Empty Days

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Pathetic escape strategies.

I sank so low as to install an ICQ/MSN client and try to find people that can give me new ideas as to how to get out of the city. Unfortunately, as you may have guessed, all I found so far was a bunch of guys trying to jack off in front of their little computer screen. I suppose if I had broadband connection, I could wade through all this inescapable weed without losing so much time - but this is just not an option. It's a time-waster alright - I guess I'll have to wait for a lucky break here too.

Alternatively, since I have no comments on this site, I decided to post my new ICQ number outta here in case anyone wants to talk - not specifically related to whatever I happen to blather about but just in general. I suppose instant messangers can also be used as a sort short-email device - doubling as a chatter.
I used to practice ICQ a lot some 5 years ago, when I was being bored out of my mind in that office job - right now it's pretty much the same crap, except that I am not exactly bored but rather driven mad from all the fucking emptiness outta here. So it's a temporary arrangement I guess - I do need to divert my attention somehow.

Ok, let's see what I can do...


Btw, yesterday I happened on one particular jack-off guy who is also a full-time grower of pot - that part was pretty interesting, I must admit. I think he uses his grand-father's farm as a cultivation field for his "self-sufficient" smoking habits. I can't really understand the situation with pot laws in our fair country here - the whole thing seems semi-legal but not altogether frowned upon. Go figure. In Vancouver BC they actually sell their stuff in coffeehouses despite whatever lazy police raids. I think the same bending-of-rules is gradually taking off in Quebec. As long as you're not a big cash-oriented trafficker, it doesn't matter to the law - that's what I am getting to understand right now.

Outdoors lifestyle.

My legs are full of bruises and scratches from the various bushes and grass I walked through a bit too fearlessly. One big bruise comes from the biking accident, I didn't even notice it until now.
My hands suddenly look like the hands of a manual worker - with dirt under the nails and a general ruggedness that probably comes both from clutching the handlebars for long periods of time and from working on the bike and on various other things like installing the tarp in the dirt, making the camp fire and I don't know what else. In fact, I have no explanation for this particular change - I suppose hands and palms just get weathered on an outdoors trip. And I didn't wash out there very often either.

In the end I feel exactly like some small animal whose burrow was destroyed by a logging-tractor while the beast was running around in the woods.

But the small animal can make as many burrows as he wants anywhere. Where can I go, on the other hand?

The tarp is flapping in the wind... oh what an empty place this is!

Morning prayer.

Desperately unhappy here - I am afraid of yet another depression if I can't find a way out of this soon. For the moment I am actually taking refuge in the internet - it's almost compulsive.

I can't even think back to my trip because it causes too much bad emotion towards everything in my usual life - I HATE THIS FUCKING PLACE. I have nowhere to go here and this whole city is like a grave to me.

Please, Lord, deliver me from evil and show me the way out of this hell - I don't know what to do.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Ken Kifer, may he rest in peace, says:
For a long while, I thought that this was the one article that I would never write. I see myself as rather inept when it comes to bike repair and maintenance as I am reluctant to work on my bike, slow to finish a task, and unknowledgeable about the latest gear. In fact, I don't even know many of the terms. And my bikes usually look as though they need some work. However, I have gradually come to recognize that I do have a little ability. I have made almost all of my own repairs, have built three sets of wheels, have completely repainted my traveling bike four times (which required removing and reinstalling all of the parts), and have repaired other people's bikes for them on the road.
I am pretty much on the way to the same kind of "ability" - I haven't taken a bike apart yet, mostly because all my bikes are so damn rusty and I don't have some special tools, but there are a few garbage items waiting for a lift-up in the basement and I might start doing some work on them now.

Depression and aimlessness are over - I found my way in life and it will be on the road.

I am gonna learn to true a wheel - and I will install a generator with lights on my bike - and then I will TAKE OFF again.

Raise the sail.

The green tarp sheet that I wrapped around the right side of my balcony all the way up, flaps in the gentle breeze like a sail on a small boat lost in the ocean. I did well to put it up - it protects me from praying eyes and completely blocks the sight of desolation where the tree used to be...

When I was a kid I used to play sailor - the couch was my boat and I raised a sail made out of a bed-sheet... It all felt very real.

The tarp-sheet flapping in the wind is a bit less real - but the sound is evokative of sea-travel and that's about enough for my square adult head.

My flat smells of WD-40 - which I much prefer to Chanel 5.

Nature says: stop right there!

Strangely enough I constantly forget my physical gender - and then I get a reminder-hello from my very own body. I actually forgot I was about to get my periods - which is certainly a bothersome and unnecessary thing on the road. I don't know why I am so mindless about this. But in any case I have to wait about a week now before going anywhere far. The upshot is that I will have time to relax (well, avoid looking out of the window at least) and rest my aching muscles.

