Archive for July, 2011

31 Jul

Muddy and approachable

In blog by Michael Phillip Wojewoda / July 31, 2011 / 0 Comments

I think I know why slowing down and stopping in the middle of a journey is hard to do when on a trip like this.
The very presence of the muddy motorcycle and my riding cloths provide enough visual backstory to allow people to feel comfortable talking to me. I am somehow vetted and approachable. Perhaps there is also some ancient notion of solo travelers as vulnerable and in need of some contact. That kind of social feedback would allow me to feel more at ease to initiate encounters myself.
Either way it has given me a false sense of my own openness. Now that the bike is parked and I am walking around the city in jeans and a t-shirt ( there is no room to pack fancy cloths on a trip like this) that lonely soul in the city feeling has returned. Just another schmo in sneakers. Hmmm.
Or maybe the cart is pulling the horse. Perhaps just by being in this city it’s triggering an inwardness. Not sure.
As always I am sure it is a combination of the the two.

I know that I am here to work so I will give over to that fully. Creative work can also be a great balm for the soul, no?
Once again, drop the shoulders and try to sleep in the dentists chair.

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30 Jul

Theatre good and bad.

In blog by Michael Phillip Wojewoda / July 30, 2011 / 0 Comments

Saskatoon Fringe Festival.
(warning: I will say ‘bastard’ three times in this post)

I was sitting watching a really bad play about Edith Piaf’s half sister thinking about hardships and the wisdom that comes from them.
Piaf and her sisters story was being told by a young actor as if they were boring dates in Canadian history. Just rattling off lurid and sad details of an exceptional life with no sense of meaning or proportion. Sort of spoken in classic teenage upspeak. It was obvious that the lead actor has had little or no crushing life experience herself from which to draw from. In her defense she did sing the songs in a beautiful opera trained voice. The actual emotions of the songs were still embedded in the melodies and (french) lyrics as if… bugs in amber. While she sang I felt something. Once the song was over it was back to listening in on a teenage sleepover.
So there I sit, a disappointed audience member wishing that the actor had suffered more in her own life just so I could enjoy the play. What I selfish bastard I am.
Then it occurred to me that I should wish her a life devoid of hardship (no matter how romantically she is drawn to it) and to trade it all in for ignorance and naiveté. I am sure her story will lie somewhere in-between.

The other play I saw was absolutely fantastic. Entitled,” Giant Invisible Robot”. A one hander written and performed by Jayson MacDonald. Funny and tragic in spades. It is always a joy to see someone so deft at their shit. I guess his well runs deep. Poor bastard.

I have arrived in Regina at Jason’s home. I will start editing backing vocals and prepare to start recording in a day or two.

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29 Jul

Gotta pee… friends

In blog by Michael Phillip Wojewoda / July 29, 2011 / 0 Comments

I miss my friends.
Pretty simple feeling really. Not surprising.
I am looking forward to the social part of these few days of work in Regina. ( Actually looking forward to creative work too) Yet it is my dear Toronto friends and family I miss. I have found that the schedule for homesickness is much like having to pee all day and then finally getting a chance. No amount of mental discipline seems to convince your body to relax. There is some other dialog going on there. A kind of body urgency. I suppose I feel something similar… I really gotta pee friends…

Saskatoon, Broadway Ave. The Fringe festive began yesterday. Not unlike the Dawson music fest my perfect timing is equal only to my ignorance.
I will catch at least one play today. Perhaps more. Currently I am doing laundry and drinking street coffee. ( What a boring bit of info… phew )

