Travel Archives (25 posts)

Closed Border, Closed Economy, Closing Opportunities

David Eaves at Queen’s University has an interesting blog post on his experience of trying to enter the US - Closed Border, Closed Economy, Closing Opportunities.

Work or pleasure? It’s never a good idea to say that you are going to the US for work. Your passport could be red-flagged, you could be delayed at the border or in Eaves’ case, your work visa can be taken away.

A couple of years ago I went to Vermont for the weekend to take photos of the fall foliage. The border guard wanted to know if I was working on an assignment. I told her that I was an amateur photographer, a hobbyist. She was skeptical and asked me if I was going to be selling my photos. I knew better and told her that I wasn’t going to be selling my photos.

After a few more questions I was free to enter New York state. I think that this year I will stay in Ontario and go to Algonquin Park instead.

Posted in Photography and Travel at 7:45 PM


I’m off to Kelowna, BC for a vacation. My lovely wife is letting me spend a week with “the boys” - Andy, Dave, Paul and Ron. I’ll be golfing, taking photos, visiting wineries and most of all, relaxing.

See you in a week!

Posted in Travel at 1:01 AM

Photography in Northern Ontario

Killarney lighthouse
My photography road trip was better was better than expected with Lake Superior Provincial Park being the big surprise. If landscape photography is your thing then this park is a must stop on your travels.

I camped at the southern end of the park in Agawa Bay. The Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 17) takes you to the north end of the park in less than an hour but in between are an endless choice of trails, lakes, waterfalls, valleys and rugged coastline to photograph.

Every trail and location I visited was more impressive than the last. Each of these locations was never more than 10-20 minutes apart which is astonishing when you consider that you can drive for hours across Ontario without the landscape changing very much. The close proximity of trails, coves, and scenic lookouts is perfect for the photographer that wants to shoot multiple locations in a morning or evening.

If it was raining at the north end of the park I was able to travel south for 30 minutes where I had perfect conditions for an 8 km hike. Some of the coves had strong mist and fog in the mornings but if you travelled north 10 minutes you had warm morning light. Incredible.

Killarney Provincial Park was equally as impressive but much of the park is only accessible by canoe. I hiked the Chikanishing Trail and the Tar Vat Trail out of Killarney and plan to return to explore some of the trails in the park.

Recollet Falls on the French River was a short 3 km hike and a great way to start my trip. At the end of my trip on my way back to Toronto I stopped in at Killbear Provincial Park (just north of Parry Sound). This park was a huge disappointment because of the number of visitors, the litter, the graffiti on the rocks, the barking dogs and the underage kids drinking on the rocks. It was if somebody took the Beaches neighbourhood in Toronto and dropped it in Georgian Bay — not what I expected.

I have about 700 photos to go through and will start posting them on Bombippy Photos when I get a chance but for now I have have a backlog of JAK Media work to get through

Posted in Photography and Travel at 10:22 AM

Killarney and Beyond

I was planning to take a photography trip down to the Bay of Fundy and Prince Edward Island but changed my mind. One week isn’t nearly long enough to explore this part of the country.

I was in a Chapters bookstore when I came across three books that completely changed my mind:

  1. Georgian Bay: A Photographer’s Wonderland
  2. Paddling And Hiking The Georgian Bay Coast
  3. Wilderness Ontario

I didn’t buy them from the store. I went home and ordered them online at for 34% off and had them delivered to my door. didn’t have any of these books in stock and seems to be hopeless at having anything in stock these days.

I’ve been poring over these books of the Georgian Bay coast and northern Ontario. My goal is to shoot some coastal landscapes for a week. Why go all the way to the east coast when I can visit the old stomping grounds of the Group of Seven?

I plan to visit Recollet Falls on the French River, Killarney Provincial Park and Lake Superior Provincial Park. I’ll camp along the way and scout locations during the day for morning and evening shoots.

It won’t be much of a holiday. Getting up at 5 AM and going to bed well after sunset doesn’t leave a lot of room for sleep but it beats working on websites. I’m looking forward to dusting off the Canon 5D and creating some landscape photos for a change.

