They’ve outdone themselves, that car rental company that starts with a “B” and rhymes with “fudge it.”
Well yes, our dog less sled did come with snow tires this time around, ( a novel concept for the for-mentioned organization), but my spider sense was tingling when our “service” agent mentioned there was a crack in the windshield, and that it was “the last vehicle if it’s kind” left.
The crack turned out to be a spiders web. Hence the senses tingling.
As luck and company practice would have it, we drive away entangled, seeing the Alaska Hwy. in the fifth dimension, or at the very least through five divisions of windshield.
But through the myriad of altered perspective, outside the web it’s gorgeous.
The northern light this time of year would make Rick Steves blush.
Stunning is the word to describe the mountains surrounding our Yukon River trail.
It’s 1 degree, and colder in Chilliwack than Whitehorse, who knew?
The two Earlies with our Mark’s Work Warehouse shields of environmental elemental protection,
Complete with Muk luks and Siberian winter crash helmets, are now peeling the layers off like an onion.
I’ve set our Zamboni’s interior climate control on “igloo”, and the radio dial is locked on country music.
It’s Day one of the Great White Northern tour, and we’re looking for a Superstore to get some sunscreen and flip flops, ( with winter tread mind you), don’t wanna slip on the ice.
As the summer sun folds up it’s beach blanket and puts away the sun tan lotion for another year, as the solstice slips into equinox’s autumnal slumber, we reflect on a few highlights of the long and dusty.
It started the May long weekend in Kelowna when it was already hot enough to cook 4 Spirit eggs on an outdoor frying pan stage.
Fortunately the OK valley dodged a few bullets this year and smoke season was but a smouldering ember of its past incinerating self.
The fruit was spared as were the weddings, and the Easies harvested a great batch of summer weekends.
We met a lovely bunch of folk along the way.
We got to share the stage with Valdy, Jim Cuddy, Jim Byrnes, Barney Bentall, Quinn and Christina Bachand, and were privy to amazing sets by Irish Mynhem, Birds of Chicago, Third World and The Hamiltones to name a few.
So now we’re stoked to kick the fall season right in the leaf bag.
We have 2 recorded new tunes which are being mixed as we speak, and we are looking forward to playing at a list of great new venues we’ve yet to stomp on.
Keep your eyes and ears open,
Can’t wait to see you soon.
Thanks for riding along with us fellow Spirits.
We're proud to welcome Vancouver-based vocalist Raquel Schmutter as a featured guest on March 30! We will perform at a private wedding and will feature Raquel as the lead vocalist on several numbers.
Our band invited several guests, some vocalists, to work on the Unrelated album, but this concert is an exciting milestone for us, as we have rarely done it live! We are always excited to welcome new collaborations such is this.
Raquel studies jazz music and performance at Capilano University, and she's starting her own performance activities in Vancouver. She can sing in English and French, so she's a great match for the band.
We also just joined the lineup for Festival d'Été de Vancouver, so see you in the summer!
As we draw the insulated curtains across the great frozen plains;
The Dawg Sled’s ready to be put on blocks.
We’re back to doors with multiple locks
Back where veggie burgers abound and vegan poutine rules the town
Blackberry Kombucha runs on tap.
Everyone takes an afternoon nap
Double double’s now a single shot, with a cinnamon dash served extra hot.
Wall to wall WiFi,
the cost of houses sky high,
No one has the means to pay,
But as the Scots are heard to say
“If a wis a bubble in yer bath
I’d tickle yer erse
And make ye laugh”
Thanks for riding along with us
on the long and winding
We’ll catch up to y’all
A little further down the road
Highway 23 back to Winnipeg is a portal to the past.
It’s a time tunnel through our childhood.
Our wonder years, complete with commercial soundtrack.
How do you handle a hungry man?
You may remember that catchy ad for frozen TV dinners The answer rang true “The Man Handler”.
It was the complete meal covering all the 60’s food groups; salt, fat and sugar.
There was nothing like a Man Handler, a glass of Tang, (cause the astronauts drank it), a Pop Tart for desert, and Bonanza on the television.
That was the 60’s in a box, conveniently packaged to save us trouble and keep us healthy.
Well, times have indeed changed,
Hoss, Little Joe, Adam and Ben have long gone sold the Ponderosa Ranch to their chef, who turned out to be a wealthy Chinese land developer.
As it turned out, Tang flavour crystals were really crystal meth, that’s how Major Tom turned into a junky.
But the Hungry Man lives to this day and is found at The 23 Diner in Baldur, Manitoba.
It now comes on 2 plates.
Not as convenient as the one stop, gobble it up, frozen tray, but truly more man handling.
Drop a dime in the juke box, play the Bonanza theme song and drift back to a simpler time.
A time when you’d watch commercials cause there were no “remotes” and you weren’t gonna get up and change the channel.
A time when radio played, (as my friend Bill Netdud once stated) not only songs about trucks, but also songs about people who drive trucks.
A perma ring memory of my adolescence spend in front of the TV (and later in front of Marshal stacks turned to 11. That would account for the permanent ring.)
Gday fella Spirits
After a lovely day off exploring Riding Mountain National Park, we’re back on the long and snow dusty.
One of the true blessings of being out here is the people we encounter.
It never ceases to amaze me how they open their doors and hearts to a couple of vagabond musos.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel across this stupidly big , bold and beautiful country more times than I can count. I’ve encountered tornadoes, ice storms, heat waves and blue skies so open and blue it would make you weep.