Hello there indeed :-0

Bizarre stuff.

Another interesting memory: I've encountered real 1960's hippies having a puff of pot in the woods along the biking trail. Don't know what it was about but the guy was dressed just like Tim Leary, with hat and poncho, the same for his wife. The smell of pot attracted my attention as I was biking along and I just had time to take a peek into the woods and see the scene - it was really kind of funny, especially given all the square golden-age bikers pedaling along on their new bikes on that part of the trail.

It was somewhere around Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts or Val David.

In Sainte-Agathe I also noticed a long haired young man walking barefoot on the sidewalk - he too looked ostensibly hippie-like, and in any case not many people walk barefoot in the middle of downtown these days: even if it's a real small downtown. The young man gave me a look of recognition - I don't look like a hippie but I sure look like a first class beatnik. Heh.

I don't know - maybe there is a community there?

The funny thing is that in Val David there seems to be a hassidic monastery and thus plenty of hassidim and their shaved wives. Which was also quite a sight amongst all the purely Quebecquian population.

There are plenty of interesting things in all sorts of places that I just don't know about.

Alia jacta est.

"The dice are cast", said Ceasar and went to war.

Another thing I should learn how to do is to orient myself with a compass in the woods.

As a city-dweller I am used to things like streets and buildings as orientation marks and it is very hard for me to find my way in a landscape of trees, earth and skies. I would get lost in the woods in a second if ever I wanted to wander in a bit deeper.

Yet I do want to wander in.

Therefore I will buy myself a compass and will start using it right away to get the hang of it at least.

Actually, speaking of cats - I've seen quite a few on the biking trail where there were houses along the way. I don't know why they like so much to go on the trail, those feline hunters, but all in all I probably saw as many cats there as deer etc in wilder areas.

I made the right choice to camp in the meadows on my last night - in the setting sun I saw a flock of deer grasing in the distance, on a green green hill, and when I took a walk among tall grass in another overgrown field, I came face to face with a couple of them and they let me approach and grased while I stood there watching them.

Compared to such sights, what I am seeing now is a disgrace and a shame to the face of earth.

I am sitting here and I feel like I am in the deepest gutter - that's what it means for me, to get "back home". It's no fucking home - it's a prison and a garbage dump. I want outta here for good. FUCK THIS UGLY PLACE.

I am still aching and feeling demolished - too much bad emotion on the day of return. I wish I never had to go back. Right now I am thinking of getting a temp job gathering apples in some orchard within a 100km distance of Montreal. Once again I don't know what to do with my cat - I gave hell to my parents and asking them again to come feed the poor beast would be a bit too much to ask.

Question: how can one be independant and on the move when one has a cat?
Answer: sounds like too much of a good thing.

Massacre in North Ossetia (Russia).

Can't avoid news like that - Islamists fighting in Chechnya had taken hostage a huge school building full of children and their parents, over 1500 people in all (classes start on 1st of Sept. in Russia and parents always accompany the younger children on that first day, it's a tradition).

The school was immediately surrounded by special forces and thousands of parents and relatives. After only a couple of days mayhem errupted: terrorists had duck-taped explosives to the walls of the big hall where they had crammed all hostages, one of the bombs got accidentally detached, fell on the floor and exploded, part of the roof collapsed killing about a hundred kids, the wall collapsed, some hostages fled, terrorists opened fire on them, special forces returned fire, innumerable more kids and parents got shot in the process, some terrorists tried to flee, others barricaded themselves in the basement with some hostages, more fighting ensued with more victims among kids...

Basically, out of that 1500-something kids and parents a good third were killed or wounded with all this. And some terrorists managed to escape because of the total mayhem around the building.

In Russia things are never properly organized, it's a national characteristic - whenever there is a hostage-taking, there are always tons of victims because police and special forces can't organize, they can only shoot. When there was a hostage-taking in the Moscow theater, special forces caused the death of over a hundred hostages out of 750 with gas - it was supposed to paralize the terrorists, it did - but after that, during the evacuation, soldiers carried out unconscious people head down and first aid could not be immediately administered because of the mayhem in front of the building: these 120 people simply chocked to death.

Terrorists are bad fucks - but in Russia it's not they who kill most people in the end, it's always the clumsy stupid mayhem caused by innumerable idiots with guns who are supposed to protect the public.

This is not about to change - Russia is a uniquely stupid country, people there don't even get upset about this, they think it can't be otherwise. Yeah sure.

Call of the road.

If I wanted to go again I would need a somewhat warmer sleeping bag - I've been quite lucky for the duration of my trip because nights were all above 10C, except for the first one on Tuesday August 24th when I felt some serious chill due to low temps that night and lots of humidity (I camped in high grass, of all places). That's when I fully appreciated the wool blanket I took with me to supplement the flimsy sleeping bag - I put on a thick wool-sweater, rolled in the wool blanket inside the bag and was finally able to sleep until the morning. But without a tent you can't really do it every single night - either the bag has to be a monster of warmth or you have to have something really thick and warm to put on your back.

