My Vacation on Dorval Island

I took off Thursday and Friday last week as vacation days, in spite of the increasing month end deadline pressure for the Monopoly Star Wars project.


My trip to Dorval Island went pretty well. I arrived at 11:30 on Thusday morning, helped with the shopping (unfortunately no caffeine free NON-diet Pepsi at the Dorval Maxi supermarket) and then spent most of the day reading The Towers of The Sunset by L.E. Modesitt, one of the Recluce fantasy series. I finished off the 536 page tome in the evening.


Friday was museums day - a trip on the buses and Metro (neat subway equipment - trains with pneumatic wheels, tickets with magnetic stripes, but Ottawa has better seat cushions) to downtown Montreal.


We arrived too early (the museum opens at 11) and walked around, visiting the McGill university campus (saw the stone walls on the library that my great-grandfather had built) and then headed back along Sherbrook.


After that, we headed back to the Musee des Beaux-Arts or The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which had an Asterix exhibit. It had just opened on Wednesday with one of the artists signing autographs. If you have seen the comic books, you'd recognize the artwork. Most of it was the ink drawings used in the series of books, interspersed with relevant exhibits from other museums - like a real Gaulish sickle of the appropriate date, and a modern sickle for comparison. Same sort of thing for Roman army helmets (people had small heads back then) and lots of other items. They also had a real menhir in the lobby.

Disney World

The more fun, cheaper and less crowded museum was the Designing the Disney Theme Parks - The Architecture of Reassurance exhibit at the CCA (Canadian Center for Architecture) a few blocks away. This was a surprisingly large exhibit, with one room for each of the worlds and several other rooms for other topics and a theater (nice place to sit and cool down). I looked at the Tomorrow World in detail and skimmed through the rest (there was just too much stuff, wish I had stronger feet, hips, backbone and everywhere else that aches). There were lots of plans for various unbuilt rides that were part of the many proposals made to investors. So, you'd see a drawing of a possible Ford pavilion and then find out about the General Electric one that actually got built. There were also pieces of some of the rides, like the first animatronic show (a vaudville singer controlled by a mechanical multi-disk drive (giant metal disks with bumpy edges)). Among all the items were unexpected things, like a model train rail car that Disney had built himself (important because the theme parks grew out of Disney's 1/3 scale rideable model railroad that he made in his back yard).

I liked the story board for the ride with the elevator that drops (Joe and other recent guests might have tried it). There's a whole lot of background preparation, like the lobby that the lineup goes through being used to set the mood. I liked the merchandising angle - after the elevator gets to the top, drop it a foot, take a snapshot, then continue on. Later the guests exit through the gift shop, where they can buy a card containing the snapshot, which also plays the Twilight Zone theme. Anyway, lots of drawings, real objects and historic video displays in a building that looks like a prison (lots of vertical metal bars and stainless steel bolts) with students lounging around on the lawn.

Rare Beverages

We got back in time to do some more shopping, this time at the Provigo supermarket. They had the right stuff! I grabbed a couple of bottles of that rare Pepsi to go along with Timothy Zahn's science fiction book Conqueror's Pride. That got finished pretty quickly. Because of excessive guest snoring, I spent the night on the front porch, on the swinging sofa, watching the moon rise and move over the waves.


On Saturday, some more guests arrived. My mom had noticed that the Provigo is closed on Sunday, so I did a short excursion to the Provigo and loaded up the car with 10 bottles. I got back in time to go over on the ferry with the new guests. The rest of the time was more mundane; I had run out of books so I started tackling my aunt's chore list. It wasn't too bad, just cleaning bugs out of all the lamp fixtures and rebuilding the stone stairs to the beach (yet more back ache from moving really big stones). The day wound up with a headache and an over-long Trivial Pursuit game.


Sunday was a winding down and packing up day. I got one of the guests to help with finishing the stone steps, and ended up with some that look quite nice. I found an old 25 cent paperback copy of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves around lunch time and half finished it by departure time. The trip home was uneventful, taking 191km in 2:15.

- Alex

Copyright © 1997 by Alexander G. M. Smith.