My passage into Canada Wednesday morning signaled the beginning of three days of pleasant, but unremarkable travel. The two lane Trans-Canada highway carried me east a little over 600 miles (or 1000 kilometers, now that I was in a country with a sensible measurement system) through nothing much more than forests of green conifers, impressive roadside moose warning signs and occasional chip (french fry) stands. I was headed to Montreal where I would be retrieving Mark from the airport so we could settle in for a weekend of exploring one of North America's older and more vibrant cities.
On the way, I made a quick stop to the park outside Ottawa's Canada Science and Technology Museum so I could see a stainless steel Atlas rocket, the same model launch vehicle that carried astronaut John Glenn into orbital flight in 1962. I had data to gather for my own back yard rocket, after all.
While I circled the rocket, admiring the gleam of the Buck Rogers exterior, I was amused to watch as the museum led a rocket launching activity for kids. It seemed like a great way to get kids thinking about the physics of the 70 foot rocket that cast a long shadow over their efforts.
I also had the pleasure of spotting my very first Tesla Roadster, plugged into an electric charging station in front of the museum. I'm a big fan of Elon Musk (chief product architect of Tesla motors, co-inventor of PayPal and CEO/CTO of SpaceX Rockets), so it was nice to be able to finally see one of his most famous accomplishments in person.
As I got closer to Montreal Friday afternoon, I stopped in at one of the many, many famous cheese makers in the Quebec (province) region, Glengarry Fine Cheese. After sampling a few of their award winning cheeses, I honed in on a blue cheese that intrigued me because it was made with water buffalo milk. As soon as I tasted a morsel of the marvelous Azzuro di Buffala, I was in love. It is without a doubt one of the loveliest cheeses I've had the pleasure of eating in a long while. I purchased a wedge for my picnic stash and then pulled back onto the two lane country highway that had carried me there to retrace my path a few kilometers and investigate a sign I'd seen previously indicating the ruins of a church. That seemed like an ideal place for an al fresco snack on a sunny summer day. It turns out it was perfect - tall neoclassical walls unfettered by a roof, surrounded by ancient headstones, green rolling hills and the intriguing odors of the country. A persistent breeze made keeping my picnic supplies at bay a bit of a challenge, but the cool air felt delicious to a Texan long used to miserable summers.
I picked Mark up at the Montreal airport a short while later and it was not only good to see him, but it was also really helpful to have a navigator as we threaded our way through the incredibly convoluted streets of downtown Montreal. Once we'd parked the car and whisked our bags into the tiny apartment where we'd be staying, we set out for some dinner in the vibrant Quartier Latin district where we were lodging. Montreal is such a melting pot of a city that we passed all sorts of different ethnic eateries, but when we came upon a Mexican restaurant, we quickly decided it was an excellent time to enjoy our traditional margarita-in-a-foreign-land. Cantaloupe was our first round, mango the second. It was an excellent beginning to the week we'd be spending together and a fine introduction to this dynamic, friendly city.