Posted in Photography and Travel at 10:45 PM

C’mon man, I got kids to feed

Here’s a photo of my buddy Paul trying to sell some Detroit Lions tickets to a scalper. This guy’s look reminds me of little of Snoop Dogg.


When Paul told him the price, Snoop complained and said it was too high. Then he complained to tell Paul that he has kids to feed, that he needs to make a living. Paul’s response was that he has kids too. Four of them!

Maybe Paul can tell us how the deal went down. All I know is that it made for a good photo.

Full-size image here.

Posted in Photography and Travel at 3:25 AM

Roadtrip to Michigan

I’m heading down to Lansing, MI for some golf, college football, and an NFL game on Sunday. I should be heading to a sandy beach instead of waking up at 6 AM to get across the border for a 12:30 tee off time. Waking up that early doesn’t feel like a holiday to me but it beats working.

I still have a number of TIFF reviews to do. The best film by far was Jason Reitman’s Juno. The cast was stellar and the movie is very funny.

The last film I saw was called Surfwise — a great surfing documentary about the Paskowitz family. More to come when I get back if I can get online.

I’m moving my JAK Media office into my house on Monday. Pictures to come. I know, I’ve neglected to post more photos of the reno. I simply have too much on the go. I won’t mention the handful of sites that I’ve been trying to finish for the last 3 months. Maybe with a home office I’ll be able to get even more work done! Groan.

Posted in Personal and Travel at 12:43 AM

Shooting in Vermont

Last Friday I hopped in the ol’ Mustang at 4 AM. Destination, Vermont.

The ‘lovely’ was nice enough to let me leave for three days to take photos in the Green Mountain State. The fall foliage was at its peak in many spots and I was determined to see as much as possible. Aside from the amazing colour of the leaves, there were plenty of waterfalls and covered bridges to shoot.

1,800 km later I’d been through the entire state, top to bottom, shooting each day from sunrise to sunset. If you’ve never been to Vermont in the autumn, you’re missing out. The landscape is incredible.

The most picturesque town I passed through was East Manchester. I’m hoping to get down there next year for the first week of October (with ‘the lovely’ this time).

Along the way I learned a few lessons that some people might find helpful:

  • Don’t take your 18-year-old Mustang GT (with 234,000 km) on an a 3-day road trip. You might get to your destination faster but your dashboard and tail lights could fail. Mine failed one day into the trip.
  • Try to find a motel while there is still daylight. I ended up in Waitsfield, VT on Saturday night. When I left in the morning I noticed that the motel sign read, “bikers welcome”.
  • If you’re going to do some mountain climbing, don’t wear loafers that slip on wet rocks. I climbed to the top of Smuggler’s Notch just north of Stowe, VT. Breathtaking. Literally. By the time I reached the bottom of my climb, my legs were shaking, my knees hurt and I wanted to vomit.

I’ll be posting some photos on Bombippy Photos soon. If you’ve been to Vermont, what are some of favourite places you’ve been to?

Posted in Photography and Travel at 10:30 AM

College Football Road Trip

I’m off to West Virginia and then Pennsylvania for some college football, golfing and maybe a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game. This is my fifth year of doing this and it’s always a blast.

I have to learn to spread things out a little. I just realized that in less than 30 days I will have done a Nascar weekend, a film festival and a 4-day road trip with the boys. I’m going to be exhausted by next Monday.

Posted in Travel at 9:21 PM

GFS Marketplace 400

On the weekend I was down in Brooklin, Michigan for another Nascar race. This was probably the best race I’ve seen to date ending with Jeff Gordon chasing Matt Kenseth to the finish line.

Jeff Gordon

The race had plenty of passing, the requisite number of crashes, F-15 fly overs, some of the funniest looking fans in the world and great weather.

T-bone steaks and baked beans finished off the day as we waited for 100,000 fans to leave Michigan International Speedway. Good times. I’ll post some photos soon.

Posted in Travel at 8:50 AM

2,083 kilomtres

2,083 km of driving from Toronto to Gaithersburg, Maryland and back — a lot of scenic routes made for some interesting pictures like this. The driving was a breeze, until I got back to Toronto, and remembered what I hate most about this city of 5.3 million people. The bloody traffic!

It took me over an hour to get from Oakville to Toronto at 6 PM last night. Everyone is supposed to be leaving the city after work, not going back into it. There is something to be said for small towns in the country.

