I need a time machine

Thu Feb 23, 2023

So, 2023 launched like a rocket ship with an extremely busy January and even busier February. And even though I could have asked ChatGPT to fill in for me for January, I swallowed my pride and allowed my streak to break.

I’ve been putting out a post every month since 2020, but I’m no robot, merely an imperfect human. Thus, January has come and gone without a post. If I had a time machine, I’d go back and write one, but regretfully, I don’t.

Since nobody human actually visits this site, I’m sure the AI robots trawling this site for data will forgive me. I will forgive myself too, which is arguably more important.

I’ve been dealing with a lot all at once, both personally and at work, all while juggling a tooth that needs a root canal, a jury summons, car troubles, kid stuff, etcetera etcetera. Also, a winter vacation in Quebec, which wasn’t so bad, so I’ll talk about that.

(Side note: why do people still say “back East” and “out West”, even if they’ve never even been to the East? We aren’t a bunch of colonists living in the 1800s anymore - let’s move on from such linguistic anachronisms please, especially such obvious ethnocentric ones.)

Anyway, we flew to Quebec, only to be greeted by the coldest weather they’d had in two decades. It was -30 C degrees (-48 C with wind chill) which is the most frigid temperature I’ve ever experienced. The hotel window was literally crusted over with a thick layer of ice - on the inside. Spending more than ten minutes outside was unbearable.

Thankfully, the cold snap only lasted two days, after which the temperature hovered around a very pleasant -15 C.

We landed in Montreal and had poutine for dinner at 10:30pm (different time zone). Nobody in Montreal seemed to blink an eye about a couple of kids eating dinner so late, so I assume they have more lax parental standards.

The next day, we caught a train to Quebec City for the Carnaval de Quebec. Quebec City is so picturesque, you’d swear you were somewhere in a touristy part of Europe. We loved walking the old streets, going tobogganing by Ch√Ęteau Frontenac, visiting the old church and legislature building, and eating some delicious traditional food (more poutine).

The Carnaval itself had a cool ice castle, lots of ice sculptures, and quite a few spiced-rum stations. The famous-in-Quebec snowman Bonhomme even made a brief appearance before sitting down to drink the rest of his night away at the VIP Bar. In the evening, there was house music. And a strange group of kids all wearing headphones and dancing madly in silence. Is that a thing now?

It was a weird vibe, I’ve got to admit - not sure I’d go back. Personally, I think the Carnaval is a genius move by the Quebec tourism board, but is a bit overhyped. Even the Quebecers were wondering why anyone would visit from Vancouver in the winter, although they were just wonderful and friendly. The gorgeous Quebec City, however, made up for a lacklustre festival.

Returning to Montreal, we hit up the major tourist spots, including the Notre-Dame, Museum of Archaeology and History, and Canada’s largest Ferris wheel. We ate Montreal bagels, stopped in at some vintage clothing stores and had a good time. Montreal may be dirty and scruffy-looking, but it is arguably Canada’s coolest city.

After Montreal, we ended the trip staying with family in the Mont-Tremblant area. We did some cross-country skiing and drank coffee at the Ultramar gas station. Gas stations in Quebec are a lot nicer than in BC and even have a nice vintage wine selection.

Overall, we had a good time and it was a lot of fun to travel again. And so concludes my trip report!

Back in BC, on Valentine’s Day, my company had a 50th-anniversary event at the Sutton Place Hotel (here’s the website I made for the occasion). There were quite a few special guests, including Norway’s Ambassador to Canada. There was a First Nations eagle dance, duelling pianos, a five-course meal, a themed cake, and an ice bar. It was nice of my company to give us hotel rooms for the night too.

I was on the event committee so I have first-hand experience on how much work it is to put on such a big event. Got a lot of flashbacks to planning our wedding. I was troubleshooting the AV equipment until the last minute (I was responsible for the video presentations), but I saved the day in the end and the event was a big success.

After all that, I managed to get my root canal done yesterday and my jury duty summons was cancelled, so it all worked out in the end. Oh, and we paid the mechanic lots of money to stop the car from smoking. Yep, 2023 is firing on all cylinders, and we’re just getting started.

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