So last weekend I went to Ottawa Canada to run the Army Run (a half marathon) and to visit my good friend Jane of 50statecanuck. I have been planning this trip for a while, so it seemed somewhat unreal when last Friday rolled around and the Pig I made the hike out to Dulles airport (OK, we didn’t hike, I drove). We got to airport in plenty of time to get my bag checked and for the pig to get some caffeine.
Somehow TSA let the Pig through. Please note he did not share with me. Not sure how they fit 30 shots in that cup.
After an hour and a half flight I landed in the Great White North. When I went through Canadian customs I had two thoughts 1. Please don’t be a reader of this blog. 2. Please don’t ask about the Pig. The customs official asked me why I was in the country, and I said I was in town for the Army Run. She asked if I had run it before, and I said no. She then asked if I was an avid runner. This made me feel comfortable she had never had read the blog and I lied and said “yes”. She then waived me on to grab my bag and head into Ottawa.
As I came in from the airport I saw the new football stadium (Go Redblacks!) and the canal with a kick butt running path and arrived at the hotel. It was too early for check-in, but they did hold my bags while I went to explore the city.
First on my list was the Canadian National Gallery (read this for more about my artwork they had online). En route I went by the Canadian War Memorial
National War Memorial as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
After this, there was the hotel, Fairmont Château Laurier which honestly looks like a fairy tale castle.
No princesses to be found so I was toad #pun
Next to the Laurier were some of Ottawa’s famous locks. Being a mechanical engineer I am fascinated by such things (I even picked up the tourist brochure on how locks work, but I will spare you that photo). Even the pig got in on the action.
The Pig with locks in the background (Laurier is on the right).
Another picture of locks because it is my blog so I can post whatever pictures I want (except selfies, those are just random events). People in the background are wondering about the silly American with a toy pig.
So it was on to the Canadian National Gallery. The architecture of the building is gorgeous both inside and out and I enjoyed the various types of artwork they displayed (including a particularly interesting collection of Monet paintings).
This doesn’t do the building justice, but there is a giant spider sculpture in front of the building and some of my readers are sensitive to spiders
I love angles and shadows. This looks down on a garden they have in the museum
Entrance way to the gallery. It was a beautiful day outside as well.
Now in front of the museum there is a giant spider sculpture that the pig decided he wanted to rumble with. I know some of my readers are sensitive to spiders, so I will just show the initial encounter:
PIG VS SPIDER
OK that sounded better in my head than it looks on paper. In the end the battle was a draw.
After a quick lunch, it was off Supreme Court of Canada. On the way I did see the grandeur of the Parliament building:
Grandeur and Parliament (that and very green grass)
Here is the front of the Supreme Court:
I already told you what this is, pay attention next time.
Doors to the Supreme Court
And of course the Pig causes a scene
I don’t think this is good for the Canadian Justice system
I went by the Canadian Archive building. They were having a book sale (no, not of their collection) but it didn’t look that exciting so I left. There was a creepy statue in front of the building and I have no idea what it has to do with the Archive.
The Pig is just trying to get me arrested by this point. This is one creepy statue in my opinion.
Next it was off to the National War Museum which has an interesting collection of military hardware. No, I didn’t let the pig near any of it.
No way was I going to be allowed to take one of these home
Then it was back to the hotel, check-in, unpack (all 6 running shirts and every non-running long sleeve shirt I own that fits (3 if you are curious)).
So I get a text from Jane that she is about at the hotel. I sometimes forget that not all my readers read Jane’s blog (but you should!), so here is a little about Jane. Jane is a wicked fast runner who has a goal of running a marathon or half marathon in all 50 states. She’s completed 8 states so far (with two more scheduled for this year)and has run the Boston Marathon twice. She has a job as a pediatric exercise specialist at a local hospital and work she does these children is simultaneously heartwarming and heart wrenching. Also, I learned that she know pretty much every last resident of Ottawa.
One of the interesting things about the running community is people who would normally never talk to each other end up being friends. Jane is smart, athletic, compassionate, outgoing, takes no crap and is a fast runner. Me? Well I’m a seriously introverted person who takes a pig to the Canadian Supreme Court and coined the term “slow sloth Sunday”. Yet quickly we became friends on Twitter and I consider her to be a good friend of mine. Heck her dog and my pig even share a Twitter account (and I dare you to try to explain that to anyone).
Jane wrote up a far better description of the weekends activities than I can provide (here is the link to her post), although there were a couple of minor details she left out that I will try to fill in the gaps.
We left the hotel grabbed our race packet and grabbed a beer (she must have read my blog post where I mentioned I was far more tolerable after one beer). We then went off to a Thai restaurant for dinner. The food was great and we even took a selfie. Obviously I was on beer number two.
This is the first time the male readers of this blog have been jealous of me (OK, any readers really)
We talked and I tried to impress her by explaining the solution to a kindergarten math problem we had seen the week before (and failed since I was on beer number two). She took a picture of the Pig trying to eat her Panang curry and we had a conversation about it on Twitter even though we were right across the table from each other (I told you I am introverted) . We finished dinner and Jane dropped the Pig and I off at the hotel.
Saturday after I had wondered the streets of downtown a bit, did some lap swim in the hotel pool and got a pumpkin scone at Starbucks for breakfast (along with some water to keep hydrated since I was racing the next day). Jane arrived at bit later and we were going to walk over to over to Parliament to take the tour. First though we had to stop off at a Canadian tradition that is mandatory for all foreign visitors.
