so i will admit, all that dissention from people who know me well might have planted a little tiny seed of doubt in my mind. not that i would move, because there was never any question of that, but that i would be able to survive, NAY, thrive in northwestern ontario. but you guys, in case you haven't noticed, since i moved here i have become THUNDER BAY'S BIGGEST FAN. i love it here so much that even people who grew up here look at me like i'm crazy. and when i said that to cory one day he was like "it's not that you love thunder bay, it's that you love the things here. like our house. and riley." and while i don't disagree with that, nor do i disagree with the fact that i do love the things in thunder bay (although maybe i do disagree that loving the things in a place and loving a place are two different things, CORY AND YOUR COMPLICATED SEMANTICS), i'm off to prove that this city makes me just as happy as the person i moved here to be with (AWWW, I KNOW! am i not the most adorable?) also, now maybe people will come visit me RIGHT MOM?
- my house - okay, fine, i do really, really love our house. i love the walls and the carpets and the roof and all the rooms and the furniture and the windows in the living room and the trees in the front yard. i'm a little scared of the basement sometimes but it's nice to know it's there for storing things like winter boots and potatoes. i love driving in the driveway and walking up the stairs and putting my key in the door and once i'm inside i basically never want to leave.
- the kam river - come to think of it, i also really love our street. i love how i can leave work and be all stressed and angry and the minute i see mount mckay and smell the mill and turn down broadway it's like all the stress just disappears, and i'm all happy and relaxed. but the thing i love most about my street is that right there on the other side of it is the kaministiquia river.
objects in the photograph may be far more snowy, these days, than they appear
- waterfalls - before i ever came to thunder bay, i had decided that kakabeka was the funniest word on the planet. cory would be all "blah blah blah kakabeka" and i'd be all "HAHAHAHA." then i went there and it was so beautiful and amazing on top of being hilarious. so i was more "HAHAHA... OOH... HAHAHA." it was all very confusing.
i'm totally laughing on the inside
so i went to kakabeka and then went back to kakabeka and then went back to kakabeka again with heather and scott when they were here and was all "KAKABEKA IS THE BEST YOU GUYS" (admit it, you're totally LOLing) and then suddenly one day cory was like "hey why don't we go to this other awesome waterfall that i've never told you about before?"
cascades! who knew
so even though kakabeka remains the most hilarious waterfall, i think cascades might take the crown just cause you can walk right up to the waterfall and stick your hand in it if you want to, and this makes it the most dangerous and therefore the most awesome.
- the scan - so the subject of finn pancakes is a pretty tense one in thunder bay. i once saw two people nearly come to blows over the hoito and whether or not it's overrated. really, all you need to know is this: the hoito IS overrated, and kangas is a sauna where underage thunder bayans go to have sex (and have it posted on the internet!) there is only one clear choice here, and it is the scan. and when you go to the scan, there is only one choice of what to order: the big viking.
and this photograph makes its seven millionth appearance on this blog
it is basically my dream in life to be able to finish the big viking (get it?! finnish!?) which i understand is kind of sad, but whatever. it's too delicious to feel okay about leaving anything behind.
- candy mountain - there's really only one reason we ever go out to candy mountain: to do manual labour. this, for me, mostly involves playing with riley while cory and his dad plant trees and cut down other trees and water trees and whatever other things they do while i'm, well, playing with riley. one time, though, i did learn how to use a saw!
can you not tell that i am SAWING THE HELL OUT OF THAT TREEbut the most awesome thing about candy mountain is that a fairly sizeable chunk of it actually belongs to cory's dad.
he's very modest. it IS actually a mountain
so we can cut down trees and put up trees and walk around and LIVE there if we want, and no one can stop us. well, except cory's dad. and raccoons.
- thunder oak cheese farm - i know i already made a post about the thunder oak cheese farm, but i cannot stress enough how amazing the combination of delicious cheese and adorable baby goats can possibly be. especially when the cheese is UNBELIEVABLY good and the baby goats are UNBELIEVABLY adorable. whatever, just be glad it's not the other way around.
