Wiarton Willie

by Catherine Breese

If you’re a fan of Punxsutawney Phil and Groundhog Day, you’ll be surprised to know that Canada has its own version of the mythological groundhog: Wiarton Willie.1 Now Wiarton Willie has a unique, and, some might say, superior appearance for a groundhog because he is an albino. Wiarton, Ontario is a small town (population 2500) on the Georgian Bay side of Lake Huron. It is a beautiful little town with an historic main street and a stunning view of the very deepest and bluest part of the lake. Add Wiarton Willie and you’ve got a formula for the kind of mixed visual message (kitschy-tacky amidst natural grandeur and historic landmarks) that make one say “Oh my!”

Wiarton Willie is a real groundhog, or at least he has been since 1980. Before that Groundhog Day was celebrated without live animals. In fact in 1956, the first festival groundhog was a fur hat with a button on it. The reigning live Willie is kept in a large habitat area in the park with both indoor and outdoor living spaces. While his home is pretty grandly designed, Willie’s not much for personal appearances. A shy little beast, he hides throughout the day, leading to endless disappointment from children and adults alike.

Camera 360

Basically, you just cannot ever see him, except on Groundhog Day when he’s extracted from his cozy nap and dragged out to do the heavy lifting of predicting six whole weeks of weather, a feat that trained meteorologists will not even try. When I was younger I remember him being kept in a more conventional (cruel?) cage in front of the Wiarton Motel, now called Wiarton Willie’s Motel. You could walk right up to the cage and there he was, asleep. Let’s just admit that live groundhogs are not good pets, nor are they good tourist attractions.

Wiarton Willie’s history has not been without controversy. In 1999 an almost famous scandal scarred Willie’s reputation. A mere two days before Groundhog Day, the 22-year-old Willie had the nerve to wake up and die. There was not time to find a replacement and Willie appeared on the February 2nd holiday in a tiny coffin, dressed in a tuxedo with coins on his eyes. But hold on, that’s not even the scandal. The scandal occurred when it was discovered that the deceased was not the Wiarton Willie. Rather it was a different deceased, taxidermy groundhog because poor Willie’s decaying body couldn’t do the job. (Other versions of this story with contradictory details are everywhere on the Internet. There’s no reason not to believe all of them.) Despite the humiliation, the tradition and festival survived, attracting thousands annually to Wiarton, Ontario, during the very coldest and darkest part of the calendar.

A carved stone statue was placed in Bluewater Park several years ago. In this rendering Willie is serious and contemplative, native even. Yes, it is large, but also artistic enough to be called tasteful. Then, this summer, a new likeness of Willie has appeared around Wiarton. This five-foot tall Willie is a shiny fiberglass version with a chubby rump and a goofy grin. He is cute—at least as cute as a ginormous plastic thing can be—vaguely resembling one of Alvin’s chipmunks. In the park, three Wiarton Willies squirt water from their mouths into a children’s splash pad. And out at the southern entrance to the town of Wiarton, a giant Willie has been “added.” Picture earth tones, landscaping, lots of stone and dark purple flowers. As if he has been dropped in by helicopter, he looks as natural as a giant white alien might.

Wiarton Willie Statue

At gift shops and motels around town today, tourists can purchase small stuffed Willies, Willie T-shirts, Willie flags, and Willie coffee mugs. (See www.spiritrock.net/Giftshop.htm).  I don’t own any of these things, but I’m looking into acquiring some for Christmas gifts. Kitsch is in, even in Canada.

1Willie is not the only groundhog prognosticator in Canada. There are actually a surprising number of special groundhogs and Groundhog Day festivals in Canada, especially Ontario. I surmise that it has something to do with mid-winter cabin fever and a general Canadian willingness to throw a party/festival over very little cause.

