Written by Craig "Farnham54" Whitton - June 2005
Canada is known for only a very few things. On the international scene, we are well liked. We are known for our Peacekeeping, our politeness, and that’s “aboot” it. Really though, Canada is famous for Hockey and Tim Horton’s (the only thing that ALL Canadians have in common). But since Tim Horton WAS a hockey player---well I guess it’s limited.
However, that list can now be expanded to include Indygear Summits. Ottawa was the location for the 2005 Canadian Summit, the first of its kind with this level of organization and commitment, as well as attendance. The entire weekend was a roaring success.
It started out for me bright and early on Friday, May 20th, when I woke extra early to pack my things and catch the 7:05 train into Toronto. I must say, hoisting that backpack on and snugging the fed on my brow brought back a lot of memories! After an hour, I made my transfer and headed into Ottawa. By 2:00 I was entering the capital of this fine nation, sun shining, looking forward to the weekend ahead. [Pictured above: Craig today.]
Indiana Gater, who organized the summit, was kind enough to meet me at the train station. His golden brown Adventurbuilt was immediately spotted by my trained eye, and within a few minutes of chatting it was as if I was talking to a gent I went to High School with. I was the first into the “Convention Center” (The conveniently located WelcomInns!) and right away got stuck in with the absolute FIRST of my priorities.
After taking that oh-so-important nap, Kilgour Trout showed up all the way from Red Lake. He had traveled 3 days by car (that would be nearly 20 by camel!). Accompanying him were his 2 sons, his daughter, and his wife. The entire family has been infected with Gearhead-itus, and I don’t think any in the group mind one bit!
After a brief pit stop over to Value Village, where I picked up 4 very cheap, very nice Aloha shirts (Note: I think a persons mood is directly effected by the frequency in which they wear said shirts—I wear them all the time and I feel Fantastic!). Then, Gater came by once again and it was off to Perkins for an evening meal. I had Steak. The topics of conversation ranged from Gear to Star wars and everything in between…which, I suppose isn’t much, but in this group you can NEVER grow tired of talking of Gear and Star Wars!
Back to the hotel we went, where to our great pleasure, Bufflehead Jones and his friend (now known as Graverobbergreg on COW) managed to fool Customs into letting them into Canada, though I understand they had some difficulty. They made the mortal error of trying to stimulate the sense of humor in an immigration agent, which has long ago been scientifically proven to not exist! However, they made it in one piece (Well, two pieces—Buff and Greg are not joined at the hip or anything), and we proceeded to Lone Star Texas grill near the hotel for some drinks.
It should be mentioned the trip over there took several hours—between unloading the car, talking, bringing car stuff to the hotel room, talking, meeting in the lobby, talking, and walking towards the bar, and talking, it took us quite some time. Thus we Canuckleheads were introduced to the common summit phenomena of the Sidewalk talk. If there is a piece of terra firma (be it dirt, concrete, or asphalt) and Gearheads within 50 miles, a Sidewalk talk is formed. This is the BEST part of any summit, I think—hanging out and talking with the people. After all, Come for the Gear, Stay for the People!
Graverobbergreg and Buff had some excellent stories to share; I’ll never underestimate the job those two boys have done. Funny coincidence—scarcely 2 hours after they had left, I saw a news story on CNN featuring the county they work in back home!
We whiled away the hours, deciding to part sometime near midnight in order to wake early for the breakfast, where the plan was we would be joined by Namebrand and his friend. What time was that supposed to be at again? 8:45? A quarter after nine? Nine? We were all thoroughly confused but got it sorted and hit the hay.
The next morning we were welcomed by two very tired looking young faces. Namebrand? Nope! It was Indiana Guybrush and his Brother (who was in close enough Sherpa gear) who had driven through the night in order to make the Summit. The Canadian Summit already had more attendees from the USA then from Canada! Off we went to Breakfast, and after being underfoot of the waitresses as much as humanly possible, we found Namebrand and his lady friend. We enjoyed another hearty meal. I had steak.
After breakfast it was back to the hotel where we held an impromptu Whip cracking session, which drew a bit of a crowd from across the street. Bufflehead had a short 6’, and Gater had his DM. Everyone who wanted a crack got one, and for me it was my first time with a real whip. I’ve added a DM to the wish list now!