Posted in Travel at 4:25 PM

Goin’ to Gaithersburg

I’m heading down to Gaithersburg, MD for a family wedding. Gaithersburg is just north of Washington, DC. I plan to take my sweet time and hopefully get some interesting photos along the way.

If anything it will be a relaxing break from the daily grind.

Posted in Travel at 12:12 AM

Vancouver in February

I’m off to Vancouver for the rest of the week to visit some friends and relax. I plan to watch a lot of movies, drink a lot of coffee, and take a lot of pictures. On Sunday night I’ll squeeze in a hockey game at GM Place before I take the red-eye flight back to Toronto.

At some point over the next four days I really hope to understand why my friend Andy has taken to wearing Yoga pants. He says they’re incredibly comfortable. I think there is something wrong with him.

Posted in Travel at 9:30 PM

The Buffalo Bills Suck

New York Doll poster

Yesterday I went down to Orchard Park, NY to see the Buffalo Bills with my buddy Paul the insurance adjuster. We had great seats—11 rows behind the Bills bench which gave me some great photo opportunities. At least until the blizzard started in the second half.

The Bills got pounded 35-7. Quarterback Kelly Holcomb endured most of this pounding and sustained a severe concussion. I have a great shot of him getting popped on Bombippy Photos.

Posted in Travel at 5:01 PM

Back from the road trip

This year’s road trip was a lot of fun—West Virginia, Pensylvania and New York. We golfed, ate a lot of food, watched a couple of football games and played a few practical jokes and had a big time.

I’ll be posting some photos of the trip on BOMBIPPY PHOTOS. Below are a few snapshots starting with the guys heading into Ralph Wilson stadium.

Going to see the Bills

The Buffalo fans are getting worse. At least half of the stadium was completely drunk. A “young lady” sitting beside us punched a guy in the face. Fights were constantly breaking out in the stands and the drunks behind us were yelling for the entire game. A great place to take your kids for a sporting event!

M. L. Vance

Back in West Virginia, things were much more civilized at the Mountaneers football game. State trooper M. L. Vance kept things under control and had us in stitches every time he turned to the side. With that jaw line he was a dead ringer for Jim Carrey in the movie, Me, Myself and Irene.

Later on, Dave provided us with an imitation of state trooper Vance.

Dave imitating officer Vance.

Posted in Travel at 4:26 PM

Road Trip

Time for a break! Tomorrow I’m going on a road trip for the next 4 days with a bunch of guys.

This year, 7 of us are heading down to West Virginia to golf and watch some college football. Go Mountaineers!

On Saturday night we’ll head up to Pittsburgh for a big time. Then it’s off to Buffalo for a Bills game. To end the weekend we’ll head over to Sammy’s in Niagara Falls for dinner.

This will be the fourth year in a row that we’ve done a road trip like this. In past years we’ve gone to a few Steelers games at Heinz Field, a Pirates game at PNC Park, a Penguins game and a college football game at Penn State. Should be a good time.

Posted in Travel at 6:18 PM

GFS Marketplace 400

I’m heading down to Michigan International Speedway for a Nascar race on Sunday—GFS Marketplace 400 (1:30 PM EST on TNT). Once a year, four of us head down to Livonia, MI on Saturday morning. On Saturday night we eat dinner at the BoneYard Bar-B-Q & Grille and then head over to Kickers (owned by former Miami Dolphin kicker, Pete Stoyanovich). Sunday is the big race.

This year should be interesting because CART driver Paul Tracy (from Toronto) is attempting to qualify and start in his first Nascar race. It’s also the last time we’ll see Rust Wallace race. He’s retiring this year. After the race we tailgate and wait for 200,000 race fans to make their way home.

On Monday morning we head back to Toronto. Aside from a great race there is always a story or two waiting to happen. Should be a great weekend.

Posted in Travel at 4:44 PM

Au revoir Paris

Today is our last day in Paris and the last travel entry that you’ll have to read for a while. Promise.