From Victoria to St. Johns, Elbow to Tuk, and as our song says “all points in between”.
Truly the most astounding and constantly surprising part of the journey is the people.
I know it’s all too easy to dwell on the “takers” of this world, those that have an agenda let’s say somewhat less than altruistic, those that seem to weasel their way to power, influence and infamy.
But it’s the “givers” that are the backbone. They”re the fabric of what holds this great tapestry of a nation together.
They’re not in your face, they’re usually in the shadows.
They step forward when needed and are supportive happily in a united sense of anonymity the rest of the time.
Mostly, they are friends.
And we’re so lucky to have em.
Reach out and hug a friend, Spirits
It’s the best part of this existential road trip.
And a great big tip of the toque to all those that have helped us “Earlies” keep it between the lines along this straight and narrow.
Gabriel is 2 for 2 rolling up his rim. Only a Canadian could know that is a good thing, not something from a bad porn flick.
This morning I found my previous day’s tea had transformed its last 1/4 cup into a perfect tea-cycle. Frozen solid, actually quite tasty.
Today we set the GPS to Birtle/ Foxwarren .The route comes up on screen, travel straight north 194 kms, then turn left.
Even our Aussie Siri is getting pretty tired of reminding us to “continue going straight ahead”
At Brandon, Aussie Siri cuts in “make a left here, and proceed through the Tim’s drive through”
Who’s gonna argue when there’s a winner under the lid, and a free Freddy Krueger Krueller waiting at the pick up window.
What I didn’t expect was a poster advertising Tim Horton’s Beer.
Tim’s beer! What a great idea, pull into the drive through and take away a growler of Tim’s “Hockey Brawl Lager”,or the “5 for Fighting Pale Ale.”
You can imagine my disappointment when upon putting on my glasses, the poster says Tim Horton’s Brier. That’s just not near as much fun.
Gabriel orders his winner coffee,
Aussie Siri orders a box of Timbits,
I order the “Power Play IPA”
I must remain master of my personal domain.
That is, I can’t continue to let my long underwear dictate.
So far it’s making the decisions regarding my external presentation,
my routes of option and pretty much all my leisure activities.
It’s become a part of my psyche that I fear has greater ambitions than its owner.
An underwear with a hidden agenda.
A trap door that’s letting it’s own power mongering ego slip in the back door.
A dictator who’s lust for power and control is running an undercover, undergarment covert coup d’être.
Let’s see how brave that rascal is when I finish waterboarding him,
Tide and bound, folded and quartered.
Keep the long-johns at bay, or at the very least, go back to the Bay buy another pair and restore a balance of power.
I can’t think of a more balancing food source than hot homemade soup.
So here we are at The Corner Pocket Cafe in Cartwright warming our bones and our hearts back to playing form over a steaming bowl of Cabbage soup.
It’s-30 (-45 with that rascally windchill hounding us).
The ball of fire in the sky emits no warmth, just light.
Warmth is a snowbird, it cannot exist in these temperatures, it’s gone to Arizona
That said it’s a glorious blue sky now after a two hour trip through white out purgatory.
So, with cabbage sustenance cursing through my veins, I’ll take on the devious thermal culprit, and put him through the wringer!
Through the maze of wind turbines, we land in Altona. It’s -23 and snowing; It’s perpetual winter. I feel like I’m in a Cormac McCarthy novel, somewhat post apocalyptic, yet homey and sweet. The Road is clear, no sign of ice or of Mad Maxillian marauders, just a diner that looks like it fell from space, from a planet long forgotten
As the locals say “the best restaurant in Altona is in Gretna”. (Gretna is a town 9kms east of here). Word is that you get your choice of red or green jello for dessert.
Tomorrow is a day off, hard to contain the overflowing possibilities of ways to spend it. Apparently there’s a water slide at the hotel. Ice fishing? The fish aren’t even crazy enough to think a real worm would be out in this weather. Or we could pull on our snowmobile suits and walk to the side of highway 59 to visit the world’s largest rendition of Van Gogh’s “sunflowers”. A little known Altona fact, when the installation was erected Van Gogh himself would have been there except a) he’d been dead for a hundred years and b) he was too worried about losing his ear to frostbite.
The sunflowers still stand tall against the southern Manitoba sky We decide to stay in and watch reruns of The Golden Girls and eat frozen fish and chips.
Gday Fella Spirits ,the Peg,
St. Vitel, just south of St. Boniface home of the Church of The Inverted Tornado. I can’t remember remember the true name of that church except it included “precious” and “blood”, two things close to my heart. (pun fully intended) and the fact that Pierre Elliot Trudeau would stop by time to time on his paddle trips up the river.
The church’s roof, looking like a giant conch shell, would unravel in time and the shakes would be strewn about like rice thrown after a wedding. It was an architectural flaw. But like all good flaws it made for drama and dialogue, essential in maintaining growth of a congregation.
In other words any press is good press. The church knew this formula a long time ago. They always hired the best “influencers”
I digress of course, that’ll happen after a week on the road, but my point being when controversy, be it in structure, religion, art or politics or even cardiovascular in nature, becomes the focal point of a venture, then expect adventure to follow. Hence, a trip south to Altona.
The Dawg Sled is plugged in and warming its jets and onward is the journey to just north of the North Dakota line. -32 be damned.
We gotta deliver the goods!
Hey fellow Spirits,