Middle America

The Cracker Barrel Country Store. I’ve driven past so many of these places, they’re always near the freeway off ramp, parking lot full of cars. They look like a log cabin with rocking chairs lined up on the long front porch. A little out of place next to gas stations and fast food outlets. I imagined it being like a Denny’s but with home cooked style meals. Kirstyn and I finally made it into one. The food was bland, tasteless, unappealing and overpriced. So why so popular? Antique Americana on the walls, large fake fireplace with fake pot of beans hanging over the fake fire logs. Old shotgun above the hearth, large American flag standing proudly with a gold eagle on the top of its staff. Is this how people in middle America wish their country was? I guess it’s safe, the tasteless food is unlikely to offend.

Today we’re in Wisconsin and playing it safe, having some deep fried goodness at Denny’s. The cheese is great here, it’s America’s dairyland and good cheese is cheap here, especially if you come from Canada. Wisconsin makes my top ten US States list easily with its rolling hills and lush green forests. I imagine all those big city folks from the Land of Lincoln scrambling up here on long weekends to enjoy the peace and serenity of the place. Note to self: stay out of Wisconsin on long weekends.

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Design flaws

Putting aside our opposable thumbs and large brains, dogs have some features that are clearly superior to our own. The asshole is one example. Dogs don’t need to wipe. Unless you have one of those crappie little fluffy dogs that get shit in their fur, you aren’t fussing with your dog’s asshole. Of course you could argue that our bums look better naked, keeping our asshole hidden from view, but we wear pants most of the time anyway. Another example is our soft feet. Why would god/natural selection give us feet that require shoes in a world full of prickles and thorns? I don’t like wearing shoes.

The People of the Turnpike

Long haul truckers, business executives, college football teams, high school kids on a field trip… Where do we all come together? Where can you find people from every State, every continent in the world, all the rungs on the socioeconomic ladder? The turnpike service plaza. When you wanna cover a lot of ground quickly, without jumping on and off the tollway and dealing with all those pesky toll plazas and the uncertainty of the outside world, the service plaza offers you all the amenities at an inflated price. But the best feature of the service plaza is that you get to see all the people you’d never have the opportunity to come into contact with in your normal life. These are the people of the turnpike.

LEGO bow tie lady

This lady was wearing a lego bow tie

America

America.

Hipster Mohawk guy

Hipster Mohawk guy

Extreme man bun guy

Extreme man bun guy.

Does it seem wrong to you to be snapping candid photos of strangers only to mock their outfits or their haircut? You know what they say about opinions, I’d love to hear yours!

Purple dreads and platform heels Purple Dreads and Platform Heels seem like an unlikely couple

#JerinandKirstyndoAmerica

Imagine a mysterious stranger comes rolling into town. A stranger with orange hair and the heart of a lion, or some similar beast. Kirstyn is her name, but you aren’t supposed to know that, so she’ll be called Stranger for the rest of this story. The town is Plainview Texas, known for it’s plainness on the high plains of the Llano Estacado. Stranger carries two big 45 caliber pistols, her spurs jingle as she walks and she wears a dusty blanket, chaps and wide brimmed hat. She enters the local drinking establishment “Welcome to Chili’s how y’all doing today?” A young woman asks in a chipper voice. A stream of tobacco juice shoots from between Stranger’s teeth narrowly missing the young woman’s shoe. “Well I guess y’all’d like a seat right there at the bar!” The young woman leads the way, menu in hand. Soon some mouthy teens try to give Stranger a hard time, so she shoots two of them and pistol whips the third. At some point townsfolk confront Stranger and beg her to protect them from some ne’er-do-well’s that have been causing problems in town. It seems the mouthy teens were actually young law enforcement officials and with them dead, there’s a job opportunity. Stranger shoots a stream of tobacco juice and lays out some absurd terms which the townsfolk amazingly Agee to. Stranger’s first act as saviour and chief of Plainview is to appoint an ineffectual dweeb as mayor and evict all the current guests and staff of the Holiday Inn Express so she can have the whole place to herself. There’s a little bit of rape thrown in, just to show she means business and Stranger starts feeling at home in her new role. Later that night we’re shown a dream sequence which gives us some vague insights, apparently Stranger has some history with the ne’er-do-well’s. Seems they murdered an acquaintance of hers. Wow, it looks like Stranger has the opportunity to get revenge while also fuck with the losers that inhabit Plainview. I do love a good western. Stranger arms the inhabitants and orders them to confront the villains, whose arrival is imminent. She also makes them paint everything in town red, and changes the “Welcome to Plainview” sign to read “Welcome to Hell” then rides out of town leaving the townsfolk Ill prepared to confront the bad guys when they arrive. Oh what an ass kicking those villagers receive. The ne’er-do-well’s burn most of the town and murder a few prominent members of the community. At a meeting in the Chili’s, the bad guys taunt the townsfolk who huddle in a pathetic mass begging for mercy. But of course stranger returns and murders the ne’er-do-well’s so it’s a happy ending after all.