Of course it's true that I can't buy a warmer bag - but I might take another, fater wool-blanket with me, even though it would be pretty bulky on the back rack. It's also true that I won't be able to go with my canvas sneakers in September - once again because of much friskier temps in general. Having wet feet is a piece of cake when temps are warm, but it becomes a great problem when chill is in the air.

Basically I was lucky to catch the last warm days of summer - ever since my return on 1st of September nights have been really frisky. I got back just in time, it seems.

Day three.

Third day in the city - my whole body aches, quite literally. If I were still on a trip I wouldn't even feel it, I would guess.

I want to leave again - the bike is still usable, money or no money.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

No photos, sorry.

Another thing I know - I will never bring a camera on a bike trip and with good reason: the best memories are to be fermented and kept under the skin - pictures are not necessary for that kind of memory, and showing pictures to others doesn't show what you can only experience not so much with your eyes but with your whole body.

A bike trip is nothing like tourism - it's a whole person experience.


Right now I don't really feel like detailing all the little things that happened during the trip but I'll just note some of the more memorable ones. The most interesting effect was that I found myself talking to lots of people - I felt so open and so free, and the people in small places were also much more friendly and curious than I am used to in the city. Outside of Montreal there are practically no immigrants - it's real Quebec people, who have a sense of community and of being in their rightful place. They are not very multicultural and don't travel very far, so to them strangers and travellers are a curiosity still. People approached me while I was having my coffee break in gas stations and just chatted with me - because I looked like such a beatnik with my bizarre low-tech equipment and easy going attitude. It was a surprising experience - I thought I would want to avoid people, but the exact opposite happened.

The more interesting chats were with older blue-collar guys - they are frequently philosophically minded and have an opinion about everything. Women never approached me, it was always men - and I don't think this was due to me being a female. I think it's rather the fact that men are more outgoing and I was very outgoing myself. If I were a guy with the same attitude they'd still talk to me in exactly the same way, I think. Basically, I was doing a guy thing with my solo camping trip - that's what they recognized, that sort of self-reliance which is typically masculine most of the time. It is this kind of attitude that makes one think for oneself - so they chatted with me from the same pespective. It then occured to me that I should actually act more like they do - approach people who seem interesting and talk to them without hesitation. I am not used to this because of my life in the city, but this is exactly the thing I feel like doing and on that trip I tried to act on my desires more because it made me feel free. Finally I saw a guy who was obviously doing a very big biking tour (he was French from the Alps and was doing a tour of Quebec this summer, he looked like a mountaneer), a bit in my own style but more serious, and I talked to him. It was a good idea because he told me interesting stuff about his life. Pity we didn't have more time, as I would have liked to listen to some more of his experiences.


On the way back I met a solo guy in a rustic camping (a free location - the only one along the whole trail) - it was the rainy day and I didn't bike very far so I stopped there and saw there was already somebody there. The guy was nice, a Quebecquer who works in a bread-making factory in Montreal, we continued together on the next day and camped in an abandonned private lot marked "for sale". But he had different ideas about what he wanted from his trip and it got on my nerves in the end - he's not really a cyclist but loves camping, so he was mostly looking for very specific camping conditions on this trip which made looking for a free place rather difficult (for instance he refused to take a shower when we had a chance and instead kept looking for a suitable river to bath in and do his laundry, and when we didn't find one got all sour and upset - that kind of thing). On the second day he seemed to develop a bit of a crash on me, which didn't improve things from my perspective, plus I found that travelling with a companion was very limiting - I didn't have the freedom to talk to other people and he didn't seem inclined to talk to anybody in any case. So at some point I just felt it was enough and asked him to go camp alone. Of course he was offended but I think I made the right decision - it's no use complicating things further out of politeness when there is a strong feeling that it's somehow bothersome.

The impression I got from him is that he's just a lonely guy with a pretty unhappy personal life and thus essentially always looking for a lucky meeting with a woman - I am pretty sure he considered me from that perspective, which is fine, but it wasn't my cup of tea from the go. He was very impressed with my "stealth camping" all alone - for some reason he thought it very unsual. Maybe it is unusual - I will have to travel some more to see if there are other solo girls doing the same thing out there, but I am pretty sure it's not that rare nowdays.

I felt a bit guilty that I dumped him that way because he was actually a perfectly nice fellow, but then I thought that it was for the best - false hopes are not a good idea, and we were about to start getting on each other nerves anyway. My conclusion is: solo travel is the best way, companions must be very temporary and very undemanding and self-sufficient. I started chatting to people again right after I got rid of this nice guy. Heh.


