Thursday, 26 July 2012

Classic Car Competition at the Orange Julep

Have you heard of Orange Julep? That giant Orange on Decarie boulevard? It's a greasy potato shack kind of place that sells burgers, steamed hot dogs and poutine with their signature drink. The Orange Julep drink is basically orange juice mixed with milk. Yeah, I know, what idiot would mix those two together. Wouldn't the milk coagulate? Well it turns out it's pretty tasty! It's a refreshing creamy orange drink that will help you wash down the gravy and melted curd cheese of that deliciously greasy poutine.

The Orange Julep is a hot spot for car enthusiasts. Many Montreal based auto clubs meet there once a month. Sometimes you'll have the Honda Civic club gathering there or a Jeep club get together. Yesterday was fantastic though. I was just getting out of work when I passed by and saw that they were having a classic cars competition! I immediately pulled my car across the boulevard and turned into the Orange Julep parking lot to go check out the beautiful classics, the hot rods and old muscle cars on display.

Here are a few pictures that I snapped while walking around the lot.

El Camino SS!

Low rider Buick Century 1951

This is a Studebaker Champion. Never thought I'd see one of those in real life.

This was probably the best looking Mustang on the log.

I think this might be a Mercury?
Edit: No, it's another Chevrolet Belair, 1959

This is an Austin Healy 3000! Another rarity.

I have no idea what this is, but damn it's hot!
I think it might be a Plymouth Coupe...

This Corvette is stunning! Very classy!

Another hot rod! I would love to drive one of those one day.
This is a modified Plymouth Coupe from the 1940's for sure.

PIMPMOBILE!!! That land yacht is a Lincoln Town Car.
You need a scooter to get from the front of the car all the way to the back.

Pontiac Firebird with the complimentary pin-up gal of the night.

My Favourites of the night were the Chevrolet Belair. They looked fantastic! I completely fell in love with them just because of the sheer details in the car. You definitely get a feel of the era with the aeroplane-like parts and the wings. They were in perfect stock condition too! A real treasure!

Just look at that beautiful thing!
Check out the chrome bird on the hood!

I think this model above was an earlier model from 1956. This next one is from a year later, 1957, and is in my opinion much better looking. I absolutely love the hood and the chrome front grille and bumpers. The fact that they painted the back of the car the same colour as the rest and the chrome around the headlights and the tail wings also gives it a little extra oomph. Definitely my favourite of the lot.

You can check out the entire photo album here: Walking Solo - Classic Car Competition at the Orange Julep

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Walking Solo Playlist - Fists Buried in Pockets.

I was talking to my brother in law the other day about making a playlist of songs I could listen to while walking around Montreal. He immediately suggested a song to me. Now, him and I have stark differences in taste when it comes to music. He's more into energetic punk rock/heavy metal stuff and I'm more into mellow electro/hip hop sounds. But, the song he made me listen to really got to me. It's the song Fists buried in pockets by the very indie punk rock band from Richmond Virginia, The Riot Before. These guys don't even have a Wikipedia article! Sadly, I think the band broke up last November and they haven't released any more albums. That's too bad. I'm not really the indie rock type, but this band was probably one of the few I actually like.

I started walking around about three months ago to ease the pain from a recent heartbreak. I was in deep sorrow and I couldn't stand in place without the memories of my past relationship filling my head, so I walked, for hours on end, to keep my mind focused on sights and places around the city. The lyrics of Fists Buried in Pockets reached out to me in these grief-filled times of my life, because they pretty much expressed how I felt. So, I thought I'd share them with you.

The Riot Before - Fists Buried in Pockets

The venue is filled floor to ceiling with smoke
So tonight I'm walking these streets all alone
Fists buried in pockets, clenched against the persisting cold

High overhead the brightly lit billboards are advertising
Things that I can't afford
Like luxury watches, new cars and hospitals

I'm sick to my stomach with this deep fear of death
That heaven's not coming Ive learned to accept
Slowly breathe this cold air in my lungs and I circulate it

Freezing wind blowing glass in my eyes
Seems hellbent on making me deny
That I won't lead a palindrome life
Slowly exhale
Warm air 
Then I watch it rise
So I lengthen my stride

Of course, I kept on walking up until now because it was a good exercise and I discovered lots of cool stuff. I explored new areas of Montreal and rediscovered places where I never really stopped to smell the flowers and look at the beautiful sights it had to offer. I started taking pictures and wanted to share my discoveries and that's how this blog started.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Biking in my old borough

About a month ago I went to hang out with my good old childhood buddy up in Blainville, the town he calls his new home. There is a beautiful nature park there and he really wanted me to see it so he invited me to bring my mountain bike so we could go ride the trails. It was an great experience, the park was beautiful. But, the whole experience made me realize that not once have I gone biking since I moved back from Ottawa. My legs felt like spaghetti noodles when we came back after an hour. Just one hour! I used to bike for several hours on end just two summers ago! Also, that would explain why my legs lost a lot of strength. I knew then that I had to get back to it and bike more often.