I hope you all enjoyed this story, I had no choice but to add some rape for authenticity sake. Although it seems strange that a lady antihero would do much raping, you must understand that with the glass ceiling and the difficulties that women in executive positions go through, it just makes sense that she’d need to do some raping to establish her dominance over the townsfolk. Thanks for reading, maybe next week we’ll explore some more classic America genres.

Dogs don’t pay taxes, but humans pay tax on kibbles

I know, boring stuff, and nobody cares about anyone else’s politics unless they already agree. And thats why I try to resist the urge to share my politics on here. But I think we should all be able to get on board with this idea. We gotta fund our government, sure. I admit, I’m skeptical that the government really needs my meager wages more than I do, but whatever, there’s no point complaining about things we can’t change. Something that is worth complaining about is the requirement that we file our taxes each year. Canada Revenue Agency already has my T-4’s and T-5’s and they know exactly what I owe or how much my return should be before any deductions I may be entitled to. So why are so many of us paying H&R Block or Turbo Tax? Why isn’t there a simple online form that we can use to send in our deductions without filing an antiquated tax return? I’ll tell you why, big companies make a lot of money providing this crappie service and they pay for our politician’s election campaigns. Our politicians in turn, believe we’re too busy fretting about the big problems to bother them about something so insignificant as tax forms. We should all be pissed about this annual waste of all our time and resources. My belief is that tax returns exist for the benefit of the tax preparer companies. Fuck them, I say. I wrote my member of parliament about this because I think that it’s something that could easily be changed if enough people made a fuss. So forget all the big problems in the world. Us little people can’t solve world hunger or depose evil dictators. We aren’t willing to save the environment by not eating fresh vegetables out of season and boycotting plastic, but if we bitch and complain enough, we can probably get out of filing complicated tax forms. Rise up all you workers and throw off the chains of the evil corporations that take your $40 each year! Write your member of parliament and let him/her know that you don’t expect him/her to do anything of value, after all he/she is just a sleazy politician, except this one thing.

That was a lot for me. I’m exhausted. Now a little trucker trivia, truck drivers aren’t allowed to work seven days a week. Once we clock seventy hours, we need to take a day and a half off to reset our clock. So where would I park for a day and a half? Walmart obviously, duh. You might be surprised how many people reside in the Walmart parking lot. Today in the Kelowna Walmart, we watched red van guy swapping his license plates. What do you think, on the run from the law? There’s a woman that spends the entire night in a Dodge pickup while her husband goes to work, we even watched him make his lunch on the tailgate of the truck. There was a guy in a cammo painted pickup pulling a fifth wheel trailer. He was wearing military style clothes with his pants bloused at the top of his boots. We think he might have hostages tied up in his RV. There was at least a half dozen cars with people sleeping in them plus several RV’s. In the morning, all of us parking lot denizens head inside with our toothbrushes to prepare for the day ahead. I watched one young woman spend half an hour doing her makeup in the passenger seat of her minivan. It’s kinda reassuring to know that if you’re ever down on your luck, all you need is an automobile, and you got yourself a rent free place to live.

Interesting news item, the South Selkirk caribou herd has only three remaining animals, all female, which makes it more of a triad than a herd. It also means that caribou are effectively extinct in the lower 48 States. That’s a small victory for the human species over the furry critters of our planet. We’ve got nature on the ropes folks, if we keep purchasing disposable consumer goods and popping out lots of new little baby consumers, victory will soon be ours.

