Monday, August 27, 2007

If I had a Nickel...

The Hooters restaurant in Barrie

If I had a nickel for every time I screwed up with a member of the opposite sex... actually not to brag but I wouldn't have that many nickels, under a dollar anyway. It's the nice guy combined with the lack of dating numerous women that keeps my nickel count low. As they say it's not the quantity but the quality.

A few pretty large screw ups where the girl is angry at me for days as opposed to something small like "Whoops, I left the toilet seat up.", although that can really anger the female species. Especially when they sit down in the middle of the night half tired on the toilet sans seat. There are few things that scream "You don't care" and a seat left in the upright position in one of them. It's worse if earlier, just before she sat down, you peed and missed the bowl because you were too lazy to turn ion the lights to aim. (not that I've done that - just a worse case scenario I've overheard from some of my female friends).

Turning mole hills into mountains? Perhaps. When you let down someone you really like everything seems amplified. It's like you have to multiply your normal amount of guilt times ten. So to commemorate this week's big screw up, which I still don't know the cause of, I decided to see the big nickel in Sudbury.

With a whirlwind of photo ops behind me and a long week of nothing in front of me, rather than staying at home brooding and focusing on finding what I did to upset the girl I decided I'd go for a drive. The farther away the better. Not so much to distance myself from the girl but to spend more time behind the wheel travelling to let my head clear.

The idea of driving to the big nickel came to me months ago. It was one of those "Hey, it would be cool to see the big nickel.". That was it. Just popped in there. I had even asked the girl if she wanted to go but she was pretty against the idea with the attitude of "been there, done that". Even my father said I was crazy for wanting to go, saying it was a waste of time and money. He then added that if I did go, to take a picture from the highway and keep on driving (thus saving money for parking).

I decided I'd take the trip by myself. When the idea popped into my head I hadn't planned a specific date, only that it would happen sometime in the near future. Today would be that day. I still had the rental car from the weekend of going to Hamilton and I could travel another 900 km before being charged more money.

Last night, after the dance club, a bunch of us went out for a late night dinner. It was there that I blabbed that I was going to take this trip. Ted, a relatively new Ontario resident, seemed eager to take the drive with me. He had never seen or been that far north and wanted to see the small rural towns. On top of that he was willing to pitch in for gas. Sounded good to me.

The day started pretty late. The partying and eating out late the night before meant that I didn't get going until about 3pm. That meant by the time I was alert and functioning and in the car I'd be picking up Ted during rush hour. It was around 5pm by the time I actually had the car in front of his apartment.

Once Ted was in the car the first order of business was to drop off some wedding photos I took a year ago to Steve. He lives some place in north Toronto. You can get there by public transit but it's far from where I live. It was another reason I rented the car this weekend, travelling to Hamilton and so I didn't have to schlep over to Steve's place on a bus.

Once the package of DVDs were stuffed into his mailbox we travelled to a nearby gas station to pick up a current Ontario map and some snacks. At the CoffeeTime located next door we plotted our route while eating some pre-travel food. I suppose this would have been my breakfast.

Ted soaks up the atmosphere.

Five hours later we were in Barrie taking photos next to a water tower (with large Barrie letters on it), a gas station and a Canadian Tire. Originally, I wanted to get a map of Barrie and fill the tank up with gas. That's why we were in the parking lot . It was there during a conversation with Ted that I remembered the girl that was originally slated to model for the Monster Records shoot was from Barrie... and she worked at a Hooters (see Jessica).

Ted with Stephanie, our waitress

The thought of the honey garlic chicken made me hungry. I proposed the idea to Ted. I thought it was odd that he was actually interested. I even warned him that most of the food wasn't that great. When we drove up to the drive way he had noticed the neon palm trees. There was no turning back.

Our waitress, Stephanie, was pretty friendly and a great sport allowing me to take a picture of her with Ted. As a general note to readers, Hooters is not a vegetarian friendly restaurant. This made it a bit difficult for Ted to eat there. I, on the other hand, had ordered the all you can eat honey garlic chicken special (for only $10.00). In the end I only ate one plate full, I didn't want to stuff myself so much that I'd fall asleep at the wheel while driving.

Our bill... with hearts!

About an hour later we stopped to get some gas. In Barrie, even though we stopped at a parking lot next to a gas station I didn't put any gas in the tank. I think the thought of eating honey garlic chicken distracted me. Just off the highway there was a service center with a Tim Horton's. We parked near a Gold Wing.

Somewhere between Barrie and Sudbury at a gas station

Since Ted and I decided to get our motorcycle licenses I'd been checking out motorcycles more. Seeing the varying sizes, imagining the handling, gas efficiency and if I could wipe out without the bike crushing me or getting in my way while trying to jump out of the way of a car.'s the Georgian Bay visitor's centre...

Inside the large but empty highway rest stop, we noticed a travel center. More like a travel nook. It was closed but had literature about the surrounding area in some stands out front. One sign in particular struck my eye. It was for the Bobby Orr museum. Now there was a name from the past. Number four, Bobby Orr. Played for the Boston Bruins way back in the 70s when I used to watch the game on a regular basis with the family.

...with a contest for the Bobby Orr hall of fame.

Just outside Sudbury we stopped at a motel to get some sleep. Ted thought I was driving with slower than usual response times and felt that I should stop and rest. The guy at the check in counter was watching Star Trek. He told us the rate for a room with a single king size bed was $75 and a room with two smaller beds was $73. I thought it was odd that the one bed option was more expensive. Wouldn't it be more work to change two beds instead of one?

The motel just outside Sudbury.

I personally don't remember sleeping but Ted told me that I was blabbing in my sleep. He could hear me from his bed. I asked him what I was saying but he could only make out a name and some incoherent mumbling. We woke up at around 9:00am, got in the car and continued the drive to Sudbury.

For some reason when in Sudbury I thought that we could find the big nickel by just driving around and maybe seeing it sticking out of a hill or something. We even stopped next to some train tracks to look around. Nothing. Not seeing the big nickel was like not having a lobster restaurant on every corner when visiting Halifax, another Canadian travel expectation ruined.

Ted and I at the train tracks... where I'm looking for the big nickel.

We ended up at a Tim Horton's where Ted asked for directions. Turns out we were pretty close. A few minutes later and I was paying for parking. Note to Dad: It wasn't that much. Only four dollars.

The Big Nickel... at last.

The back of the big nickel.

Ted and me for scale with the big nickel in the background

I took a few pictures. Some from the front of the nickel and some of the back. I then took a few pictures with me and Ted standing with the nickel in the BG, including the panoramic shot above (click on it for bigger version).

We then got back into the car and drove back to Toronto.

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