September 16, 2012

A Trip Supreme - Ottawa

Over two weeks have passed since our return; I have decompressed and can type objectively. Finding the right word to encapsulate the entire trip has proved elusive. Instead, like a good free jazz session, I will boil down the disparate, loosely defined elements to concoct a demi-glace of memories. Beware of the aftertaste as I offer only fleeting glimpses, banal thoughts, and silly sensations of our summer retreat to Canada.

Ottawa: lush and green despite local obsession with the “dry” summer (no wildfires threatening Kanata, now were there?). After four years since our last visit, I again appreciate the space and envy the ample elbowroom between people—an extrapolation of the expanses between cities, towns, and buildings. Curiously, only during this trip do I sense that the road lanes are definitely narrower than in cloistered Japan. Or maybe because the vehicle was larger? One warm evening, I introduced my family to the Britannia beach neighborhood and Naomi felt the same kinship with the place that I do. Must be the aquatic link and squadrons of shithawks patrolling the skies. Later that week, together with my brother and his girlfriend, we enjoyed a tour of the capital’s sightseeing spots while perched on a London-style double-decker tourist hauler. All the while, I ignored the ironic voices in my head and enjoyed the moment.

Family: The point of this trip was being with family. Every wonderful and occasionally exasperating moment of it. Mom made a tremendous effort to make us feel completely welcome: the downstairs bedroom was sparkling; a new bathroom was installed just for visitors, and this main course was topped off with an array of playthings for the Rising Daughters that would shame Toys ‘R Us. 

We sucked the marrow from the ten days. Examples: my extended family came for a mid-summer “Thanksgiving” dinner. Nearly two decades since I’d last seen my cousin M., who now has a very happy family not unlike my own. In general, Grampa and Nana did their best to keep the girls occupied.

We took a trip out to Calypso water park, which was splash-tastic. On the way back, we dropped in on some other relatives and found that my other cousin R and her husband had produced the cutest little girl on the continent: “L.” Here she meets “E” and “M”. We Are Family.

Old, Irreplaceable Friends: I am lucky to have remained friends with many fine people who tolerate our whirlwind visits with generosity of time and abundant humor. I am grateful that our personalities still jibe in defiance of the passage of time. We had a visit that featured mammoth, delectable burgers, and ample good cheer. Bringing family with me meant no booze, though, as did the afternoon time frame. With myself entirely to blame, such hyper-catch-up visits are like speed-dating except these are people I really want to talk/drink/swim with for more than a few hours. Next time!

Fishin’ and Drinkin’. This vacation timing was such that I could join the infamous Father-Son Camping Weekend that Steve-O and Dad have been attending over the years. Canoed in and out of the camp spot with my uncle Pat, who has a human hard drive of great stories from his globetrotting over the years. He was kind enough to mentor me on long-forgotten canoeing skills, otherwise I’d still be going around in circles on the lake. And no chicks allowed! Key words: canoe, bivouacking, beer, cussing without remorse, fish in beer batter, nasty snoring and enormous, horrifying farts issued with extreme prejudice.

The main leg of our trip home thus ended, and we lit out for Vancouver.

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