Living on the edge

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, huh? I’m just contemplating that for a moment. Perhaps I am a bit of a philosopher, too. Please understand I whole heartedly endorse this sort of thinking. I’m just turning it around in my head. When you find something you’re pretty sure you’ve got figured out, that’s the best time to start questioning it.

There are of course huge swaths of people who don’t go out of their way to challenge themselves. It’s not hard to find people that for whatever reason, don’t find a life always seeking the edge compelling. Can anyone say that they aren’t living? No, I suspect we’re trying to describe just one aspect of life, and we’d be better off calling it something else. After all, everyone is living in a universe that’s constantly throwing challenges at them anyway. Everyone has insecurities. Everyone is living at the edge of their comfort zone in that way.

I guess at the heart of the matter is whether the person has a hard enough time having to deal with the challenges brought externally to them, or do they have the luxury of being capable of handling the daily tests already thrust upon them and now they have to look elsewhere for challenges. I’m tempted to shave the sentiment down a hair to something a bit more specific. It’s the parts of life lived at the ends of our comfort zone that allow us to grow as people, in making clearer the things we still have yet to learn. In that way, seeking the end of our comfort zone is a Very Good Thing, indeed. It allows us gauge how confident (or overconfident) and capable we are.

Phase 1 complete

So I’ve just make it back to Nova Scotia and I’m settling back into my apartment. I’ve got tons more photos and stories to tell, too. This blog is going to continue to the best of my ability for as long as I can so stay tuned. As a reward for your continued interest, dear reader, you get a picture of me below Ottawa’s National Art Gallery’s giant spider sculpture.


You’re welcome.


Back in civilization

I was surprised to find out how much shorter the trip seemed coming through the more northerly parts of Ontario than it did following the Great Lakes. I’m in Ottawa now and going to hunker down for the night. Tomorrow I’ll be exploring the capital for the first time. If all goes well, I’ll be headed out of town by mid afternoon and possibly home by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Happy trails

Happy Halloween everyone! I’ve been burning rubber for the last couple days and have found myself in Winnipeg. I’m eager to get home having had lots of adventures. Tricky part is, fortune has not been kind to some of the roads between myself and home. I’m hoping to find a new route around this which is taking me into some of the more northern roads of Ontario. Anticipating a lot of trees, rocks and not much else, I’m not sure how much WiFi I’m going to find out there. There might be a couple days during which I won’t be able to update so don’t anyone worry if I’m not replying to comments here. I will be fine communing with nature in the wild regions of rural Canada. Pretty much me in my native habitat. I’m stocking up on provisions here so I won’t have to start hunting moose. I may have a Volkswagen backing me up, but I don’t think it’d last long against one of those.

Loading Ready Run

For the last few days before the meeting, I had been finding points of interest around Victoria that were directly involved in a number of Loading Ready Run videos. The first I found was Yo Video, a video rental store on Fort Street where several pivotal scenes in the first season of Commodore Hustle were filmed. It was soon followed by Yellowjacket Comics, integral to the creation of the Friday Nights videos. Seeing the locations made the faraway unreality of the LRR videos seem all the more real and made me all the more excited to be seeing the crew.


If ever there was one single thing most responsible for getting me into making videos and making me think more about the possibility of making it a career, it’s definitely Loading Ready Run. It’s a group of people that make sketch comedy videos and put them on the web once a week. The original founding members, Paul and Graham, I’d met earlier in the year at a convention. Everyone else I’d only ever seen on a screen but so many times over a period of five years that it almost felt like I knew them.

The first thing I noticed about the Moonbase Mark III (the LRR office) is that the street number is embossed in very large friendly numbers on the side of the front-facing exterior. I parked around backed and knocked on the door. Paul answered and I asked if he knew in advance of my arrival. He didn’t but didn’t see that as a reason not to let me in so he hopped up the stairs and got me to follow. Halfway up the stairs he noticed that I was taking off my shoes and recommended that I didn’t. I didn’t argue and followed. As soon as I got halfway up the stairs, Kathleen came down and met me, asking, “Are you Chris? The guy who’s driving across the country?” I said I was.