Naked Trucking

Why be uncomfortable at work? Office workers, teachers, construction workers, they can’t go to work naked, but a long haul truck driver can. I’m working for Bison Transport out of Calgary and Kirstyn and Leeroy are coming along for the ride.

Why would I choose Bison? I’ve never worked for a big company before, and by Canadian standards, Bison is big. Money is the reason we get jobs, and it’s easy to be sceptical when someone claims to love their job, I mean, would you really set an alarm and fight traffic to arrive on time if they weren’t paying you? Long haul truckers get paid by the mile, more miles means more money. The government limits us to a reasonable number of hours on the road, so the way we make money is by maximizing our use of the time we have available. Smaller companies send their highway drivers out to the warehouses and factories to pick up their loads, whereas bigger companies have more resources. If Bison can send a local truck to pick up my freight in Calgary, Vancouver or Toronto, that’s less time I spent stuck in traffic and more time making miles. So that’s reason number one. Reason number two was a pleasant little surprise when I showed up for my interview. They have a super fancy touchscreen machine that creates as many delicious fancy caffeinated beverages as you can drink. That’s like an instant dollar an hour raise for me. I’m twitching from all the caffeine coursing through my veins at this very moment.

Reason number three. The office is full of millennials in trendy outfits. All that beard grooming and Lululemon gear can’t be cheap, and that’s encouraging. But if all goes well, we won’t be spending much time in Calgary, we’re off to more exotic locales such as Idaho or Texas. So well you folks are toiling away at your jobs, trying to keep up with your mortgage payments and whatnot, we’ll be getting paid to continue our nomadic lifestyle. We’re on a winning streak, no doubt about it. Keep an eye out, you might just see us drive by. Big news, since I have a job, it’s time to update our wardrobe a little. Remember I talked about those expensive stretchy pants earlier in the blogpost? Nothing but the best for my girl, so Kirstyn’s bum is lovingly wrapped in yoga gear today. Not only that, but with winter still persisting in Alberta, and Old Navy blowing out their winter gear, she’s looking extra fancy.

But the spending spree must end. Canada is the home of the overpriced everything, and if we ever hope to return to our life of leisure we’ll need to be frugal. Every dollar spent is one less delicious cold beverage enjoyed on a tropical beach. And I love tropical beaches far more than I love spring time in Alberta. Choosing to not get ripped off, to me, means not doing business with Canadian cell phone providers. There’s no way to justify their prices, so we’ll be getting a Verizon SIM card in the near future. A few weeks without a phone is probably good for us anyway.

You know you’re in Canada when…

Don’t get me wrong, we have a beautiful country here, but when you’re accustomed to paying $8 for a case of beer, it’s hard to be back, shocking even. We’re poor people now, and being back in the land of high priced everything brings it home. I don’t know how you people with children and mortgage payments do it. After I secured employment in Calgary we rented a car… scratch that, we rented the gayest car ever, a VW Beetle, and headed to the Okanagan to pick up Mr Leeroy Brown.

As you can see, he got the opportunity to enjoy the view from Lake Louise. Leeroy’s going road tripping and soon he’ll be a well traveled K-9. United Airlines is getting some bad press lately, dead dogs and whatnot, but they’re A-1 in our book. A few hours on the tarmac in Puerto Vallarta got us free drinks, a free hotel room and some meal vouchers at the Houston airport. Keep up the good work United, we’ll be repeat customers as long as you’re the cheapest option. So we’re Albertans now! I guess I gotta take back all those nasty things I said. But free healthcare, remember the part about us being poor.

A few people have commented on our great tans. It’ll be sad to see them go, but hey, all good things must end. We stayed a couple nights with Stacy and Bailey in High River, great to have generous friends, but I just had a moment of clarity. They had a dog named Gus and a child named Call. Ummmm, ever read a Larry McMurtry novel? Awesome, I named a dog after the same character, duh. At a hotel in Canmore, after watching a half dozen episodes of Border Security, I’ve come to the realization that the kids that got bullied in school have become customs officers and they get their kicks by looking through our cell phones. So delete those old pics you sent to your last Tinder date!