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28 Jul

Loosing focus

In blog by Michael Phillip Wojewoda / July 28, 2011 / 0 Comments

I can’t escape the fact that I am just too early to be in Saskatchewan.
The earths surface is smaller than I realized and I overestimated the time required to get to Regina. Perhaps because my body left from Toronto it intuits the return trip to it’s hometown. At the pace I have been keeping I left enough time to get all the way back to Ontario. Not halfway. I did try and stay north a little longer but the weather seemed to force me south. Not to be a wimp but sometimes you have to follow the warmth of the sun.
Oh well.
What seems to come of this is a sort of lost feeling.
I am standing on the side of the highway with my map in hand waffling between potential destinations. I pause and laugh at myself because I am on some obscure side road in the middle of nowhere, unsure which other nowhere I ought to head towards.
The problem in heading north or south is this fierce perpendicular side wind blowing hard on my neck muscles. One has to ride the bike much like a windsurfer, leaning the body into the wind. Now, heading east feels delightful with the strong tail wind but it gets me to Regina 3 days early. No good…
So I decide to head north again to Saskatoon from Swift Current. Now any sense of purpose has left me and I feel almost foolish in my wanderings. I am literally crisscrossing this province to kill time. ( and fuel… big carbon footprint in mouth )
Of course I choose the wrong road at one point and send myself up a gravel stretch which becomes a terrible road with 5 inch deep soft gravel. This is not a gravel road but the first layer of a new road being rebuilt. They just poured on the mess and let cars pack it down. For some weird reason I press on thinking I should just buck up and … actually it is my aimless madness that made me keep going. I eventually ( after almost 20 km ) turned around but not after almost dropping the bike in miserable thick stuff. The front wheel just washing out. Fortunately the fuel tank was mostly empty so it was not to top heavy. Ugh.
These gravel road stories really don’t sound like much to tell but the inner dialog during the moments are screaming dread and anxiety. Making involuntary Phil Hartman style Frankenstein noises etc. The bike is just so unstable.

Anyway fuckit.
I am going to spend two days in Saskatoon then head to Regina.
My bike trip is officially pausing soon and I will be back to:
Let’s make and album blog.
I’ll update once I am in Saskatoon.

Once I finish up with Jason Plumb in Regina my motorbike trip continues.

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28 Jul

Last nights camp

In blog by Michael Phillip Wojewoda / July 28, 2011 / 0 Comments

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27 Jul

Net Zero

In blog by Michael Phillip Wojewoda / July 27, 2011 / 0 Comments

For all of my playful hubris avoiding the monster storm yesterday, it’s siblings spawned overnight and had their way with me the next day. Unlike the singular-clearly defined storm the day before, these storms were embedded inside gray sheets of gloomy overcast. I had to laugh because the downpour was so intense and unrelenting that I bailed after 230 km. I rolled into Cold Lake, Alberta and quickly found another motel as early as 2:30 pm. My sheepish decision turned out to be the right one because after 9 hours of downpour even the locals were calling it unusually heavy rain for the region. Or to quote a local,’awful lousy, eh?’.
A drowned rat, I walked into the motel lobby and enjoyed a 45 minute conversations with a delightful young woman minding the front desk. A french teacher originally from Montreal she had just returned from an extended tour of Europe including much of Russia and Poland. This was her first day at the motel and was a little behind the curve. She would return to teaching come September. A self professed enthusiast of conversation she encouraged the discussion of many things. Cold Lake, European history, which American city she would prefer to settle in. Engaged to be married to a Russian born U.S. Airforce pilot the U.S. was in her future. Of course I saw him looking like a Bond villain with a revolver. Anyway, lucky man, she was very charming.
(Alas I can’t seem to help seeking the company of women. Is that so wrong?)
Afterwards I settled in and enjoyed the longer stay. I also got caught up on needed sleep.

One side effect of all this riding is my nerve damaged leg is not getting enough exercise. The sitting squats and ankle rolls I do while riding to avoid (76 deep vein thrombosis in the big parade) are not furthering my recovery. At at the end of the day when I finally start walking the unnerving feeling (no pun intended) is quite pronounced. A sort of wobbly feeling as I move.
I will have to overcome the fatigue and have more of a post ride exercise ritual. Then I can relax. Perhaps the mornings too.

Also while I’m kvetching I need to eat better. The last four days have had too much shit road food. Hard to avoid when the only option is the diner at the PetroCan.
Deep fried everything or iceberg lettuce, your choice…
Well, I will be in Regina in a few days and I know that city understand healthy eating so that should help.

Today my path takes me south. I tried to keep heading east but I hit road construction and with all that rain it was too muddy for me to continue. So south I go. The west winds are very strong. 40km/h gusting 60 km/h. With a southern tack the wind is hitting me broadside. It is so strong that I have had to hang my butt cheek and lean my shoulder off the upwind side of the bike just to keep from being blown into oncoming traffic. My neck muscles are sore as I write this at the Tim Hortons in Kindersley, Saskatchewan. I don’t mind. I think of it as good practice for the infamous Route 40 in southern Argentina, which I plan to tackle late next year.