Actually this made me think about how I relate to sex - for me it always complicates things beyond measure. In a sense I could very well have occasional sex but I don't like this activity all that much, and the emotional element that puts in the necessary spice is the very one that complicates things in the end. Basically, I can very well bypass sex for the sake of a really worthwhile human relationship - to which sex would be a side-kick and not the other way around. Therefore it makes no sense for me to bang away with whoever if the guy can't be a real friend - only a boyfriend. Quite a few girls like sex a lot and the concept of a boyfriend is the one they're really concerned about. I am not like that - too bad for the guys I happen to meet, they have no chance with me, because I don't make friends easily and I am rarely directly attracted to a guy, therefore I am never looking for a mere boyfriend.

I know this is unusual and people get upset and nonplussed about this. But I have to stand my ground - because that's what I prefer, and screw all those "standard" behaviors everybody is supposed to live by.

Actually the type of relationship I would be most comfortable with is examplified in the book-adapted-to-film called "Out of Africa" - by Karen Blix, a Dutch woman (who wrote under the masculine pseudonym of Isaak Dinsen). The difference between a self-reliant woman and other women is exactly the same as the difference between men and women: because self-reliance is traditionally a masculine attitude. It also means - freedom. None of this excludes love and sex however - but it excludes all those classical demands on another's freedom and possessiveness ("oh, but he's *my* boyfriend! - "oh, but she's *mine*!" - blah, I say).


On my fourth day, that is Friday August 27th, I woke up to find that my rear tyre was torn and some air has leeked out of the tube. It was somewhat gray and threatening rain, so I packed up and biked to the nearest covered rest-stop on the trail (they have some all along) where I changed both the tyre and the tube (I had a spare one that was a bit long to sit comfortably inside the tyre). It didn't take as long as I thought it would but it made me lose some time.

I pomped the tyre with my hand-pomp but of course it wasn't optimal because I can't put in that much air pressure. Then I biked into a town with a gas station and proceeded to put some air into the newly changed tube. I went to the nearby grocery shop and upon my return found that the tyre had exploded off the wheel - either I haven't adjusted the tube properly in the first place or I just put in too much air to begin with. So I had to patch the other tube that I took out during the first repair - it had two punctures. I was able to patch it very nicely in both places but still the whole unpacking and repacking of the bike to liberate the rear-wheel took some time (as my bike bags were makeshift and were bound to the rack with ropes and stuff). All this happened already after I took some time sitting in a cafe eating a bagel - thinking that I was all set to go.

The town was called Lac Nominingue.

So basically when I was done it was already late afternoon and there was no chance I could bike all the way to the end of trail that day - this is why it took one day longer for me to go than to return, not to mention the fact that I really took my time exploring small towns on the way in previous days.

So I biked on some more and then went to camp in a splendidly isolated location on the trail called "observation post for the swamps": in fact it wasn't a swamp but rather a beautiful wild lake which is where I saw a beaver make his way in the water - there were a lot of mosquitos too but the trail was high above the lake with a splendid view of the mountains, and thus a gorgeous sunset and no less gorgeous sunrise the next morning. And so on Saturday I took it really easy and spent some time at the lake and then finally got to Mont Laurier, the big regional town.

The good thing is that workers at the gas station and nearby grocery store were very concerned with my biking repairs and offered help all the time - both moral and technical, they figured I wouldn't be able to do it on my own (heh, wrong again). This event also gave me a chance to learn how not to make stupid mistakes when changing a tube and inflating a tyre in field conditions rather than at home (where everything is dry and comfortable and you have all your concentration) - all in all I wasn't at all upset but rather greatful for all these difficulties. Plus I was pretty worn out from previous days of biking and some bad nights I had spent in stealth camping - as I said, I was initially somewhat paranoid about the whole idea of sleeping in lots marked "private" all over the place (not to mention animal sounds at night: when you're not used to it, you can't have a sound night's sleep - something I became comfortable with only a few nights later, with habit).

Btw, the travelling companion guy I met later showed me some things I didn't know how to do: he explained to me how to make a fire with really wet wood (it was raining that day) and he also gave me confidence that making a fire in a private terrain was not such a big deal - so when I separated from him and went camping alone I chose a big clover field to have a view of the starry skies at night and I made a fire at the edge of the field - it was very visible but nobody came to check and there were no people in sight in any case. In the morning I threw away ashes and charcoals into the bushes and covered the burned spot with green grass - there was no way of telling I had made a fire there, I was amazed. It's also true that the night happened to be very wet because of all the mildew in the field, but it didn't bother me that much in my synthetic sleeping bag. Another thing I found cool is that camp-fire smoke completely eliminates mosquitoes.


