Podunk Meets Paradise

Musings from Central Idaho

Archive for the tag “Canada”

Havre, Here We Come

Havre, Montana is an 830-mile round trip from Podunk, so I thought I would go there for the weekend.


Besides, my kid was playing hockey there. So, aided by Snow-o-Rama 2014, I hit the road with two 9th grade boys — Odd and his buddy Goalie. Thanks to a technological mishap allegedly involving Her Royal Highness making off with my music infrastructure, I enjoyed listening to static on the radio and the chatter of adolescent boys. I won’t lie, some of what I heard was disturbing. For example:

“Wow, Idaho is 50th in the nation for the number of kids who go on to college!”
“I wonder who is 49th — Mexico?”

We had a layover in Great Falls.

Great Falls snow storm. www.startribune.com

Great Falls snow storm. http://www.startribune.com

When we arrived at the hotel, staff were unloading piles and piles of luggage from a gigantic bus. The bags were too small for hockey players, too many for a rock band. Mannheim Steamroller? I guessed. But no, the front desk informed me this was part of their steady supply of Canadian tour buses.

What are they doing here? I wondered aloud.

“They are getting a break from the cold,” front desker told me.

Criminy cripes, I thought — internally this time.

Perhaps the Siberian cold, chilled with an arctic wind we encountered was unusual, I considered.

photo(1)But no. So now I’m intrigued about what kind of deep freeze these poor Canadians escaped from. And if they think Great Falls is a nice getaway in the dead of winter, we just might have a new marketing angle for Podunk.

I’m not that great at ad copy, so these are early drafts, but I’m thinking….

“Podunk. 45 degrees north, but if you are in Canada, that’s really south, so you’re almost at the equator.”

“Visit the Salmon Riviera. Our winter temperatures are Fahrenheit.”

“Podunk. When your Canadian megaloads came through, we didn’t protest, just gawked. Tarsands are neat. See, we’re friendly, too.”

“Podunk. Take your tuque off and stay awhile.”

“Podunk. Warmer, on average, than Great Falls.”

Oh Canada — You Are On To Something

I know I’ve had sort of a checkered past where Canada is concerned, but in the past 6 months, I’ve racked up two consecutive trips to The Attic without mishap. I’ve always thought Canadians could improve their national self-image if they would just do something first-rate.
And on my most recent trip to British Columbia, the Canucks were top drawer in two major areas: hockey and coffee.
The hockey may come as no surprise. My daughter, Her Royal Highness, plays on a Montana girls hockey team and to instill humility in these fine young athletes, we drag them across the border and show them how good they could be if they didn’t have the dominant American pop culture to distract them.
But where Canadians are making real strides is in the hotel industry. Our hotel room at Fairmont Hot Springs was not only lovely, but the hospitality gods provided us with two (2) packets of full octane Nabob coffee.
Meanwhile, their American hotelier counterparts are under the impression that at least 50% of us crave a steamy cup o’ decaf. Nobody wants decaffeinated coffee, and if they do, they should have to make a special request of the hotel staff, in a quiet voice, like when you’ve forgotten your deodorant.
I agree that the brand name of Nabob is a bit questionable. But if we were to look up the meaning, I’m sure it’s First Nation for spunky or zippy or…wait a minute…. “decaf for dumb Americans who think they are drinking full octane!”

Next time you’re mine, Canada!

GGW: the British Columbian Edition

I belong to a club of badly behaved women — the GGW. There are about 12 of us and counting and sometimes we make big group road trips and sometimes we form splinter groups of mini-GGWs.

Currently, a mini-GGW with members FishHead and Blondie has invaded Canada. Even though I am somewhat frightened by the passive aggressiveness of Canadians, I can’t help but be green with envy.
This text that woke me up at midnight didn’t help matters. Like some kind of beat poet from the 60s Blondie wrote:
“Jamesons and fish tacos drunk dialing intentions texting instead we are scamp tramps love the scamper more adventures ahead,”
Love from Smithers,
Blondie and Fish Head
p.s. Say no to showers,
The girls of the broken-compass-guides-us

Damn them and their Irish Catholic whiskey!

Whatever You Do — Don’t Call Me Maybe

The Odd Number, Her Royal Highness, and I are on holiday with my family — the Notorious Babs and Big L — in Oregon this week. Thanks to a new Podunk family policy spurred by Her Highness’ maniacal driving habits and the Iron Chef’s realization that Odd # represents the last chance at carrying on the Family Name, we had to take separate vehicles. Odd traveled with Babs and Big L, while I carpooled with HRH and tried to get my courage up to let her take the wheel.
While this courage building was in the works, I had a good long chance to contemplate 1) the enormity of the Columbia River System, and 2) the lack of variety on Pop Radio stations.
First, let’s just admit that the salmon and steelhead that make it past all these huge chunks of concrete then back again to my home town of Podunk (aka Salmon, Idaho) are BADASS.

Gargantuan chunk of concrete on the Columbia.

Next, let’s address Pop Music. Back in the day, we had Top 40 music. Now, as with other trends, THEY have downsized and streamlined Pop Music so now there is only Top 3 music. And unfortunately, I can only tell you what the Number One song is because it is permanently etched into my gray matter. In case you have not been driving along the Columbia River System with a teenage girl, I will let you know that song is “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen.
Most disturbing — Carly Rae Jepsen is Canadian. So what used to be America’s Top 40 is now whittled down to America’s Top 3, I only know the Top 1 and it is by a Canadian. (Please see my earlier post on North American music.)
Mark my words, this is the artistic equivalent of outsourcing all telemarketing jobs to India. Jepsen is trying to cover her tracks AND appeal to the NASCAR circuit by throwing a “Rae” in as a hoax middle name. Who does that north of the 45th parallel?
Anyhow, after forcing me to listen 48 times to the mind-numbing beat and learn the ridiculous teenage girl car dancing of Call Me Maybe, I turned the wheel over to Her Highness at Mile 840 of Mile 880.
Hey I just met you,
and this is crazy,
so here’s my number….
Call me Maybe.

A visit from the Good Lovelies

When you live in the deep interior West, sometimes you have to pay people to come visit. Fortunately, the Salmon Arts Council paid the folk/roots trio The Good Lovelies to visit Salmon last night. Arts venues are in short supply in Salmon so in winter months, the Elks Lodge is known to double as concert hall. These Canadian girls were fabulous and seemed to find the appropriate amount of humor in the stuffed trophy elk staring at them from every possible wall surface. Even though they had just days before been notified they’d been nominated for a Juno (that is Canadian for “award”) for best Roots and Traditional Album of the Year, they were incredibly good sports about playing at the Elks, visiting our schools, and maneuvering the tour bus around wildlife.

I like it when Canadians joke around and are pleasant and don’t complain about Americans who don’t know anything about Canada. Just in case, I was prepared to shout out “Stephen Harper is the prime minister!” after an impromptu quiz in British Columbia where I guessed the Queen of England was the president of Canada and nearly got my ass kicked. Then why is she on all your money? We were in Costa Rica several years ago and found out the reason Canada has such a low density population is because they were all hanging out in Costa Rica. We struck up friendships with a few couples that always ended up with the Canadians trying to get us to admit that our imperial American scheme was to get our grubby hands on their Canadian wheat fields. Clearly, if we wanted the damned wheat fields we could have  seized them while their citizens were loafing around Central America.

The Good Lovelies should be credited with not only sweet harmony, but elegant diplomatic relations. Long live the Queen!

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