Monday evening. It took 27 hours in my rental car (of which ~16 were spent driving), but I made it from Thunder Bay to my AirBnB near Palmer Rapids. It’s beautiful here. One hour east of Bancroft, two hours west of Ottawa, smack in the middle of the forest, where even GPS gets confused and turned around. The house is huge and gorgeous, but the wifi sucks. Equivalent exchange, eh?

During my big long drive, I saw a town called Hornepayne; a habitat for polar bears (likely shut down, like everything else); a small abandoned settlement with crushed decrepit wooden buildings; statues of a yeti, a polar bear, and a T-Rex; a city that was one giant construction zone with far too many stoplights; a Tim Hortons that almost ran out of bacon – a surefire sign of the apocalypse if there ever was one.

Spent the night at a Tilden Lake rest stop. Strange thing about Canadian rest stops: they exist, but if you don’t react to the sign posted just before the turnoff, you’ll miss them and have to drive another 40 minutes or so before you get lucky. (Or you can make a U-turn in the middle of the highway, though that’s a bit less ideal.) It was pitch-black when I pulled over at midnight, with strange beasts hooting in the distance. It was amazingly quiet and lovely when I woke up. A cute little lake right by the road, reeds and all.

I feel almost bad about my quiet and enjoyable vacation: xgf has run out of options for housing, and justifiably thinks that Toronto is too dangerous, covid-wise. In September, she’ll be moving back with her parents in a small town near Toronto. She’s one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met. Her father thinks the pandemic is a Jewish conspiracy to depopulate the world. That’ll be a very bad arrangement…

In covid news: Germans have trained dogs to sniff out people who have covid. They have a 94% success rate, which is far better than most tests on the market. It’s a remarkably low-tech solution – I’m kind of surprised no one had tried it earlier. (High-tech hubris?) I ran out of podcasts during my drive: on the radio, Canadians were outraged (but in a polite and diplomatic way) about a weekend party in Brampton that was attended by over 200 people. (Brampton is one of Toronto’s suburbs.) Folks are understanding because no one is actually enjoying this lockdown, but also furious because this is not helping anyone. There were only eight constables on duty in the entire city, so the party guests skedaddled without being stopped or having their names recorded. (Contact-tracing will be complicated.) The house owners, though, might face a giant fine. I can’t help thinking if the same event would’ve provoked the same reaction in the US…

The town of Niagara Falls (on the Canadian side of the border) is slowly reopening: casinos will stay closed, while indoor dining will be resumed. That may lead to more clusters, as everyone will drive down there. (It’s just a couple of hours east of Toronto.) Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien has tested positive for covid. He’s part of Trump’s inner circle, so an awful lot people must be shitting giant-sized bricks right about now. And Herman Cain, who got diagnosed a few weeks ago, is allegedly “receiving oxygen,” which could mean anything at all. Worst case, this means he’s in an induced coma, fighting for his life. He’s 74… Even if you take just the official, low-level death counts, the US has crossed 150,000 deaths. That kind of number can’t be visualized or comprehended, and there is no end in sight…

And with this, I’m off to enjoy an evening of reading to engage in some much-needed escapism. Stay safe out there, folks.