Of course there were other little things that happened - like the fact that I kept looking for a mirror to put on my bike so I could go off the trail on the roads, but in the end I had visited 5 or 6 bike-shops in different towns and not one of the current models they had was suitable for my type of handlebar. Finally, in some hunter's outdoors shop in L'Annonciation I found a match with the help of a very energetic and fun service guy with a big imagination who managed to fix a motorbike mirror to my handlebars, with some major tinkering and a lot of jokes. It was a memorable experience because it's not every day that you encounter such amusing characters.

All in all I found Quebec people very nice - at least they were all nice to me, I can't know how they are with others. In L'Annonciation a woman came up to me to talk, she said she was of mixed indian heritage and she looked very poor (on welfare) and worn out. But we had a good chat - I think she was lonely and appreciated the fact that I was willing to listen to her woes.


Speaking of women who came up to talk to me - the only other one who did that was in the touristy center of Mont-Tremblant: I can't possibly describe just how touristy and upper-middle-class this place looks. I went all the way up there for a good cup of coffee and of course I looked totally bizarre there with my garbage bike loaded with garbage equipment and my very own person looking so very much out of money - it might as well have been in downtown Paris, I would not have looked more out of place. One woman there who looked like an upper-class tourist was so intrigued by my sight that she came up with a mixture of timidity and envy, not really sure how to communicate with me. In the end she asked about the weather, if I thought it would rain (as if I were any expert - but she thought I might be with my radical outdoors style) - but I could see that she was lonely in that place and envious of my total freedom. There was also a tinge of admiration in her eyes - she was in her late 30's, I think, very much a career woman.

Actually quite a few of those herded moneyed tourists glanced at me with secret longing and real envy while I was sitting at the terrasse of the cafe there, having my coffee before the long day - I could well understand why: doing the standard touristy thing is the most dreadful thing on earth, you have no liberty and are emprisonned in your own "high-standards-of-living". To them I examplified total liberty - and that's exactly how I felt myself: all that wealth around just didn't stick to me.

I particularly remember one young japanese student with hip bleached hair, all alone and clearly bored to death, who passed and gave me a look of pure desperation - poor guy, probably was dragged here by his parents or something like that.

Poor poor wealthy people! - that's what I kept thinking while observing this horrid commercial place.


What else? That's enough for now - I'll write more as I keep thinking about the trip.

Splendid day.

Finally I feel perfectly on top of things today - liberated. Slept some until noon, then immediately proceeded to drape my loyal green tarp (it still smells of camp fire) on the side of the balcony where the tree used to be - so I don't have to see the emptiness there and the windows of the adjacent building. It was a concrete action that took some of the anger out - being pro-active about such things is always a good idea.


Also went to a bike repair shop to check out the situation with my front fork. The guy there is a typical eccentric - very easy going and fun to talk to. He said he would straighten out the fork for $12 and looked menacing while giving the price - my bike looks so trashy he probably thought I might refuse to pay. But in the end we started chatting and he showed me what trick he uses to straighten bent forks etc, and then he refused to take money from me. Go figure.

Actually he used a modified car-jack to straighten the fork. Since the handles of the fork were initially somewhat off, he couldn't adjust the jack properly and though he was able to relieve stiff steering, I think the thing remained somewhat crooked or maybe the front hub is crooked now, I am not sure. In any case it was honest of him not to take any money for this fast job because it wasn't perfect - it would have required a lot of readjustments and unbending of various bent parts to make it perfect. But I can now ride the bike ok and maybe adjust a few things on my own to get a better balance.

And voila. Besides, I really would like to chat with this guy again - even though he repairs bikes, he told me that he rides a sports motorcycle and never goes for tours or travelling, only goes out of town to ride on winding roads. Kinda special. He has a red cat for companion in the shop and the cat is very cool and peaceful. I think the guy is a loner and has a pretty bad temper which is why he is alone - but that doesn't matter, it's always like that with eccentrics. He is very anti-commercial and has pretty predictable 1960's ideas (there is a written note in his shop window saying that people in business suits are forbidden from entering his establishment - heh) but there are some eccentricities about him that are hard to figure out. Hopefully I'll find a good time to go visit for another chat, most of the time he's pretty busy with work.


Something funny and unusual happened - I was going to my apartment when a black guy saw me on the stairs and started cruising me right there and then. He was funny about it, so it was kinda a cool - doesn't happen very often to me because I am mostly in a pretty sour unsociable mood. But today I feel very happy and self-assured - I took this episode as an external confirmation of just how good my mental state is right now. I am full of energy and punch - and thus naturally sexy.


Well, I should perhaps mention that the weather is splendid too - typical blazing september sun with slight chill in the air.

Who cares about trees, squirrels and all that shit?

The reason the landlord gave for cutting down the tree was that its branches were hitting against the building (as explained by the philippino janitor who barely speaks english)... That's no reason at all: branches can be trimmed and it doesn't cost that much. I wonder if this was the real reason - and if it was, then this guy should be hung on a piano string from the nearest tree available.