I met Graham, Paul, Kathleen, Tally, Cameron, and Beej. There was one of Tally’s friends helping her take some pictures of crafts but I didn’t recognize her and she never did get introduced. Kate appeared later but since she arrived after introductions, she didn’t get to know my name. I wasn’t concerned because them getting to know me wasn’t the point of me going. Me getting to know them was. Shortly after I get there I started piecing together the present I had for Matt. It was a gag gift mostly to get a laugh but also in part to show how the reputation he had among the LRR viewership as an irredeemable jerk was undeserved. The crew were curious to know what I was doing so I described what I was doing, both in terms of the present and the trip. Paul seemed particularly interested in why Matt was getting a present but I think everyone understood after I explained except Kate, who hadn’t seen the video that the present referred to. It was a tube of Sensodyne toothpaste in a shadowbox that bore a small plaque that read, “NOT A SON OF A BITCH”. Graham seemed to get a kick out of it before it was even finished. I think Kathleen had the idea of giving it to him during the Desert Bus charity marathon since that was the next time he was expected in Victoria. I hadn’t thought it was something that interesting but it’ll be cool to see the audience’s reaction.

That day they had a lot of filming to do so I really felt I had to stay out of the way and just let the group work. More than anything, I just listened to the crew talk about the sorts of things they usually talk about. Magic: The Gathering cards seemed to be a big topic. I observed at one point that the web site they used to show stuff off was no longer the first place to see the content the group is making, wondering if they’d reminisce about the good old days when they had more creative control and such. I mostly just wanted to see what their response would be. The reaction was that the site is working the way they want it, being a hub for all Bionic Trousers-related media. No nostalgia required. I decided to shut up for a while and just let them be themselves.

Watching them work, I got the see for myself what made the crew tick. There was a palpable sense of camaraderie that motivated them. You could see it wasn’t the fame or fortune that interested them. They really just loved having fun with their friends and making themselves laugh. It was pretty apparent from the moment they started working. Whenever one had a suggestion, the others listened and egos were checked at the door. They wanted what would be funny—no matter whose idea it was. It was a pretty inspiring moment and I after only forty minutes I had seen all I really needed to see. I slipped away without much fanfare when they started filming. I thanked them for the time behind the curtain and set a new pace for home. I can’t wait to show my friends that they mean as much to me as the LRR crew means to each other.

Post of many topics

I’ve been experiencing the many sights and sounds of Vancouver Island these last few days. The first day was mostly getting oriented on which roads go where. Seriously. Victoria has a LOT of dead end streets. It’s not going to be long before people are going to have to all join hands and say in a loud steady voice, “We don’t want any more No Exit signs.” I did take a run up north to Nanaimo where I sampled some of the bar. Actual Nanaimo bars from Nanaimo taste an awful lot like Nanaimo bars from elsewhere but I was able to learn from the source that they consider any variations, like mint for example, to be not a Nanaimo bar. I really like the town of Nanaimo. It’s a great combination of being just big enough to feel like it has all the stuff a city would need without feeling like a big city at all.

The next day was spend mostly exploring the places I’d seen in passing on the previous day’s excursions. I got to see Goldstream Park, which was a small river that overflows with salmon this time of year. The poor little critters were desperate to haul their heavy bodies up streams too shallow to let them pass. It was fascinating to watch but a little heartbreaking to see how few can really make it up the whole way. I also got to climb a mountain trail much more steep and treacherous than I’d expected to find. Mount Finlayson is a provincial park only a few dozen kilometres from Victoria. It’s more rough and rocky than any government-approved trail I’ve ever seen. I was nearly out of breath by the time I got to the top. Then again, it’s just as likely my legs are starting to edge towards atrophy after almost two weeks spent ninety percent sitting down. After that sweatfest, I broke down and demanded to have a shower. I beetled it back to the Howard Johnson hotel where I’d spent the previous night parked in the back lot. I got a single room and just about flopped on the bed. It was a nice opportunity to reset the camp-o-meter that had been steadily rising this whole trip so far. A shower goes a long way to recharge the adventuring batteries.