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26 Jul

Floating

In blog by Michael Phillip Wojewoda / July 26, 2011 / 0 Comments

The anthropomorphizing of large objects like a HUGE thunderstorm cell makes for good company. This large fella chased me across most of Alberta yesterday. I stopped at Slave Lake to purchase some more stove fuel and looking west saw this monster of a storm. While I still stood in sunshine I could see the shadow of this huge cloud approaching fast. I skipped grabbing food and thought it best to try to out run the thing. By the time I was back on the road I was in the shadow. Riding at 120 km/h I raced eastward towards the sunlight. As I approached the shadow terminator I slowed to figure out how fast the storm was moving. 95 km/h was the speed of the shadows pace on the road. So for the next 4 hours I would barely stay ahead of it. When I stopped to snack or piss ( the cycle of life) it would overtake me and I would race toward the sunshine again. It was so dark and brooding under the centre of the storm. The density of rain and lightening were dreadful. When I saw it in my rear view mirrors it seemed just like a mythical monster from a children’s story. Yes eventually it came to life and I did talk to it. By the time I rolled into Athabasca for the night I watched it roll menacingly to the north of town. I stood by the river bank eating an apple and marveled at the complexity of the cloud patterns and rain. Goodnight great storm.

I don’t want to head to far south. I look at my map and try to follow all the rural routes that hover at the top of the highway systems.
There is nothing for me in a city like Edmonton but expensive motels and traffic. I prefer to float as far above that stuff as the roads allow until the calendar dictates I must decend. So I quietly discover the towns of Faust and Athabasca. I am on my way to Cold Lake where I hope to camp to sounds of fighter jets and bullshit.
I want to make the best of this rural part of the country. North but somehow not.
I must admit that a floating feeling is returning. Feeling a little moody today.
Cest la vie.

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25 Jul

Northern Alberta

In blog by Michael Phillip Wojewoda / July 25, 2011 / 0 Comments

Slept long and late. I don’t need to make more than 500 km per day now so I can slow down a bit. Otherwise I will arrive too early in Regina.

As I was leaving the motel in Dawson Creek a demolished car on the back of a trailer slowly rolled in. From the passenger seat of the tow truck a woman emerged with severe bruises to her face and head. Jaw wired shut and slowly limping up the stairs to her motel room. Poor thing. Traveling by her self from New Mexico she hit a moose the evening before. I lift a caveat from her misfortune and am reminded to stay vigilant. Not to mention I heard on the news at another diner yesterday that two people were mauled by a brown bear in Alaska. Not so far from where I also camped. The sword of Damocles? The fickle finger of fate? The faceless forces of bigness (cheap product shot).
I’ll do my best to avoid the worst.

If you ever want to simulate an LSD experience just walk into a field of canola. The yellow/green flowers feel just like an acid modulation. If you know what I mean.

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24 Jul

End of North

In blog by Michael Phillip Wojewoda / July 24, 2011 / 0 Comments

It seems that there are two very different philosophies of highway design. One is to seal the original trails that had conformed to the landscape. Trails that followed the path of least resistance. Rolling undulating roads that seem in harmony with the terrain. Not to mention a blast to ride on motorbike.

The other is to force a Euclidian precision that attempts to dominate the landscape with obsessively straight lines. Roads that just scream triumph over nature. I can just visualize the architect with his rulers marveling at the effect it will have. What message it will send to man and creature alike.

The animals encountered so far ( as of Fort Nelson, BC) are:
11 Bears, two of which had me stopped on the road waiting to see what they chose to do.
Small herds of Bison in clusters of 3 to 5 each. Also on the road making me wait.
Multiple encounters with Caribou one of which I had to brake hard so we could dance for a while. ( zig… zag…)
Several encounters with Elk both male and female.
One blast of Big Horn Sheep. Maybe 15 or so.
A few Moose. Some deer. Mountain goats.
Coyotes, Foxes and one large Labrador retriever.
Porcupine, Skunks, Prairie dogs, chipmunks, mice and a badger of some sort.
Birds of many variety including eagles, owls and all those great swoopers of the Plains.
Many insects have ended their short lives on my helmet and motorbike. Dragonfly’s are the most dramatic.

This land is vast.

As I rolled into Fort St. John’s, north ended with a thud. Boreal forest suddenly cleared and cattle appear immediately. The density of humans jumps suddenly and … north is over.
From a southern city perspective Dawson Creek would seem rural and quaint. But coming south it is metastasized humanity creeping north.
My time in Yukon and Alaska was reinforced by the fact that the economy is down and there were very few travelers. Gas station attendants said that normally it is a samba line of RV’s but this year… emptiness.
I know I lucked out.

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24 Jul

Saying goodbye to the Mountains

In blog by Michael Phillip Wojewoda / July 24, 2011 / 0 Comments

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