Before I get into it, I must state up front that I’m breaking my promise of posting pictures tonight.  The truth is, I didn’t take any.  Really.

Tonight, we ate at La Queue de Chaval Steakhouse.  I did some research a few months ago looking for really good steak places.  This one was highly recommended.  We had 7:30pm reservations upstairs.  Before going to the restaurant, we went for a short walk up Peel Street to see the Ferraris.  Helen wasn’t enjoying the walk as much, because she was breaking in new shoes.  Ouch.

When we arrived at the Ferrari display, I was a bit shocked.  I know the Ferrari Club of Quebec uses this as a fund raiser by having sponsors pay to have their logo present with the cars, but it seemed to me they went a bit overboard.  There were sponsor logos all over every car.  It looked like corner-store NASCAR.  I’d much prefer some decent signage around the cars and leaving these works of automotive art alone.  It really ruins the pictures, and thus, I decided to not take any.  I spent a few minutes pointing out the differences between the 360 and 430, as well as the Challenge Stradale models.

So, appetite worked up, and off we went to dinner.

We were early, but our table was ready right away.  Awesome!  As we were seated, we met our waiter, who asked us where we were from, and if we were in town for the F1.  We mentioned to him that when we were walking to the restaurant, we passed the Sheraton, and saw a bunch of Honda-clothed folks.  He told us Honda was indeed staying there, and that the team dined here last night (including Button and Barrichello).  Wow!  He then pointed out the large table being set up down from us, and told us it was for the BMW team.  Double Wow!

So, we then reviewed the awesome menu.  They do things LARGE there.  Helen ordered a shrimp cocktail consisting of 2 shrimp.  They weighed about 11 lbs each, so they were filling.  I had the crab claws, which involved effort, but I needed the exercise.  As we finished our appetizer, I saw a familiar face walking towards me with some other guys.  It was my old friend Vitantonio Liuzzi.  He used to drive for Torro Rosso, but lost his seat, and is now testing for Force India.  A few minutes later, Giancarlo Fisichella joined him.  Neato!  Two drivers at the table next to us.  Our main course arrived (filet for Helen, Big Ass Hunk-o-Protein for me) in walks the ever-likeable Rubens Barrichello.  Bingo.  Of course, I’m Twittering this all madly, as Helen makes fun of me.  I point out that this is essentially notetaking for my blog, and she sees suddenly the utility of Twitter.

We’re finishing our main course, and then in comes Kwik Nick (though, not as Kwik as Kubica this year) Heidfeld, Robert Kubica and Christian Klien.  There’s also a group of Formula BMW kids with them and some folks who I assume are there to drive the important people around and pay the tab.

I was curious what these finely tuned 150lb athletes eat and drink.  Well, the Italians seemed to be enjoying some seafood and wine.  I couldn’t tell what Kubica/Heidfeld were eating, but from what I’ve read recently, Kubica doesn’t eat much, and feels hungry all the time.  Pretty crappy place to hang out if you’re hungry if you asked me.

There was one last Celebrity Spot – Justin Trudeau, son of the late Prime Minister.

Anyhow, we finished dinner and dessert and I escorted Helen to the Bar downstairs so I could be a great gentleman and go back to the hotel to pick up the car and meet her at the restaurant.  I wouldn’t last 5 steps in those shoes, but I suspect there’s charity money to be made in orchestrating that spectacle.  As I waited to cross the street, I saw that I was standing next to Christian Klein.  I said hi to him, and we crossed over together.  He was being picked up in a BMW SUV with Kubica inside.  Must be a party somewhere, or else Kubica couldn’t stand looking at my steak when all he eats is celery.

Quicker than you can say “Can I please have the bill for my champagne?” I was back.  Parked outside, looking quite dapper I think.  Helen hopped in, and off we went for a tour of Old Montreal.  I had a list of team hotels I wanted to check out/drive by.  Well, apparently there’s a Hotel St. James in West Montreal and it is NOTHING like the one in Old Montreal where Ferrari stays.  I knew we were in trouble when TomTom had me on 20W heading back to Toronto.  After a U-turn in a dodgy area, I got us back to Old Montreal.  I couldn’t (and more concerning, TomTom couldn’t) find the real St. James (it must be very exclusive).  But I did find the hotel where Red Bull was staying (it was dead, like it looked closed).  And we found the hotel where McLaren are staying.  It was pretty funny because when we turned the corner, I saw about 50 people just standing around across the street from the hotel.  Then I realized, they’re doing the same thing I am, only they’re more dedicated.  I’m willing to drive by and wave at a driver, but I ain’t gonna stand around waiting when there’s fun to be had in Montreal.  To each their own.