Friday was spent mostly getting ready for Saturday’s appointment. I got a haircut and did laundry. I tried a little place in downtown Victoria for lunch called Beirut where I was served a falafel wrap that was to die for. I spent a good part of the day getting out and walking the city for the first time, seeing lots of interesting things, like a shop that specializes in kites and miniatures for dollhouses. Quite a combination, eh? More to come soon.

Ocean at last

I’ve finally found the Pacific. After a few mostly unremarkable days of wandering the scenic routes of BC’s interior, I’m an hour away from boarding the ferry to Vancouver Island. I want to spend a day or two to see Nanaimo if I can but the most important thing is to be back in Victoria for Friday.

I’m really enjoying seeing the trees of the Pacific Northwest. There are tons of really big old cedar trees with moss growing all over their branches. A lot of the maple trees are the California Broadleaf maple with leaves bigger than both my hands. It’s been really mild here too. Almost half the trees haven’t even lost their leaves.


Access Granted!

While sitting quietly in a Revelstoke Tim Horton’s, I got word back from Kathleen De Vere that I’ve cleared the security screening to the Loading Ready Run Moonbase Mark III. This is very heavy stuff. I’m going to be given a tour of the facilities used to create videos and other non-illicit activities, as well as getting to meet (most of) the crew in person. My one real goal for heading to Victoria has been realized! My appointment is for this Saturday so it’s looking like I wouldn’t be getting back to N.S. until November 3rd at the very earliest. I’ll probably take at least a few more days than that, too.

In the meantime, I’m hunkered down in Kamloops and eager to see the coast again. It’s been a week since I’ve seen salt water and I’ll be glad to dip a toe in the Pacific again. It’s been 17 years since I was there the first time so I’m about due for a second time.

All the pictures from the trip are being organised here: Grand Days Out

Well that sure counts as “OOPS”

Having strolled Weaselhead park and ate breakfast in the most personality-filled hole-in-the-wall diner in Calgary, there was nothing left but to head farther west. One of the first parks I saw after hitting the mountains was called Dead Man Flats and I just had to stop. The views were amazing and I immediately had to start taking pictures.

I couldn’t find the angle that I was looking for so I did what I always do when I need to get higher—I climbed a tree. I tucked my camera into its bag and started to ascend. I got a few good shots about halfway up but I needed to see what the view from the top was like, too. This was a pretty tall tree and full of little pokey branches so climbing was tough. Just before I reached the top, I found a spot where the branches cleared so I had a great place to work from.

I reached into the camera bag and became aware that it was awfully light compared to what it should be. My camera and its wide-angle lens had both dropped to the ground about twenty metres below. I snapped a couple pictures with my iPod so the climb wouldn’t be wasted and shimmied down as fast as I could. Both items had landed in soft snow and weren’t visibly damaged by the fall. The camera was very cold and wet and some snow had lodged into the lens cover preventing it from closing. I removed the battery and took everything back to the car.

I placed camera and lens on the dash to dry and used the spare camera for the rest of the afternoon. When I got back to the car later I inspected both parts and everything looked pretty dry so I started cleaning all the tree spills off the camera and the dirt off the lens. I replaced the battery in the camera and it turned on without a hitch. A few minutes with a lens brush brought my wide-angle back to working condition, too.

Thanks, Canon. You make them better than they have any right to be. We should all take a moment and admire that which the Canon has brought us. All down the right hand column of this blog is a series of pictures. This is my Flickr feed and has several lovely new pictures in it that you should check out. This is one of my favourites and one of the pictures from the top of that tree.

Mad props

I just wanted to give a major shout-out and big thanks to R.M. for putting me up for a night while I was staying in Toronto. We jammed a bit and talked about philosophy—an evening well spent in my books. He sent me on my way with a few bottles of pop that lasted me until Alberta. You’re the man, R.

Also on the list of people I have to thank is my cousin, C.B. It was great to catch up after so many years. Briefly while i was there I got to see my aunt as well. She also donated a bed and a shower that I’m immensely grateful for now. Much obliged, ma’am.