On Sunday morning we went to Montmarte in the north end of the city (where most of the movie Amelie takes place if you live your life through film). We walked up the Rue de Martyrs to Sacré-Coeur—the large white dome church at the top of a very steep hill. It was Palm Sunday and there was a service on but the tourists have to be herded through to gawk at the architecture. I felt terrible for invading a church service. Tourists were standing in front of people trying to worship and take part in the service. Dumb. Beautiful church but we didn’t stay very long.

The Musée Montmarte, just north of the church was a complete rip. There was supposed to be some Modigliani paintings. There weren’t. There were some really boring German belt buckles that were over a hundred years old.

location voiture martinique

After that we went to a crowded flea market—the biggest in Paris. I can’t tell you how much fun that was.

Yesterday we went to the Opéra district and visted the Opéra. This has been the surprise of the trip for me. I was completely blown away by the incredible architecture and history here.

This building is absolutely decadent. I’ve never seen so much red velvet in one place. When you take into account that Handel, Beethoven and other great composers performed here, it makes the place feel magical.

Today it finally rained so we decided to head indoors and the Panthéon in the Latin Quarter. The Panthéon is another incredible church because of its architecture (Roman influence). Below the church is a massive crypt where many famous French people are buried (Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, Emile Zola and likely where Johnny Halliday will be buried. Okay, maybe not).

Once the rain cleard up we went for a walk in Luxembourg Gardens where magnolia trees are starting to bloom. Leaves are starting to pop open on all the trees. Spring has arrived early in Paris.

Tonight we’re going out for a nice meal in the 17th district courtesy of Lissa’s brother. We’re both really looking forward to this and it is a perfect way to celebrate our last night in Paris.

I won’t get into my experience tryign to see A Life Aquatic, the Marais district or walking around our neighbourhood with Lissa’s laptop looking for free Wi-Fi (special thank you to the Dumon family for not protecting their router).

It’s been a great trip. We’ve been fortunate for the awesome weather. Neither one of us was hit by any vehicles which is amazing! I’ve seen more of Paris than I expected and probably would have lost 10 pounds from all of the walking if I didn’t eat so much cheese.

Posted in Travel at 11:23 AM

Dead People and Churches

We spent part of the morning in Montparnasse Cemetary where a lot famous people are buried—Camille Saints-Sain, Jean-Paul Sarte, Samuel Beckett and Susan Sontag (that was a surpise). A lot of the headstones are quite interesting and should make for some interesting photos.

I had to visit Saint Sulpice church because I’ve never been there and it is significant in The Da Vinci Code. Oddly enough there was a Davinci Code tour taking place when we arrived. The British tour guide was quite amusing and pointed out a lot of “factual errors” in the novel. Apparently the church hasn’t been too happy with people wandering around the church, tapping away at the floor, attempting to find hidden messages.

We wandered through the Lating Quarter which is full of interesting narrow streets. The disappointing thing is that these streets are filled with tourist traps and lousy restaurants. The most interesting stop here was the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. I forgot that part of “Before Sunset” was filmed here last year.

Next was Notre Dame cathedral followed by some shopping on Isle St. Louis. We went to a French Provincial store and picked up a few things. Lissa was so impressed until she realized that there are two of these stores in Toronto and one in Vancouver. C’est la vie.

More walking along the Seine, watching the boats go by, enjoying the weather and thinking about where to go next.

I found another Starbuck near our hotel and decided to get a cappucino. This time it was perfect. It costs the same as going to a café but takes half the time. Getting the bill in a restaurant or café takes a lot of patience here. Nobody really seems to be in a rush. I guess I have to learn to relax a little more.

Posted in Travel at 4:04 PM

The Louvre and MO

The weather continues to be unseasonably warm here and we’re loving it! We just found an Internet café that is around the corner from our hotel (4 Euro/hour). We’ve decided against lugging the laptop around looking for a McDonalds.

So, day 2. We spent most of the day in the Louvre. Overall we were both impressed. I was glad that I read The Da Vinci code ahead of time because it added another dimension to the whole experience. Some of the Italian paintings were closed which means I missed Veronese’s “Wedding at Cana”—the painting I wanted to see the most.

We decided to walk along Champs Elysées and ended up at the Arch de Triumphe by the end of the day. After 5+ klometres of walking we were toast. A nice meal around the corner and we were happy.