Then, it was off to the Canadian War Museum, which only recently opened. It was a wonderful blend of written information, multimedia presentations, and static displays. After parking our cars, and lacking someone to guide us, the crowd of Indy’s somehow managed to get lost in the underground car park. But no fear, statistics were on our side, and eventually (after covering every square inch of the parking lot) we found the entrance. I suppose we could have looked at signs, but that’s too much like cheating.
Inside the war museum, we had a blast. We were treated to all 3 of Indy’s guns, got some cool shots of Guybrush doing some very fitting raiders poses near an old Truck (right before one of the museum people asked us not to do it), and we terrorized one of the museum employees with a dozen cameras, all taking our picture.
After some bag strap hanging from a tank gun, getting Sherpa to sign a piece of the Berlin wall (he was the smallest who could write), and some wandering around a vast collection of tanks and vehicles, it was off to the Canadian Museum of Civilization museum in Hull, the Quebec side of Ottawa.
The drive there took over an hour, due to some high traffic, but the entire group got to see the Parliament buildings. The Natural History museum was interesting, but seemed entirely dedicated to first nations—which was fine and all, but Canadian civilization IS a lot more then first nations. I later learned that apparently there is an “upstairs” to the entire place that we missed entirely!
After that it was off to dinner at Casey’s. I had steak. We raised a glass, of course, to Michaelson on his anniversary, as promised, and once again greatly enjoyed the company. Before dinner we all wrote out a rather crafty COW quiz, which would be the basis for a prize at the movie the next day.
After returning to the hotel, we all did a prop show and tell. I think the significant others of the group were stunned and amazed as a group of burly guys gushed over Man-purses, shoes, and later, the conversation turned to nasal strips. Don’t ask!
Guybrush and Sherpa had come at the last minute, and as such had no place to stay. I had a rather large space all to myself in my hotel room, so offered them the couch. Sherpa had died rather early, and was content to pass out on the floor, while Guybrush and I let our jaws wag till the wee hours of the morning. However, we played a rather interesting game of Phone tag with the front desk.
“Sure! I’ll set that right now!” came the reply. Click. Within 10 seconds, the phone rang. Guybrush and I exchanged quizzical looks.
“I said 8:30 AM, not PM….” Said I, stifling laughter. The lady at the desk thought it was quite funny.
“Oh no sir, I’m just calling to find out what room the wakeup call is for!” she said.“Oh okay, 203! Thanks!” I said, “G’nite!” Click. Guybrush and again exchanged quizzical looks. I picked up the receiver and dialed the front desk.
“Umm…this is 203…you just called to find out what room the wakup call was for…I’m just wondering HOW did you not know that but you DID know which room to call to find out??” The sequence of events was probably one of the funniest 45 seconds of my life. Apparently, the young lady was just going to try every room on the floor till she got it right!
The next day, Guybrush, Sherpa and I all met in the lobby (thinking others would be ready for Breakfast). However, our call out for an early morning, pre-raiders screening meal the night before must have been forgotten in the depths of sleep. Off we went on our own, and finally found a restaurant that once served the Gods. Those McGriddles and Bacon and Egg McMuffins went down really well!
Then, the highlight of the summit. A screening of Raiders in the Mayfair theater. The place was built in the 30s, and has remained virtually unchanged. It’s like stepping through those doors and being back in time. The draws were held, and almost everyone went away with something. Then the lights dimmed, the crowd was hushed, and there it was: The Paramount logo fading into the mountain.
Watching raiders on the big screen was like watching it for the first time all over again. The experience was certainly heightened by the company. Watching my all time favorite movie with a bunch of other guys to whom it is also THEIR all time favorite was fantastic.
A few more photos outside the theater, and the crowd of Indy’s that had invaded Ottawa Ontario for a few days started to dissipate. A fantastic time was had by all, with a lot of memories made and shared. It was amazing to be talking to my fellow Gearheads, and I honestly felt as if I’d known them for years, even though this was my first time meeting most of them in person. Rob’s kids up in full gear was a treat too, letting us all know that Geardom has a new generation to look forward to. I also couldn’t help but wonder, what if other “summits” had half the fun that we have! The G-8 learning to crack bullwhips in front of the hotel? Watching Raiders on the big screen? We’d have world peace within hours!
A wonderful weekend finally came to a close. I think I speak for my fellow summit attendees when I say I can’t wait for 2006!