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A Journey to Start All Journeys

Looking back I don’t have many posts outlining my early international trips this was my 2010 trip to New York City.

This trip starts like any other trip a random bus ride to Montreal to see the Canadiens in their playoffs bid in Montreal. However, it took a bit of a turn. I instead ended up going to the Forum cinema and catching a movie and then went to PearlVision to fix my glasses that broke. It had been a very long bus ride to Montreal overnight on the Acadian Lines bus. Feeling down from the long trip that I only took because I sold people I was going to the game that I had no way of getting tickets to, and no booked hotel in Montreal I had a “great idea”. I was going to take the bus to New York City and then take the Greyhound up to Bangor and catch the Acadian Lines service home.

After a day in Montreal, I went to the old bus station and got my tickets. I was really tired and quickly after leaving fell asleep on the bus. Only to be woken by the overzealous US Border Service Officer getting on the bus with his hat and telling the bus that we were to go inside, not to talk on phones, not to take phones, form a line and answer questions. The crowd shuffled out of the bus and into the office. Inside it was not too out of the ordinary and most everyone made it back to the bus and on the way back to New York City. I dozed off again.

As we stopped in Albany NY the bus became more full and there was this black man that sat beside me and had a really bad and strong-smelling deodorant who really had me nervous and I remained awake until arriving at the Port Authority bus terminal. From here I got onto an NYC subway train E to Canal Street. From here I walked to the construction site at the World Trade Center site and had breakfast at Burger King, at 6 am.

I then ventured around the construction site and made it to the coast of the Hudson and followed the river looking for my first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. The funny story is I was going the wrong way and ended up near the old Pier 48 before changing direction and ending up at Battery Park. It was a hazy day and was a spectacular sight when I saw it but was more infatuated with “The Eyes” public artwork. After looking at the size of the line to go over to the island, I decided to walk up Broadway.

One of the things that I didn’t expect was how narrow Wall Street was, and the at the Bull was not actually on Wall Street. I also was fascinated by all the plaques for all the different reasons they celebrated with ticker-tape parades. I actually wonder if confetti was actually a thing pre-ticker tape.

From there I followed Broadway up to Bleeker St then took the B train up to 86th street as I was excused and journeyed into Central Park and to was as glorious as I hoped it would be. I found a grassy knoll and rested and got about an hour sleep and then continued south to see the park.

By this time it was late afternoon and I found the Ghostbusters Spook Central building and Columbus Circle and made my way down Broadway buying nuts and oranges from a street vendor. I got to see the outside of Ed Sullivan theatre and Times Square.

Times Square was really interesting and packed with people. I remember going to TGIFridays for dinner and then really stopped exploring and spent several hours in Times Square. ABC was having the Lost series finale by chance that night so I joined the hoards of fans and watched my only ever episode of Lost with captions on a side of a building. To be honest, I’m not really sure what happened on the show but will never forget sitting on the street.

After I explored some of the streets and then caught the 11 pm bus to Bangor. It was rather uneventful and even switching busses in Boston was uneventful. Where this story gets interesting was crossing the border. I was held in this room while the two border agents were certain I was bringing something back on my netbook. They even went through all my emails and started asking me about all the drugs mentioned in my spam folder. It seemed like it was forever and my biggest fear was that the bus was going to leave me there.

As it turned out I had an Apple sticker on my Windows 7 netbook and they thought it was a Mac. I eventually returned to the bus and returned home.

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Starting the Getaway

The second day of the trip started on a beautiful sunny day. Everyone was talking about how cold it was from a cold front and it was still shorts weather for me. I woke up at 7 and went downstairs for coffee in the lobby and a Guava Cheese Danish that was to die for. I returned to my room and watched the best of Sunday morning TV. It was one of the cooking shows where I learned that the Agave syrup I like in my tea at David’s Tea is the same plant that is used to make Tequila.

I had booked the early embarking at 10 AM online in the check-in to the cruise-ship. However, when I got to the hotel 12 noon was the only shuttle time left. Since the shuttle was the cheapest option, I reserved it. The hotel also had a noon checkout time, so I took a long shower and relaxed until 11:30 when I went downstairs and got on the shuttle.

Miami looked not much different from San Juan, and I was not wowed to want to spend more time there. When we arrived at the port, I dropped of my bag to the longshoremen who stated adamantly and more forcefully then San Juan or Charleston the “A tip is expected for this!” Therefore, I gave him $1.

I walked to the door to the terminal and after about a 4-minute queue I entered the main hall. I was asked if I needed a wheelchair but I declined and limped into the hall. I filled out the health form and then went to the handicap line where you can sit down and wait. It took about 15 minutes to get checked in and I got my ship key card proceeded up the escalator and had my photo taken (that wasn’t available at the photo shop on the ship.)

Then I boarded the ship, after my first encounter with the NCL “Washy Washy” team. I was hungry and the rooms were not ready yet so I went to the buffet and sampled a bit of as much as possible. I sat on the side watching Miami Beach and had a great view while joining another couple for lunch.

As I finished lunch the room was ready so I went down to settle in and get off my feet for about an hour. Then it was time for the safety drill. My spot was A5 in the main theatre since it was down steps the crew said I could sit with the A11 people at the top. It was hilarious all the people being told they couldn’t bring their drinks into the safety demonstration. It went by in less than half the time as Carnival’s demonstrations.