Fucking rat.

I think I am pretty mad about this - madder than I first thought I would be. Will go to the city administration to see what's their take on these things - normally they require people to submit for a permission to cut down trees. Will also go to the environment protection commission to see if they care. If nobody cares, I will make them care.

The tree is very much gone of course and I will move outta here, that's one obvious thing. Nevertheless I don't like letting people do shit unpunished. Somebody will get a broomstick handle up his ass real soon.


My cat was so glad to see me, he was so tender, so imbued with love and joy, I almost felt ashamed for having left him alone like that. Of course he thought I had abandonned him for good - it's incredible what emotional beating animals are prepared to take and still never lose that capacity to forgive and love again.


The three squirrels that lived in the tree are now orphaned. They're running around jumping on balconies, including mine, looking for their lost home and food. I will buy some sunflower grains to feed the poor beasts. There is a wooden electric pole just in front of my balcony - that's all there is now in terms of wild-life habitat in this particular backyard.


I've reversed-checked the phone number of the landlord to find out where he lives. The cocksuckers has a house in the wealthiest jewish area in town (Hampstead). He also goes to the sefarim synagogue across the street from my building (the whole congregation of that fucking synagogue comes from that area anyhow) - he probably bought our buildings from seeing them too often, when the speculation wave started a few years back. All the wealthy jews bought over more poor-people housings and are now making a buck out of it, driving prices up. May he burn in hell, the rat.

I know that area very well - it's well protected, they have a municipal police fleet that patrol there all the time. I wish I could smash his windows or something like that. Could prove too difficult. If I knew how to make a bomb I'd certainly send one to the above address. I fully understand that this cocksucker thinks he's not doing anything wrong - that's the problem with these wealthy rats, they have no moral sense whatsoever.

P'tit-train du Nord trail.

Here's a site of a small motel in the north that gives a good description of the trail I followed - it used to be a railroad that got partially transformed into a biking path which is a pretty brilliant idea because it's essentially impossible to bike through the Laurentian mountains on the roads - climbs are way too many and far too steep for anyone who is not an accomplished athlete (I tried to leave the trail a few times but it proved completely impossible for me, my bags, and my old bike). The railroad itself goes on for another 300km up north past Mont-Laurier all the way to Val d'Or (the "vallee of the gold" - so called because of all the gold mines up there) but it goes through a huge wildlife reservation with no human presence and rather inhospital landscapes and I don't think they are going to develop it any further - this would bring no touristy money to anyone, plus most tourists can't bike that far anyhow.

Initially I feared that the trail would prove too "well-managed" by which I mean - too touristy and money oriented, but my fears were progressively placated the farther north I went: there are huge stretches that are completely free of any human presence and that's where I finally felt the bliss I was looking for. All the northern portion of the trail, the so called Northern Laurentians, is just gorgeous - that's where I saw all the animals and no people for hours and hours (here's a Wikipedia article describing the area I am talking about).

I reached Mont-Laurier on Saturday. The previous days the weather was just perfect but on Sunday it was gray and raining buckets. I couldn't bear the idea of staying in town just because of rain so I took off anyway, in my vynil rain-suit and plastic bags over shoes: this was the day when I experienced my best biking - in the rain, who could have thought. The trail was completely deserted - that's when I saw all the deer, not to mention the particular beauty of the rainy landscape. Which is to say that a biker should never be afraid of getting wet, unless it's really terribly cold and windy I suppose - which was not the case at all here.

I also cried a lot that day for reasons described in the previous post - the rift between my life and the life I could live there, I fell through the gap.


Of course there were adventures on the way. Early on I started taking brief notes on bits of scrap paper as it became evident that the multiplicity of impressions would roll all these little moments into a ball in the end. That's exactly what happened - I am glad I have these notes now as I am trying to put it all together in my head.


My whole body aches from the effort yesterday to get past the suburbs as quickly as possible and stiff steering due to the accident with the bike. Now that I am not going anywhere anymore and feeling stuck in hell, it hurts even worse. In the first days of my trip I was also pretty tired at the end of each day - but it never felt as bad because the next day was always full of future, full of surprises. Travel is a wonderful thing - it worns you out but it's worth it.


I wasn't able to avoid a raw with my parents yesterday for having turned my apartment upside down - I couldn't take a shower and couldn't cook myself some food, I was really angry due to the bike accident, the city, and having found that I can't look out of the window anymore because it's so deathly ugly out there without the tree-of-paradise. So I basically asked them to go to hell and immediately felt some relief after they left. I guess I will apologize but they full knew they would get on my nerves with this - it's an old subject of contention and they should quit imagining they can make my life better than it is with their "ameliorative" intrusions. Anyway - it was a godawful day and I finally took a shower at 3am in the morning, having waken up in tears with visions of the mountains etc etc etc etc.