Odds and Ends: Leftovers Worth Sharing

By Catherine Breese and Bryan Ward

Diving Bryan

“When we get back to the cottage, I’m going to make a Bloody Mary, eat a piece of pie, take a nap and when I wake up, I’m going to punch you in the face.” Catherine


Amish Boat Trip

We stopped at Bootlegger’s Cove in Tobermory and got a nice table outside with a view of Big Tub Harbor. A couple walked past our table talking loudly. The woman said that they left on short notice so they brought the small yacht, the seventy-five footer. Bryan said to Catherine, “Well, we left in such a hurry that we left our yacht at the yacht store.”

Henry and Pancake - Large

Canadian man looking at flying WV sticker on the back of our car: “Do people from West Virginia love Wonder Woman?”

Water Tight

“You promised not to fight me for creative control of the blog!” Bryan

The Darryls

“You have my number. If the boat breaks down I’ll come and get you, for a nominal fee.” Scott, the boatman

Dont Bury

Do you remember when I showered last?” Bryan

Wigwam Motel 01

Text to Mark: “Do you know what town Neil Young is from?” Text from Mark: “He’s originally from Letmegooglethatforyou, Ontario.”

Little frog - Large

“You better finish that beer! When beer costs this much, you drink all of it.” Bryan

Bloody Mary

“Buying a pair of jeans at the Salvation Army Thrift Store…check that off my bucket list.” Catherine

face plant

Canada, You Have Some Splainin’ to Do


By Bryan Ward

There are a few things that I just don’t understand about Canadians. I admire their excellent manners and even envy their enlightened outlook on problems that plague the United States such as health care coverage and the environment. But here are a few things I just don’t get…

How can you send Neil Young, Rush, the Guess Who and Bryan Adams to the U.S., but also unleash the likes of Justin Beiber? And, why haven’t you called him home for Canadian reprograming? You have some explaining to do on that one.

Or, why do you love Tim Horton’s soooo much? You will wait patiently in line for hours just to get mediocre baked goods and adequate coffee. Come on, get out of line. Move on. I can’t use the free Wi-Fi if half of the population of Ontario is either wrapped around the store like one long polite centipede, or filling up every seat in the restaurant. I can only think that there is an addictive, non-carcinogenic chemical in that coffee because you guys have a real problem.

And while we’re on the subject of restaurants, you are a bit confused about American cities and their famous foods. New Orleans Pizza? Boston Pizza? Those aren’t pizza towns, folks.

Canadian milk in bags.

Milk in plastic bags. Who came up with that? I mean giant milk water balloons. Why not just make them big and round and put a nipple on them? The fellas will love it.


Lay's Maple Moose Potato Chips

Ketchup flavored potato chips. Yes, my American friends, you read that correctly. Here in Canada barbeque chips play second fiddle to the ketchup ones. That isn’t the scariest part. Right now Martin Short—at times another gift from the North—is helping Lay’s with a contest to choose the next great Canadian flavor. Catherine and I, along with others, have tried the Grilled Cheese and Ketchup and the Maple Moose flavored chips.

For you that know our vegan/vegetarian inclinations, you can imagine our horror when, after eating almost half a bag, we realized that the moose in Maple Moose was jerky, as in moose meat. “I taste the maple, but what is that other flavor?” I kept saying. We decided that it must be vegan because unless they have some secret meat injection lab here in Canada, you just can’t put meat on chips. You can’t. You can’t. No matter what you say, you can’t. Subject change.

And Canada, let me say up front that I like your colored money and dollar coins. But the Queen of England on your paper currency? You are not a colony anymore! How about a little creativity? Can’t you figure out a way to put that maple leaf on it? For Christ sakes, it’s on everything else.

Note: For the next segment please understand that the current U.S. dollar – Canadian dollar exchange is even. One buck equals one loon-emblazed Canadian dollar coin.


Your beer prices? Holy shit! Sorry, mom. But they want $43.95 for a case of Bush Light. Bush Light! That beer is horrible swill, even by American standards. Somebody is going to be shoveling coal down in beer hell for that one. To use a favorite American colloquialism: “That just ain’t right!”