I’m all packed for tomorrow.  I have my luggage cart-thingy that will bear the load of my camera equipment this year.  It may rain, it may not.  I don’t care either way.  I have bags for my gear, and I’m not made of sugar.  I am going to try the sweet on-site parking that I scored through a club connection.

I’ll be watching Fisi’s practice times tomorrow with great interest.  If he had the Tiramisu then I’m sure he’s at least 3 tenths slower.



We have arrived in Montreal, and already the excitement that pervades the entire city for the F1 weekend is evident!  Our drive was pleasantly uneventful, and fun.  With the roof down for the last 2/3rds of it, we got our share of sunshine and fresh air.

Our checkin at the Marriott Chateau Champlain went smoothly.  I spoke to the valet/doorman and scored a primo parking spot in the valet section right in front of the hotel.  I also managed to get agreement on my self-parking in the valet section (that gives me in/out privileges).  It was either the money that exchanged hands, or the appreciation of cars that sealed the deal.

Our room is north facing on the 31st floor, and to my surprise and excitement, faces straight onto Peel Street, which today/tonight is hosting “Ferrari Night”.  There is a brilliant eleven on the road made up of over 30 beautiful Ferraris.  We’ll definitely be taking a look at that on our way to dinner.

After dinner, we’re going to drive around town, and try to stop off at some of the hotels in Old Montreal where we know Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull are staying.  I haven’t completed my recon for the other teams, but expect that to be done tonight.

I genuinely love this weekend.  F1 is a incredible mixture of sport, engineering, fashion, culture and passion.  It’s clear why it’s so popular with the many global sponsors that foot the bill for the extravegant costs involved in participating.  Which reminds me, I think I’ll have to get serious about a goal for myself involving starting a company that is successful enough to either have me sponsor a team, or dare I dream, own a team of my own!  There’s nothing wrong with letting the 40ish owner drive the car once in a while right?  And I have alot of friends who’d love a few laps too.

Anyhow, I’m pretty excited, and so is Helen.  She shows it differently.  Like right now, I’m gyrating between looking at the Ferraris out the window and updating my blog, while Helen is sleeping.  Ah, the fresh air, massive renovation, and 4 hours sleep last night must have gotten to her.  Well, she better rest up, because we’re partying like rock stars this weekend, and it’s going to be LOUD!

Next update will include some pix..I promise.


Anticipation is building.  I awoke at 3am this morning with my mind going through a list of final ‘to-dos’ and things to pack for our annual trip to Montreal for the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix.  It’s a weekend I look forward to with great excitement every year.  Montreal is a great city, and during the F1 weekend, the city is one big party.

I’ve put alot of effort, starting months ago, into this trip.  If you don’t jump on this in December/January, you risk not getting the tickets you want, and not having a place to stay.  This year, we’re staying at the Marriott Chateau Champlain right on Peel Street.  Peel and Crecent are ground zero for the big off-circuit events for the weeknd.  Crecent Street is closed to traffic and has all kinds of exhibits as well as a full blown concert stage.  The bars and restaurants are always overflowing.  Peel Street is where there are car exhibitions, where on Thursday night Ferrari owners park their cars for people to enjoy.

On Thursday night, we have reservations at La Queue de Cheval (which, I’m told by our French-speaking friend Heather means “The Horses Ass” – note I was apparently “mislead” in this translation.  It’s “Horse’s Tail”).  Notwithstanding the name, it is a great steakhouse right down the street from our hotel.  Friday night we’re dining with some other car enthusiasts at The Ferreira Cafe and Saturday night, I’ve once again scored us entry to the BMW Sauber Team Dinner at BICE.  It’s shaping up to be another massively fun event.