I spent about a hundred bucks in 8 days for food, drink and occasional expenses like laundry. Not including emergency expenses on the credit card (tire for rear wheel, tube, mirror) - but I won't count it because I'll keep paying the same minimum monthly fee as I've been doing for the past 4 years anyway for my Berlin debt. I spent more than I should have in Mont-Laurier (the end-point of the trail) because I was depressed and because this is what happens when you end up in a big town all alone after a few days on the road. I paid myself a beer at the bar, a snack at MacDonalds, and a big breakfeast in a road diner before taking off on my return trip (rainy night under tarp-tent and rainy morning to greet me: I needed something hot).

To recap:
  • I started out at 10:30am on Tuesday, August 24
  • I reached the end of the trail 240km up north in Mont-Laurier on Saturday afternoon
  • I was back in Mtl on Wednesday September 1st at about 3:30pm

    I wish I could have been gone for much longer than that (could have taken another bike trail, there are plenty in Quebec) but I was running out of money, that simple.

  • Post-wilderness depression.

    I am pretty sure this is a common phenomenon - people who return from pure nature to the urban mayhem are likely to go through a crisis of disgust and deep revulsion towards everything human. It's 2:30am and I woke up with visions of mountains in my mind and a sense of desperation due to being back to this fucking hell.

    I've always had a strong unconfirmed suspicion that my endless suicidal moods and my pervasive unhappiness were due in no small measure to my being stuck in the city - this trip showed just how right I was about this. I had moments in deep woods up north where I found myself crying hot tears while biking - because the natural world is so unspeakably beautiful and I've been kept so far removed from it all my life. This mostly happened when I got to see wild animals up close - lots of deer and one baby-bear who took off into the bushes when he saw me approaching. Way up north the bike trail remains empty for most of the day (at least off season - I am glad I didn't go in July) so I had it all for myself and the animals have not yet learned to avoid people altogether. Some deer took off, others stayed put, letting me go by only at a few feet distance. The innocence of wild animals and of nature in general is beyond description - to me it proved almost heartbreaking.

    These are images that are stuck in my head now and it's like a painted screen through which I dimly distinguish the "usual" reality I have to live in. The fact that the landlord had cut down the only tree in our backyard (which was there probably before the building was even built) is symbolic of what it is like in the city - humans are perverted ugly bastards obsessed with green paper, that's the basic premise of collective human existence these days and I really wish somebody showed me otherwise. In small towns it's a bit different - there is still a sense of community that is not exclusively based on money-making, especially for blue-collar folks who mostly live there. They might be unwelcoming to strangers but they have a pretty strong sense of being part of the "country" and are pretty protective of it - which is a good thing, for all I know: somebody must resist all that endless "economic development".


    It's very hard for me to describe just how happy I felt at times when I was completely alone there - amidst all that beauty. What I can describe is the sudden onset of depression whenever I approached a densely populated area - this first happened when I reached the end of the trail in a medium-size town 200km up north (Mont-Laurier) and at first I didn't even understand why my mood took such a plunge there when I saw all those shopping malls and cars and people. But it was simply because I once again found myself in an urban area. The same thing got repeated when I got back to the Montreal metropolitan area yesterday - the same sudden low that got progressively worse the deeper I went into the city. For me the formula seems very simple, really: city is hell.

    Wednesday, September 01, 2004

    Shit happens.

    Actually, the day started nice and early - with mildew in a field of clover and a good-morning coffee at a small-town gas station - but as soon as I approached the metropolitan area things started to go real sour.

    I had a bad-luck accident that damaged my bike: ramed staight into a safety barrier on the biking path, the front wheel got stuck under it, the front fork went all bent and I think the rear wheel also took a beating due to all the load on the back rack. The barrier was invisible from the turn and there were no signs to announce its presence: I will try to make the management of the bike trail pay for repairs because it wasn't really my fault - especially since they made me pay for the use of the trail, forcing me to go back a few kilometers to a town in order to take out some cash and pay for the fucking sticker ($15). Anyway - I had to bike through the suburbs with very stiff steering which is what happens when the front fork gets bent as badly as it did. Had I been going at any significant speed I would have flown right over the barrier head first - a great way to break your neck, I would say.

    In the end I didn't break my neck but it really broke my mood - which got progressively worse with hordes of cyclists on the trail near the city and the rush hour traffic on the roads. Lord, there's nothing uglier on this earth than a big city. And now I am sitting here, in the middle of it, and I feel like I am sitting in a huge garabage dump, smelling all the garbage smells, hearing all the garbage noises, seeing all the dumpster views.... FUCK THIS.


    I am speaking to the blog before I get to speak to my parents - because I am so mad I might take it on them too. So I better leave it all here for now. Thank god for internet.

    Fuck this twice over.

