BE SURE TO CLICK ON ALL LINKS FOR PHOTOS.
-edit the rock climbing pics arent up, as theyre on Compact flash memory cards, and I lost my adapter...give me a few to put them up, theyre tres neat.-
Well after I got the boot from the hotel lobby, it was too cold to do anything outside. I wanted to set up camp, but Id have to wander around to find a safe and warm spot, and I wasn't too keen on it, as I had loads of friends in the area. I went and stayed on College St one last night with AK.
I woke up while she was still sleepish, and left shortly before 12. I haven't elaborated about my relationship with AK, but its always very hard to leave. Today was the hardest.
I knew where I had to go, as I had tried hitching there the previous night, and got on to the TTC one last time and headed to Yorkdale, again. Once I got there, I quickly scrambled for a sign, thanks to the tech shop boys at Sportchek for the box and marker, and headed to the spot I planned to hitch from. The sun was beaming, but it was still very cold and crisp. It was 1245 when I got to my spot.
So when I woke this morning, I only had one goal in mind; Niagara Falls. I wanted so desperately to get out of friggen Toronto.
The sign on a building in the distance told me it was -6C, although it felt like -16. I propped up my bags, and held out my sign.
Just as I was getting numb toes, and starting to build frustration at the billionth mean glare from a warm Mercedes, a small compact pulled over behind me. It was a young girl, just about my age. To be honest, at the time I didn’t think she was pulling over for me, as I thought it was surreal since 500 men in trucks just whizzed past me, and this small little girl was picking me up. She opened her door, and told me she was only going as far as Guelph. It didn’t matter, and I took it. I was so happy to have finally gotten a ride, even though I wasn’t waiting more than 25 minutes.
I immediately told Lauren what I was up to, as I had a camera in my hand, and I thought/hoped it would settle any nerves she might have had once she realized she picked up a hitcher. She then told me shes hitched alot too. We immediately struck up a great conversation and I learned she was cooler than the rest. She was into all of the things I like; camping, climbing, travel, Africa yadda yadda. Then she told me she was on her way to go rock climbing in Guelph.
“Do you climb, wanna join?” AS IF. I immediately said yes, knowing how A) fun and cool that would be and B) it would make for great footage on the trip. I wasn’t expecting such a fairytale start to the day. Well we were now out of Toronto, and on our way to Guelph Ontario, the closest thing to BC out of BC.
Id never really been to Guelph before, but I did know a bit about it. Everything Id heard; the artsy-hippie-adventurous town full of cool shops and cooler people lived up to the reputation. Quaint vegan bars(though I am far from it) , skate shops, and cafes lined the streets, and the crowd from what I saw was very cool. When we passed by the University, I even saw kids playing Frisbee, which would not happen in Feb on any other campus.
She took me straight to the Guelph Grotto, one of two indoor climbing gyms in town. It was way cooler than the ones Id been to, and there was an indoor skate park attached. She instructed there before, and knew the staff and told me not to worry about paying. Phew, because I couldn’t swing it any other way. I talked to the desk staff and they were totally cool with me, and taking photos in the place. I got my harness and shoes, and went to hit the walls. We met up with her friend, the coolest guy I've met in a while, Drew. Drew is a ridiculous climber who makes it look easier than walking. We did a few boulders to get warm and jump onto the ropes. I scaled my first wall(its been years since the last) with relative ease, although it was marked as ‘relatively easy’ on the sign. It was so much fun, and it hit me early on just what exactly it was I was doing.
Since I haven't climbed in a long time, and I haven't been using my arm muscles too much, the rock climbing kicked the shit out of me! After about 4 walls, my fingers and wrists were so tight, I couldn't even hold myself up I then just took a bunch of photos. We spent about 3 hours at the gym, and it was a total blast. The people there were really cool, outdoor-minded people, and it was a nice change from the Torontonian scene. By the way if I see one more greasy gino in an Ed Hardy shirt with ripped jeans, I'm going to shit a brick. The kids in Toronto are so lame, it makes the show Jersey Shore look like hippies. You could tell they didn't want to smoke cigarettes, but were forcing themselves in their fake tans and tee shirts. Honestly, put on a fucking jacket, its freezing and your hoodie was cool for a month last year.
