Saturday, August 20, 2005

6100 miles

And roughly 300 gallons of gas. I must admit that there were times I doubted the wisdom of the drive, and wondered it might not have made more sense to sell everything, including the car, and just fly back home. Luckily, there were no mishaps or mechanical difficulties on the way. Nope, the disaster was waiting for us at home, where the folks renting our home decided to violate their lease and keep a cat. I'm very allergic to cats. We hoped that a thorough cleaning and steam cleaning of the carpet would remove the bulk of the allergens. Then the cleaning folks said the fateful phrase, "Your know, you have fleas." And now, the battle lines are drawn, the carpet is sprayed, we've purchased yet another $36 can of flea spray, we scratch, and we vacuum (every day). Welcome to our return trip disaster.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

On the dinosaur trail

Originally uploaded by stiber.

T-rex jaw
Originally uploaded by stiber.
After the museums in Washington, DC, the museums on the Montana Dinosaur Trail may be underwhelming. But, the various paleontological field stations won't be. There, you can see the real fossils, both those still in jackets awaiting extraction and cleanup and those already prepared. You can see all of the equipment used to prepare them and talk to someone who actually does that work. This is a great experience, very different than what you get at a museum. Federal and state highways in Montana are usually undivided and low traffic, and have a speed limit of 70 miles/hour, so with a little extra care, the field stations are as easy to reach as destinations on the interstates.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Daniel Lemire's blog: Met with Michael Stiber today!

Bison and Capitol
Originally uploaded by stiber.
I'm catching up with a little blogging while I should be sleeping, here from a Super 8 motel in... oh, yeh, Bismarck, North Dakota. During my recent conference stay in Montreal, I met with Daniel Lemire. He's better looking than his blog photo would seem to indicate. And perceptive, too.

Where shall we eat?

Originally uploaded by stiber.
It's always fun to wander around a new city looking for a place to eat. Well, as long as you're not hungry. If you're hungry, you'll almost certainly end up paying too much for mediocre fare at some touristy place. In that case, it's much better to ask someone who lives in the city for the name of a restaurant that they like to go to.

We didn't find such a place in Quebec city, but in Montreal, try:
Au Petit Extra, 1690 rue Ontario Est, Montréal, Québec H2L 1S7, (514) 527-5552. Dinner will cost around C$20-25 (face it: you won't get a decent dinner in downtown Montreal for much less than that).

Restaurant Europea, 1227 de la Montagne, Montréal, Québec H3G 1Z2, (514) 398-9229. Their 9-course dinner costs around C$70, but you can get a 5-course lunch for less than C$25.

We still don't know why hotels and motels in eastern Canada are about twice as expensive as those in the US (US$80 or more for Travelodge-level quality, which isn't saying much). We never noticed that in British Columbia.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Niagara Falls

Horseshoe Falls from below
Originally uploaded by stiber.

American Falls
Originally uploaded by stiber.
Ignore the run-down area on the American side and the shlocky shops and mediocre restaurants nearby on the Canadian side and concentrate on the Falls themselves. Access to the tunnel under the Falls on the Canadian side is definitely worth it.

Afterwards, take a drive to the canal linking Lakes Erie and Ontario and watch the ships move through the locks. There's an information center near lock 7 and a museum near lock 3. The drive between the two lakes is about a half hour.