Sunday evening. Writing this from a hilariously mismatched AirBnB rental in Thunder Bay. On the one hand, it’s exactly the way it appeared in pictures. On the other hand, it’s the things that didn’t appear in pictures… The ceilings are too low: at 6’2″, I’ll have to crouch the entire time. There’s a faint smell of mildew, with the dehumidifier left running 24/7. The shower doesn’t exist per se: it’s mounted at the waist level, and you can either take a bath or stoop down low and perform handheld shower gymnastics. Overall, looks like a glorified mother-in-law unit. I can hear my AirBnB neighbours walking above my basement apartment… The little fireplace is nice, though. Heh.

It was a long drive from Toronto to Thunder Bay. Stayed sane and awake by listening to the Mindscape podcast by Sean Carroll, and learned a great deal about ancient mythology, quantum physics, and the history of the Roman republic. (Not to be confused with the Roman empire.) Good stuff. This is one way our life today is objectively better than in decades past: podcasts! I imagine 20-40 years ago, you’d be stuck with audio books on cassettes, if that.

Spent the night at the Batchawana Bay rest stop. This is an interesting cultural difference: there are hardly any rest stops in Canada, but they’re quite common in the US. I wonder if that’s because major population centers (or centres, rather) are so far apart and so few people go on roadtrips that it’s just not worth it? Regardless, got a nice night of sleep in a fully reclined seat of my rental – the 2020 Nissan Rogue. I got screwed on the rental (“unlimited mileage” means only 2,800km, apparently) but meh, it’s not like I spend much money on anything else these days, anyway. It’s curious to see shiny new features on a 2020 car: just one charging port means there’s an awkward choice between the GPS or the dashcam (sorry, cammy), and I can’t help but wonder if folks who are used to backup cameras would be able to drive non-camera cars, such as my beloved 2013 Kia Rio.

Ontario is beautiful… During my 15-hour drive north, I saw a ton of gorgeous rock formations. Little cairns adorned most of them, through hundreds of miles: there’s some beautiful and universal human urge to create tiny pieces of art by stacking rocks on top of one another. A cute though eventually futile middle finger to the entropy. I drove past a place named Snug Haven. It was right next to a place called Killbear. I didn’t stop: I know a trap when I see one.

Thunder Bay is exotic – exactly the kind of thing I needed in my life during this fortnight away from work. Streets are small and quiet. Humidity is ridiculously high. Lake Superior is gorgeous from all angles, though mysterious derelict industrial buildings randomly show up in the background. When I drove back from the grocery store, I think I saw a post-industrial little waterfall on the ruins of some old factory. Fascinating.

Tomorrow I’ll head out to two local amethyst mines: one charges you per bucket; the other lets you walk around and pick your own. The former is $25 CAD per bucket; the latter is $4 CAD per pound, as well as the $10 CAD entry fee. That should be fun.

In covid news… Just the same old mess. It’s curious to watch Canada get more and more upset at its homicidal neighbour: BC reports that as many as 100 US pleasure boats sail up to BC and dock at the local marinas, potentially spreading the virus. That’s in violation of the border crossing ban, obviously, but aside from a perfunctory angry announcement from Premier John Hogan, not much has been done.

And to end this on the upbeat note, here’s a 3-day-old selfie showing the progression of my Apocalypse Beard (not so impressive) and Apocalypse Hairdo (starting to look like Pushkin!). This is a rare collectible pic of moi sans the mask. Not a lot of those pics in 2020, eh?