So a couple of weeks ago I went bike riding in the Parc de la Pointe-Aux-Prairies in my childhood borough of Pointe-Aux-Trembles in Montreal's east-end. This park was my peace haven through school. I would just take my mountain bike and race all the way to the park, go through it, and come back. That would take me at least two hours and boy did it feel good.

Mah wheels.

Here are a couple of videos to show you what it looks like. WARNING: Mind your speakers' volume!

The Parc de la Pointe-Aux-Prairies is a nice nature area at the east tip of Montreal Island. It's a little forest spotted with marshes and a few clearings. It's probably the only area in Montreal where the air actually feels breathable, even though it is surrounded by refineries to the west, a highway goes through it and the city's water purification plant sits in the middle of it. That says a lot about the air quality in Montreal.

Riding through that park is so relaxing. It's a beautiful area with wild flowers everywhere. I always come across different animals such as groundhogs, rabbits, turtles, ducks, deer, etc. I remember this one evening, I was on my way back home and I came face to face with a small deer. It just stopped, raised its head and I stopped dead in my tracks with a surprised look on my face. We just stared at each other like two idiots and it just went on in the woods all chill like it was nothing. That was pretty awesome. There are also tons of birds there and it's a favourite spot of many birdwatchers.

The most rewarding part, in my opinion, is when I reach the other side of the park and end up on Boulevard Gouin on the banks of the Rivière Des Prairies. The view is beautiful and I always like to stop by the water and sort of meditate. Water helps me relax so much and is a way for me to empty my mind of all stress.

I eventually backtracked to head back home and I noticed that the city has worked on a new path to go to the woods of the Chapelle de la Réparation, Pointe-Aux-Trembles' go to church for local Catholics. I wanted to see the new work that had been done and that path would take me closer to home anyway.

They actually dug a trail. That was so unnecessary!
The trail was perfectly fine before!

*Angels signing in the background*

As I exited the church parking lot I finished my run through the streets of Pointe-Aux-Trembles and went back home. My legs were, once again, all wobbly and I could barely support myself, but god damn it felt good to bike again!

Monday, 16 July 2012

An evening in Ottawa

Yep! Back in Ottawa. If I keep this up I'll have to change my address to walkingsoloottawa! I have to admit that I have missed many of my friends over there. My former co-workers and I went through some pretty difficult hardships with our former employer together which created a strong bond between us. Also, some of us formed a recreational dodge ball team with the Ottawa Sports Social Club and kicked some ass! Through that team I got to meet new people and new friendships were created. I miss those crazy bastards so much and I love them all!

Anyway, I had to go to Ottawa for work-related reasons for a couple of days. Needless to say, I took advantage of that to walk around the town before meeting with my old buddies and to reminisce in the couple of years I spent there.

Walking around this city again made me remember what the problem was with Montreal. My hometown has lost a lot of its charm. You're constantly stuck in traffic and feel trapped like you can't go anywhere. The landscape is littered with orange cones and construction signs everywhere. And all of this is due to the decrepit roads, bridges, overpasses and tunnels which all threaten to collapse at any moment. This makes everybody frustrated, impatient and angry on the road and makes driving a hell of a stressful experience. It also feels dirtier than ever. Walking around as much as I did, I realized that I had to wash my face every time I got home because of all the crap in the air that sticks to your skin. The cars seem to kick up so much dust, and mixed with their exhaust it just seems to stick everywhere. There's also a distinctive smell, or stench, around the downtown area. It probably comes from the backed-up sewers who can't handle any rain, the smoke from the many many chain smokers, that stuffy rubbery smell from the metro, all the overflowing trash cans lying in the hot sun, the mix of B.O. from every single person and the car exhaust fumes binding it all together. Everyone is rushing everywhere and when you want to have some fun you can't without spending any money. It's also very difficult to stay active without a gym membership of some kind.

Ottawa, on the other hand, is a beautiful city. Some call it boring, but in my opinion, it just has a different pace of life and there's just different activities to do. I remember when I lived there, in the morning I would open up my apartment windows and there would be a fresh breeze coming in that smelled like trees and grass all around, and I lived at about a 45 minute walk from downtown. The roads were beautiful, smooth and fun to drive with long winding roads all across the city with very few stops and traffic lights, and very little construction. You could get out of the city within 30 minutes on the highway and end up in the country. The air smelled fresh and cool and there were so many parks and green areas. People would get together and play flag football, Frisbee, volleyball, soccer, heck all kinds of sports. There were beautiful trails along the Rideau river and bike paths everywhere. People were active and spent their time outside having fun and socializing. You could see it in their face that they were more at peace over there and relaxed. I found them to be a lot more friendly too.

So, as far as walking around goes, I couldn't go too far. I was going to meet my friends later that night at the very good pub Chez Lucien in the Bytown area. So I walked through the business district of town and emerged in front of the Parliament and walked west for a bit until I reached the Bank of Canada.

