Thursday, August 17, 2017

You would have thought Elvon would never travel again, after last year in Montreal.  But he wanted to come to see all our friends and our dentist, by whom he swears.  There’s good reason for that.  We both still have mouths full of our own teeth, with crowns only in the back, and three implants in Elvon’s jaw.  The kind of care we get from my cousin John, in Cornwall, would cost a fortune in the Stares.  It’s free to us because we are on Manulife’s Canadian dental plan.

That will easily cover the difference between what we have in the Bank of United, after the pelvis incident, and business class, non-stop. We’ll be back in the Holiday Inn Express, and, if it rains, our dinner partners will come to us with warm dead bird, Montreal smoked meat, or some ethnic treat.  There’s no shortage of good food for purchase in Montreal.  Leona and Norm are taking care of Sylly P with Pat Gustafson and Geri Novak visiting regularly, so she won’t be lonely.

We got up at 4:00 am and were almost read by 5:00 am.  At least I was in the lobby, fetching the bell cart.  The ever-reliable Eric was there already, and accompanied me back to the apartment.  He loaded up the cart and took it to the car, while I mustered Elvon out the door and re-entered a couple of times for little things I had forgotten.  Eric is an entrepreneur, and an author.  He used to own more than a dozen quit-smoking clinics, and has written a book on the subject.  Now he’s putting together a couple of “Fitness Festivals” for 2018.  He gets by on a couple of hours sleep and driving the likes of us around is recreational for him.  He knows his American History and can play devil’s advocate to any stance you may take.  Just what I needed at 5:30 am, mental stimulation.  We also got Vivaldi and I put him on to Music in the Vineyards, which I think he will attend and enjoy.

Check in was easy, and United’s Lounge was nice to spend time in, if rather pedestrian.  I don’t expect much from the airlines anymore.  And, here I am, in Air Crummy’s idea of Business class.  Somebody told me it wasn’t much, and it sure isn’t.  The seat is wider than my ass, but that isn’t worth $1000 more.  We got a barely edible breakfast and a couple of snacks, but nothing remotely special.  The entertainment selection on the miserable little TV set into the seat in front is the worst I have ever seen.  There is only one movie I have even heard of, HBO shows only one series, the music is unexceptional, etc.  They must be trying to force us to use the $20 Internet, which I refused to do, on principle.  Usually that doesn’t bother me, but when they are pushing you to it, it’s just wrong.

They landed on time, though, and by the time we got through customs, picked up our luggage and made it to the rental car pick up place, Jo-Ann Dery was there to help with Elvon.  He likes Jo-Ann and makes an effort to have a conversation.  The car is a golf cart.  I always pay for the cheapest and hope to be upgraded.  Last year I got a Grand Cherokee.  This one is a Nissan Micro, aptly named. It’s going to be great to park downtown.

For dinner with Jo-Ann, we picked Chenoys Deli, a Montreal institution, since 1936.  It’s a smoked meat place and there’s nothing like Montreal smoked meat.  Generations of McGill students fueled their studies at Ben’s.  I was one of them, although I was a picky kid, and had hot chicken sandwiches, while my friends ate that for which Montreal is famous.  It was only about twenty years later that I found out what I had been missing.  Yes, poutine was on offer, too, only not by that name.  It was just French fries and gravy then.

Getting to Chenoy’s was an adventure.  Jo-Ann had warned me I wouldn’t be able to turn left off St. John’s road to get in the place and suggested I turn into Baton Rouge’s parking lot and approach along De Salaberry.  I didn’t get that there was an entrance to Chenoy’s from De Salaberry, and turned left onto St. John’s to be in front of Chenoys.  Now, this is Montreal, still very much under construction, in the summer, and they are redoing St. John’s Road. (pardon me, Chemin St. Jean) There were barrels everywhere.  When I turned left, I chose the left lane, because that’s what you do when you turn left.  Well, I was all the way back over Highway 40, before I could get over to the right to go to a side street to make a U turn and try again.  On the second attempt, Jo-Ann guided me in by cell phone.  She could see me making the first left turn off De Salaberry from Chenoy’s parking lot.

I think the universe might have had a hand in all that, because as we were walking in Chenoy’s door, Ginger Petty was walking out.  What are the odds of that?   She was with her grandchildren, who are a lot older than I ever would have believed.  I knew their father when he was a kid.  Ginger looks fabulous, and the next day she would be hosting a hundred or so, very disabled people, for an annual picnic on Ile Bizard.   This year her house guests aren’t us, but they are Cat and Matt and Matt’s father and his girlfriend, Kathy.  Don’t you love the way the world turns?

Inside Chenoys, the wine was terrible, so we drank beer, and that was fine.  The smoked meat was still delicious.  We told Jo-Ann how much fun it was reading Travel & Leisure’s 100 Best Hotels list.  I had to get to number 27, before finding one I had stayed in, unless it was one of the tented camps in Africa, which dominate this year.  Number 27 is Hovey Manor in North Hatley, where we stayed for both of the Terni kids’ weddings and where my parents stayed on their honeymoon.  I wouldn’t compare it with the Shangri-La in HK, or Raffles in Singapore, but there you have it.  Jo-Ann wasn’t surprised.  The Clintons are staying there this week.

With happy tummies, we arrived at the Holiday Inn.  A lot of people check in at 11:30 pm, it seems.  After about ten minutes in line, I went out to get the rest of the luggage.  While I was out, our number came up and Elvon checked us in, all by himself.  Well, I’ll be damned and I was thrilled.  Up to our room we went and crashed.

Breakfast runs from 5:30 am to 10:00 am here.  I woke up at 9:50, lacking the enthusiasm to get down in time to forage breakfast.  I went back to bed.  The Ternis called about 10:30, which got me moving.  We had a shower and I went out to forage around 12:30 pm, we both having had Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Pretzels for breakfast.  Don’t leave home without them.

I went “home” to Westmount village.  I hit the hardware store for Goo Gone, as the golf cart came with a nasty sticky stain on its mini hood.  Then I went to Alain Assedo, to order a nice pair of dark sunglasses.  This purchase has had to wait for my second cataract operation, which happened in June.  I picked up a couple of millefeuilles at the Patisserie de Gascogne and ¾ of a warm dead bird at Chalet BBQ.

At 4:30 pm, we were in the breakfast room of the Holiday Inn, feasting, with the bottle of Oyster Bay sauvignon bland that Jo-Ann had welcomed us with.  Just perfect.  You know us very well, Jo-Ann, as she should, it’s a 50+ year friendship.  The Holiday Inn let us eat us in their breakfast room, where we got free tea, in cups now embossed with this message:20170818HIhot

They have it figured out.

Life could not be better, and so, good night.