Anywho, we left from the Grotto, and headed to the University campus, where there was an arboretum and we could walk through, take some pictures and pictures and climb some trees. Lauren and Drew were totally cool kids, free spirits and enjoyed life. It was infectious.
We climbed a massive tree and enjoyed the sights of the beautiful trails and woods. Here's a pic of me and Lauren, and then us in a tree. It started to get pretty chilly, so we headed back to the car and they took me to their friends house downtown for some tea. I got to meet some of the rest of their crew, and they were equally as outdoorsy, and welcoming, even to a new hitchhiker. They opened their super cool apartment to me, and we exchanged stories while sipping on some much needed Jasmine Tea. With all of our tummies grumbling, it was dinner time.
Lauren, Drew and I left to go make our own dinner, and stopped at the grocery store to grab the grub. When we got to his house, we made a stir fry with snowpeas, chick peas, loads of veggies and rotini pasta. It was unbelievable delicious, and the first thing Id eaten all day. We all scarfed it down, and they then informed me what was next; they were ushering at the campus presentation of the Vagina Monologues and said I was coming. I was totally game, and we went to Guelph campus, and they snuck me in($10 fee) and I sat at the back, and watched the student production, and the presentation. It was all about female empowerment and violence against women. It was some pretty heavy stuff, and to be honest, I didn't agree with some of it. They made every man in the world to be a rapist monster, and that women weren't safe anywhere. Well it stuck home, and part of this trip is to show the world is not such a a dangerous place, and that everything is preventable. Those situations that aren't, cannot be controlling our lives. We cannot walk around in fear of others, thinking what if, and not trusting everyone. The small percentage of deranged psychos cannot control the way we live, especially women, or they will forever be closing doors and opportunities for themselves.
Well when the presentation was over, they decided it was time to get drunk. Alot of their friends were involved with the show, and we now had a big group of climbing kids running around jumping off ledges and fences. It too was infectious, and we hiked to the bus on any surface but the ground.
The bus downtown was funny. It was packed full of kids dressed to the nines, hoping to get laid or something. It seemed more overdone than usual, and what I would see in the bars in Ottawa. Dresses, ties, the whole lot. Maybe its because I was wearing cargo pants tucked into my socks. (don't hate) The 30 girls on board broke out into "tonights gonna be a good night" by the Black Eyed Peas. Way to be predictable ladies. But the energy infected me, and I realized something; it was going to be a good, good night.
There was a concert in the hockey arena downtown, and that was the plan. One of the guys had ins, and was able to sneak me past the door security, but I still had to get my way past the bracelet checkers. The band was called the Wood hands, (check this; theyre the coolest new band Ive heard in a while....)and they were un-f*cking real. They were an electronic, experimental duo and they rocked socks. We partied like it was 1999, and the entire crowd was jumping and buzzing. We bumped our way to the front, and the ever-hammered Tom picked me up, and started to throw me on top of everyone. I had never crowd surfed before. I am now addicted, as it was the COOLEST FRIGGEN THING EVER. The energy, and the way people just pass you along, smiles and slaps. it was great. Tom, being the 6'4 giant he is then hoisted me on his shoulders, and I got to jam above everyone else. Mega cool.
After the show, I went round to the backstage, and asked the security guy to grab me the band manager I saw just beyond the fence, I told him my gig, and asked for a photo and a few questions from the band. He was more interested in me than his boys, and grabbed the band and I got my photo. They told me they'd even give me a shout out on their blog! Here's one of the pics.....
After the show, they the crew decided it was time to get seriously drunk. We made our way downtown, and bar hopped a few joints. They shared their pitchers, got me tipping, and we jammed to the DJ playing the likes of Justice, MSTRKRFT and the old stuff.
When we were sweating like pigs in blankets, we left just before last call. Got a ride home, and munched out on some yummy PB sandies. I was completely knackered. I had just spent all of my physical and mental capacity in the last 24 hrs, and it was time for bed. The house had 3 empty rooms, and I lucked out with a big bed. I'm still in Guelph, and I'm actually on my way to the campus pool and hottub with the guys. I'm staying here tonight, and Ill have an update from today later this evening..
All is good, met some amazing people.