You are required to go here at least once. They won’t let you leave the country without a receipt.
Then it was off to parliament where of course we ran into a group of people Jane knew. The guide gave a great tour and the Pig tried to see if he could be a member of Parliament (fortunately for Canada the answer was no).
You could guess what would happen with all bills being stuffed with pork
Architecturally the highlight was the library and we were fortunate that since it was the weekend they allowed pictures.
Books Books Books Books Books Books and cool Architecture
After the tour it was lunch at subway (guess after the previous night’s dinner there was a limit to where she would be seen in public with the Pig and I).
After lunch was a trip out to the countryside to visit the Diefenbunker. This had been an emergency bunker for the Canadian government to function in case of nuclear attack. The name came from a play on words from the Prime Minster who approve the construction of the bunker, John Diefenbaker(see those Canadians have a sense of humor). The site is now a museum was a stark reminder of the Cold War era and what it would be like to live in an underground bunker after a nuclear blast.
Operating room. If this doesn’t look like the interior of a government building, I don’t know what does
Pig and a radiation detector. The radiation would be checked every 30 days to see if were safe to exit.
Although I jest in the pictures, it was a very powerful and thought provoking place to visit.
So after the Diefenbunker it was off to the Dollar Store and Wal-mart. Since this was the same parking lot that a bird had crapped on her car the week before, I could tell that Jane was considering leaving me on bird watch duty, but I think the thought of having the pig basically unsupervised was enough to allow us to tag along.
Then it was the moment we were all waiting for, Abby meets Pig.
Abby demonstrates the throwdown to the Pig
Abby tried to convince me she never gets petted. No luck with that.
While taking Abby for a walk (and finding Jane knew everyone on the street for a half mile radius) it started to rain hard (good prep for Sunday’s race). Jane started to run and urged Abby to run faster and the rain cascaded down. I looked at Abby and silently pleaded for her to keep the pace as is because I couldn’t keep up with Jane while running to save my life. Fortunately Abby got the message because I didn’t die of a heart attack.
For dinner went to an Italian restaurant where Jane of course knew just about everyone. Even though he wasn’t racing, the Pig wanted to carb load too.
Who doesn’t like to carb load
Then it was back to the hotel for a good night’s rest before the race. Sunday I set a PR in the half. You can read my account of my stupidity working out OK in the end here.
Later in the day, Jane and I met up to go to the Canadian Mint (after another beer stop).
Why did we tour here? Because that is where the money is.
Being a mechanical engineer I loved looking at the machinery and Jane impressed everyone by knowing all the answers to the tour questions. She didn’t know the tour guide, so I assume she is not from Ottawa.
After a quick walk of Abby, Jane took me to a great burger place. Since I ordered the War Pig, it was probably just as well the pig didn’t come along. Jane of course knew the people at the table next to us. After dinner, Jane dropped me back at the hotel and we bid adieu. If you ever go to Ottawa Jane provides is the best tour guide and she knows EVERYONE in Ottawa.
But I wasn’t finished with my trip yet. Monday I got up at o’dark hundred and headed out to get some breakfast. On the saw a statue of jazz musician Oscar Peterson that was set up on motion detection to play jazz piano music when you walked by.
Then I had to fill the one major gap in my Canadian experience. I had to have poutine. Poutine is french fries, brown gravy, and cheese curds. The version I ordered also had bacon and sausage. I think I am the first person ever to have this for breakfast while sober.
Breakfast of Champions (or at least of Running Lonely). The picture is blurry because it is what my brain felt like at that time of morning.
Then it was on to the residence of the Governor General. Unfortunately the residence was closed because the South Korean delegation was in town. However, since I had walked the 1 1/2 miles to get there, I wondered around the grounds (and being nice they didn’t throw me out even though I was there before the grounds officially opened). One interesting tidbit I learned was there was a ceremonial tree planting that several famous leaders have participated it (including President Kennedy). On the way back I enjoyed the beautiful scenery of Ottawa.
Fall!!! Well start of it anyway.
I went back to Parliament to see if I could get to see the Peace Tower since it had been closed due to an elevator problem. Unfortunately it was closed because of the South Koreans. So it was back to the hotel to pack, check out, and go to the Aviation Museum. This required a taxi ride out since it is about 4 1/2 miles out-of-town. It was a fascinating collection of early era plane and they even offer bi-plane ride (which I might have done if the weather was nicer).
Yes, two pictures of me in one post. Don’t get used to it.
On the way to my pub lunch, I walked by the ByWard market (part market, part drinking spot). Unfortunately I could not take any of the produce home.
Is anyone still reading this post? Yes, Jane, I know you are, but anyone else?
My last tourist stop of the home of two former Prime Ministers, Wilfrid Laurier and Mackenzie King. I was the only person there and the park service was very gracious in giving me a tour. When King passed on, his will gave the house to the Canadian government with all of its contents including his toothbrush. They still have the toothbrush on display. Let me know if you want a pic of that.
The guide demonstrated the player piano and let me know that they could play Puff the Magic Dragon and Hey Jude on it as well.
OK, here’s the toothbrush
Then it was time to end my Ottawa adventure. I took one last look at the canals and then headed to the airport for my flight back to the US.
It was a trip I will not soon forget. I highly recommend both the Army run and traveling to Ottawa!