Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Adventure that was Thunder Bay, Ontario. (picture heavy)

I have been debating for the last week over how best to share our trip to Thunder Bay. Let me start by saying this. While I have ridden in a minivan with my parents all the way down to Los Angeles, I have never been further west than Crow's Nest Pass, Alberta (also with my family) and never further east than Winnipeg (with Gilles, and I made my first trip to Winnipeg only a few years ago. Suffice to say, my travel experience is limited.

Something that most people know about me is that I am plan-obsessive. Many people have stared at me in shock when I tell them our honeymoon plan to 'backpack' Montreal, and not have places to sleep booked. (Yes, but there is a concrete plan built into the suggested lack of plan). But this was different.

On the weeks and then the days leading up to this trip, I was getting more and more edgy, due to the fact that there was no definitive plan. My questions: "Where are we supposed to be staying when we are there?" "How many people are we travelling with?" "Whose vehicle are we taking?" "How are you going to get your tux far enough in advance?" "Are we supposed to bring food?" "Will I have access to electricity?" etc., were all met with plaintiff I don't know's. By the time Wednesday rolled around, I was seriously getting frustrated. (Having to buy camping stuff in case you camp, and sit in line for 2 hours to change the oil in your husband's car in case it is being driving all the way to Thunder Bay, and having to pack for camping and/or staying in a hotel and/or staying at someone's house plus your husband's week long guy's trip (and having to pack as light as possible so you can fit the stuff of multiple people), will do that to you. Or at least it will do that to me.) By the time we hit the road, we had the trunk of Gilles' car full, plus half of the back seat. And trust me, that was light packing. (Our list included everything from multiple pairs of shoes for the mountains to a tent, to a wedding gift, to a bike rack.)

We got out of the city at approximately 7:00PM, leaving for Winnipeg. Here's where that weird jag in the map comes in. At this point in the trip, both Gilles and I were driving our own vehicles, because (as I mentioned earlier), he would be continuing on to Kananaskis, Alberta on the way back but I would not. So we drove both our our vehicles down to Moose Jaw, where we left mine. This added about an hour to the trip. We drove and drove and drove, (okay, Gilles drove and drove and drove, and I did my best to stay awake, but fell asleep about an hour before Brandon - at which point we stopped for gas and I forced myself to stay awake for the rest of the trip to help Gilles stay awake. We got to Gilles' cousin's place in Winnipeg at about 3:30AM Saskatcehwan time - 4:30AM Manitoba time. When we got there, we learned that they planned to get up and hit the road at 6:20AM. There was a "bed" set up for us on the floor, so we bunkered down for our... uh... nap.

When we got up, we learned that we would maybe be staying in the bride's uncle's basement. (Or they thought maybe that would be the case anyway). It was determined that we would be staying indoors anyway, so either we would be throwing down the cash for a hotel room or staying at someone's house - but we wouldn't need the camping stuff.

There was then some debate over whether we would take one vehicle or two. The guys (Oh yeah, did I mention that it was me and four guys?) couldn't make up their minds, and at this point I was tired and frustrated, so I finally said pointedly - 'you guys already have your stuff packed in C's car - let's see if Gilles and my stuff fits and then go from there.' I honestly didn't think that it would fit, or I'm not sure that I would have made that suggestion. ... It fit.

So, five of us climbed into C's two door Sunfire with no air conditioning. Prior to climbing in, I made it clear that under no circumstances was I sitting in the middle. I know that I sound high maintenance at this point, but there was no way that I was going to get dumped in the middle just because I was the only girl. Plus, I needed sleep and the window was looking awfully comfortable at this point.

A couple pictures of us in the car (there wasn't enough room to put my shoulders both back on the seat!)

The scenery was gorgeous. Much of the TransCanada highway in Manitoba and that section of Ontario is carved out of volcanic rock. 

We only stopped twice the entire drive - once for lunch at McDonald's (I had a salad with grilled chicken, hold the dressing - despite my nearly painful urge to get a Double Quarter Pounder combo with large fries), and once at a gas station (where I also resisted the urge to get either A) a bag of chips, or B) an ice cream cone - despite the rest of the vehicle mashing on cones).

By the time we got there, my arthritis was SCREAMING. At one point I actually had to stick my right leg out of the passenger window in front of me because it felt like my leg was going to implode. It took a day and a half for my knees to return to normal, during which time I was limping as though I was injured.

The weekend as a whole went quite well, despite the fact that we ended up staying in the bride's uncle's basement, in a house that had no working bath or shower. I have an issue with approaching people that I don't know, and making small talk. Quite frankly, it scares the bajeebus out of me. As a result, I spent most of my weekend following around Gilles and the other groomsmen, and being the awkward 5th wheel (Or 6-7th at some points).

The day of the wedding all of the groomsmen left first thing in the morning to go get ready in a place where they could actually shower. This left me at the uncle's house to fend for myself. I spent the entire morning getting ready, so it went by sort of fast, although I was keenly aware that I was in a place I didn't know, by myself, and about to drive a car that wasn't mine, through a city that I don't know. Then I had to go to a hotel, and get the room number of Gilles' aunt and uncle, who I would sit with at the wedding. (Did I mention that I not knowing things makes me anxious?)

The church was absolutely beautiful (Some of these pictures are taken at the rehearsal the night before the wedding, hence the empty seats). 

The men were dressed up in full tuxes. Did I mention that I have a thing for suspenders? No idea why. But wow, are they ever sexy.

The boys line up and wait for the bridemaids to walk down the aisle. From left to right, Gilles and his cousin Caleb.

Most of the wedding party: there were five groomsmen and five bridesmaids!

They had a "first dance" for the wedding party. I stole Gilles for the rest of the night after this though! I love dancing.

The bride and groom spared little expense for their wedding, which had 3x the budget as ours! The hotel was lavishly decorated, and they even had an open bar, and a candy bar! (Which I am proud to say that I did not touch!)

The favors - very cute. The photo almost looked like it was in front of a screen, the scenery is so beautiful. It wasn't though...

Four groomsmen and a bridesmaid pose for me.

I get a "schoolboy-esque" picture of Gilles - I want to remember this, as it will likely be the only time that I get to see Gilles in a tux!

The evening was a lot of fun - we danced the night away. The bride's flower girl caught her bouquet. Before the groom could do the garter toss, he had to feel the calf of 20 different people and pick his bride out of the lineup. Both Gilles and I were lined up - but not chosen. The groom chose his bride's aunt! Keep it in the family I guess... haha.

A final treat for you guys - Four of the groomsmen and the groom sang Bohemian Rhapsody to everyone - see it below!


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