- westfort coney island - thunder bay is not bad for restaurants; like, you're not going to starve here or anything. but one thing that's really amazing about thunder bay is that there are all kinds of places that look like they're just corner stores, but once you go inside you can buy, like, GIANT bags of handcut fries.
i wasn't joking. that is one big motherfucking bag of fries
you can also buy coney burgers. and i'm not going to lie, the only place you want to do that in thunder bay is the westfort coney island.
cory still goes there despite his fear of ferris wheels
now, if you don't know what coney burger is, i can't really tell you. neither, apparently, can wikipedia. but they are delicious, if a little hard to get used to eating at ten in the morning, which is the time, on saturday mornings, that you will find me and cory and his dad sitting in one of the three little booths, in the back behind the four old ladies who like their toast black, and avoiding the know-it-all guy who sits at the counter and, well, knows it all. and cory will be drinking his cream soda and his dad will be eating half-and-half and chatting with everyone who comes in, and i will be eating fries and gravy and leaving a couple of soggy fries behind in a pool of gravy and it will drive cory bananas. we are creatures of habit, just like everyone else who ever goes to the coney.
- stanley burgers - i was actually planning a post on the best burgers in thunder bay, but then abandoned it after eating a burger at the stanley tavern. i mean, i still ate burgers, don't get me wrong. it's just that it was no longer a competition.
so worth the drive, you don't even know
the stanley tavern is actually in stanley, which is basically sort of by kakabeka. it used to be the place where you got off (or maybe on?) your tube when you went tubing on the river, but they changed it (and they also stopped letting you bring beer, which means that we don't go tubing). so the lack of tubing, along with the fact that, due to a miscommunicated story about a crappy waitress (and maybe some bad chocolate milk?) i thought the stanley was actually not a great place to eat. THIS WAS A GROSSLY INACCURATE ASSUMPTION ON MY PART. they do make the. best. burgers. and you know that i do not say something like this lightly.
- new hope dog rescue - new hope dog rescue rescues dogs. they rescue them from homelessness, from bad owners, from northern communities, from the pound when they are about to be euthanized. they rescue them and they put them in foster homes and they work tirelessly to try to get them adopted. so if you live in thunder bay and you want a dog, you should call them because honestly puppies are cute and everything but there are so many grown up dogs out there who just want to love you. and there is absolutely nothing like the love you get from a rescue pet.
- the mnr tree nursery - once you get your rescue pet, take them for a walk at the mnr tree nursery! i'll admit, the best part of the tree nursery for me is the fact that it's pretty close to my house. and the second best part is the little informational signs they have everywhere that teach you about wildlife and stuff. because i really need to know what kind of fish looks most like a helicopter! i am not even being sarcastic.
the best part is, the fish is actually FLYING it
- the cle - yeah, from the outside the cle just looks like a normal bill lynch fair (bill lynch? is that a thing? or is it just in the maritimes?) but there are several cool things about the cle that don't include rides and cotton candy. the first is the competition they have for, like, weird-shaped vegetables and arts and crafts and such, which i totally meant to enter this year but forgot about until we were actually there and i was like "fuck i totally meant to enter this!" (not that i a) grow vegetables or b) have the slightest inkling how to make or interest in making arts and crafts. i just like competitions!) the second cool thing is that along with all the normal fair type food like mini donuts and cotton candy, they have a bunch of local food booths that sell things like pierogies and polish sausages and other things.
i like the deep fried chocolate bars, myself
the third cool thing is, obviously, the petting zoo. it is seriously hard to go wrong with baby goats and miniature donkeys. YES I LIKE BABY GOATS, OK?
- tbpl - i love libraries in general, in fact, i'd be hard-pressed to find one where i was all "this library is basically just mediocre, yo." i have had some really great moments at the tbpl. they even let me read there, and there was free coffee, and bill showed up! i'm telling you, nights don't get much better than that.
- sleeping giant - so i've mentioned this before, but you don't tell someone from thunder bay that the sleeping giant looks nothing like a sleeping giant, because basically they will form an angry mob and run you out of the city with flaming torches yelling "you come back where you came from, you here?!" in an old-timey accent. so, because i love this city so much, i will now publicly declare that THE SLEEPING GIANT TOTALLY LOOKS LIKE A GIANT THAT IS SLEEPING, YOU GUYS.
no it doesn't
but the "sleeping giant" isn't just something you can look at. you can also walk on it! it's pretty far away--like, deceptively far--but if you go it's totally worth it because you get to see things like this:
apparently this looks like a sea lion. i think people in thunder bay are just confused about what things look like
this just looks like adorableness
- the thunderwolves - people here LOVE the thunderwolves. like, almost as much as people in halifax love the mooseheads, which is to say that they love them as much as a town that loves hockey but has no nhl team loves whichever team is around. and thunder bay is really the hockiest of hockey towns, although i'm still pretty sure no tsn announcer ever wrote a book about a staal.
