maud's love of her natural surroundings inspired her books, her books have inspired possibly millions of young girls, many who come to visit, and the visitors inspired tourism to pave the whole damn place over for tour bus parking. It's a common story I suppose and really Cavendish isn't as garish as I'm making it sound, it could just be so much prettier. I hope that at some time the area will develop more towards what Lucy Maud loved and wrote about that inspired dreams of simple happiness to generations. I'd love to see a botanical garden theme park with real flowers and lakes lit by the sun and the rain with cute little benches, rose bushes and weeping willows, all animated by real happy children running around and playing in the dirt. I'd bring a picnic and Lucy Maud I think would smile at us.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Moose-Jam on the Cabot Trail

Ah, Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Highlands National Park: long stretches of winding road, few cars and pristine pine forest in all directions. But all it takes is one moose on the side of the road and suddenly the Cabot Trail forms a traffic plug.

I may sound like I'm heckling but I am no better than the RV, car-camping crowd. I stopped, ran over to the other side and got my prize photo of the moose's rear end.


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