After the safety drill, I did some exploring of the ship and then made it to the Mojito bar where it just happened the Single/Solo cruiser group was meeting. After talking to some people, a group of 6 of us ditched the Solo group and went to dinner at Taste. The service that night was the slowest of the entire cruise we arrived at 6:30pm-ish and finished the third course after 9 pm.

After the dinner, I went to the Welcome Aboard show which was really good. Especially the comedian Dean Edwards, he was incredibly funny stereotyping the type of people on cruises.

After the show, I called it a night and had an amazing sleep.

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Fundy Fringe Festival #5

This summer I volunteered with the Fundy Fringe Festival again. Giving my physical limitations I was really worried if I could actually do it. It has been the highlight of my summers for the past several years and I really didn’t want to miss out.

This story begins with the gathering on May 20th. At this point, I had just started to go back to work and was trying to get my life back to normal. I really wanted to go to this event as a way to get out and try to be a bit social. It was a great night and I had so much fun even if it was a struggle to get there.

I then filled out the volunteer application and was a bit unsure what I would be able to do so I applied for Captain again, and venue tech, and bartender, and I think HUB volunteer. I then didn’t hear much of anything until shortly before the festival, on NB Day. I was on a road-trip of the province and while as I was waiting in the line for the Magnetic Hill attraction, I had seen the post that the first orientation was at 7 pm that night.

I did the Magnetic Hill drive backwards in neutral thing. Which for $6 is the biggest waste of time and money ever! Then I went to Shediac to get a pic with the giant lobster. Following that, I was headed to Boisetown to get to the centre of NB monument but ran out of time as I really wanted to get to the orientation night.

It was a good-sized crowd and more exciting of a presentation from earlier years that had gotten monotonous from reading the handbook that hasn’t changed over the years. I found out that I was selected to venue captain (again… or “Once a Captain Always a Captain!) It was also here I learned that there was going to be recorded introductions of the sponsorship and the “buy a button” speech. My heart sank a bit as that was one of my favourite parts of Venue Captaining.

After the meeting and email went out that there were still a few shifts open, I took it as an invitation to try something else than captaining so I offered to tend bar for the Big Tease night after the volunteer BBQ. As the night of the big tease came, I was still unsure with my feet always uncomfortable with long-standing periods due to the numb feeling if standing for a long time was even possible. I went to Giant Tiger and bought myself a folding bar stool and brought it with me and that worked very well. I had so much fun that night, and my beer knowledge came in very handy.

The next night was my first Captain shift at the year’s newest venue, the balcony lobby of the Imperial Theatre. When I arrived, I sorted everything out and found out there wasn’t the prerecorded opening on site that night. I was so glad that it gave me the extra motivation to blow the socks off the moderate-sized crowd there that night. I had nailed it and got a great reaction from the crowd. The show was “Denial Is a Wonderful thing”, I spent most of this show dealing with a situation so I didn’t get to hear much of the show. What I did hear was pretty good.

The second show that night had a pretty good size crowd, MIDDLEhood. After this show started, I had overextended myself a bit and needed to get off my feet. I spend most of the show in the stairwell laying on the upper landing listening to the show, while Snapchat and Instagram posting selfies. Occasionally, paying closer attention to the show like the description of a period.

Hungry Hungry Hippos

The next day, I was at the BMO theatre for Crippled and Two Minds Into One. Since I had the option, I insisted on doing the pre-show announcement for these shows and again, I got the reaction I was looking for and was so worth it. After the shows, it was the Not-So-Family game night. This was a great night, I started with playing some Hungry Hippos but that got old fast and a game of Cards Against Humanity began and that was beyond fun, as more people joined in it just got better.

Thursday was my shortest day and I only had Crippled to captain. After that, I went to see some shows. The first show was I Want to Come Home. This show was beyond impressive. It was a mix of storytelling type, performance, and crowd interaction. I loved how the projector became a character in the play. After that, I stayed to see Illustrated Lady which was an ingenious version of storytelling and demonstrating how tattooing works.

On Friday, I had my last shift back at the Imperial Theatre for Escape the Ordinary and SMASHES. Both were really good. Bernard started out with a math demonstration that I was following along with seeing how this was too predictable to control the outcome, but then took it to simply, WOW!

On Saturday, I didn’t have any shifts but still had 3 passes to see shows so that is what I did. I didn’t have a lot of time to fit them in so there were so many I wanted to see but couldn’t. I saw A Century of Belly Dance and was really impressed, I didn’t go into it thinking it would be something for me but it was informative and entertaining at the same time. I then saw Two Minds Into One, like most people I love a good magic show. I can usually tell how something’s work but with the big finale I was beyond amazed. The last show I went to see because so many others people said it was a must-see for theatre fans.

I have to agree, it was great watching him show how theatre works in a one-man format, except the tech and an off-stage assistant become part of the storytelling as well, as a point that actors have to rely on the “non-talent” to make them “talent”. After this, I ran to the Imperial to see a non-Fringe show Jay and Silent Bob Get Old. This show was funny and entertaining and lasted about two hours.

After this, I went back to the BMO for the Fringe dance party. This was so much fun, a lot of the performers and Volunteers were all there. I also danced as much as I could but that wasn’t as much as I wished I could.

All in this experience was still fun, emotionally challenging, and really highlighted my limitations.