Today we did the MO (Musée d’Orsay) and had a great time. We both found it to be better than The Louvre in that we enjoyed the collection of paintings here a lot more.

By around 3 PM we headed over to Rue Rivoli in search of Colette—a store with a design theme, gadgets, beauty products and cool DVDs. It’s basically a bricks and mortar

A few more kilometres of walking took us back to the Seine. Listened to a really bad band for a little while. Crossed Pont Neuf over to Odéon and had the worst Starbucks Coffee to date. Lesson learned. Stick the cafés.

At this point my legs are completely numb. I’m sitting in this café trying to figure who messed up the layout on this keyboard and trying to breathe as the cigarette smoke continues to suffocate me (Lissa took the computer by the open door).

Tomorrow we’ll check out Notre Dame and the cemetary in Montparnasse where which is very close to our hotel (we’re on Rue Pasteur across the street from the Pasteur metro). To most of you this information will be meaningless.

Okay time for a cigar. Did I mention how unbelivably cheap cigarellos are?

Posted in Travel at 3:35 PM

Day 1 in Paris

First the bad news. Air Canada lost one of our bags.

The good news is that the weather here is about 70 degrees F at the moment and we’re walking around in t-shirts. Life is good. Oh, and my missing bag magically appeared later in the day.

The French are crazy drivers. We witnessed a couple of accidents on the way to our hotel (one happened right behind us as we were walking on the sidewalk). We had a couple of close calls on our bus ride from the airport too. I think this is why people love to sit around at the outdoor cafes—to watch the car wrecks.

Did I mention that everyone smells really great? It’s a rule here. You have wear nice perfume.

We walked over to the Eiffel Tower from our hotel (about 2 km). I walked up to the second level and took in some great views of the city (Lissa got a little freaked out and had to return to less windy ground—she found a somellier from the south of France to talk to).

We’ll probably head over to the Louvre today as it looks a little overcast. Hopefully we can find some decent Wi-Fi service. I’m on our hotel computer (Euro for 60 minutes). The mouse doesn’t work very well and the keyboard has a different layout from what I’m used to. This will explain all of the typos.

7:34 AM. We’re going to grab some breakfast and start viewing some of the world’s finest art.

Last thing. Our hotel room window faces the Eiffel Tower. So what if we can only see the the top quarter of it. We’re happy.

Posted in Travel at 1:21 AM

Bon Voyage

I’m off to Paris for a week of sightseeing, relaxation and fun. It’s about 10 degrees C over there which will be a welcome change from snow and cold weather in Toronto.

I’ve been watching a few movies to gear up for the trip. Subway (1985), directed by Luc Besson is set in Paris. I thought this was a complete waste of time and the worst Besson film I’ve seen. Awful.

Next up was Forget Paris (1995). I forgot how bad this movie was. No wonder I haven’t seen Bill Crystal or Debra Winger in anything lately. Amost every exterior scene in Paris has a shot of the Eiffel Tower—typical Hollywood film that assumes the audience is plain stupid.

Amelie was by far the best film to put me in the mood. A lot of it is set in Montmarte which I can’t wait to visit. The train stations, the cafés, it’s all coming back to me now.

We leave tonight and arrive in Paris on Wednesday morning. I will probably post a few updates when Lissa isn’t isn’t crafting her next 3 page entry for

Posted in Travel at 12:16 PM

Eating in Paris

My father noticed an article in the New York Times yesterday which ended up in my inbox this morning—Does the Affordable Paris Bistro Still Exist? Oui.. Aside from visiting some famous landmarks and viewing some incredible art, I’m looking forward to eating some amazing food.

After I find some of the bistros mentioned in the Times article, you can bet that I’ll be sipping some Beaujolais and getting slapped around by some of the world’s rudest waiters. I can’t wait. To sample some French cuisine of course. I could do without the waiters and attempting to speak French.

Posted in Travel at 9:30 AM

Sunday in Paris

Apparently most of Paris shuts down on Sunday. This is the day we’ve chosen to go to the Louvre because we thought it was free. It’s only free on the first Sunday of every month. On Sunday March, 20th it will cost 13 euros. Oh well.

So with everyone at the Louvre or Marais on a Sunday, what else is there to do?

