Great Big Sea at the Molson Amphitheatre

This is by far the biggest venue we’ve ever seen GBS play. That has good points and bad points. Obviously the view and sound wasn’t as good. But the energy level of the crowd was pretty amazing – I can see why the band lives for this sort of thing. Although I have to say I don’t think the Toronto crowd were all die-hard fans the way the Water Street Music Hall crowds were. Most of them didn’t even know the words to “Rant and Roar”!

The opening act wasn’t bad, except they didn’t know when to quit. They said they were doing a last couple of songs, and everybody cheered, but then about 3 songs later they said they were doing the last song. And then afterwards, they did another. And then when everybody cheered the announcement that they were going off to let Great Big Sea come out, they did the same two songs again as a medley. And again! I yelled out “How can we miss you if you won’t go away”, which a few people around me found amusing.

GBS didn’t do all the same songs they did at Water Street. For instance they left off some of the songs from The Hard and The Easy, their latest album. I can’t figure out if they added any in, but the shows were probably the same length. But they did do that bizarre medely of popular songs from the past 30 years. It’s scary how few of them I know the words.

Once again I left a Great Big Sea concert hoarse from singing along, with my knees sore as hell from jumping up and down, and with my ears ringing. And I love it.

Rest of the weekend’s flying

Saturday, I flew back from Buttonville to Rochester, and then back to Buttonville.

For the flight back, I filed direct, but I was cleared “Buttonville One, vectors to V252 AIRCO V31”. Ok, that’s not too different than one I frequently got in the past coming back from Oshawa, so it was easy to program into the GPS. Taking off, Buttonville tower and then Toronto Approach keep you under 3000 ft until you’re a bit off-shore, and then they start you up to your filed altitude (9000 ft). But then it’s up to altitude and “direct BULGE” (BULGE is a waypoint on V252). And before you even get to BULGE, they clear you direct Rochester and switch you over to Buffalo approach.

It was a pretty uneventful flight – a few clouds around 7000 feet, bright sunshine, summer haze. After they switched me over to Rochester Approach, he was talking to two aircraft “DEMO 1” and “DEMO 2”. I had no idea what that was, although maybe I should have clued in as the controller asked one of the planes if it was a flight of two or not. But as I was finally getting a descent after being sent over the approach end of runway 22 at 5000 feet, I heard him clear “DEMO 2” for a overhead break. An overhead break is a military approach, and so I finally clued in that these guys were military.

As I turned final to 25, I saw “DEMO 2” doing his overhead break for runway 22. It was an F-15. Very cool. I timed my touch down so that I landed almost exactly the same time as him.

It was after I taxied to the customs shack that I discovered a disasterous mistake – in my haste to get to the airport, I’d forgotten to bring my green card and passport, which were sitting in my laptop bag back at my dad’s house. And worse luck, I got the same customs guy I got two weeks ago. Last year every time I came back from Canada, it was always the same guy, and after 2 or 3 trips he started recognizing me and just asking for my CF-178 (US Customs Arrival Report form) and then leaving. But this new guy seems like a real stickler for the rules, and gives me quite a thorough questioning each time. So this time, the fact that I’d forgotten my id, combined with the fact that I was using a CF-178 that I’d pre-filled and printed out a pile of them two years ago so it had my old address on them, and he was threatening to call the Border Patrol and have them haul me off in handcuffs. Eventually he relented and let me go.

I picked up Laura and flew back to Buttonville. I got the same route as I’d been given on Friday, so it was programmed into the GPS already. And once again, I was given direct to Buttonville long before I got to LINNG, although the controller suggested that I go direct to the NDB KZ instead of the airport CYKZ, because that would put me on downwind for the runway in use. That worked out pretty well, and this time I managed to get slowed down well in advance so I didn’t end up running up on the guy ahead of me and landed with no incidents. The tower called me out as traffic saying I was “over the cathedral” and sure enough there was a very odd looking cathedral-like building in the middle of no-where.

Customs was another pain in the ass – I’d tried calling CANPASS for my arrival from my cell phone, and the call kept getting dropped while I was on hold. So I went into the FBO to call, and Laura, because I had to get her to get out of the plane so that I could get out (stupid Pipers with their only door on the passenger side), followed me in. I wasn’t thinking, and I should have told her to wait by the plane, although since they send somebody out so rarely, I figured it didn’t matter. So I called CANPASS and got told that they were going to meet me. Oh oh – I told Laura to get back out to the plane. I followed her after establishing where the customs agents were and making sure they knew where I was.

The customs agents were annoyed at me for letting Laura leave the plane, and for not having my id, but they were still friendlier than the guy in Rochester.

We got on the road, and discovered that we’d have time to meet Vicki and the rest of the group to travel to the concert together.

Today was the return flight. Leaving the restaurant after breakfast, I noticed my pulse racing, and I started to worry that the waitress had given me regular coke instead of diet coke. But then I wasn’t sure if the racing pulse wasn’t because of worry that I’d gotten the wrong drink. But confirmation that I *had* gotten the sugar came when I suddenly got a massive headache. Well, good thing it’s a short flight.

I got the same route clearance as yesterday, and events unfolded much the same. We climbed up through some clouds on the way up, and then at the south shore of the lake we had to descend through a lot more – a scattered to broken layer of cumulus that went from 9000 all the way down to 5000. The turbulence in the clouds combined with my blistering headache gave me some motion sickness. Fortunately by that time I’d been cleared “direct Rochester” and we only had 10 minutes on the ETA on the GPS.

We made it home without me having to use a barf bag, much to my relief, and met the same customs guy as yesterday. And while we had all the documentation (and I’d remember to cross out the incorrect home address but forgotten that my pilots license number had changed too), he grilled us pretty heavily. I’m sure he was hoping to catch us out on some inconsistency in our stories. He also opened Laura and Vicki’s bags, but not mine. Eventually he cleared us, and Vicki and Laura went off to the Corn Hill Festival while I put the plane away.

It’s been 4 hours since I landed, and I still have the headache and queasy feeling. Man, that sucks. One of these days I’ll learn and only drink bottled soft drinks.

Tour de France Stage 7

The first individual time trial. And what a day! Full of personal ups and downs. I was out of town and really busy, so this will be a short one.

Heart ache for Bobby Julrich, the leader of CSC since Basso was suspended – he crashed on a corner and was taken to
hospital with a suspected broken wrist. His Tour is over. I guess CSC will have to rely on Sastre to carry their flag.

Disappointment for most of the “big men”, especially the big Americans, who did badly on the day – Levi Leipheimer way, way, way down, Zabriske not showing his normal TT prowess, Hincapie down about 25th or so.

The two stars of the day where Sergei Gonchar who blistered around the course and won by over a minute, and Floyd Landis who was the best of the rest finishing second on the day and making it look more and more certain that he’s going to be on the podium in Paris.

Landis was told by UCI to change the position of his aero bars just before the start. I’m not sure if that was a factor, but his handle bars broke soon after out on the course and he had to change bikes, losing a good 15-20 seconds. What a machine to have a distraction like that, have to ride in a different position than what you practiced, and still end up second on the day!

T-Mobile is defying everybody who thought that the loss of Ullrich would kill them – they’ve got several people up near the top of the GC now, including Kloden who has finished second overall before. If he’s recovered the form he was showing that year (and hasn’t shown since), he could be back on the podium this year.

Discovery seems to have forgotten how to TT without Lance there, with their 3 top men all 2+ minutes down.

Another sprinters day tomorrow. Boonen worked too hard today, TTing more like a yellow jersey owner than a green jersey hopeful, so I expect Robbie McEwan or Thor Hushovd to win tomorrow.