It has been 11 weeks since I returned to Canada and two months since my last blog post which was little more than a JPEG showing the route that I took while circumnavigating the globe. According to my watch, it’s about time for an update.
My flight from Barcelona to Toronto was completely unremarkable and my backpack was the third bag to come down the conveyor. It doesn’t get much better than that when you’re dealing with Air Transat and Pearson International. I was expecting a grilling from a humourless customs officer but instead got a friendly woman who asked two questions before waving me through. It went so smoothly that I didn’t even realize that I had cleared customs until two sliding doors opened to reveal my brother, sister and sister-in-law standing in the arrivals area, sign in hand. Now that was a good feeling!
I spent a few days with friends in downtown Toronto before heading to cottage country for a larger family reunion. It’s hard to top a long week-end of campfires, boat rides, water skiing, a horseshoe tournament, judging a butter tart contest, sleeping under the stars and sipping coffee at dawn from a Muskoka chair while a loon called out from across the mist-shrouded lake. But to be honest, just being around family for four days was the real highlight!
Since returning to Southern Ontario, I’ve been back to my hometown and had lunch on Main Street with two friends from high school. I spent a day at Canada’s Wonderland with two nieces and their kids and got my fill of Leviathan and Behemoth. I rode VIA Rail to Kingston and London for short visits with friends and I found my way to the races in Clinton and Hanover. I caught the final Tragically Hip concert on CBC, watched Canada win the World Cup of Hockey from a friend’s condo in Toronto and took in a great nephew’s hockey game in Mississauga. I scarfed down a hotdog while sitting in the “O” of the Toronto sign in Nathan Phillips Square and walked the length of Queen Street, from The Beach to High Park with stops at some old haunts like Betty’s, The Cameron House and The Drake. I had Swiss Chalet on Yonge Street, breakfast at Morrison’s Diner in Kingston and The Patrician in Toronto and a back bacon sandwich at St Lawrence Market. I hooked up with visiting friends from Australia and took them to the Keg for some AAA Alberta beef and a Keg Size Caesar. It doesn’t get much more “Canuck” than that!
On August 24 I flew to Nevada and made my way to Burning Man Festival which was held about 100 miles north of Reno. I loved the 7 day pop-up arts festival so much when I first attended in 2014 that I decided to spend 10 days in the desert in 2016. I arrived one day ahead of the opening and stayed two days after the close to help with demolition and clean-up. It’s safe to say that I’m hooked for life.
After 10 days and nights in the Black Rock Desert–unquestionably one of the most inhospitable places in North American–I was ready for another two nights at a decent hotel/casino in Reno. I did venture out of the hotel a few times, but to be honest I spent most of the time getting clean, washing clothes, catching up on sleep and editing photos.
While walking the Camino de Santiago I read that the World Wide College of Auctioneering–which is based in Mason City, Iowa–would be offering a 9-day satellite course in Denver, Colorado. I actually thought about attending the WWCA when I was 18 but then landed a job in the horse racing industry and, like world travel, put auctioneering on the back burner for 35 years. When I realized the Denver course was scheduled to start three days after Burning Man would wrap up, I was sold.
The course turned out to be pretty intense–12 hours per day for nine days–but the instructors were great and the other students were extremely supportive. All in all, it was a phenomenal experience.
It remains to be seen if I’ll ever work in the auction business, but one thing I do know is that any work will have to wait until next Spring at the earliest. Just before setting off for Burning Man, I noticed a cheap flight to India. The deal was valid for one particular flight and there was very limited seating. Never one to pass up a bargain, I booked a one-way ticket from Toronto to Delhi on October 24.
I expect to be in Delhi for a week before setting off for Pushkar and the Pushkar Camel Fair. I have no plans after that but could end up splitting the winter between India, Thailand and possibly Vietnam. Basically, I have a one-way ticket and will see what happens once I get there.
I’ll post a few updates before I fly on October 24 but fully intend to resurrect the weekly (Saturday) postings once I’m on the sub-continent.