This is where debt comes from.

Then I headed back and walked past the Confederation building. That building houses many offices for the members of parliament (MPs) It was built in the late 1920s and was finished in the early 1930s and used to house the department of agriculture, mostly.

This is where our politicians "work".

I walked up parliament hill and walked around the parliament building. I always liked to go there because you have such a beautiful view in the back. You can see Gatineau and the Gatineau hills in the distance and a big part of Bytown. The sun was setting when I was there and it was absolutely beautiful. The only thing though is that all the grass was dead. Like yellow and brown dead. Ottawa has been going through a bad drought and it really shows. In fact, while I was there, on the news that evening they announced that there was a bush fire some where in the west end of the city. That's how bad it was. Indeed the temperature was very hot, but because it was so dry it was still comfortable. The funny thing that evening is that the hill was overrun by rabbits, they were everywhere eating whatever green leaves they could find. I guess they must have been hungry as heck with all the plants dead.

After going around, I headed to the Byward Market in Bytown to walk around and look at the local shops. I remember just a couple of years ago how everyone went completely crazy because the U.S. president, Barack Obama, made a surprise visit in the Byward Market and bought some beaver tails and cookies. The cookie shop didn't waste any time in advertising their cookies now known as Obama cookies. I bet if prime minister Stephen Harper did the same, the shop would close down in shame. Apparently, now they also had royal cookies as well for when the royal family visits. Maybe that's because of when prince William and his wife Kate came to visit last year.

Later on I passed in front of the very famous Zaphod Beeblebrox bar. Named after the character in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, this bar is where the Rolling Stones shot their music video Streets of Love!

I remember spending an evening there with my good old friend who introduced me to The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He's one of the coolest dudes I know, and I mean that in terms of being cool, doing cool stuff for his job and being successful at it,  and also having a cool head with a positive outlook on life. I swear he's an incarnation of Zaphod Beeblebrox himself, but WAY more humble. We were pretty excited when we saw that the bar served the famous Pan-Galactic Gargle-Blaster! We worked our way through the list of mixed drinks named after the different characters until we got to that amazing drink. Indeed, at this point we both felt like our brain had been smashed by a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick.

Those were some smashing good times!

Just down the street I ended up in front of the American embassy. That building always made me feel uneasy because it looks like a freakin' high tech prison. Especially with all the concrete barriers and spiky metal fence all around it. It looks like a modern fortress. Anyway, they're still our crazy, retarded, gun-toting brother just south of us so walking in front of this building is my way of saying hello and that we love you guys no matter what. Just as long as you keep us out of your personal problems.


I walked back another street, passing Irish pub, after Irish pub, after Irish pub. I swear there's an Irish pub at every corner in this part of town. It's so dense with Irish pubs, they don't know where to put 'em anymore. I swear I wouldn't last long if I did a pub crawl around here.

Even back-alleys and parking lots have Irish pubs!

I reached Dalhousie street (pronounced Dal-hoooo-zee) and thought I'd go pay a friend a visit in her own store called Milk. Unfortunately, when I got there I was just 10 minutes too late. They had already closed. But, if ever you're in town, please go visit her store. It's a great place for fashionable, unique clothes and accessories for women as well as other very cool stuff.

Finally, it was time to enter Chez Lucien. I went in and sat at the bar and had a beer while waiting for my buddies. I had a bit of a chit chat with the friendly, lovely barmaids at this French-Canadian, Habs lovin' pub in the city of the Sens. (Watch some hockey, eh.) I got ourselves a table and as the waitress cleared it up for us my friends started to pop in one after another. I ordered myself a delicious Frida and Diego burger. Their burgers are without any doubt the best hamburgers in town. And that's saying a lot considering they have the most amazing gourmet burger chain there called The Works. I had a great time with my dear Ottawa friends and I was so happy to see them again. Eventually every one had to go as all good things must come to an end, but one buddy and I went to another bar near Ottawa University and spent the rest of the night playing Foosball. Best. Night. Ever.

Now before I end this post, I'd like to make an honourable mention. The next day, I was going back home with another Ottawa friend, and dodge ball ex-teammate, who was going to spend the weekend in Montreal with me. Before hitting the road, she took me to another southern soul food place called Jean Albert's American Style Soul Food. Now remember how bat shit crazy I am over fried chicken? And remember how I went insane on Canada day when I found out about Fatboy's Southern Smokehouse? Well, dear readers, Jean Albert's even better! I ordered the fried chicken and it comes with a choice of two sides. I ordered some mashed potatoes and collard greens. Everything was absolutely delicious!!! This is home made stuff, folks. It cannot get any better than this. Indeed this is the very best soul food I've ever had and I am definitely coming back. Pay LeRoy a visit when you're in town and eat at Jean Albert's! You'll definitely won't regret it y'all!