Mid-Summer Up North Trip to Montreal

All year long, New Jersey residents look forward to the Summertime. In February, these citizens oft convince themselves that living through the slow, cold days is all worth it once it gets warm. But what is easily forgotten about are all the assholes who come to NJ during the Summer months. Summer is not all it’s cracked up to be–it can be infuriating. Whether it’s the guy you’ve never seen before snaking your waves, or the idiots piling trash on the beach, or just the sheer amount of people around you at all times. For me, the answer was to get the hell out.

As a surfer, it’s tough to go on trips that do not involve the act. Thinking about spending money, time, precious gasoline, and effort toward a trip that won’t result in barrels is usually a solid deterrent. However, the separation from the constant need to surf is actually satisfying and relaxing–who’d a thought!?

Luckily, I had the perfect excuse: Work was slow, I was healing from a surfing injury, and I had a great friend in Canada who’d asked me to come visit. So, I walked out the door one Friday morning at 4am. By 1pm, I was crossing the border…

“Bring any gifts?” The border security guy asked. He was young, tatted, and seemed to be a total bro.

“I brought a shirt, I wasn’t sure what else to bring,” I said.

“That’s nice of you,” he smiled. “How about any drugs, alcohol, or firearms?”

Burning rubber past him, I was now a fugitive on the run. This is the life I chose, I thought to myself.

An hour later I reached my friend’s place and by 5pm we were climbing a Canadian mountain, wide-eyed and soaking in the views. By 9pm we’d pitched a tent, started a fire, and began grilling and drinking Labatt Bleue Dry – A Strong Beer (highly suggest & better than whatever the local IPA is).

About a third of the way up Mont Tremblant.

My tour guide proved her worth and was quite helpful as I realized English was not the language of choice around Montreal. She spoke every word of French for me, and all I had to do was pretend to be a dumb American (not hard) and say, “howyadoin.”

This strategy proved effective as I was able to bro down with the most hardcore Quebeccers and French Separatists. It’s comforting to know that there are cool, based individuals everywhere you go–just like there’s dumb idiots everywhere you go.

My tour guide offered to take me into the city for an evening–the Jazz Fest of Montreal was entering it’s final night. She showed me the setlist: “Someone called The Roots?” She shrugged.

I smiled knowing that no matter how many hours I drove, I’d still be arms distance from Philadelphians.

The show was sick, the city was packed, and the next day we were ready to get back out into nature…

We strapped up our belongings, beers, and tunes onto a couple of SUPs and went down Mother Nature’s lazy river. It was the most relaxing day I can recall in recent memory. Surrounded by birds, I figured the trip was a success.

Rather than get too comfortable, I figured I’d peel out of Canada before the border security could pin me down. I woke again at 4am. This time the border security came out of his booth. He strolled over to have a peek in the back of my rig.

“You living in this thing?” He asked.

“No I live in Ocean City, New Jersey,” I replied.

He wasn’t satisfied, but it was too early for an argument.

By lunchtime I stopped for fuel in upstate New York. I’d heard great things about Lake George. So, I figured I’d fuel up, eat, and answer emails in the first place I could stop and take in the view.

Consistent with the rest of the trip, I found some perfect parking spots with minimal local pushback. I concluded: “One more year, I’ll be on Lake George retired.”

If you cared enough to read this far, check out the “Fuckin Canada, eh” photo gallery below. It might not piss you off…

PS) Special thanks to my longtime friend Lara and all the French-Canadians for having me–y’all are some sick cunce.

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