Canadian Change

Canadian Money

I came home from Canada this summer with over $20 in change. I tried to give all their money back before I crossed the border – really, I did! I left some for housekeeping in the hotel, I gave the cab driver a larger tip than normal – why not? I can’t use it in the US, it should be in circulation in Canada, and there’s no place to exchange loose change at the airport – and since they use $1 and $2 coins, you end up with a lot of loose change!

But once you finish checking in, and they tell you that you’re officially back in the US, even though you haven’t boarded a plane yet, there’s a waiting area lined with restaurants and shops. I wanted breakfast, and a magazine and some Advil, and I had nearly two hours to kill – so of course I was going to spend some money. So I handed over my American $20 bill, and got back Canadian money in change – and not even paper bills – but all change. One clerk handed me back $18 in change.

So oh well, I came home with a bunch of Canadian money. So I stuck it in a drawer and figured I’d spend it someday when I go back. But the weird thing is, it’s been four months, and still, every time I open that drawer and see that money I feel an urge to head to Canada. So is that the plan? Make sure all the tourists go home with a big handful of change so they get an irrational urge to visit again, so they can spend it? If so, it’s working…

A Day in Toronto With an iPhone

I spent a day in Toronto at the end of my trip with absolutely nothing planned – my favorite kind of day! I slept in, ordered room service, then hopped on a tour bus and let someone else drive me around the city, while I shot with my iPhone. I had fun playing with movement – the camera doesn’t have any settings to manipulate, but you can still get some fun stuff with moving subject matter.

If you look carefully at the images below, you’ll see when the bus went over a bump – because there’s a funky dip in the sidewalk. Or when other vehicles were moving fast, because the body of the vehicle gets stretched waaaaay out.

It was fun, and I saw a lot that day. I liked Toronto – it reminded me of New York City, and as the tour guide pointed out, that was partially because so much film production happens there, and the city often subs for NYC in the movies.

Toronto photos

Toronto images

Toronto with an iPhone

Toronto, Canada

Bus Tour of Toronto

Transportation in Toronto

Toronto church

People walking in Toronto

Levi Store in Toronto

INXS in Canada!

Note: The first three photos in this post were shot with my iPhone – when you don’t have a real camera with you, it’s cool to have something, anything to shoot with – and the iPhone actually does a pretty good job! The last image was shot with a “real” camera.

As soon as my seminar in Atlantic City ended, I hopped on a plane for Ottawa. One of the members of had arranged a BIG party at the Ottawa Bluesfest, the night INXS was headlining. She’d convinced them to give us a corporate box, complete with our own private bartenders, plus catering. I just couldn’t miss that!

I wanted to see INXS, but the real draw for me was meeting the Canadian members of the forum. Over the last two years I’ve become really close to some of them, and it was starting to seem really odd that we’d never met in person. It was just time to make that happen! And I wasn’t the only American who felt that way – we ended up with two of us from California, one from Seattle, one from Texas, and half-a-dozen from the East Coast of the United States – plus a lot of Canadians!

It was a magical night. The venue was really beautiful, and the sky though filled with storm clouds in the distance was completely clear over the concert. No rain at all! And so many people! The crowd was really huge, and soooo enthusiastic. It was my first INXS concert in over a year, so I really enjoyed it. Plus it was kind of fun to sing along to those songs with people that I shared Rock Star with – and who agonized over who INXS should choose, and would their “guy” win. They’re a passionate crowd – my kind of people!

And the tickets? They were printed with on them! How fun is that? The girls above are two of my favorite Canadians!

The audience was invited to submit text messages that scrolled by on a big billboard on one side of the stage – and there were a lot of messages about our group. It was obvious we were having a lot of fun, and people noticed! There were messages asking if any of us were single, if we wanted company, and the messages got progressively saucier as the night wore on. Anyone with a General Admission ticket couldn’t get up to where we were, but people in the other corporate boxes could, and some of them left their own groups to come dance with us. It was that much fun!

Ottawa was great! We even went to high tea at the Fairmont Hotel – very, very classy!

And since I was going all the way to Canada, it made sense to go to more than one concert – there were three all within driving distance, so several of us planned to hit all three. But as the planning progressed, and the dates got closer, the thought of that much driving seemed like a bit much to some of the group, so we decided to fly instead. I was sort of looking forward to seeing more of the country, so flying wasn’t my first choice, but it turned out to be a smart decision, since we then had more time in each place to explore.

It was my first time on a tiny little plane – you know the kind you have to walk out onto the runway, and then climb stairs to get to? And there are only ten rows of seats? And they go bump, bump, bump, and knock, knock, knock? At first it was a little scary, but after I got used to it, I actually enjoyed it. Especially flying over the lakes – so much water you’d swear it was an ocean.

I had a front row ticket for Barrie, Ontario, and second row for Sault Saint Marie – so I definitely got my INXS fix! All of the shows were a lot of fun, but I think the highlight of the trip (after the socializing) might be discovering Sault Saint Marie.

If it didn’t get cold in Sault Saint Marie, I’d be seriously considering moving. Such a beautiful little town with a great concert venue, and a real downtown area with little shops, and lots and lots and lots of old houses that are in perfect condition, and wild flowers everywhere you look. I just have to keep telling myself that snow and ice and cold are coming, and it’s not always a perfect summer day there. In San Diego, it is pretty perfect all the time, so I’m definitely spoiled! But if it was summer year-round in Sault Saint Marie, I’d be very tempted…

I finished out my trip with a couple of days in Toronto – a very nice city – but Ottawa and Sault Saint Marie are so special, it’s hard for Toronto to compete in my mind!

Under the Pier

Just a quick note about the photography seminar I went to – one of the days was spent with a photographer I find really inspiring – John Michael Cooper. I shot this with my iPhone – its JMC and his wife Dalisa, working with a couple of models under the pier near the Trump Taj Mahal, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

I came away from his presentation completely blown away – he’s that good! I just love it when another artist can knock me out like that – it’s really rare, and wonderful. He was definitely the highlight of the whole week!

Paris | 2003

In 2003 I spent a little over a week in Paris…

La Danse, 1868, by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, at the Palais Garnier, in Paris.

L’Idylle, 1869, by Eugène-Antoine Aizelin, at the Palais Garnier.

L’Etoile du Soir, 1870, by Louis-Félix Chabaud, one of 22 lamppost sculptures in front of Opéra Garnier.

The Palais Garnier was started in 1861 and completed in 1875, for the Paris Opera, but now is mostly used for ballet.

The grand staircase at the Palais Garnier.

Palais Garnier

Van Dyke over Cyanotype Print of the Musée de Cluny, in Paris, France.

Street in Paris

Street in Paris

Street in Paris