While I can at least forgive Canada for some of the above—beer prices and moose-flavored chips excluded, of course—I have come across something that I find both befuddling and un-Canadian.

Yesterday, a news story hit here in Canada about a hawk. I figured it must have been a big deal because it was a featured story on both local and national TV news. A big bird story—I was all over it. I grabbed a fistful of loonies and twoonies (term for the one and two dollar Canadian coins), saddled up the bike, and went in search of a newspaper. After extracting a Toronto Star from a machine that is so complicated I was really surprised that I was actually able to get the paper out, I read the whole story.

payment schedulepaperbox

Hold on, here it is.

Apparently, there was a serious seagull problem at the Molson Amphitheatre and at BMO Field in Toronto. For anyone who has been around seagulls, you know that they can be aggressive. They love French fries and like to poop on people, which concert and sporting event goers do not enjoy. So, the solution, which on the face of it is ingenious, was to get a hawk, a Harris hawk to be more specific. From the reports I learned that when seagulls see a hawk, they want to fly safely above it. If there is a hawk in the area the seagulls will stay at bay, which means happy people. Good, you say, but here is where it gets a little weird.

The hawk’s name is Bitchy. Yes, Bitchy. The news folks here must have loved saying it because it was everywhere. Why Bitchy? Because the bird has a bad attitude. In a sense, she’s bitchy. Obvious feminist objections aside…really, Canada, Bitchy?

Of course, some public relations type suggested that the name wasn’t “family friendly,” so they held a naming contest. After the votes were tallied, Bitchy stayed.

Now, I am not sure how the bird feels about the name. Considering her attitude, I presume that she doesn’t like it. I am also sure that the bird doesn’t like that she is tied, or in newspeak “tethered,” to the roof of the stadium during events. On the TV news they even showed her view of the events. While concerts may prove entertaining for Bitchy, I can only imagine that the soccer matches require a lot of coffee or Red Bulls. After watching my share of peewee and public school soccer matches, I may even suggest that it might be cruelty to animals.

The more I learned of the story the more I kept thinking that something wasn’t quite right. A hawk tied to the roof of a stadium just didn’t seem Canadian.

Then there it was, buried in a paragraph. The hawk was owned by a North Carolina based pest-control company called Steritech. For an undisclosed fee the company supplies the hawk and a second bird named Xena for gull scaring duty. So then, it was an American idea to tie Harris hawks bearing extremely sexist names to the roofs of stadiums so concert goers and sport fans can gorge themselves on supersized French fries without hassle or fear of being pooped on.

So, Canada, at least for now, you are forgiven for some of your Canadian-ness. I will also accept that if anyone suggests that I should be the one called “bitchy,” I will not disagree.

Annoying Furry Creatures

By Catherine Breese and Bryan Ward


August 8, 10:00 a.m.

C: Jeeeesus. Some stupid raccoon put his dirty little footprints on my car last night. Bastard.

August 10, 8:00 a.m.

C: Hey did you see the yellow chair in the front yard? Covered in raccoon prints. Also there’s some weird looking poop down by the water. Go look at it.

B: I don’t know what that is. We need one of those scat identification pamphlets.

C: Where can we get one of those?

August 18, 12:40 a.m.

C and B are awakened by loud ruckus and deep guttural growl.

C: Did you hear that?

B: (peering out window into the darkness) Yes, I think it is a bear. That was definitely a bear. Um… is there water running?

C: Oh my gosh, I think the pump leaking. You should go out and check it.

B: What…?

Long pause. Water noise continues. Bryan gets up and puts on shoes.

B: Oh sh—, where is the g—d— flash light? Turn on the m—f— outside lights. Door slams with a bang.

C: What the heck are you doing?

B: Making noise. I want the bear to hear me coming, so he can maul my face off.

