Tour Diary – Ottawa and Sarnia, ON (July 11, 12 and 13, 2012)

July 11 and 12: Another successful fifteen hour journey, driver Ron comes through again. We had a brief stop at a highway rest area somewhere near Riviere-du-Loup in Quebec and Jeff wandered in to a nearby field and came back with a large cupful of the tastiest wild strawberries. It just goes to show how far we have come from real food: even that five-dollar-a-pint of organic strawberries that you can find rotting in your local supermarket doesn’t come close to tasting like the real thing, freshly picked and eaten.

We stumbled off the bus in Ottawa at around 3pm and we all went our separate ways. Ottawa is not the most dynamic city in the country, but it is very beautiful if you stay within the heart of the city, centered around the parliament buildings, especially in the Spring and Summer. It felt good to be back in a city of some size where there are options and choices…I chose; Indian food; a walk around ByWard Market; a Mill Street Tankhouse Ale; and a visit to the National Gallery where there was a Van Gogh exhibit. There was also an amazing presentation on Parliament Hill, put on by the Montreal based company Mosaika: the history of Canada told with the use of projections on the side of the Parliament Buildings. It was incredible. If you happen to be swinging by Ottawa this summer make sure that you check it out. It is so engaging and unique that if I were King of Canada I’d have it filmed and presented in every grade school in the country as an introduction to the history of Canada. It would be a lot more effective than, “open up your text books to chapter 1”.

Tonight we played the Ottawa Blues Festival. Which has grown into an enormous festival over the years, despite the size it is a beautifully run event. We had a rather frenetic show. A huge crowd, but we never really found each other…but we blasted away and Jared was able to crank it up to Festival volume. When in doubt, turn it up.

July 13: Another nine hour overnight drive and we woke up on the grounds of Sarnia Bay Fest: another outdoor festival which is not nearly as big as the Ottawa event and not nearly as well run. I hadn’t planned on going fishing today, but when I emerged from my bunk I was staring at water, so I grabbed my rod and Jeff’s bike and went in search of something that looked promising. I found a couple of decent looking spots but nary a nibble. While I was at one spot a very large Sea Bass came floating by, upside down….fishing in the shadow of an enormous petro-chemical plant (looking like it was pulled straight from the set of a 1950’s sci-fi movie) can be tricky.

It was hot as hell today. We were the first of three acts on stage, the audience was late arriving and once it did arrive it had the energy of a crowd of people who had been baking in the sun all day….despite the lack of enthusiasm and despite the sun blaring on us throughout our set, we had a good show. We head back to Toronto tonight where some of us get to sleep in our own beds. One more show to go, Sunday night in Oshawa.