The only thing that has me a bit concerned right now is the weather.  It’s looking like we’ll get some rain.  But I’m holding out hope for sunshine, and if it does rain, will take advantage of the conditions to get some hopefully great shots of the cars shooting up rooster tails.  Speaking of pictures, I’m lugging even more gear this time.  I don’t like swapping lenses at the circuit (it’s dusty) so I’m bringing a second body (my old 20D) that will have my super-wide angle lens, while my new 5D will have the big glass.  Because the walk from the parking lot (oh, yeah, forgot to mention, I scored some parking on the island thanks to Sophia), I am going to get one of those portable luggage racks so I can wheel my camera bag around.

Anyhow, lots to do at home before we leave.  I’d mention the massive renovation underway in our basement and garage but I don’t have time to get into that.  Another day…


I’ve “moved”.  I started blogging sporadically a while ago, and used Google’s Blogger.  I can’t say that I found the tools very friendly.  I’ve recently been reading more blogs, and have been impressed with the quality of the content and layout.  Many of them are on WordPress, so last night I gave it a try.

And here we are today.  It imported all of my previous Blogger posts.  I’m in the midst of redirecting my domain.

So far, so good..stay tuned.


I’ve been doing LOTS of garden work over the past 2 weeks. Raking leaves has become one of my favourite pastimes. It’s mindless work with immediate gratification. You start with a section of the yard with lots of leaves, then after some effort you have a tidy, green area. I’ve also come to realize that our property is bigger than I thought it was. I guess I’ve never walked around all of it before (believe it or not). Because of the early winter, our gardeners were unable to remove the leaves last fall.

So Saturday morning I loaded up 12 full yard waste bags into the truck, and headed for the Waterloo dump. Saturday morning is a bad time to go to the dump I found out. A long line, but when I did get to the gate, the guy working there gave me a card that let me pass freely because I was just bringing highly compostable yard waste.

There has been one part of our backyard that has bothered me for a long time. We have a chain fence (for the pool) that separates us from the 2nd tee of the golf course. The fence line is really thick with grass and weeds, and it looks bad from the deck, and worse from the 2nd tee. So I wanted to get that fixed once and for all. But this would require a new tool. A weed whacker/whipper snipper or whatever the technical term is.

At Home Depot, I found the section, and bought the cheapest gas model I could find. I thought it was pure gas. When I got home and read the instructions, I realized it was a 2 stroke oil/gas engine. The instructions told me to mix the oil with 1 litre of gas. I did that, and tried to fire it up. No dice. I read the instructions on the oil container, and it said mix with FOUR litres of gas. Great.

After 20 minutes of minor chemistry and drain/refilling, I tried again. No dice. My deskjob arms were starting to feel it. And I was getting a blister. Shortly after this, one of my neighbours saw me struggling and came over to help. I had done all the things he suggested, and he observed “hey, lots of people pay alot of money to get that kind of arm workout in a gym, and you get it for free”. That didn’t make me feel much better.

I relented and re-read the troubleshooting section of the manual, and saw the “engine flooded” section. I tried the remediation steps, and then on the final step, boom, my power tool was alive! I immediately hiked down to the fence line, opened the gate, and started chopping.

I now have one more of the annoyances I’ve ignored for years resolved. And I took down the Christmas lights too.

A pretty good day. My daily morning weigh-in also validated that hard work pays off. I’ve lost nearly 12 lbs in 10 days. In approximately 161 days, I will completely disappear.


There’s a long list of things to get through this week. I’m pretty excited about a few of them. This new healthy diet I’m on (low carbs, no read that right-NO ALCOHOL, and “limited caffeine) has been a challenge at times. I am a carb addict. From my childhood I’ve had this affliction. Give me a loaf of French bread and some butter, and I’m in heaven. Lately, I’ve been eating salads. And lots of omelets. And drinking nothing but water and an occasional Timmy’s (double cream in place of my double-double). Drinking cold water on a hot day after some form of physical exertion is great. Drinking cold water watching CSI sucks.

I can’t wait for next Monday night. That’ll be the end of the 14 days of basically no carbs/alcohol. I think I’ll get a good bottle of wine to share with Helen, and a second one just for me! The thing that keeps me going is that it’s working. I’m losing weight, and am kicking the soda habit (hopefully for good).