B: To himself “Why is the hose spraying water everywhere?…Oh my God, I have been lured outside. This is exactly how the first guy gets killed in every slasher/killer movie I have ever seen. I am the first guy. Think. Think. Think. Turn off the hose and run. Don’t do the hey-what’s-that-noise-in-the-bushes because Jason, or a bear, is hiding in the bushes with an axe. Run. Just run.”

After safely returning to the cottage, Bryan and Catherine lock every door and close all of the windows. A complete vetting of the evidence occurs.

Howdenvale CSI Bear Encounter Theory: The hose was left on. (No one, however, claims to have left the water spigot in the on position.) Bear entered yard to eat red currants from bushes located near pump. Bear notices trickling water and decides he is thirsty. Knocking the nozzle from the wall, Dollar Store-special-broken spray nozzle sprays bear in face. Bear growls in disgust at the quality of the nozzle, his lack of a prehensile thumb, and his inability to turn it off. Catherine and Bryan wake up. Bryan risks life to turn off hose. Catherine remained awake and alert, keeping first watch of the interior of the cottage. Dogs sleep peacefully in doggie beds.

C: What good are these dogs? They slept through the whole thing!

B: Unless we’re attacked by a chipmunk, I don’t think they’re going to be good for much.


August 22, 2013 6:30 p.m.

C: What are you doing?

B: Hanging up my new bird feeder in the front yard.

C: You’re going to take it down before bed, right? I mean, I think that’s going to attract a bear.

B: How else am I going to get a picture of one?

C: Ugh.


Life Without the Net, or I Got Your Internet, Right Here!

By Catherine Breese

Internet Cafe

A lot of pouting has been seen around here lately. There has even been a temper tantrum or two, the kind that would make a pre-teen girl jealous. The source of this anguished unhappiness has been the Internet, or rather lack thereof.

The cottage where we are currently staying is not wired for the Internet. Well to be fair, it barely has indoor plumbing. The word rustic is appropriate: outdoor shower, indoor toilet. We do have an AM/FM radio that receives a variety of classic rock stations—lots of Neal Young, Rush, Bare Naked Ladies, Brian Adams, etc. And Canadian broadcast television, based on what I can tell from our 1.5 and sometimes 2 channels, is quite horrible. But, I digress.

Using our super-cool 4G smart phones in a foreign county is fiscally irresponsible, thus we have turned off our data. When we crossed into Canada, Verizon was kind enough to send us a text message telling us that if we used data on our phones we would need to cash in some savings bonds and take out a second mortgage.

This puts us on a never-ending quest for FREE Wi-Fi. The closest is the public library in Wiarton, about a 25-minute drive. However, after consecutive visits in which the connectivity was sketchy, we sought out some restaurants or cafes. We found one in Sauble Beach, Macbeth’s Café, which makes a fantastic veggie sandwich and serves delicious Brazilian coffee. Unfortunately they do not have the big-dog, badass Internet bandwidth to accommodate the twenty or so digitally-inclined tourists. No need to belabor the question of whether or not we all spend too much time online rather than engaged with real life. The answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Sauble is the beach vacation destination on the Bruce Peninsula. During the summer months, everyone in town is on vacation. And everyone seems to be on a phone. Not talking, of course. Just staring at it longingly or sliding their index fingers around on the screen.

We have quickly discovered that no matter where we go there are hoards of people who are, according to Bryan, “hogging up bandwidth and keeping me from doing what I want on the Internet!” When we can’t get on in one place, we try another. We drive around peering from window to window looking for the FREE Wi-Fi sign. Then we rush inside, order twenty dollars’ worth of food and beverages, and attempt to log on. Now I usually hope only to check email, look at job listings in the US, and maybe take a peek at Facebook to see what all my friends at home with unlimited Internet access are cooking for dinner, praying for, celebrating the anniversary of, or rallying against. More often than not, we get booted from the Internet before I can read six or seven statuses.

