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ReportsThursday, 19 June 2003
The Beaches, Toronto --> Orillia, Ontario, Canada After being a guest on Canada AM on Canadian television, I moved on to my next location in a very particular way!
At 6 am my alarm went off. It was time to wake up at this very unusual time. I had a shower, packed my stuff and Krisztina was even awake to serve me some fruitloops cereal for breakfast.
I thanked her for her hospitality and got in the car. There was a car waiting for me outside at 7am. The car was sent by CTV, the nation's television network, and drove me to the studios northeast of Toronto.
You would guess right now, I am indeed being a guest on Canadian television and I have forgotten how many times I have been on air by now. Canada AM is the name of the morning chit-chat show that features cooking recipes, weather reports and today it hosts the famous freeloader from Holland.
I arrived there at 7.40 am and my driver for this morning and I were put in the so called green room, apparently with some other upcoming guests on the show.
I got in a conversation with a former general of the Canadian army, who is now a military advisor. He was here to back up the American pilots who killed two Canadians during a friendly-fire in Afghanistan last year. According to him there is more to look at than only at the pilots: "The American army is keeping all eyes on these pilots and the media just goes along with that. Nobody looks at the mistakes the army had made before the accident happened. They made some serious mistakes, which caused this big mistake to occur."
Before I knew more I was taken along for make-up and got my face paint-brushed copper brown. In the television studio food was being prepared in the decorative kitchen (most fruits you see on television are fake by the way) and I was introduced to one of the two hosts of Canada AM, Seamus O'Regan (say Shamus, it's Irish).
I was wired with a microphone and set down in this semi-living room setting with my backpack next to my seat. Seamus was very impressed by my way of travelling and as soon as the cameras were on us and we were on air, he did his best in exposing his amazement about the subjet. Before I knew it, photos from my website were shown, varying from Kangaroo Island (Australia) to rain floods in South Africa and "how did you get the idea to travel like this?".
It all went so fast and I felt I barely could have said whatever said. That's normal with TV I have learned. At the end of the four minutes conversation everybody seemed happy and hands were shaken and photos were made.
Then it was out the studio again, wiping off the layer of copper tone make-up (that had become a layer of cracked cake on my face), and had my designated driver carry my packs back to the car again. He seemed to have done that before.
That was me on Canadian television once again.
If you think this was the most thrilling thing of the day, you will be wrong. The strangest thing was still to happen.
CTV had sent me a car with a driver to pick me up and drop me off again. Only I wasn't going back to Krisztina's place, I had to move on to my next town and had to leave Toronto today.
On the phone with the producer of Canada AM I told him that and asked if he could on a perhaps and you-never-know basis help me out in getting me to Orillia, a small city north of Toronto.
So with our last conversation yesterday evening he told me that he could not arrange anything fancier than a bus that would drive me all the way to Orillia.
"Oh thank you!" I said. "But I have already received another offer."
"Oh yeah, what do you have?"
"I have a lady that has offered me a ride to Orillia."
"Oh that's great! You are all set then."
"In a helicopter."
"In a what?"
After the television appearance the driver had to drop me off at the Toronto City Centre Island Airport, where I met up with Anne and Dorothy.
Anne is the caretaker of 90-year-old Dorothy and Dorothy loves to fly. Therefore she booked a helicopter to fly over the Niagara Falls today. When she heard about my travels through word-of-mouth from Anne, she didn't hesitate at all to offer me a seat along totally towards the other direction on this helicopter to Orillia.
I think it's the first time a 90-year-old lady fancies me this much, hehe.
The director of the awarded Niagara Helicopter company Ruedi Hafen, who originates from Switzerland was very fascinated about meeting me. "So you are the famous man, wow," he said with a Swiss accent in his English.
I boarded the helicopter and everybody got seated. Anne wasn't coming along, but her mum also joined us on board. And for me, Anne had brought some snacks for in the air, as this helicopter seriously lacked a flight attendant that brings me something to drink...
And as soon as we took off I saw that fascinating view on the sky scrapers again. And we were going fast, I could hardly believe that we were actually swinging around the city in a matter of seconds!
You can believe me if I say that this was the most thrilling experience of today. I can't remember when I ever was on board of a helicopter myself, so this was actually also my first time! It was amazing!
And at an altitude of 1500 feet we weren't flying that high as the Chris' Cessna did last week, so I could see a lot of small details of things on the ground.
Before taking the ladies to Niagara Falls, Ruedi first flew to Orillia and would then go down south to the falls.
There were the high apartment buildings, unexciting suburbs with its swimming pools and green fields of farmland below us. Stunning!
Within half an hour we made a distance that would take more than an hour on the road and we landed safely at this small airport near next to Lake Simcoe, just outside Orillia.
I was very thankful to Dorothy for taking me along and thanked Ruedi for this safe and comfy flight to Orillia. At within a few minutes I met up with my hosts in Orillia, who drove all the way to this airport to pick me up.
Evan Devine and his 16-year-old son Brolin and his girlfriend Krystal and friend Alex were very amazed to finally meet up with me. But they did a good job hiding this. It was very obvious that Evan told the kids not to bombard me with questions about my travels, so they were very quiet in the car back home.
But imagine this: You are 16-years-old and your father tells you that there is this guy from the Internet staying over. Sounds cool, doesn't it? Then you find out that this guy was just on Canadian television, talking all about his travels. That guy is more than cool now! You can understand clearly that arriving in Orillia in a helicopter was just too much to stay easy about!
Evan works as a care taker at the local mental health clinic in Orillia and he takes care of adult mentally disabled people who live in the enclosed environment for their entire life. So he couldn't stay long and headed back to his work again.
I stayed with the kids in the house. They were in the middle of writing exams for school, but lounged around watching videos or playing computer games. I decided to have a good power nap in Brolin's bedroom. He said he would be sleeping in the outside trailer for tonight. And I had quite some sleep to catch up from last night.
Later this day I met up with mother Sheila and the 17-year-old daughter Marlow . I found the Devines very friendly and very helpful. I had positioned myself in the kitchen with my laptop to do some editing on a movie found myself in the core of the family this way. I have to remember that!
I had a discussion with Sheila about the differences between shopping in Europe and in Canada. We don't use twelve different plastic bags for all our groceries and most Dutch people do their groceries every day and walk to the stores. Maybe it's because our gas prices are in no way comparable with the Canadian. We almost have to walk all the time and will never get coffee from a drive-in.
Some colleagues of Evan had heard about my travels and posed the idea of having dinner out in town with all of us. We drove to the downtown area of small Orillia (population: 30,000) and had dinner at the Brewery Bay Food Co. restaurant.
We joked about spicy chicken wings, but I didn't dare to even try the hot lava sauce. Brolin of course was the guy with the guts that just dipped his fried potato in that sauce and ate it. It was that hot that he couldn't finish the rest of his meal as he had to smooth his mouth for the rest of the time.
The day wasn't over yet, because I had to see something of Orillia and therefore I was taken along for a sporty bike ride along the shores of Lake Simcoe after dinner. It was a refreshing activity to do and the conditions were perfect. The sun was keeping everything nicely warm (and the mosquitoes just loved my sweater).
But it was great to get some fresh air this way and move those legs for another bit.
Back home the kids went to bed early as they both had exams tomorrow. Sheila and Evan stayed up reading the newspaper or watching television, while I had plugged in their internet connection into my laptop for the necessary updates.
Quite a long story for today, ey? Boy, I am even getting tired writing it all down!
Good night Orillia!