2008-02-03

Winterlude / Bal de neige

Snow.

Actually, the last time I have seen as much of it as in Ottawa was when I was in second grade. As the saying goes, there is no bad weather, just wrong attire.

When I made my way to the airport, it was pretty clear that there would be delays and cancellations, but with a new visa safely in my backpack I felt nothing would spoil my day anymore. Well maybe a car accident... So I was concentrating on getting my ABS-less, all-season shod Grand Prix to the airport without colliding with anything.

Took me another hour, for what my nav estimated to be a 15-minute drive, but I made it. Found Enterprise car return, which was conveniently sheltered, and went to return the car. The nice clerk asked me just how sure I was I wanted to return the car, since so many flights were canceled, and offered to check the status of mine. Turned out canceled.

Did I still want to return the vehicle? Oh you can bet your ass I did! No more driving in the snow, that was all I cared about!

Well, it did not hurt that Rick, a colleague from the reseller office I was squatting at, offered to pick me up at the airport if I was stranded and to stay with his family overnight. So yeah, I was sure sure.

Responsibility for two tons of GM iron off my shoulders, I floated to the check-in hall, to be informed that the earliest flight they can get me on is in exactly 24 hours after my originally scheduled one. Okay, so be it.

I settled on a bench in a mostly-deserted airport and called Rick. 20 minutes later, Rick and I were merrily on the way to his house, where I met his wife and three adorable kids, had a mite too much to drink, and watched Transformers on DVD.

Next morning right after breakfast we headed to Winterlude, Quebec side, where they had huge slides built out of snow and ice, and set up the snow blocks for the snow sculpture contest. My hosts out fitted me with snow pants, boots, warm gloves, and earwarmers, and I have to say, winter became much more enjoyable this way.

After three winters in North Carolina in my mind "snow" is firmly linked with "catastrophe"--general chaos on the roads, SUVs and trucks in ditches, people staying indoors, schools and offices closed. Now Winterlude was a different experience!

Instead of hiding and waiting out the "bad weather," Canadians were actually enjoying the snow, and were gathering in thousands at several locations where Winterlude was held!

Some were skating on the canal. I did not see it that day, but Rick told me that the city would clear off about 7 kilometers of ice and pour some water on it, to create a huge outdoors skating rink, the biggest in the world!

Hundreds others were at the Quebec-side locaton where there were the slides, an outdoors children's show with chipmunks (?) Maman and Papa Glamotte prominent characters.

I got to try a local specialty, a beavertail--a sweet pastry with cane sugar and lemon juice topping. They are made fresh on the spot like crepes and can have a variety of toppings, sweet or savory. The one I had was the traditional recipe.

After refreshments, I went down one slide, and that was exciting--and felt much faster than what I thought looking at other people slide. The kids went for at least four more rounds, watched some of the continuous show, and then all of us headed to have lunch.

My stuff was already in the car, so after we were done eating, they dropped me off at the airport, and it was about five o'clock already, so the timing was perfect.

The rest of the day was uneventful, now it's the next morning, I'm back home now, and it's 16 C outside.

I think I'll drive Bonnie "topless" today.