We have also been told on more than one occasion, after our purchase, that “the Internet is down.” Yesterday we paid three dollars to park and bought thirteen dollars’ worth of coffee and snacks. The tie-dyed dreadlocked blonde gentleman behind the counter at Two Chicks Café let us attempt to logon on for about twenty minutes before he decided to let us on the secret that the Bell Canada technician was on his way. Then we found a lovely coffee house location in Wiarton called Coco Vanilla, whose interior is cozy and Mediterranean pizza is excellent. Washroom score: an impress 3.75. But connectivity? not-so-awesome.

Of course I remember life before the Internet. Most of my life was before the Internet.

But now all of my life is actually on the Internet. I pay my bills, conduct my business and personal correspondence, balance my checkbook, contact my friends, borrow books from the library, shop, listen to music and watch movies…all on the Internet. Subtract those activities and it makes for a huge hole in one’s day.

Now I have replaced some of those Internet activities with others such as cooking from scratch, cutting down trees, moving brush, cleaning out the shed, trying to solve logic puzzles, and waxing scratches off Bryan’s car. I have volunteered at a church yard sale and ridden my bicycle to Red Bay. Walking doggies is a big time consumer, as well as doing dishes by hand three times a day. We swim or kayak almost every day. But there are still a couple hours each day that I can’t seem to kill without the Internet. Thanks goodness we spend so much time driving around looking for it. It just feels productive, although in hindsight, clearly it is not.

bryan commuting

My mother’s childhood friend Carolyn has the good fortune of having the Internet at her cottage. So, Bryan straps the laptop on his back and we ride our bikes over to her place where we gratefully sit on her side porch and pilfer her Wi-Fi. And we have since located another Bruce County Public Library branch that has free Wi-Fi and smaller number of patrons than the Wiarton branch. I will absolutely not name it here because we want to keep other bandwidth hounds at bay.

Ultimately, we can manage to find the Internet about every other day. And on those occasions when the gigabytes are flowing freely and we can accomplish wildly zany digital feats such as download a book or upload a picture, it feels really victorious, glorious, magnificent.

That’s Not a Veggie Burger (Warning: both food and filthy restrooms are contiguously discussed herein)

By Catherine J. Breese


Yesterday was laundry day. This means we bagged up the dirty clothes and drove into Southampton to Sparkles Laundromat. As laundromats go, it is not too bad. It is relatively clean and most of the machines work. Of course the way to rate a laundromat is not by either of these factors; it is by the clientele. Sparkles was busy yesterday morning. Several gray-haired couples and a few middle-aged women were loading, fluffing and folding. It smelled like soap, as opposed to, say, b.o. No one was fighting, nor was anyone in his underwear. Okay, I would stay.

We took a stroll around town while we were waiting for the wash. There’s a nice view of Lake Huron at the end of the main street. Then I needed to use the restroom, so we returned to Sparkles. Now I had used the restroom here before and recalled it to be usable. I have, I believe, a fairly sensible standard for public restrooms. I use semi-dirty bathrooms all the time (as my friends at St. Albans High School can attest) and traveling often requires one to use a facility that is not of the cleanliness standards one employs in the home.

As connoisseurs of the public toilet—or washrooms as the Canadians call them—we have developed a bathroom rating system; it utilizes a four point scale. Four: all clear, good to go. Three: okay to use but don’t touch anything unnecessarily. Two: only suitable for emergencies; if it’s not an emergency find other facilities. (There were a lot of these in Mississippi.) And One: No. Just no. On the previous occasion I had rated Sparkles a three. But yesterday…it was a one. Not a two minus. A solid, oh- my-God-someone-douse-me-in-bleach-O-N-E! Common decency dictates that I not describe it here. Suffice to say it was a nuclear accident of a washroom. I raced from the room shaking my head violently and pointing to the exit.