Tomorrow, we have one of the 2 garage renovation company’s coming for a look and to build a plan and estimate. I’m excited about this, because it’s the one domain of our home where I think I get to call almost all of the shots! We also have our decorator coming to discuss the downstairs renovation. That’s mostly Helen’s gig, while I get to move my office to another room downstairs which is bigger, and I get carte blanche on that. Helen can always close the door if it’s not fit for guests to see ;)

Helen has tennis tomorrow morning, so I am going to the driving range to hit a few buckets. There’s a good chance I’ll be playing Pebble Beach in the near future with a good friend in California. So I better get tuned up pronto. Our home course opens this week too, and I can’t wait to play my first round of the season (if you don’t count my round at Pebble in January – oh, man, am I living a charmed life!)

Helen and I have divided the homework/tutoring for our daughter in a neat way. It’s working out really well so far. Helen handles Math (which is appropriate given her B.Math), and I get to handle Science (per my B.Sc). Tonight, my daughter and I covered sound waves. We reviewed the basics of wave motion, and she now has a pretty good grasp on how to tell from a wave form whether it is a loud/soft or high/low. She even learned about Hertz and frequency. We’ll start reviewing the Schrödinger Equation next week, and she’ll be ready for Quantum Mechanics in Grade 5. Or maybe we’ll just take it easy ;)

One of our vehicles is in the shop tonight. We discovered the hard way that while you can’t put diesel gas into a non-diesel gas vehicle due to the size of the pump nozzle, the reverse is NOT the case. Beware, yellow does NOT always mean diesel, especially if your regular gas station was recently converted from GTO to Sunoco.

Live and learn!

Well, I’ve been home for almost a week now, and the transition to full time Dad/Husband is going swimmingly!

It’s been a fun week. So far I have:

(1) Fixed two broken faucets
(2) Cleaned out my garage, and now 3 cars fit comfortably
(3) Played hockey with guys in their 20’s and lived to tell about it
(4) Caught up with a friend I haven’t seen in months
(5) Donated old skates and skis to Goodwill
(6) Played with my kids every day (bike rides, soccer, baseball, road hockey)
(7) Lost 5 lbs and counting
(8) Had zero alcoholic beverages
(9) Procured a couples golf membership

I’m feeling pretty good about things. Our plans are starting to come together, and I’m loving all this time to attend to the “new things” in my life. This weekend Helen is playing in a tennis tournament, and the Masters is on. So I have my weekend pretty much figured out!

Helen has started working on the Book/DVD of our roadtrip. That’ll take a while, because there’s alot of material to work with.

That’s all for now…
mJm (more…)

Well, I’ve had a day to recover/reflect on our journey. As long as the trip was, it all seems to be over so quickly.

I guess the first question to ask was, “Was it worth it?”. Without hesitation, ABSOLUTELY! This roadtrip so far exceeded my expectations on many fronts. I must first pay homage to BMW for producing a car that can run with this magical combination of ride quality, finesse and POWER. I certainly bonded with my M5 in a way that surprised me.

The ride out was an adventure with an old friend with whom I’ve spent too little time over the years. I’m confident we’ll remedy that going forward. Ravindra was great fun, and we were able to keep each other entertained and sane through some of the duller stretches (no offense, IA, NE).

The roadtrip was a wonderful way to mentally transition from my McAfee life to my new one. There’s something very theraputic to me about long drives. Maybe it’s the variety, maybe it’s the clarity of thinking that comes from driving. I’m not sure, but I do know that each night on this trip, I felt great.

And when Helen arrived in San Francisco, the adventure began anew. We were going to see things and stay places that neither of us had ever been. After the trip, we joked about unvoiced concerns we both had initially about whether this trip would destroy our marriage! Stuck in a car for 8 days with your spouse can be a potentially dangerous situation. I’m happy to say that we both agreed it was just what we needed together. I didn’t have to drop Helen off at the nearest airport and continue the trip alone! Phew!

There really aren’t any regrets for me. A trip like this requires some compromises in routing. The US is a big country, and you just can’t see all of it in the time we planned. But what we did see was awe inspiring. I’ve long had an affection for the US, and for Americans. Having spent so much time working and living in the US has instilled a special bond. I could have taken more pictures I guess, but I can always say that. I’m just happy I got that reflection shot just west of Salt Lake City of the mountains as I was driving at 80MPH. (Thanks again for taking the wheel, Ravindra!)

Ok, let’s talk data now. I kept all my gas receipts, and had GPS logs to provide routing/position/altitude stats.