- cory's parents' garden - take a look at this picture and tell me what you see:
if you said "a big ass farm" i would be all like WRONG SUCKERS, it's cory's parents' garden and it's full of all kinds of vegetables that i don't even know what they are (true story: cory's always like "get some carrots" and i'll be like "where's the carrots?" and he'll be like "over there" and i'll be like "STOP IT WHERE" and he'll laugh cause he'll realize that i'm looking for something orange. and in a plastic bag). all i know is this is the reason that we have potatoes to store in our basement and eat cucumbers every day for two months in the summer. (side note: if anyone can tell me something to do with cucumbers other than salad, please tell me. and don't say pickles. i'm not making those, that's too much work).
- mount mckay - did i tell you that mount mckay is at the end of my street? and you can drive up to the top of it and you might grumble a little bit about having to pay five dollars, once you get up there it's totally worth it cause you can see the whole entire world from up there.
i guess it's sort of more impressive when you're there
it's also apparently one of the other places that under aged thunder bayans go to have sex, but luckily we didn't see any of that. also, on your way home you can stop at the native gas bar and get cheap gas! if you don't mind waiting in mile-long lines.
- the people - here are some things you need to know about the people in thunder bay: a) they say "bill" when they mean "receipt" b) they might not be super duper friendly all the time, but they're also rarely ever excessively mean and c) they never complain about the weather, especially in winter. you might think i'm joking about the last one but it's true: even with all the truly crappy weather we've had lately, people just say things like "well, we do live in thunder bay," or "yep, it's winter in canada, what are you going to do?" and i know what you're thinking, you're thinking "amy how can you make all these generalizations about thunder bayans when you've only lived there for six months?" well, guess what? THEY'RE NOT GENERALIZATIONS. i work three jobs in the service industry and i have met EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO LIVES HERE and THEY ALL DO THESE THINGS. also, i don't know if "thunder bayan" is the right term to describe someone who lives in thunder bay, but since no one will tell me if it is or isn't, INCLUDING THE INTERNET, WHICH KNOWS EVERYTHING, i am just going to decide that it's the term i'm going to use.
- bonfires - it's so awesome, you guys: everyone in thunder bay has bonfires at their parties! like, if i were in halifax or toronto and going to a party, i would for sure wear something adorable and impractical and totally NOT flame-retardant. my first thought would not be "what are the odds of this catching on fire?" and "how easily can i get the smell of smoke out of the material?" dressing for parties in thunder bay sure is complicated. luckily bonfires are easily the most fun thing you can do at a party.
- cabbage rolls and perogies in church basements - this is what you do: you check in the paper and you see "cabbage rolls and perogies on such and such a day from blah til blah at yadda yadda church" and then you go and try to figure out which frigging door to go in and then you eventually stumble down into the basement and this is what you see: a dozen little old polish ladies and one huge-ass ball of dough making billions of perogies and cabbage rolls that you can buy for, like, twenty cents. it's like some kind of weird potato miracle.
- loch lomond - here is a confession: i have yet to actually go skiing at loch lomond, even though it is only a few minutes away from my house. but i have been tubing there lots and lots of times.
it looks like cory is taking a picture of excited little me. but he's really taking a picture of tube girls' bum
tubing is like tobogganing except, well, on a tube, and you don't have to walk up and down the hill because you get to ride the chairlift! it's basically the most fun thing you can do in the snow. well, almost.
- everything else - here's the problem... i started making this list and then kept thinking of more and more things to put on it. cause thunder bay has a movie theatre that has harry potter marathons and a contemporary art gallery and a farmer's market and a professional theatre company and a super awesome writers' organization (that i am totally not biased towards even though i work for them) and a really, really kickass arts and culture magazine (that i am totally not biased towards even though i work for them) and great restaurants and historical type stuff and A WHOLE FREAKING UNIVERSITY. oh, and riley. which, really, should be the biggest draw for EVERYONE. i am so totally not biased.