Bryan read all the signals I was throwing, and we found ourselves looking for a restaurant washroom. Neither of us was particularly hungry, but we agreed on ordering a veggie burger at Chips Ahoy, a restaurant with a nice outdoor dining/picnic area. We agreed on this order before I went to use the restroom.


When I returned, Bryan informed me that the veggie burger contained onion (to which he is allergic) and an alternate order had to be placed…fish and chips. Now any reasonable person can deduce that fish and chips (a batter-dipped, deep-fried hunk of cod and French fries) is not the culinary equivalent of or healthy alternative to a vegetarian burger. But who am I to second guess? I wasn’t there.

So, off I went to put our clothes into the dryers and when I returned to the restaurant I saw on the table in front of Bryan the single largest serving of fish that I have ever seen in my life. So abnormally sized, in fact, that the word shocking is not misused here. It was a six-year-old deep fried boy, lounging on a bed of ten-thousand French fries. In horror, I covered my mouth and sat down.

The cook, a lovely Greek woman, was hanging out the service window, so there was no discussion. There was just eating. Eating and eating and eating. And, to be honest, it was really pretty darn tasty. An athlete-like effort on both our parts allowed us to finish most of what was on the plate. The woman gave her smiling consent, and we waddled back to the laundromat, stuffed beyond our imaginations.

On the 40 minute drive back to Howdenvale we passed through Sauble Beach. There is a Dairy Queen in Sauble Beach. Quick, name the correct dessert to follow the world’s largest fried fish lunch! Oh yes, that’s right. Bryan began chanting “Peanut Buster Parfait, Peanut-Buster Parfait!” Since we had already tossed aside any illusions of healthy eating for the day, we ordered two. Everybody loves a parfait. Sadly, I could only finish the top half of mine. Bryan helped me save face by completing my work. It was a fine, productive day. Time for a nap. That is the only possible way this could end.

What the Hell Are We Doing?

By Catherine Breese

Some people have been asking us what we are doing. A fair question. But actually it’s not all that easy to answer. I mean, why are you doing what you’re doing? Just saying.

But here goes…

As we Americans cross into Canada the lovely Canadian border agents, who are MUCH nicer than the American border agents, ask a series of questions: Where are you going? How long will you be staying in Canada? What is the purpose of your trip? etc. Usually we don’t have trouble with any of these. Usually. But this border crossing was a little different, existentially speaking.

Where are you going?

“Howdenvale, Ontario, on the Bruce Peninsula. My mom owns a cottage.”

How long will you be staying?

“Uh. Two weeks?”

Real Answer: Until we run out of money, it gets way too cold, or you kick us out of your country. Or, if we get jobs we might go back sooner. Actually, we have no real plans for the future at this time. We’re kind of focusing on living in the moment.

What is the purpose of your trip?

“Um. Vacation.”

Real Answer Number 1.Well that’s a tough one, ma’am. We sold our house, you see. We didn’t think it would sell so fast. We knew we had to change our lives because we were wallowing in despondency. Certain family events had forced both of us to reexamine our personal identities and goals. Some people might call it a personal crisis. (No, I do not mean mid-life crisis.) Back before the 1970s, when you we’re allowed to have one, people used to have nervous breakdowns. Now they just drug you up and send you back to work. That’s not for us, though. Anyway, we put the house on the market and boom, we had nowhere to live and then it just seemed silly to stay where we were. We have been trying to get teaching jobs in Radford, Virginia where my son lives, but that didn’t happen. So being too old to move back into our mothers’ basements (which, honestly, in a pinch we might look into) we have decided to return to my childhood vacation retreat, mom’s cottage on Lake Huron. Thank you, Mom! But I wouldn’t really say vacation because that word implies touring, planned activities, gift shopping and the like. We’re just going to be sitting in the front yard staring at the water. So getting around to the purpose, I guess the answer might be something like sanity refurbishment, battery recharge, chilling out for a bit. Something close to that.