Total Trip Length: 10417km (6511m)
Highest Altitude: 11132ft asl (Rockies on I-70W)

States Visited: MI, IN, IL, IA, NE, CO, UT, NV, CA, AZ, NM, TX, OK, MO (14 states)

Fuel Consumed: 376 Gallons
Total Fuel Cost: $1379 US
Average Fuel Cost: $3.70 $/gallon
Cheapest Fuel: $3.079 $/gallon in Newton, IA
Most Expensive Fuel: $4.596 $/gallon Waterloo, Ont

Other Consumables:
Tires: 2 Continental ContiSportContact 2 255/40ZR19
Oil: 1.5L of Castrol 10W60 Synthetic
Subway Visits: 3 (2 out, 1 back)

Thanks to all who followed along with us on the blog. It was fun to document the adventures as close to when they happened as possible. I have lots of video footage to process, and I’ll figure out how to make the best footage (including our special episode of “COPS – Nebraska” featuring officer Jason John).

Finally, if you’re ever considering a trip like this, I recommend spending a reasonable amount of time plotting your route, and determining alternate routes/hotels. It doesn’t take alot of time, but knowing that you’re prepared for weather, traffic and any other surprise takes the stress out of the trip. And fill a gas can with fuel and secure it in the trunk of your car. We never needed it, but it was comforting to know that it was there if we did. And always try to keep the car filled with at least 1/4 tank. You won’t start squriming in your seat wondering if you’ll make it because a quarter tank will get you a pretty long way (unless you’re in P500 mode and shifting at 8000 RPM.

And bring an iPod. The fun two guys can have singing “Dancing Queen” through the mountains of Nevada cannot be overstated.


Just a short update to let you know that we both arrived home safely just before 1pm. I have to review the GPS telemetry and pictures before I do a full review posting.

It was an incredible journey, and we’re both so happy we did it together. More tomorrow.

BTW, Kubica got pole today for the Grand Prix of Bahrain. It’s the first time a Pole has been on pole ;)


It was a short drive today, which was a relief, because we were expecting rain. We awoke early, as we have all through the trip, and saw that the weather channel was calling for rain between St. Louis and Chicago. But what really caught our attention was the revelation that tornados and thunder storms were called for in the zone between Amarillo and Oklahoma City. We are truly blessed on this trip. We missed the tornado warning by 1 day.

When we started our journey in St. Louis this morning, it was raining. This concerned me mainly because I still needed to get our “Melen North American Tour” picture under the Arch. We made our way down to the riverside, and fortunately, there was a tented structure across from the Arch.

I spent a few minutes setting up and figuring out how to make this shot work. When you are that close to something that big, in wet weather, it makes the composition a bit tougher. I think we got the shot I wanted, and then off we went for our trip to Chicago.
Helen has never been to Chicago. I’ve been many times on business, and way too many times through O’Hare (the 2nd busiest airport in the world). But this trip was pure pleasure, and I was looking forward to it.

The GPS did a great job (again) getting us to the hotel. We checked in with no fuss, and checked in at home. We wanted to see Chicago from a high vantage point, so we trekked off to the Sear’s Tower, which at one point was the tallest building in the world. It’s no longer the tallest, having been surpassed by buildings in Malaysia, Taipai and most recently, Dubai. The fact that these contests apparently include the height of their antennae make this a bit of a joke. But the boys in Dubai are going All In. That building is massive. It must take you half your work day just to get up and down it.

By the time we did the “History of the Sears Tower” film, and looked around up top, it was getting close to dinner time.

We headed back to the Fairmont in a taxi, and while we were en route, a large white limo pulled up next to us. Helen was sure that Oprah was inside. I have no data to refute her claim, so I will agree that it was Oprah.

Tomorrow is our first non-driving day since Helen arrived last Friday. I’m looking forward to just relaxing for a day before heading home. I can’t wait to see our kids again. This was a long trip, even my my standards. But they are clearly enjoying their time with Grandma and Papa.

Tomorrow, Helen wants to tour the “Magnificent Mile”. That reminds me, I have to cut up my credit cards tonight :P

We were reflecting over dinner about how lucky we are, and what an incredible experience this trip has been. I’m so happy this “crazy idea” I had way back became reality, because I’ve seen and experienced things that money can’t buy, and got to spend a week all alone with the girl I love. You can’t beat that!