    Of course since my parents came here to feed the cat they also completely disfigured my apartment and made it nearly unusable - all in the name of some superior standard of cleanliness. I knew it would happen so I am not at all surprised I can't take a shower now because the bathtub is full of some crap or use the kitchen because all the stuff is being soaked in some chemical solution - etc etc.

    I actually also suspected the tree would be cut in my absence - just a hunch, my hunches are sometimes inexplicably precise.

    All in all, I should most definitely move to a much-much-much smaller town, away from my parents and their obsessions, and basically start a new life because there's just no goddam reason on earth why I should continue this godawful existence in this fucking hole.

    Back to hell.

    So - I am back from my trip to the backcountry. It was paradise. Now I feel like I am back in hell. While I was away the landlord cut the tree facing my balcony - now the view resembles everything an urban wasteland is supposed to look like. I wasn't even surprised, it just confirmed the general feeling of hellishness and ugliness I've been experiencing all day long while biking through the suburbs into the city.


    That's all I can say for now.

    / 10/19/2003 - 10/26/2003 / / 10/26/2003 - 11/02/2003 / / 11/02/2003 - 11/09/2003 / / 11/09/2003 - 11/16/2003 / / 11/16/2003 - 11/23/2003 / / 11/23/2003 - 11/30/2003 / / 11/30/2003 - 12/07/2003 / / 12/07/2003 - 12/14/2003 / / 12/14/2003 - 12/21/2003 / / 12/21/2003 - 12/28/2003 / / 12/28/2003 - 01/04/2004 / / 01/04/2004 - 01/11/2004 / / 01/11/2004 - 01/18/2004 / / 01/18/2004 - 01/25/2004 / / 01/25/2004 - 02/01/2004 / / 02/01/2004 - 02/08/2004 / / 02/08/2004 - 02/15/2004 / / 02/15/2004 - 02/22/2004 / / 02/22/2004 - 02/29/2004 / / 02/29/2004 - 03/07/2004 / / 03/07/2004 - 03/14/2004 / / 03/14/2004 - 03/21/2004 / / 03/21/2004 - 03/28/2004 / / 03/28/2004 - 04/04/2004 / / 04/04/2004 - 04/11/2004 / / 04/11/2004 - 04/18/2004 / / 04/18/2004 - 04/25/2004 / / 04/25/2004 - 05/02/2004 / / 05/02/2004 - 05/09/2004 / / 05/09/2004 - 05/16/2004 / / 05/16/2004 - 05/23/2004 / / 05/23/2004 - 05/30/2004 / / 05/30/2004 - 06/06/2004 / / 06/06/2004 - 06/13/2004 / / 06/13/2004 - 06/20/2004 / / 06/20/2004 - 06/27/2004 / / 06/27/2004 - 07/04/2004 / / 07/04/2004 - 07/11/2004 / / 07/11/2004 - 07/18/2004 / / 07/18/2004 - 07/25/2004 / / 07/25/2004 - 08/01/2004 / / 08/01/2004 - 08/08/2004 / / 08/08/2004 - 08/15/2004 / / 08/15/2004 - 08/22/2004 / / 08/22/2004 - 08/29/2004 / / 08/29/2004 - 09/05/2004 / / 09/05/2004 - 09/12/2004 / / 09/12/2004 - 09/19/2004 / / 09/19/2004 - 09/26/2004 / / 09/26/2004 - 10/03/2004 / / 10/03/2004 - 10/10/2004 / / 10/10/2004 - 10/17/2004 / / 10/17/2004 - 10/24/2004 / / 10/24/2004 - 10/31/2004 / / 10/31/2004 - 11/07/2004 / / 02/20/2005 - 02/27/2005 / / 02/27/2005 - 03/06/2005 / / 03/13/2005 - 03/20/2005 / / 03/20/2005 - 03/27/2005 / / 03/27/2005 - 04/03/2005 / / 04/03/2005 - 04/10/2005 / / 04/10/2005 - 04/17/2005 / / 04/17/2005 - 04/24/2005 / / 04/24/2005 - 05/01/2005 / / 05/01/2005 - 05/08/2005 / / 05/08/2005 - 05/15/2005 / / 05/15/2005 - 05/22/2005 / / 05/22/2005 - 05/29/2005 / / 05/29/2005 - 06/05/2005 / / 06/05/2005 - 06/12/2005 / / 06/12/2005 - 06/19/2005 / / 07/03/2005 - 07/10/2005 / / 09/04/2005 - 09/11/2005 / / 09/11/2005 - 09/18/2005 / / 09/18/2005 - 09/25/2005 / / 09/25/2005 - 10/02/2005 / / 10/02/2005 - 10/09/2005 / / 10/16/2005 - 10/23/2005 / / 11/13/2005 - 11/20/2005 / / 11/27/2005 - 12/04/2005 /