Real Answer 2: We have come to enjoy your cool weather, ultra-pleasant Canadian manners, and refreshingly vigorous concern for the environment.

Real Answer 3: We got nowhere else to go. – An Officer and a Gentleman

Do you have any firearms in the vehicle?


Real Answer: Us? Are you joking?

Are you bringing anything into the country that you need to declare?

“Groceries, duty free liquor, these two neutered mixed breed dogs. Here are their papers.”

Real Answer: A lot of bad mojo that we’d like to get rid of.

Enjoy your stay.

Real Answer: “Thanks, Canada.”

The Breese Cottage on Howdenvale Bay

The First Two Feet are the Toughest


by Bryan Ward

The first two feet are the toughest

Bryan gives a sliding board another try. Apparently some things never change.

I have reached an age where I have great experience and knowledge of gravity. I have been its master and I have been its bitch.

In my early years I spent more time in the bitch realm. In spite of my mother’s best efforts and advice, I defied gravity and its mighty pull. My most serious dealings with this primary force occurred on a sliding board at a park in Glen Dale, West Virginia, in the early 1970s. Knowing my mother as I know her now, I must take most, if not all, of the blame. St. Frances, as I loving call her, must have advised me against trying to go on the big slide, as, I assume, Evel Knievel’s mother advised him against his aspirations. I have no recollection of the event. It is probably due to the concussion I received after my failed launch resulted in a sideways dismount off the apparatus. No one remembers if I stuck the landing, or if they do they won’t tell me. All the witnesses seem to remember is my mother running with my limp and lifeless body toward Reynolds Memorial Hospital, a place that I would spend a great deal of time in my youth.

So, dear reader I know gravity and its wicked domination over us. I also now understand my mother’s intense anger at my death-defying tree climbing phase a few years later. I guess watching me fall from several stories high to the ground was just not her cup of tea.

In years since, I have been pretty good with gravity. I will acknowledge that there were times while I was in college that I fell down a few times, but gravity was not the main cause. It must have been a fluid build-up in my ears.

Anyway, living in a tent on a Coleman twin-size air mattress has taught me several things. First of all, as my mother, St. Frances, always proclaimed, the ground is dirty. Second, the ground can be wet and hard. But, the most surprising thing is that gravity is almost impossible to overcome while one’s physical location is within the first two feet from the ground. I really need to apologize to turtles, puppies and babies. In the past I have always blamed the victim and chocked it up to character deficit, stupidity and poor planning. After ten days of wallowing around on my back almost peeing myself as I tried to make to the bathroom or at least to the tent portal, I fully understand what many do not. Gravity is omnipotent. I think my compatriots, the turtles, the puppies and the babies would agree that overcoming the first two feet from the ground is a bitch. If you don’t believe it, try it yourself.

A Few Things I Learned Last Week


by Catherine Breese


When one reaches into a box of plastic tableware that contains 8 spoons, 8 forks, and 8 knives, the chance of pulling out a knife is exactly 100%.

Given the option of sleeping to the all-night din of trailer Steve’s air conditioning unit or the glorious silence of nature briefly interrupted at 4 a.m. by screaming coyotes, I’m going with trailer Steve’s AC every time.

The choice between a lukewarm shower in a stall cohabitated by a small active herd of inch worms, or no shower at all is, actually, a tough one.

Raccoons make a loud hissing noise if you disturb them while they are trying to eat your stuff. Also, raccoons cannot open the 1989 Igloo Playmate push-button cooler.

40 ounce beers are really the most economical and environmentally conscious purchasing decision. If no one sees you drinking it, it’s okay.

When you drive around with most of what you own in the back of your car it is hard to maintain healthy self-esteem. (The look on the oil change mechanic’s face—pity. )

If you are going to make yourself jobless and homeless, it is wise not to have two large dogs. But if you do…La Quinta Inn is pet-friendly.