The New York Times suggests says, “In Paris, the Rue des Martyrs Is a Slice of Village Life”. So maybe we’ll head down to Rue des Martyrs where Saint Denis was beheaded for preaching the Christian gospel in the 5th century.

Link to the Times article via

Posted in Travel at 2:31 PM

March in Paris

I would have preferred “April in Paris” but March will do. In 15 days, Lissa and I will be spending a week in Paris. With our busy schedules, this is the only time that we can go. It should be a fabulous trip.

I spent a few days in Paris about 15 years ago and barely scratched the surface. I’m looking forward to walking through the museums, art galleries, churches and eating some great food. Any advice from you world travellers?

Posted in Travel at 5:07 PM

Kodiak Smokeless Tobacco and projectile vomiting

This weekend I went with a few of the boys to a Nascar race at Michigan International Speedway. On Saturday night we went to The Bone Yard for some BBQ ribs. We usually go to a sports bar called Kickers afterward but it was closed due to the power blackout.

So how do four Canadian guys amuse themselves in a Detroit suburb on a Saturday night? They go to a Seven Eleven and purchase some chewing tobacco. Then they drive around until they find a small town called Farmington which resembles Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show. Below is my recollection of what happened between 8 PM and 10 PM that night.

My friend Gary is the first to try some Wintergreen flavoured Kodiak Smokeless Tobacco. He takes a very small pinch and puts in his mouth. Real men chew tobacco so I take a small pinch out of the can and carefully place it in my mouth. The other two guys with us, John and Russ think we’re crazy and refuse to try. Naturally, I tease them and repeatedly call them a bunch of wimps.

Gary warned me that my mouth would start to salivate right away, which it did. He also said I would get a buzz from the nicotine but I wasn’t feeling anything. “Give it some time,” he said. He also warned me not to swallow any.

We wandered around the town for a little, spitting tobacco, looking for a place to get a pint. I was getting bored with this little piece of tobacco and decided to put a much bigger wad in the side of my mouth—the same way major league pitchers do between innings before they head back to the mound.

We approached the main street and in less than a minute I began to feel light-headed. Then I began to feel dizzy, unstable, reaching for the side of buildings to balance myself. I wobbled over to a park bench across from the movie theatre and sat down as my head begin to spin. I spit out the tobacco. I was amazed at how fast it affected the rest of my body.

The other three guys were killing themselves with laughter as I began to keel over on this bench. I was beginning to feel nauseous and worried about the huge slab of BBQ ribs I had earlier. Too late! I asked the guys to stop laughing and help me up. I was going to be sick.

I looked around and saw a pot of geraniums beside a building. Leaning against the building with one hand I bent over and emptied my dinner on top of those geraniums. A family out for ice cream walked by. I didn’t notice them but the guys assured me that this family was not impressed with my abdominal strength. They probably assumed I had a few too many pints at the pub across the street. I fertilized the geraniums for a little while and sat back down on the bench in disbelief.

Feeling dizzy and hot from hurling, John found some cold bottled water for me from one of the nearby stores. I noticed that Gary was buckled over as well but it was from laughing so hard. I was the entertainment for the evening. As if things couldn’t get any worse, I realized that a severe case of diarrhea was about to finish me off.

I sprang up and staggered around telling the guys that, “I need to find a bathroom! Now! I’m not kidding guys! I gotta go!!” John found me a washroom in the pub across the street. I was relieved. The stall was occupied. John tried the door a few times when I voice said, “I’ll be just a minute.” That minute seemed like an eternity.

I found relief in the washroom and wandered out to the bar where they guys were still laughing at my stupidity. The smell of food made nauseous again and I staggered outside. I had to vomit again but my pot of geraniums was across the street and the light was red. I didn’t care. I ran out into the street in front of a pickup truck that stopped to let me pass. Right in front of the truck I projectile vomited into the street—a first for me. I found another bench down the street and sipped my water for the next hour while they guys had a beer in the pub.

Back out our hotel, I cleaned up and went to bed. Passed out is more like it.

After great embarassment, I can now say that I have experienced chewing tobacco, that it is a disgusting habit and that I’m not a real man.

Posted in Humour and Observations and Travel at 10:05 AM